Alexander Ursenbacher

Q School Concludes with 16 Graduates

After almost three weeks of action at the Robin Park Leisure Centre, the 2019 Q School has reached its climax in Wigan.

A total of 16 players managed to graduate onto the professional Main Tour for the upcoming 2019/20 campaign.

Three qualifying events were staged with the four semi-finalists from each earning a coveted pro ticket.

An additional four spots were awarded to the quartet who tallied the most frames without actually managing to be promoted in an outright manner.

More than 200 players began Q School in the middle of May with the hope and desire of elevating their games to the next level, where the sport’s biggest riches are on offer.

Five of the Q School graduates will be plying their trade on the pro circuit for the first time in their careers.

David Lilley, a former European and English amateur champion who has narrowly missed out on several occasions in the past, will be competing alongside the likes of Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan as a professional for the first time at the tender age of 43.

Young countrymen Louis Heathcote and Riley Parsons, just 21 and 19 respectively, will also make their debuts on the pro ranks while 16 year-old pair Lei Peifan and Si Jiahui qualify from China.

Lilley’s late progression generated a modicum of controversy on social media after the first tournament when it was queried whether it was right for a player that old to be denying a younger prospect the opportunity to reach the higher echelons of the sport.

Most people, quite rightly, shot this theory down as a pretty ludicrous suggestion and, as it happens, Lilley isn’t even the oldest player from this year’s Q School to graduate.

The last day of action on Tuesday saw former tour stalwarts Barry Pinches, Andy Hicks, and Alex Borg all qualify automatically.

Former World Championship semi-finalist Hicks is 45 and returns as a professional for the first time since 2013.

Pinches, meanwhile, is 48 and Malta’s Borg ensured that he’d be celebrating his 50th birthday today in some style after a 4-1 triumph over Billy Joe Castle.

Including Castle, there are also a number of competitors immediately bouncing back having dropped outside the top 64 in the world rankings at the end of the last term.

Alexander Ursenbacher edged Peter Lines 4-3 in a result that had both cueists successfully regaining their professional statuses.

The scoreline had huge ramifications on the Order of Merit list, with Irish teenager Ross Bulman missing out by a single spot and a solitary frame.

Had Lines beaten the Swiss, Bulman would have squeezed through but, as it was, the Leeds potter availed of the backdoor system at the 17 year-old Corkman’s expense.

Bulman had previously reached the final round of event one, only to fall short in a 4-2 reverse against Iran’s Soheil Vahedi.

Xu Si, Chen Zifan, Fraser Patrick, and Jamie O’Neill all also qualified to get back on the Main Tour for next season.

Indeed, we don’t have too long to wait until the new campaign gets under way.

The first ranking event isn’t until the end of July but there are a couple of preliminary rounds to sort out for the Riga Masters and International Championship next week at Ponds Forge.

The World Cup is also back on the calendar, returning to Wuxi and pencilled in for the last week of June.

SnookerHQ took the opportunity in May to take a small break following Trump’s maiden world title at the Crucible.

But it’s full steam ahead for the 2019/20 season and it’ll be a return to full activity from now on as the website enters its ninth year covering this great sport.


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