The first of two Q School events in England concluded on Wednesday with a quartet of happy contenders joining the World Snooker Tour.
Alexander Ursenbacher, Andrew Higginson, Andrew Pagett, and Liam Pullen all managed to emerge from the cut-throat competition in Leicester.
More than 200 competitors participated at the Morningside Arena, but just four remained standing at the Morningside Arena.
Having won all their Q School fixtures, the foursome will each receive two-year cards to compete as professionals on the main tour during the 2023/24 and 2024/25 snooker seasons.
For Ursenbacher, the Swiss star immediately bounces back after being relegated from the pro circuit at the conclusion of the last term.
The 27 year-old has become somewhat of a Q School specialist, with this representing his third time graduating from the gruelling tournament.
After safely negotiating a pair of Belgian players, Ursenbacher compiled a tournament-high break of 136 in his 4-1 defeat of Chris Totten.
The former English Open semi-finalist then overcame Alfie Burden before a tense 4-3 victory over veteran Barry Pinches sealed his lucrative spot.
“I just didn’t want to play another week of Q School,” an emotional Ursenbacher told the World Snooker Tour.
“What it does to you, it is not healthy. I know I am guaranteed two years now and I am going to make some changes, because I can’t do that again.”
“I guess many players have a back up plan with studying, having a job anyway or sponsors. I have none of this.
“I know what I am capable of so that puts a lot of pressure on myself. I just didn’t want to disappoint myself, my family, my girlfriend and my friends. I am really pleased.”
Higginson, meanwhile, guaranteed his return to the big-time after a year outside the higher ranks competing as an amateur player.
The former Welsh Open runner-up’s closest battle was in the third round when he denied Billy Castle in a deciding frame.
Other than that, the 45 year-old had few problems and confirmed his return with a whitewash triumph against Haydon Pinhey.
“I didn’t have a lot of high hopes coming into it, but if you have the right frame of mind and tunnel vision that stands you in good stead. Having the year off tour was probably something that I needed,” Higginson said.
“For years, I have been putting too much pressure on myself. The game is hard enough. I think when you relax and you are happy you play your best snooker.”
“I am enjoying the little bits of practicing I am doing now. It will be nice to meet up with my mates on tour again.”
Check out online casino Canada where big prizes can be won from their library of fun games, promotions, and tournaments.
Elsewhere, Pullen became the first snooker rookie to make it through from Q School in 2023 with a 4-0 success over Alex Taubman.
The teenager from England impressed many, including Neal Foulds who compared his game to that of Mark Selby’s.
Pullen’s standout performance was in the fourth round when he fought his way back from 3-0 down to beat Craig Steadman.
Earlier this year, the 17 year-old lost in the final of the WSF Junior Championship to Stan Moody.
Finally, Pagett confirmed his immediate return to the pro scene after overcoming Iulian Boiko 4-2 in his final round.
Despite several attempts, the Welshman has never managed to break into the top 64 of the world rankings but will have another crack over the course of the next two seasons.
Q School Event 2 commences on Thursday with four more places up for grabs, while the first of two Asia and Oceania Q School events also gets under way in Thailand.
Featured photo credit: WST