Two Q School tournaments concluded on Tuesday with six cueists emerging from the tough competition for amateur snooker players.
A second event at the Morningside Arena in Leicester provided four spots on the professional main tour for the upcoming two seasons.
Andrew Higginson, Alexander Ursenbacher, Andrew Pagett, and Liam Pullen all emerged from Q School Event 1 in Leicester last week.
They were joined on this occasion by returning pros Alfie Burden, Stuart Carrington, Louis Heathcote, and Dean Young.
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Burden prolonged his almost 30-year career on the main tour with a dramatic 4-3 defeat of Iulian Boiko in the last round.
The Englishman left it late by winning the last two frames to deny Boiko, the young Ukrainian having lost at the final hurdle for consecutive Q School weeks.
Earlier in the tournament, Burden fought his way back from 3-0 behind to edge Michael Holt in a decider, and he also enjoyed victories over Welsh duo Alex Taubman and Duane Jones.
It continues a decent spell of form for the 46 year-old, who last month reached the final of the World Seniors Snooker Championship where he lost to Jimmy White.
“There are so many emotions,” Burden told the World Snooker Tour.
“I actually tried to pull out of Q School after the World Seniors, because I felt I had let my family down by not winning that event.”
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“I felt very down and didn’t want to pick my cue up. I had a few days practice, came here and rolled the dice.
“Q School is so tough. After I won I went to the toilet and there was a kid bent over the sink crying his eyes out because he had lost.
“It was Florian (Nuessle) and I feel for him. I almost wanted to swap places with him because I have had a long career, while he is a young kid just starting out and wanting it so badly, trying to win a place on the tour.
“Everything I do is for my children and I’m just delighted to win today.”
Austria’s Nuessle came up agonisingly short in a 4-3 reverse against Scotland’s Young.
The former had looked on course to join the professional ranks for the first time in his career when he led 3-1, but Young won the last three frames.
Elsewhere, there was another seven-frame thriller in what was a dramatic day of Q School action.
Heathcote compiled timely breaks of 111 and 74 to win the last two frames and secure a 4-3 triumph over Ryan Davies.
“I have never felt so focussed, and now I am so relieved it’s all over,” said the 25-year-old from England.
“At 3-2 down, nothing was going my way. I went to the toilet and told myself to use my last four years of experience and somehow won two frames with two good breaks.”
“I am really proud of myself and I can have a fresh start now. I hope I never have to go back to Q School, because it is the most stressful ten days.”
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The fourth final-round encounter was a more straightforward affair with Carrington easily overcoming Rory McLeod in a whitewash display.
Meanwhile, the first two graduates from the Asia and Oceania Q School tournaments were confirmed as well.
Thor Chuan Leong will make his return to the professional scene for the first time in three years after beating Lei Peifan 4-1 in the last round.
The Malaysian won five matches in total, including a nerve-jangling 4-3 defeat of Hamza Akbar in his very first fixture of the week.
Manasawin Phetmalaik was the other contender to qualify, a player from Thailand but representing England as his father owns the Q House Snooker Academy in Darlington.
Phetmalaik won six matches in total, including a final-round 4-1 ousting of Hong Kong’s Cheung Ka Wai.
There are just two more Q School spots up for grabs with the second qualifying tournament for the Asia and Oceania region set to commence on Wednesday.
Featured photo credit: WST