With the start of the 2015/16 snooker season under a week away as the start of the Australian Goldfields Open qualifiers approaches next Monday, today I take a look at just who will be competing on tour as a professional during the next 12 months and how they earned their place.
Firstly, the top 64 players on the official world ranking list published at the end of the 2014/15 season after the Betfred World Championship all retain their tour places for the following season.
These are joined by the 30 players who have just completed the first year of a two-year tour card and are now therefore entering their second and final guaranteed season.
It is important to note at this stage that the 94 players above will all retain the prize money earned towards their ranking list at the end of last season heading into 2015/16, while everyone else to follow will now begin with their totals having been set to zero with two guaranteed years on tour to come.
- Sydney Wilson, Daniel Wells, Eden Sharav, Rhys Clark, Jason Weston, Gareth Allen, Duane Jones, Paul Davison
Add to those a further eight players who have qualified by virtue of being the top eight players on the 2014/15 European Order of Merit, not already inside the top 64 on the main world ranking list and a further four players who meet that criteria on the 2014/15 Asian Order of Merit.
- Chris Wakelin, Fraser Patrick, Noppon Saengkham, Jamie Cope, Jimmy White, Allan Taylor, Nigel Bond, James Cahill
- Ross Muir, Sean O’Sullivan, Zhang Yong, Alfie Burden
Another two players earned their places last month at the EBSA play-offs, a knock-out event made up of the top 16 amateur players during last season’s six European Tour events.
- Martin O’Donnell, Sanderson Lam
There are a further nine players who will be nominated as a result of performances at international events:
- 2014 IBSF World Champion – Yan Bingtao
- 2014 IBSF World Under-21 Champion – Hosein Vafaei Ayouri
- 2015 Asian Champion – Hamza Akbar
- 2015 Asian U-21 Champion – Akani Songsermsawad
- 2015 European Champion – TBC (June 2015)
- 2015 European U-21 Champion – Darryl Hill
- 2015 Pan American Champion – Itaro Santos
- 2015 Oceania Champion – Vinnie Calabrese
- 2015 African Champion – Hatem Yassin
Finally, there remain three players who hold invitational ‘tour cards’, in accordance with the criteria established following the 2013/14 season. It is important to note that these players are only able to enter events with fewer than 128 professional entries, or fewer than 120 at European Tour events.
- Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, James Wattana.