Michael Holt has defeated Alfie Davies 5-4 to win the sixth event of the Q Tour UK/Europe season at the National Snooker Academy in Sofia, Bulgaria and in doing so guarantee his return to the World Snooker Tour from the start of the 2024/25 season.
With three titles won from six contested so far, the former Shoot Out champion now cannot be caught in the Q Tour Rankings with one event still to be played in Leeds next month, after his closest challenger Liam Davies fell at the quarter-final stages earlier today.
Success for the popular Holt ensures that he will return to the top table in our sport with a fresh two-year tour card from the start of next season, following an absence of two years after he was relegated at the end of the 2021/22 campaign.
Having reached the final day with wins against Bratislav Krastev and Chris Totten on Saturday, he added victories against Yu Kiu Chang and Matthew Glasby to reach the title match in Sofia. Holt was bidding to become the first player to win back-to-back Q Tour events since the launch of the Tour in 2021 and to seal the number one ranking with an event to spare.
Awaiting him was 23-year-old Welsh talent Alfie Davies, who enjoyed a breakthrough weekend with wins against Halim Hussain, Simon Dent, Iulian Boiko, second ranked Liam Davies and Harvey Chandler to reach his maiden Q Tour final.
Level at 2-2 at the interval, it was Davies who looked the more likely winner as he quickly added the next two frames to move two away from the title at 4-2. It was Holt, however, who would find an extra gear when he needed it most, with breaks of 140 and 128 the highlight of a three-frame surge that took him to the title and a return to the professional game.
“I think Alfie played a bit better than me,” said Holt. “I just battled and then from 4-2 down it was backs to the wall time and I thought go out and go for this, trust yourself and they all seemed to go in – apart from I nearly lost to go 4-4 – but in the last frame to pot a great long red like that and win the frame, I’m chuffed.
“It was a disaster dropping off [the World Snooker Tour] but this year I have reset, set my stall out to get back on and I was more focused to get back on inside, so yeah I’m really pleased. To do it with one to go, especially having missed the first one, I’m chuffed to bits with that.
“I’m proud of myself because it has been tough not being on the Tour. I tell myself, I tell anyone in this position, this isn’t the mountain. I’m just at base camp. The mountain is the rankings, I know that, I’m obviously going to have to play more and dedicate more time to it, which I’m excited to do because I have missed it.
“I’m going to work really hard but my main goal is just to enjoy it. The biggest tragedy of my first 23-year stint is that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have. So I think dropping off, although it was a disaster at the time, it might work out to be a good thing, but you never know. My main goal is to enjoy it and to play like I can and if I can do that I have got a chance against anyone.”