Ashley Carty defeated Florian Nuessle 5-2 in the final to win the 2022/23 WPBSA Q Tour Playoff at the Q House Snooker Academy in Darlington and secure a two-year professional World Snooker Tour card for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 seasons.
Carty was relegated from the sport’s top tier only last year, but the Englishman bounces back quickly after emerging from the 16-player playoff in England’s north-east.
Heading into the event as the number 12 seed after semi and quarter-final finishes on the Q Tour this term, the 27-year-old’s playoff challenge was nearly over before it really began, as he found himself 3-0 down to Farakh Ajaib in the opening round.
However, Carty conjured up a brilliant comeback with a trio of half-centuries as he ousted his opponent in a deciding frame before eliminating youngster Hamim Hussain 4-1 in the last eight to reach Finals Day.
A winner on the English Amateur Tour this season and of the English 6-Red Championship only a few weeks ago, Carty needed to show more mettle as he fell 2-0 down to number one seed Ross Muir in the semi-finals. Once again, he was up to the task as he strung together four consecutive frames to advance into the final as a 4-2 victor.
Waiting for Carty in the title match was 21-year-old Nuessle, who was making the most of his very late call-up to the event after Daniel Wells’ withdrawal on Friday morning.
The reigning six-time Austrian national champion dispatched Josh Thomond 4-0 and Liam Davies 4-3 on Saturday before ending the hopes of Steven Hallworth 4-1 in Sunday’s last four to stand one further win away from becoming a professional for the first time.
Former Crucible Theatre qualifier Carty took firm control of the final early on as breaks of 71 and 55 helped him establish a 3-0 lead in the best-of-nine frames encounter. He also crafted a run of 57 in the fourth frame, but Nuessle potted brown, blue and pink to take it and get on the board.
Carty reestablished a three-frame cushion with frame five and was within a few pots from victory before Nuessle cleared with a 25 to stay alive. However, Sheffield star Carty was not to be denied, as he wrapped up the win with the aid of a 58 break in frame seven.
Following his triumph, a jubilant Carty said: “It will probably take a few weeks to fully sink in but I’m just over the moon really. I’ve been working really hard lately on and off the table, and it’s really pleasing that it’s paying off. I feel that I’m in a good place at the minute and playing really well.”
Responding to the emotions he felt when 3-0 down to Ajaib in his opening match, Carty described: “It seems ages ago! At 3-0 down I was really nervous, especially in the first two frames I was shaking like a leaf and missing too many balls, but Farakh was giving me opportunities and I knew I had been playing well in practice so I knew to just quicken up a little bit and get into a good flow.”
Reacting to his return to the professional circuit and what it represents, the champion also said: “It means a lot. It has been a tough year financially but it’s been a big learning curve. I know where I have gone wrong for the last four years so hopefully, I can put that right now and kick on.
“This season on the amateur scene has taken me back to my junior days but it’s given me a kick up the backside and made me realise that I wasn’t putting enough work in as I should have done. In a way, it might have helped me.
“I’d like to say big thanks to my sponsors Celtic Surveys because without them this season probably wouldn’t have been possible to practice everyday and put the hard work in. I’d also like to say a big thank you to my friend Kev who had a word with me a couple of months ago and made me put some hard work in and it’s definitely paid off.”