Former World and UK Champion Shaun Murphy believes that the new Q School will give budding snooker players the chance to find out a lot about themselves and their chances of success on the professional circuit.
The Q School will run from May 11 to 31 next year, with 12 places up for grabs for the 2011/12 main tour. There will be three week-long tournaments, with the semi-finalist in each to win a place on the pro circuit, giving them the chance to compete against the world's top stars and battle for total prize money of £4.5 million.
"It's a fair system and it will give everyone who enters a clear cut goal," said 28-year-old Murphy, who became the second-youngest player to win the World title at the Crucible when he beat Matthew Stevens in the 2005 final. "It will be cut-throat, but that's the way sport is. You have to make sacrifices to get to where you want to be. And it has to be difficult, so that when you get there you appreciate it more."
Sale-based Murphy may now be an established top-eight player with a string of titles behind him, but his progress to the top of the sport did not come easily. "I qualified for the pro tour when I was 15, but I got relegated straight away and spent two or three season trying to get back on via the challenge tour, which I eventually did, finishing top of the order of merit," he recalls.
"At the time I felt I was unlucky and hard done by. It's only now I can see that struggle was part of becoming the player I am now. A lot of other players fell by the wayside, but the difference for me was that I never gave up, and I always had a clear goal of where I wanted to be. As long as the route is there, then players can pursue their goals.
"The Q School system is used in golf and other major sports. I'm sure the pressure there will be intense - it's one thing clearing up the balls when you're trying to win a tournament, but another when you're fighting for your professional status. But that's what sport is all about - there's comes a time in everyone's life when they find out whether they are good enough."
You can sign up for our new Q School, and get a free pair of tickets to the Masters at Wembley Arena in January!
The entry fee is £1,000, but many players have already expressed their preference for the new system as they only have to travel and stay at one event, rather than going to a succession of tournaments throughout the season.
Anyone can enter, providing they are age 16 or over on May 11, 2011 and a member of their National Governing Body.
As an extra incentive, we’re giving away a pair of tickets to the Masters to each of the first 100 players who signs up for the Q School. The Masters is snooker's most famous invitation event and runs from January 9 to 16 at Wembley Arena. All of the top stars including defending champion Mark Selby, Crucible king Neil Robertson, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Stephen Hendry and John Higgins will be in action.
Who knows, you could end up playing at Wembley yourself!
So don’t delay, get your name down for the Q School straight away and start dreaming of the big time.
Practice What you Preach Mr Murphy If its Tough to Get on Tour it should be tougher to be Crowned the World Champion.
"It will be cut-throat, but that's the way sport is. You have to make sacrifices to get to where you want to be. And it has to be difficult, so that when you get there you appreciate it more."
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