A quartet of cueists qualify from event one at UK Q School snooker 2024

Haydon Pinhey is a Q School graduate. Credit: WPBSAHaydon Pinhey is a Q School graduate. Credit: WPBSA
Haydon Pinhey is a Q School graduate. Credit: WPBSA
The first four graduates from this year's UK Q School were decided on Sunday at the Matioli Arena in Leicester.

Artemijs Žižins, Wang Yuchen, Allan Taylor and Haydon Pinhey all navigated the Q School gauntlet, emerging from a field of over 160 entrants to each secure a World Snooker Tour card for the 2024/25 and 2025/26 professional seasons.

The first to win a ticket was the surprise package of the event, 17-year-old Žižins, who creates history by becoming Latvia’s first-ever snooker professional.

In his maiden Q School event, the teenager coasted through his opening three matches with 4-0 victories before dispatching former tour card holders Iulian Boiko and Mark Joyce.

Against Kayden Brierley in the final round, Žižins secured the first frame with a break of 120, although the Englishman levelled and then took the lead at 2-1. However, Zizins claimed the next three frames - registering runs of 51 and 88 in the fifth and sixth - to earn promotion.

Winner of the European under-16 title in Albania in 2022, Žižins was Latvian national champion last year.

Hong Kong cueist Wang is back on the sport’s top tier following a six-year hiatus.

The 26-year-old - Asian under-21 champion in 2016 - survived three consecutive deciding frame matches earlier in the event, and had to negotiate another one at the final hurdle to oust Dylan Emery, 4-3.

Welshman Emery was looking to immediately bounce back to the pro tour and was on course to do so as he went 2-0 up (79 break, frame one). Wang, though, was not to be denied, hitting a break of 116 in frame five to go in front before coming through a nervy, scrappy seventh frame.

There will be pride for Wang who lost in a final round deciding frame at last year’s Asia-Oceania Q School in Bangkok.

Having been relegated from the professional circuit only a few weeks ago, Englishman Taylor returns at the first possible avenue, although he too had to do it via a deciding frame.

The 39-year-old dropped only one frame in his first three rounds earlier this week, but needed all seven in order to squeeze past Simon Blackwell 4-3 in the penultimate round on Saturday night.

Facing ex-pro Chris Totten in the final test, Taylor crafted a 66 on his way to going one-nil up, although breaks of 65 and 62 helped his Scottish opponent move one away at 3-2 up.

Taylor was resilient, though, a 55 aided him to force a decider where he managed to cross the line.

There will be huge relief for Pinhey, who finally realises his dream of being of a fully-fledged professional player.

The 27-year-old from England relinquished just three frames in three matches en route to the final round, coming from behind to eliminate Q School expert Craig Steadman 4-2 in the last 32.

Meeting the vastly experienced Gerard Greene on Sunday morning, Pinhey compiled breaks of 100 and 53 as he moved 3-0 up before having to suffer as his opponent clawed his way back into the tie.

However, Pinhey steadied himself in a scrappy sixth frame, showing fine matchplay acumen to win 4-2 and earn his tour stripes.

It was a case of fifth time’s a charm for Pinhey, who had agonisingly lost in the final round in each of the last four years at Q School. He has previously appeared on the pro circuit many times before as an amateur top up player and registered several notable victories, including one over Luca Brecel.

The second event in Leicester gets underway tomorrow where four further tour cards are on offer.

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