The opening phase of the 2024 Landywood SC English Amateur Snooker Championship was completed last weekend with regional heats determining the 16 remaining players who are set to line up at the Finals Weekend in March.
A total of 175 cueists – more than a 20% increase on last season’s numbers – entered the 103rd edition of the world’s most decorated amateur snooker competition that has been won by famous names such as Ray Reardon, John Spencer, Terry Griffiths, Jimmy White, Stuart Bingham and Jack Lisowski.
Due to the differing entry numbers in each region, a pro-rata system was once again used to decide how many qualified for the last 16 from each heat.
Midlands – Landywood Snooker Club (4 qualifiers)
This season’s title sponsor the Landywood Snooker Club – venue for the Finals Weekend – played host to the Midlands Heat.
Reigning champion Paul Deaville’s hopes of becoming the first player to successfully defend the title since Griffiths in 1978 were agonisingly dashed by Callum Downing in the final qualification round.
Deaville led 3-0 but 31-year-old Downing produced a stirring comeback, hitting breaks of 90 and 117 (the highest break of the tournament so far across all three regions) in the final two frames to cap a 4-3 victory.
David Brown – the 2019/20 English Seniors Tour number one – defeated youngster Faizaan Mohammed 4-2 at the last hurdle.
Former world professional championship finalist and British Open victor Nigel Bond is still on course to win this prestigious title for a second time.
The winner in 1989, current English over-55 champion Bond ousted Jack Harris 4-3 to go through.
Hamim Hussain – last season’s EPSB Open Series number one – battled back from 3-1 down against Jed Mann in the penultimate round before seeing off James Brown 4-1 in the section final with breaks of 55, 116 and 58.
North – Northern Snooker Centre (7 qualifiers)
The busiest region in terms of entries came in the North where seven players remained undefeated at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds.
One of the outright favourites for the Championship, Craig Steadman issued a statement of intent as he recorded three consecutive 4-0 wins before a 4-1 success against fellow former professional Ashley Wright.
Former English junior number one Lewis Ullah also only dropped one frame in four matches as he progressed.
English under-14 champion in 2022, 14-year-old Vladislav Gradinari is the youngest player to reach Finals Weekend. Gradinari came back from 2-0 down to defeat Mark Ball 4-2 in the section final.
Gary Milne won his first three rounds 4-0 – eliminating current English seniors champion Lee Stephens by that scoreline in the penultimate round – before ending the hopes of 2022 champion Jamie Curtis-Barrett 4-1 to qualify.
Runner-up to Curtis-Barrett at this venue in 2022, former English over-55 champion John Welsh could still go one better this time around after he made it through.
Former professionals Jeff Cundy and Steven Hallworth – winner of this season’s first English Amateur Tour event and another very fancied player to lift the trophy – emerged from the other two sections.
South – Frames Sports Bar (5 qualifiers)
Frames Sports Bar in Coulsdon was home to the south regional heat where five players kept their hopes intact.
England’s number one ranked amateur player from the 2021/22 season Sydney Wilson is on course for another big accolade as he qualified for the last 16 dance.
Lee Martin ended on the positive side of a final round deciding frame finish against Nigel Clarke, while Nathan Jones navigated back-to-back deciding frames in the concluding two rounds against former finalist Wayne Townsend and then Luke Pinches.
Matthew Glasby was impressive throughout the day as he won his opening three rounds 4-0 and then booked a Finals Weekend ticket with a 4-1 defeat of former professional ranking event finalist Gerard Greene.
Marcos Dayao relinquished just three frames in four matches en route to qualification.
Finals Weekend for the 2024 Landywood SC English Amateur Snooker Championship will take place at the Landywood Snooker Club on the weekend of March 2 & 3, 2024.
The draw for the last 16 will be conducted closer to the time.
For further information on the Championship – including format and prize money – please visit here.