Chris Melling, Craig Steadman and Chinese duo Zhang Anda and Tian Pengfei were the four players to earn two-year tour cards from 2014 Q School event one.
The quartet came through a tough field in Gloucester to reach the semi-finals and book a place on the World Snooker circuit for the next two seasons.
Yorkshire’s 35-year-old Melling is best known as a pool player, a former eight-ball World Champion and world number three at nine-ball. He previously played professional snooker in 2001/02 and 2003/04 but struggled to make an impact.
Now the player nicknamed the Magician believes he is ready to succeed on the green baize. “When I played pro snooker before there were only seven tournaments, played in Prestatyn and it was hard to get through the qualifiers,” said Melling, who edged out Welshman Duane Jones 4-3 today with breaks of 86, 60 and 75.
“These days there are a lot more tournaments plus the flat draws give everyone a much better chance to get to the venues, and I love playing in front of a big crowd. In the past the top 16 were too protected.
“When I was a snooker player before I was mixing it with pool, which is difficult. I will still play a few pool events next season but mainly I will be focussed on snooker and I am really enjoying playing at the moment.
“It was only because the pool calendar went downhill that I started playing snooker a couple of months ago, for the first time in five years. I bought a cue, and on the third day of practice I made a 147. So I decided to give Q School a try, and now I’m on the tour for two years.”
Melling also revealed that tips from a former World Champion had paid off. “I play at the Cue Gardens club in Bradford and Joe Johnson has been a big help to me, giving me free practice and a lot of advice about safety. I have never had anyone to really push me before but he has given me a lot of confidence, and if I don’t complete the routines he gives me, he lets me know about it.”
Steadman dropped off the tour at the end of last season, but bounced straight back by winning five matches at Q School, losing just two frames in the process. He finished with a 4-0 defeat of John Sutton, highlighted by breaks of 70 and 84.
“I played well all the way through, although just winning was the main thing,” said Lancashire’s 31-year-old Steadman. “It’s just a relief to be back on tour because I felt I was improving at the end of last season so now I have the chance to keep that going.
“I got to the last 16 of the China Open, then the ferrule fell off my cue and I lost to Mike Dunn, which was a shame because I felt I could have done more damage in that event. But I left it too late to get into the top 64 and keep my place. At least with Q School you have the chance to get straight back on.
“There are a lot of good players here and people were talking about the best parts of the draw to be in. But I didn’t look at the draw once, I just found out what time I was playing each day. The best of sevens are short sprints but I’ve got plenty of experience at that from the European Tour events.”
China’s 26-year-old Tian and 22-year-old Zhang also regained their tour places having been relegated at the end of last season. Tian saw off Eden Sharav today with top breaks of 92, 58 and 127, while Zhang edged out Jamie Clarke 4-3 with 86, 71 and a crucial 54 in the decider.