Pankaj Advani today became the only active cueist in the world to play on both the professional Billiards and Snooker tour after the seven-time world champion announced his entry into the Professional Snooker League.
Following his recent stellar performance at the Asian Snooker Championships in Doha,where he finished runner-up to compatriot and country’s current numero uno cueist in snooker,Aditya Mehta,Advani decided to turn pro after a decade-and-a- half of playing snooker.
Nominated by the Asian Confederation of Billiards and Snooker,the 26-year-old shall enter the league based on a wild card entry.
“I feel that there is a time and place for everything in life,and I feel that this is the right time to give this a shot,” said Advani about his decision.
“At the age of 18,when I was really keen to go and play the pro league I didn’t get an entry,and after 8 years,the desire has rekindled. It will be exciting to see what follows next,” said the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee.
With Advani’s decision to turn pro,he will be off the amateur circuit for the next two years.
Elaborating on his plans for the next two years,Advani said,”My focus is to become a better and stronger player by participating in the Pro Tour,while continuing to actively participate in international Billiards events.”
To compete in a gruelling 10-month-long Pro Snooker Tour,the national billiards champion will be splitting his time between Sheffield,UK and India. When quizzed on shifting his base,Advani said,”What I’m doing now is nothing short of madness. But there is fun in madness as well.”
Advani will begin his campaign this season with the Wuxi Classic qualifiers,scheduled to be held at the WS Academy,Sheffield,from June 5-8.
As a debutant on the tour,the Padma Shri awardee starts the season ranked in the bottom half of the list which means he will have to play four rounds of qualifiers in the knock-out format to enter the main draws of all the tournaments.
With a win in the Asian Billiards Championships and a runner-up finish at the Asian Snooker Championships,Advani hoped to carry on his great form into the Pro Snooker Tour.
“Being part of a new environment is exciting and challenging at the same time and I look forward to it.”
Advani had got an opportunity last year to play a full season on WPBSA tour after India got an extra entry but he had refused to accept the pro ticket as the Bangalorean was not game to staying in the UK for months and not before until professional snooker goes global.
Advani,who won his first world title when he was just 18,is the only Asian to have ever won both the Billiards and Snooker world championships.