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2017/2018 ROOKIE WATCH - PART 3

There are twelve players making their professional debuts on the main tour circuit in the 2017/2018 season. We have been keeping an eye on how they are managing on the top tier. Here is our latest update...

The World Grand Prix, which starts in Preston on Monday evening, features the top 32 richest earners in ranking events this season. None of this season's professional rookies made the cut, with Xu Si being the highest on that one-year list in 69th.

The 20-year-old from China has been the best 'newbie' performer with £26,000 amassed so far this campaign. A big chunk of that came from his incredible Semi-Final run at the Indian Open last summer which saw him win five matches before being eliminated by eventual champion John Higgins, 4-2.

​Xu also reached the Last 16 of the Scottish Open (maybe helped by the withdrawal of Mark Williams in Round One) and won his opening round tie against Mark Davis at the UK Championship.

Next on the list in 77th place is Xu's fellow countryman Li Yuan with £22,500. Li enjoyed a very consistent end to 2017, winning matches in the European Masters, English Open, International Championship, Shanghai Masters and then making the Quarter-Finals of the Northern Ireland Open. Since that run in Belfast, though, he has not claimed any more ranking points.

​Ashley Hugill and Chen Zifan are 90th and tied 91st on the list with £16,000 and £15,000 respectively. Hugill's highlight was a Last 16 berth at the Scottish Open, whilst Chen has victories over Shaun Murphy and Barry Hawkins to his name.

​Niu Zhuang is also tied in 91st - his most memorable moment so far is winning a brace of matches to qualify for the Tempodrom in Berlin. 

£1,000 behind Niu is the fifth Chinese rookie for the season; Yuan Sijun. Before making his professional bow this season Yuan was well known to snooker fans for being a very dangerous wildcard in his homeland events.

Yuan reached the Last 32 of the English Open, and qualified for Shanghai after defeating Murphy. His amount on this list will also improve, as he has qualified for the big money China Open in April and is already on £5,000 guaranteed. 

​Billy Castle (£11,500) and Chris Totten (£9,500) are the next rookies on the list.

Castle earned £6,000 for getting to the Last 16 of the European Masters in Lommel, Belgium where he had previously won three deciding frame matches. He then lost in a deciding frame finish to Cao Yupeng.

Without doubt Totten is most remembered this season, so far, for eliminating Neil Robertson 5-2 in the Shanghai Masters Qualifiers. This was his first victory.

Iran's Soheil Vahedi has accumulated £8,000, although he has been very competitive throughout. He has lost five deciding frame matches and his total could be a lot higher. 

Germany's only current professional Lukas Kleckers made a statement at the Riga Masters when knocking out defending champion Neil Robertson on the TV table in a deciding frame. Since then, though, it has been a struggle for the Q-School graduate who has not won another match.

Basem Eltahhan - Africa's sole representative on the top tier, has gained some profile amongst the general snooker public in the last few months. The Egyptian has proved he can certainly play the game; he took four frames off Mark Selby at the UK Championship. He gained his first ranking points and prize money at the recent Shoot-Out.

Matthew Bolton has been making trips to and from his home in Australia, but has yet to win a match on tour. The multi-talented cueist played defending champion Mark King in the first round of the Northern Ireland Open.

Picture above is courtesy of World Snooker

Written and published by Michael Day on the 15th February 2018