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The second of ten World Snooker Challenge Tour events that will run throughout the 2018/19 season takes place across Tuesday and Wednesday at the Guild Hall in Preston.

Brandon Sargeant claimed the opening tour stop last month at the Meadowside Leisure Centre in Burton when he defeated Luke Simmonds 3-1 in the final, putting himself in pole position of the Order of Merit Rankings. At the end of the campaign the top two ranked players will each earn two year professional tour cards for 2019/20 and 2020/21.

Sargeant returns to protect top spot although he faces a very tricky first round tie with the experienced Leo Fernandez, who was only relegated from the top tier last season. Should he come through that, he could meet exciting young prospect Jackson Page (who has just won the Welsh Amateur Championship) in the Last 32.

Former World Amateur Champion Simmonds is located towards the top of the draw and will begin his bid against Jamie McArdle with the winner to play either Peter Devlin or Ben Hancorn. On Sunday evening during World Open Qualifying at the Guild Hall, Simmonds led World Number 1 Mark Selby 3-1 before losing 5-3.

David Grace and Mitchell Mann - semi-finalists last month in Burton, will cross cues with Jamie O' Neill and Gary Challis respectively.

A Crucible qualifier in 1998, Simon Bedford was a top-up player during the Riga Masters Qualifying held here last week. He made the most of his invite, defeating Mike Dunn 4-3 having been 3-0 down to qualify for the venue stages later this month. Bedford will duel with Alex Taubman on Tuesday.

11-times World Women's Champion Reanne Evans got to the Last 16 of Event 1. She is back to go further - her first challenge is Matt Couch.

Whilst there is £2,000 to the winner of each event, plus the before-mentioned pro tour cards, once again World Snooker have had to go down to 118th (Challis) place in the Q-School rankings to fill the 64 places.

In a previous article I have discussed how the tour could be better formatted to suit amateurs who may have family and full-time work commitments, however, the desire of players could also be questioned - the Challenge Tour is not the 'quick fix' that Q-School is.

To see the 64 player draw in full, please visit the World Snooker website here.

Image above is courtesy of World Snooker

Article written and published by Michael Day on the 8th July 2018​​​​