We're Joined By The Wilsons! | 2023 Duelbits Tour Championship

Carty Insists He’s No Fl-Ash In The Pan

Ashley Carty has vowed not to let his standards drop after his victory in the Q Tour Playoffs last weekend secured a return to the World Snooker Tour.

Carty first qualified for the tour back in 2018 after coming through the third Q School event that summer. But after five years, the Rotherham-born potter lost his professional status.

Q House Academy in Darlington hosted the playoffs, with those placed 2nd to 17th on the Q Tour rankings knowing victory would see them rewarded with a two-year tour card. After finishing 13th, Carty came from 3-0 down in his opening match against Farakh Ajaib to win 4-3, before brushing aside Hamim Hussain, Ross Muir and Florian Nussle to take the title.

“I was really nervous,” admitted Carty. “It’s a really important tournament. And being off the tour, I’ve not really had a major tournament like that for a year now. So it was a really big occasion for me and when I got over the line there was so much relief. It meant a lot.

“It was funny actually. Because of the pressure in the last frame, I actually miscounted the scores. So I won the frame with a break of 58, I think it was. And that meant Florian needed snookers. But I thought I’d missed the red and he could still win. Obviously, he’s come to the table and it took me a few minutes to get my head around it.”

However, for Carty, it could have been so different. An honest conversation with a friend three months ago sparked a fire inside the 27-year-old. It turned a player drifting through his Q Tour campaign, by his own standards, into a serious Playoff contender.

And now having won it, the former English Under-21 Champion is determined to make a better fist of his second tilt on tour.

“Finishing 13th made me realise I had to up my practice intensity,” said Carty. “It gave me a little kick up the backside. My friend told me my practice was diabolical and it shocked me. I went home and thought about what he said and realised I’d become a bit lazy. Since then, I’ve been running three times a week, getting up very early, and putting more intense practice in with him. That seems to have helped a lot.

“If I didn’t win the playoff I’d be going to the European Amateur Championships under a lot of pressure. That’s the last chance before Q School and nobody wants to go to Q School. It’s brutal.

“Normally, after a season, I might have a few weeks off. Whereas now, I’m going to carry on practising really hard because I know I’ll need to improve to do what I want to on tour. Reaching the business ends of tournaments, quarter-finals or semi-finals. And getting in the 64, that’s the main target. I went to watch the final of the Players Championship and witnessing a packed audience in a nice venue made me think again, that’s where I want to be, I want to be in those situations.”

One player who wishes he was at the Duelbits Players Championship final too is Joe O’Connor, narrowly losing 6-4 to Ali Carter in the semi-finals. But, O’Connor and Carty are good friends. The pair, both 27, grew up together on the baize. Despite the latter coming out on top when the two met in the English Under-21 Championships back in 2014, O’Connor has thus far gone on to reach greater heights as a pro.

Carty added: “I’ve been good friends with Joe since we played juniors. We’ve been on holiday together, we spend quite a bit of time together. And when I won that title, I was the better player then. But Joe’s practised hard and deserves what he’s getting now. That also gives me a bit of inspiration. If I work hard, I can achieve what he’s achieved.

“A little bit of me thinks that could have been me. But he’s worked really hard and he’s got Tom Ford and Mark Selby that give him advice. Which probably helps him a lot more than what I get. But I’m happy for him and it’s good to see him do well. But obviously, I want to be in those tournaments and in finals like he’s been as well. So it does motivate me.”