Singh Chadha 🇮🇳 Beats Bingham To Reach Last 32! [4-2] | Cazoo British Open

Singh Switches Gaming For The Green Baize

India’s Ishpreet Singh Chadha has a legacy as one of his country’s top professional gamers, but a career change has seen him earn a place on the World Snooker Tour.

Singh recently came through Asia-Oceania Q School to secure a two-year tour card. He defeated Hon Man Chau 4-0 in the final round to earn professional status. However, it wasn’t long ago that he had looked destined for a career in Esports.

Since a young age, Singh did harbour ambitions of obtaining a place on the professional snooker circuit. However, an ankle injury in 2017 meant that he was facing a significant period of time side-lined from the sport. Not wanting to remain inactive for months on end, he focussed on making it to the top of professional gaming instead.

Singh obtained a professional contract for Entity Esports, who had the most successful team in a game called Counterstrike Global Offensive, a first person shooter which was played in teams of five. They had a number of big tournament wins, including the Mountain Dew Arena CS GO Championship.

Singh believes that the things he learned in the professional gaming world, have stood him in good stead for a career on the baize.

“When I injured my ankle in 2017, I wasn’t going to be able to walk properly for at least seven months. I was already good at gaming, so I turned to that. I had never tried it professionally due to being focussed on snooker,” explained 27-year-old Singh.

“I would practice this even more than snooker. We used to have five or six hours of team practice a day and I would play for an additional three or four hours personally. It was a lot. It would be ten or 11 hours a day. It was important to teach discipline. You needed to really work hard to be good.

“Gaming has helped me a lot. Mentally, you have to be calm. You can’t just be impatient. It is a team sport. You need to see what the other personnel on your team are doing. You can’t just be mad at small things. My match temperament in snooker has become better because of gaming. I am also used to being watched by people and having the spotlight on me.”

Interest in the game eventually waned and Singh returned his attention to snooker. He admits that had this not happened, he may not have pursued a professional tour card. However, the Mumbai cueman is now highly driven to achieve similar levels of success in snooker.

“I was very much into gaming. Being the best gave me more motivation to continue and keep going as long as I could. Covid came and it changed everything. Interest in the game dropped off and sponsors moved their attention to a different game, which I couldn’t get used to.

“Maybe if Covid didn’t hit and that game continued, I wouldn’t be here. I was in a three-year contract with the gaming company at that time, but things changed. In 2017 and 2018 I won all of the tournaments back-to-back. We were winning everything and I was the best player in the country.

“My snooker coach, Yasin Merchant, as well as my mother, always told me snooker was my first love and that they couldn’t believe I would play something else. I explained I was happy with what I was doing. Eventually, I think God wanted me to pick snooker. Circumstances all changed suddenly and I went back to it.

“Once the second wave of Covid was over, I started practising snooker very hard. I thought it would have brought everyone to a similar level not being able to play and that if I practised intensely over a short period of time, I could dominate the Indian snooker scene.”

The hard work paid off when Singh became India’s National Champion in 2022. Now he has earned his tour card he will join compatriot Himanshu Jain on the circuit. Singh wants to surpass the achievements of the likes of Aditya Mehta and Pankaj Advani and become his country’s best ever player.

“I’ve tried for a long time to become the best player in the country. I have finally achieved that. To win the National Championship has made the last year very good for me. I have won most of the big events in India. I also won the silver medal in the Asian Snooker Championship. That was a big boost. It has all shown me that I can perform under pressure. This was my first attempt at Q School and by God’s grace I managed to actually qualify.

“It was one of my bigger goals in life to play on the professional snooker tour. I just love watching the likes of Mark Selby and Ronnie O’Sullivan play. I follow all of the tournaments and all of the matches. It is a huge dream and I am looking forward to coming to play. This will be my first time in the UK as well so there are exciting times ahead. One of my goals is to play well over there. Not many Indians have achieved massive things on the tour yet.

“Eventually I want to be the best ever Indian snooker player. I would like to inspire others to play and make snooker bigger in India as well. It isn’t easy to compete on the professional circuit without sponsors. It is quite expensive to move over from India, so if we could get more sponsors in the future that would be great. I would like to do something big in the sport, to open up snooker to the country of India in the same way other sports like cricket thrive.”

Singh is now gearing up for moving to the United Kingdom ahead of his professional debut at the upcoming BetVictor Championship League. He is travelling to Sheffield, where he will base himself with his mother Narinder, known as Bobby. Although Singh is nervous about the move, he can’t wait to get going and test himself against the best in the sport.

“It is one of the biggest things I’ve tried in my career so far. It is tough for me and my mother, because all of my family is over here in Mumbai and India. It will be hard for her. She is a single parent and we have always been together before. She has travelled with me for every amateur event I have played in so it will be great to have her in Sheffield. That is one of the big things for me. It makes me less worried or nervous. At least I am not alone in this new atmosphere. I am going to be based in Sheffield at Ding’s Academy. It is a big advantage to play at a place like this. There are great players practising there every day and the manager, Lucky Vatnani, is an old friend of mine. He has been helping me out to settle and find an apartment.

“It is going to be an amazing experience and I want to win as many matches as I can. If I can get though the qualifiers and make it to final stages of tournaments it will be very exciting. I want to get used to tournament conditions and match pressure as quickly as I can.”