New Delhi: India`s ace cueist Pankaj Advani is faced with the "toughest" choice of his life as he ponders on whether to play the World Billiards Championship or compete in the world`s richest pro-snooker tournament as a clash of dates has made it impossible for him to participate in both.
"Sometimes, in life, you have to make tough decisions and things have unfolded in such a way that I have to decide one way or the other. It`s a tough decision for me. The World Billiards ends on October 28 and the Venue Stages (China tournament) starts on the same day.
"It`s very unfortunate that a situation has arisen where I have to decide between the two. It`s a very emotional decision for me and a difficult one too. I am not going to put one foot there and another on the other side. Either, I`ll go for the billiards or the snooker. I have to choose between the two," Advani said.
The World Billiards Championship will be played at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds, England from October 18 to 28, while the International Championship (Venue Stages) will take place from October 28 to November 4 at the Sichuan Province Stadium in Chengdu, China.
Advani`s first match in the International Championship will be against a wild-card entrant on October 29 at the Venue Stages if he decides to opt for that.
"I would have loved to play in both the tournaments but the dates are clashing. The whole issue is that one day. The scheduling is such that you can`t do anything. It`s a tough call and I am still not decided," he said.
"Had my matches for Venue Stages been rescheduled or World billiards gotten over a day before, I would have thought of playing in both the tournaments. I was ready to take the extra pain of travelling and switching formats but, in present scenario, it`s not practically possible. It`s unfortunate that I have been left with no choice but to do away with one discipline," he added.
Advani`s credentials as a billiards player are unquestionable with six world titles and five Asian crowns in the format, ensuring his entry into the list of legendary cueists -- former world champions Wilson Jones, Michael Ferreira and Geet Sethi.
The 27-year-old decided to turn Pro in May this year when he received the wild card quota allotted to India. By doing so, he became the only current player to compete in both the pro snooker and billiards tours.
India`s numero uno cueist qualified for the USD 950,000 prize-money China tournament in only his first quarter of participation.
For Advani, billiards has always remained his first love as the format made him what he is today. But to avoid living with the regret of not playing in the competitive world of snooker, the 27-year-old Bangalorian just does not want to hasten his decision.
"Billiards has given me my identity. I have played billiards all my life, it`s my first love. Of course, snooker has been there for long but now the scenario is different. I am playing the snooker with renewed vigour and found the approach to be different which I did not have in all these years.
"Even if I make a choice to play the World billiards or the International Championship, I am not going to regret my decision for sure. I don`t want to look back and say, I should have done that thing," he said.
The big prize money, invaluable ranking points, possibility of challenging the world`s top cueists and extensive live coverage are some of the factors, which are enticing him.
"It`s a million-dollar event. The atmosphere is exciting and challenging. There are good players out there, the conditions are top class. It can`t get better than this. It`s massive.
"In the snooker world, a lot more events are coming up this season. However, in billiards, there are only two world championships and after that, we don`t have any event for a while," said Advani, who lost to Englishman Mike Russell 3-6 in the final of the Point Format last year.