Top female players Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee are among a record entry of 174 for World Snooker's 2016 Q School.
American pool specialist Corey Deuel, 38, and ex-World Championship semi-finalist Andy Hicks, 42, are also among those attempting to secure one of eight places on the professional tour.
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said: "What this shows above anything is that there has never been a better time to be a snooker player.
"The opportunities are incredible."
Q School, which consists of two tournaments, could also include players who drop off the main tour at the end of the season.
It takes place in Burton from 11 May, with eight two-year tour cards going to the eight semi-finalists across both tournaments.
Prize money on the professional tour will top £9m for the first time next season.
The 174 players are from 19 different countries, including China, India, Israel and Pakistan. There were 166 entries in 2015 and 145 in 2014.