Over the course of the next few days I will be previewing the upcoming World Championship Qualifiers by naming my selected players to look out for who could go all the way and reach the prestigious first round at the Crucible.
And my first player to watch out for in this year’s World Championship Qualifiers is the star who made the headlines last year…..Luca Brecel.
The Belgian teenager became the youngest ever player to earn a place at the World Championships last year at just the age of 17-years-old and 36 days – breaking Stephen Hendry’s record.
But despite a 10-5 first round defeat to Stephen Maguire, the youngster showed the world his talent knocking in a superb break of 116 (see below).
And Brecel’s rise shone through again last December when he reached the quarter-finals of the UK Championship after beating Ricky Walden and Mark King.
Brecel even looked set to reach the semi-finals of the event but could not get over the winning line as he let chances slip away before losing to Shaun Murphy in the deciding frame.
Before the match, Murphy – the 2005 world champion – said the Belgian star had a promising future in the game. He said: “At just 17 years of age, getting to the Crucible, and the last 16 here – he is looking like the real deal.”
Despite this Brecel, now aged 18, has had a quiet season and failed to qualify for the sport’s other ranking tournaments.
But by qualifying for both the World Championship and the UK Championship last year it seems Brecel relishes playing for snooker’s biggest trophies – maybe the prospect of a second go at the Crucible will see him shine again in the qualifying rounds?
Like last year, if Brecel is going to be at the Crucible then he must do it the hard way by winning all four of his qualifying matches.
The world number 71 will face Fraser Patrick in the opening round starting on Saturday before potentially facing Rod Lawler, Anthony McGill and Martin Gould.
A year older and wiser, Brecel will no doubt want another chance to shine on snooker’s biggest stage.