Luca Brecel showed no signs of letting up on his positive form since last season’s World Championship after a 5-3 victory over Craig Steadman in the opening round of the Shanghai Masters qualifiers.
The Belgian star has already started the new campaign well after his breakthrough emergence in Sheffield last April, supported by his victories over world champions Graeme Dott and Ken Doherty at the weekend’s UK PTC tournament.
At 17, Brecel has plenty of time to breakthrough into the higher echelons of the sport but his long known talent, and now his performances, are beginning to prove that the fraternity may not have long to wait before his progression embarks on the big time.
Confidence is obviously a key factor in any professional sport and now that Brecel has appeared to have settled to life on the Main Tour his appearances at the latter stages of qualifying events, and then subsequently at the venues themselves, are likely to multiply.
Two other youngsters who are emerging are Cao Yupeng and rookie Scott Donaldson.
Cao shocked all by beating Mark Allen at the Crucible on his debut in the Worlds and has backed up his displays with a solid start to this campaign.
Donaldson, who claimed the European Amateur Snooker Championship in June, and is competing in his maiden ranking event qualifying competition as a pro, overcame Chen Zhe from China 5-4 in a tense and tight affair.
Donaldson held a 3-1 advantage before Chen battled back to force a decider but the Scot managed to begin his life on the circuit with an early success.
Rod Lawler, who only regained his place on the tour after victory in Q-School, continued his own unlikely resurgence following a run to the last 16 at the Wuxi Classic with a 5-0 drubbing of amateur Gareth Allen – who only gained his place thanks to the withdrawals of other pros from the event.
There were deciding frame triumphs for Tony Drago, Tian Pengfei and another amateur in Fraser Patrick over inaugural Snookerbacker Classic champion Martin O’Donnell, while Liam Highfield, David Grace and Ian Burns all also advanced to the second stage.
There was international delight as India’s Aditya Mehta, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh of Thailand and Australia’s Ben Judge enjoyed wins as Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon, Robbie Williams and Kurt Maflin all progressed with walkovers.