Luca Brecel will become the youngest ever player to compete at the Crucible after coming through four rounds of World Championship qualifying.
The Belgian had already knocked out season pros Ian McCulloch, Barry Pinches and Michael Holt earlier in the week – the latter in a dramatic decider – and added Mark King to his hit-list following a historic 10-8 victory.
In doing so, he will become only the fifth 17-year-old to play in the World Championship but will break Stephen Hendry’s youngest ever record by a couple of months.
Funnily enough, all five players that were 17 on their debut will be in competition in Sheffield from next Saturday with Hendry and Liu Chuang also coming through the prelims, joining Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump in the main draw.
For many years Brecel has been heralded as a player with limitless potential but he had endured a rookie season to forget up until this point.
Any critics he may have picked up following a series of early defeats will now be eating their words, though.
Brecel has confirmed that he has the talent to go very far in the sport and enjoy a successful career but even more impressive is the temperament he has displayed in the last few days.
The teenager has responded well to the immense pressure from his two close encounters with Holt and King, as well as the expansive media exposure placed on his young shoulders.
It will be interesting to see how he can cope under the spotlight of the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ but either way he is well on his way to stardom – and he also will become the first cueist from Belgium to play in a World Championship.
Brecel will need to reach the semi-finals to break into the top 64 in the world rankings, and thus guarantee his place on the circuit for next season, but even if he doesn’t achieve this he will surely now be offered a wildcard to keep his Tour card.
Elsewhere, it was a bad day for the Irish as Fergal O’Brien and David Morris both went down 10-4 to David Gilbert and Barry Hawkins respectively and will thus not be joining Ken Doherty in tomorrow’s draw – the 1997 champion having come through 10-9 against Anthony Hamilton on Saturday.
The result of the day was recent China Open champion Peter Ebdon’s 10-0 drubbing of Alfie Burden.
It is rare enough to see a whitewash scoreline in a best of 19 tie but Ebdon’s rout is actually the second this week.
In this form, 2002 winner Ebdon has to be regarded as a genuine threat for the title and he will be considered as the worst possible first round opponent when the draw is made tomorrow lunch time.
Scotsman Hendry beat Yu Delu 10-6 to avoid missing the tournament for the first time in his career, meaning there be three former world champions qualifiers while ranking event winners Marco Fu and Dominic Dale are also in the hunt.
As well as Hong Kong’s Fu, there will be four Chinese competing for the first time as Liu Chuang, Cao Yupeng and Liang Wenbo – 10-9 over Marcus Campbell – all join one of the pre-tournament favourites in Ding Junhui.
Welshmen Ryan Day and Jamie Jones and English duo Andrew Higginson and Joe Perry complete the line-up.