The 16 year-old claimed the biggest international title of his career so far.
Ben Mertens triumphed in the U18 European Snooker Championship on Monday – beating fellow Belgian player Julien Leclercq 4-3 in a dramatic finale in Portugal.
Having emerged from the round-robin phase with perfect records, the countrymen lived up to their status as the top two seeds by going all the way to the final showdown.
Mertens beat Ireland’s Alex Currid 4-0 in the last eight before a 4-2 semi-final success against Liam Graham of Scotland.
Leclercq, meanwhile, came from 2-0 down to deny Antoni Kowalski of Poland in the quarter-finals before a more comprehensive 4-0 thrashing of Hungarian Bulcsú Révész in the penultimate round.
The U18 European Snooker Championship final subsequently proved to be a tight and tense affair with never more than a single frame separating the two teenagers.
With a scarcity of high breaks, most of the frames were decided on the colours and the lead interchanged on several occasions in what was a topsy-turvy tie.
Mertens gained the early initiative by winning the opening frame, but his 18 year-old opponent then led twice at 2-1 and 3-2.
After the former forced a deciding frame, both contenders had a lot of chances to score points, but widely tipped prospect Mertens finally potted green to pink for a memorable victory.
The youngster, who famously won a match at the 2020 World Snooker Championship qualifiers, follows in the footsteps of Tyler Rees, Jackson Page, and Aaron Hill as U18 European Snooker Championship winners.
Next up in Albufeira is the European Under-21 Championship in which the winner will receive a two-year Main Tour card.
Featured photo credit: WST