Luca Brecel and Noppon Saengkham will face each other in the first round of the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.
Luca Brecel’s season so far
There have been many quiet periods for Brecel this season, but in turn there have been a lot of big highs too.
The Belgian Bullet burst into life in December with a magnificent run to the final of the UK Championship.
He would have been forgiven for feeling down after his defeat to Zhao Xintong in York, but the very next week he duly entered and won the Scottish Open.
Those performances helped the 27 year-old qualify for the lucrative Tour Championship, where he ousted Judd Trump to reach the last four.
Back in the top 16, Brecel will now look to break further ground by finally winning a match at the Crucible Theatre.
In four previous attempts he has always ended on the losing side, including in 2017 and 2019 when he succumbed to painful defeats in deciders.
Noppon Saengkham’s season so far
It hasn’t been a strong season for Saengkham, who represents one of the ultimate nice guys of the game.
A run to the last 16 of the UK Championship was as good as it got, although that was timed well considering the extra ranking points available in York.
Saengkham recorded two solid victories in the World Championship qualifiers, including one against recent Gibraltar Open champion Robert Milkins.
The 29 year-old has fared quite well at the Crucible in the past too, reaching the second round in 2020 when he was agonisingly denied a quarter-final berth by Mark Selby in a final-frame decider.
Brecel has played Saengkham on four occasions, winning the last three with an aggregate frame score of 16-3.
Saengkham can produce a decent level on his day and could become a threat, especially if things get very close given Brecel’s poor history in deciders here.
The latter has had his issues with the Crucible in the past, but during this campaign he has demonstrated a new level of maturity on the baize.
This could finally be the year when he makes his mark in Sheffield.
Prediction: Luca Brecel 10-7 Noppon Saengkham
Wednesday, April 20th – 7pm
Thursday, April 21st – 1pm
Featured photo credit: WST