An intriguing ending to the 2022 European Snooker Championship will see four young talents battling for glory on Friday.
After a week of action in Albania, the quartet will attempt to win the remaining two matches required for the major international honour.
In addition to the presitigous title, the champion will receive a potentially lucrative two-year tour card to compete on the professional circuit.
For Belgium’s Ben Mertens, the 17 year-old is playing with a freedom the other contenders can’t afford.
The teenager already has a pro ticket in his back pocket after capturing the European Under-21 Championship a week ago at the same venue.
In the last four of the blue-riband event, Mertens takes on Florian Nuessle in a repeat of the title decider in the junior category.
When they previously met a few days ago, Austria’s Nuessle took the opening frame only to lose the next five in what transpired to be a one-sided affair.
The pair has combined for more than 20 half-century breaks between them during this week’s competition, including three centuries.
In the second semi-final clash of the European Snooker Championship, Germany’s Umut Dikme takes on Estonian Andres Petrov (featured photo).
At 25 years of age, the latter represents the oldest competitor left in the draw but has plenty of experience at this level having reached the final five years ago in Cyprus.
That all four players are young and from countries that don’t boast a rich heritage when it comes to snooker bodes well for the future development of the game on the continent.
The semi-finals will take place on Friday morning before the final is contested later in the day.
Featured photo credit: WPBSA