Luca Brecel and Si Jiahui come of age – World Championship talking points
Luca Brecel’s sensational march to the World Snooker Championship title in Sheffield concluded 17 days of significant shocks and sensational upstarts.
Early defeats for the likes of in-form Shaun Murphy and Judd Trump blasted open the seedings while up-and-comers like Brecel and Si Jiahui came of age.
Here, the PA news agency casts an eye over the highlights from another unforgettable fortnight and a bit at the Crucible.
A superstar prospect who seemed destined not to fill his enormous early potential, Brecel has finally hurled himself among the elite. With a swashbuckling style that evokes former Crucible greats like Alex Higgins and Jimmy White, Brecel won the hearts of the Sheffield crowd during his irresistible march to his maiden title.
The Chinese are (still) coming
Out of the dark cloud of the match-fixing scandal that snared 10 of their compatriots emerged a new generation of Chinese talent, spearheaded by the extraordinary Si Jiahui. His run to the last four will remain an abiding memory of this tournament and, as one of four first-time Chinese qualifiers, the future of the sport in the east is evidently in good hands.
While the rest of the circuit bows to TV pressure for shorter-form affairs, the 2023 tournament served as a reminder of what makes the marathon format so special. Brecel’s epic comebacks against Si and Ronnie O’Sullivan, and the extraordinary endurance shown by Mark Selby and Mark Allen in their early-hours semi-final, underscored what makes the Crucible unique.
With the glowing exception of Jak Jones, the single home-grown debutant who soared all the way to the quarter-finals, there are few signs of the next generation of rising British talent. Jack Lisowski once again came up spectacularly short, and besides Jones, first-round loser Elliot Slessor was the only other Briton in the draw aged under 30.
The fabled ‘Class of 92′ once again had their moments, but the manner of their eventual defeats hinted that their time as multiple title winners may finally be nearing an end. O’Sullivan admitted he had no answer to Brecel’s seven-frame streak in the last eight, while John Higgins’ stellar run was shattered in his own quarter-final loss to Selby.