From Si to Pang – 5 rising stars looking to follow in Luca Brecel’s footsteps

Luca Brecel’s stunning World Snooker Championship final win over Mark Selby at the Crucible could herald an exciting new era for the sport.

Here the PA news agency takes a look at five leaders of the next generation who will be looking to follow in the Belgian’s footsteps.

Si Jiahui

Cazoo World Snooker Championship 2023 – Day 15 – The Crucible
Si Jiahui took the Crucible by storm (Zac Goodwin/PA)

The 20-year-old Si proved a revelation on his World Championship debut, and was only denied a place in the final by Brecel’s brilliant comeback. Si’s fearless approach won praise from the pundits and the Chinese player, who has hurtled into the world’s top 50 on the back of his success, showed all the signs of sticking around at the top level.

Ben Mertens

Ben Mertens Handout Photo
Ben Mertens is Belgium’s latest rising star (Tai Chengzhe)

Mertens emulated his compatriot Brecel by cleaning up at junior levels, and in 2020 he beat James Cahill to become, at the time, the youngest ever winner of a World Championship qualifying match. The 18-year-old adapted well on his debut year on the circuit, and beat David Gilbert en route to the last 16 of this year’s Welsh Open.

Stan Moody

Regarded as Britain’s best long-term prospect, the 16-year-old from Sowerby Bridge clinched a two-year tour card after winning the WSF World Junior Championship in Sydney this season. Moody, whose game has earned praise from stars including Jimmy White, made a memorable debut in Crucible qualifying by knocking in a century in a 10-7 win over Andres Petrov.

Pang Junxu

Cazoo World Snooker Championship 2023 – Day 1 – The Crucible
Pang Junxu pushed Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Crucible (Richard Sellers/PA)

The Chinese 23-year-old is no longer such a secret after gamely pushing Ronnie O’Sullivan on his Crucible debut. Pang enjoyed a breakthrough 2023, reaching the final of the WST Classic and the last four of the Welsh Open, propelling him into the world’s top 50 and making him a man the big names will want to avoid in 2024.

Julien Leclercq

The 20-year-old Leclercq, who plays a similar game to Brecel, is the third Belgian player in the world’s top 100. He made a significant impact in 2023, winning six matches to reach the final of the Snooker Shoot-Out, and also making the second round of the Welsh Open after a fine win over former champion Jordan Brown.