Luca Brecel’s sensational march to the World Snooker Championship title in Sheffield wrapped up 17 days of significant upsets and sensational upstarts.
Early losses to the likes of Shaun Murphy and Judd Trump, who were in top form, opened up the seeding, while up-and-comers like Brecel and Si Jiahui came of age.
Here, the PA News Agency takes a look at the highlights of another unforgettable fortnight and a bit at the Crucible.
A superstar prospect who seemed destined to miss out on his enormous early potential, Brecel has finally launched himself among the elite. With a swashbuckling style reminiscent of former Crucible greats like Alex Higgins and Jimmy White, Brecel won the hearts of the Sheffield crowd during his irresistible march to his first title.
The Chinese are (still) coming
Out of the dark cloud of the match-fixing scandal that engulfed 10 of their compatriots emerged a new generation of Chinese talent, led by the extraordinary Si Jiahui. His run to the last four will remain a lasting memory of this tournament and as one of the four Chinese qualifiers for the first time, the future of the sport in the east is clearly in good hands.
As the rest of the circuit bows to TV pressure for shorter format matters, 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 stamina displayed by Mark Selby and Mark Allen in their early morning semi-final, underscored what makes the Crucible unique.
discomfort at home
With the shining exception of Jak Jones, the only homegrown debutant to rocket 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 under 30 years of age.
The legendary ‘Class of ’92’ once again had its moments, but the manner of their eventual losses hinted that their time as multiple title winners may finally be coming to an end. O’Sullivan admitted he had no answer to Brecel’s run of seven frames in the last eight, while John Higgins’ stellar run was shattered in his own quarter-final loss to Selby.