Belgian prodigy Luca Brecel and Rileys Future Stars Of Snooker champion Joel Walker have been awarded places in the qualifying rounds of the World Open.
The unique new tournament will see 32 amateur players enter the professional qualifying rounds at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield from August 21-24, when they will be battling to get through to the televised stages at the SECC in Glasgow in September. Two amateur places have been allocated to juniors, with Brecel and Walker selected for those slots.
Considered one of the most promising talents in snooker, 15-year-old Brecel recently became the youngest ever winner of the European Championship, beating several experienced players including Holland’s Roy Stolk 7-4 in the final. He is also the current Belgian champion and has beaten the likes of Jimmy White and Ken Doherty in invitation events.
Sheffield’s 16-year-old Walker was selected by Ronnie O’Sullivan as the most promising player in the nationwide ‘Future Stars’ competition run by Rileys, which was entered by over 1,000 juniors. The final stages of the rigorous selection process took place at the Crucible during the Betfred.com World Snooker Championship, when Walker showed off his skills to beat the opposition and earn a year of training and mentoring from O’Sullivan.
Rileys Chief Executive Maurice Kelly said: “It’s a great break for Joel. Everyone at Rileys is delighted for him. We are particularly pleased with the way Joel is coming along under Ronnie O’Sullivan’s influence. We hope our Future Stars winner is now on the road to becoming a star in his own right.”
The remaining 30 amateur places in the qualifiers will be made up by two former World Champions, two women, six international players and 20 winners of regional pre-qualifying events staged by Rileys and other snooker clubs.