Leeds teenager Oliver Lines’s debut season will reach a new high in Thailand, having qualified for snooker’s elite Grand Finals.
The 19-year-old European Under-21 champion has impressed in his first year on the professional Tour, including a stunning 6-4 International Championship win against world champion Mark Selby.
Now the rookie has qualified for the Players Tour Championships Grand Finals, having reached the final of an Asian Tour event in October.
Lines beat six players in Haining, before eventually losing in the final to world No 9 Stuart Bingham.
That has helped him secure a place in the end-of-season Grand Finals, which sees 32 players from around the world compete for the £100,000 top prize.
Ranked 81st in the world, Lines will be the lowest-ranked player on show.
“There were three PTCs in Asia, and I got to the final in one of them, which guaranteed me a place in the Grand Finals,” he said. “It’s the best 32 players from the PTCs.
“It’s full of the top 16 players, apart from Ronnie (O’Sullivan). He’s the only player not in it. I am the lowest-ranked player in the finals.
“I guess there isn’t any pressure on me, but I am hoping to have a decent run.
“I have Matthew Selt in the first round (tomorrow), who I played a few weeks ago in Poland. I beat him 4-3, but, hopefully, I can do it a bit easier this time.”
Lines is arguably the best young talent emerging in English snooker. It would crown a remarkable debut season if he could finish off with a place at the Crucible next month in snooker’s premier tournament, the World Championship. First he must win three qualifying matches, with all players outside the world’s top 16 scrambling for places at Ponds Forge in Sheffield next month.
“I am hoping to qualify for the Crucible, but so is everybody else,” said Lines. “But in my first season, I would take just winning a few rounds, getting a taste for the matches.
“You are used to it then for the second season, when I can really go for it.”