Brecel backed for wild card
Stephen Maguire has warned snooker chiefs they risk losing a future world champion if they do not hand Luca Brecel a wild card for next season.
In theory, Brecel needed to reach the World Championship semi-finals to keep his place on tour, after a season which only flickered to life for the 17-year-old Belgian this month.
But after the youngster wowed audiences in Sheffield and on television with rapid-fire break-building against Maguire, who won their first-round contest 10-5, it would be astounding if World Snooker ditched him.
Impressed by Brecel's attacking game, Maguire likened him to last year's runner-up Judd Trump and predicted he would soon be a title contender.
And the Scot now insists Brecel must keep his place in the professional ranks.
He said: "I just hope that World Snooker don't make a mistake and let him fall off because it would be a travesty for the game.
"Giving him a wild card is a no-brainer really. To be on the tour next year with all the experience he's gained this year, the matches that he won to get here, he's got everything going for him and he looks like a nice kid as well.
"Good luck to him and I hope I don't draw him in the World Championship next year.
"There won't be a 17-year-old in the world who can play the way he does now. So far everything is going right. I wouldn't be surprised if he won it soon."
Brecel, who at 17 years and 45 days became the youngest player in the history of the tournament, left the arena grinning after Maguire wrapped up his win, and the teenager confirmed afterwards he was still waiting to learn if a wild card is coming his way.
"I know I can play so much better," Brecel said. "But I want to be back next year and the future will be a different story.
"I haven't been told about a wild card for next season. No one has mentioned anything to me about getting one."
Asked about the prospect of becoming world champion in future, Brecel said, "Yes, easy", before revising his answer, saying: "Yes, it's definitely possible."
Maguire certainly agrees Brecel is a rare talent, the Glaswegian saying: "He's a potting machine isn't he. He's one of the fastest players I've seen and he's fearless.
"He plays the same shots as Judd does right now. Judd's obviously starting to get a bit of a safety game together, which Luca will eventually get. But in all honesty you don't want him getting a safety game just yet, you want him scaring the life out of people."
When Brecel began playing left-handed shots, Maguire's jaw almost dropped.
"I didn't know he could do that. He played a shot early on and I had to look twice because he looked the same," said the world number seven.
"I think he played about 10 shots with his left hand and potted every one of them, so he's definitely got something special about him."
Maguire first spotted that talent at a tournament in the now-defunct World Series several years ago.
"He was only about three years old then and he was making 50 and 60 breaks," Maguire said, joking.
"But obviously the talent is there to see and it's just a matter of time. It probably won't be that long before he's competing for tournaments."
Brecel won four qualifying matches to reach the main draw and had his first Crucible century yesterday, a 116 break.
It was always likely Maguire's experience would tell, but Brecel took away only positive memories.
He said: "I found the crowd really enthusiastic and really enjoyed it.
"The Crucible was a little bit special."