Schoolboy Stan Moody claimed a sensational debut big-tournament victory at the quickfire Shoot Out on Thursday. The 15-year-old amateur from Halifax is widely considered the outstanding young talent in the United Kingdom.
And teenager Moody, the English EPSB Under-14 champion, fully justified the wildcard handed to him by beating world No31 Lu Ning 53-27 at Leicester’s Morningside Arena.
The rapid-format tournament features single-frame matches of 10 minutes maximum with a shot-clock dropping to just 10 seconds.
It is an event that many seasoned professionals struggle with but the baby-faced Moody – who looks far younger than his 15 years – took to it like a duck to water.
He led early in the frame against former UK Championship semi-finalist Lu, and then held off several comeback attempts to reach the second round.
And that sees Moody, now in the last 64, pick up £500 pocket money. If he goes all the way, the youngster can make that £50,000.
After his stunning debut in a major event alongside the professionals, Moody said: “I was a bit nervous to start with but once I had potted a few balls I felt composed, I kept my nerve and I potted some good balls. I’m very happy.
“It was my first time on TV which added a bit of pressure but it was good experience. It surprised me, how bright the TV lights were.
“The table was amazing, quicker than what I am used it and the crowd was good. I don’t mind who I draw next, I am just buzzing to do that in my first TV match and I can’t wait for Saturday.”
Moody, who is given Mondays and Fridays off school to hone his snooker skills, was invited along to last year’s Champion of Champions as a guest, having been recognised as a special talent.
And those around him will now need to manage his career and the expectations surrounding him to allow what is clearly a huge natural talent to flourish.
It is regularly noted on the main tour that most of the talented young players worldwide who have either just made it onto the circuit, or are hovering just outside the tour and likely to make a significant impact, are from Asia and more specifically China.
The Masters success of then 20-year-old Yan Bingtao was a good example, and he is one of many such young talents from a Chinese crop inspired by Ding Junhui and benefiting from academies funded by public money.
But while it is inevitable that there will be huge interest in any player from the UK with even the slightest potential to be the next Ronnie O’Sullivan or Judd Trump – as the cupboard has appeared barer in Europe - those pressures need to be kept at arm’s length to allow Moody to develop at his own pace.
Moody, who first picked up a cue at the age of nine on holiday with his family, has a high-break in match play of 133, while in practice he has already compiled a maximum 147 break.
He said: “Our room on holiday was next to a pool table and when I saw it, I was interested, so my dad showed me how to bridge.”
In 2019 he won the English Under-14 Snooker Championship in dramatic circumstances, beating Liam Pullen 5-4 in the final by potting a re-spotted black in the deciding frame.
The pandemic was tough for Moody though, without competitive action. And he is a big fan of reigning and four-time world champion Mark Selby, also the game’s current No1.
Moody added: “I missed playing in tournaments a lot because I just love competing – I thrive in competitions and it makes me play better. During lockdown I could only play on my own.
“I really admire Mark Selby’s all-round game. As my own safety game is getting better, I know how hard the game is both mentally and safety wise. I just appreciate how good they all are.
“I think my strengths are potting and break-building. I’ve been a good potter since day one – I just wanted to pot balls like anyone else from a young age and I’m now regularly making breaks above 70.”