Jack Lisowski wasn’t alive for any of Steve Davis’s six world title triumphs but will know more about his opponent in today’s Betfred.com World Championship qualifiers than Davis will know about him.
This is an intriguing clash of styles and generations, the oldest player in the tournament against one of the youngest to have reached the penultimate qualifying round.
Lisowski, 19, did so on Tuesday by beating Kuldesh Johal 10-7. Resuming 5-4 down he won the first three but suffered a kick in the last before the interval, lost it and, having never experienced the intense atmosphere of the World Championship, spent the 15 minute break in a state of some distress.
Then, all this went away when he returned to the match table to find Johal had not turned up in time and was docked a frame. Suddenly it was 8-6 and Lisowski won 10-7.
“I’ve never felt so angry after that kick. I just wanted to scream but then he never turned up,” he said.
“You don’t feel like you’ve earned the frame but it happened to me earlier in the season and that helped me to concentrate.”
Davis, 53, will receive considerable nostalgic support. He first played in the World Championship when Jim Callaghan was prime minister and is surely snooker’s greatest ever ambassador.
But Lisowski is also fast establishing a following. Like the black pudding industry, snooker needs a steady flow of fresh blood if it is to renew itself. Young players have been coming through slower than ever in recent years but the Gloucester teenager has had an excellent debut season and there are many hoping he goes all the way to the Crucible.
He is, Colin Firth-like, a racing certainty to win Newcomer of the Year at the revived World Snooker Awards in May.
Against Davis, he will find his fledgling tactical game tested like never before. It will be a lesson in safety play but if he can get in and score has every chance.
He has every right to believe in himself. Lisowski is confident but not cocky. He is grounded enough not to get carried away with life on the tour.
What a proud moment, too, for his parents, Nick and Tracey, who will of course remember Davis from their younger days. Now, their son is playing him in the World Championship.
“One of the videos I've got at home is of when he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan to win the Masters. Steve is one of the all time greats and I’m relishing playing him,” Lisowski said.
“It’ll be a proper test. He could totally outplay me, but I could get in and start potting a few.”