Judd Trump and Jack Lisowski are good news for snooker, not just in the present but for the future.
These are players not just talented but with a bit of personality. They like their fashion. They like their holidays. They like their social media. They are professional snooker players for the Twitter and Facebook generation.
They used to share a home but Lisowski has now found his own place. I know from the column we did with him in Snooker Scene during the 2010/11 season how inspired he was by Trump’s performances and achievements.
When someone is bringing trophies back home it obviously serves as a motivation to do the same yourself.
And Lisowski has a perspective on snooker which stems from his successful battle against cancer when he was only 16.
Although a frightening time, because he couldn’t play snooker during his treatment it led to him becoming curious about the world. He read newspapers. He subscribed to the Economist. He educated himself in ways many if not most players, trapped in the all consuming snooker bubble, do not.
Today Judd and Jack play each other in the first round of the China Open in Beijing.
Friends playing friends is often tough – and frequently leads to bad matches, as if each player is dragged down by a subconscious desire not to beat the other.
I recall Joe Swail and Patrick Wallace meeting in the quarter-finals of the 2001 World Championship. Ordinarily, they would have been in one another’s corners and neither seemed to derive much joy from taking a frame off the other.
But you have to be professional and the Trump/Lisowski rivalry is surely here to stay.
Trump has obviously had a head start. He’s world no.1 with three ranking titles and a world final to his name.
But Lisowski has won two of their previous three meetings and is becoming a more confident performer on television, as he proved by beating Mark Selby at the PTC Grand Finals, although he would have been disappointed not to put away Tom Ford in the last 16.
It’s a great time to be an early 20s professional snooker player. The money and playing opportunities dwarf those of previous generations.
Without the ties of marriage and children, the snooker world is there to be conquered in single minded fashion and the rewards should be enjoyed.
Trump has struggled for form in 2013 but the campaign isn’t over yet and he will be hoping to end it in a similar vein to how he did two years ago.
But Lisowski, who has learned much from life as a snooker player through his friendship with Trump, has his own career to think about. It promises to be an intriguing contest.