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Snooker reached its apogee when a record 18.5 million viewers tuned in to watch Dennis Taylor beat Steve Davis to win the world championship in the early hours of a Tuesday morning in 1985. It was a final that encapsulated a moment in time. Snooker was box office and this was a final between contrasting styles of player. 

Davis was a machine-like potter, his dominance of the sport almost at the point of being boring. In beating him 18-17 – fighting back from a 7-0 lead in the first session – Taylor gave hope to his fellow players and spectators alike that there would be room for some new names on a trophy that Davis had already lifted three times previously. Instead, Davis' stranglehold continued. He reached the final a year later, losing to Joe Johnson, before registering a further three successive victories from 1987 to 1989. But, just as it appeared he was set to dominate the landscape for another decade, the Englishman's run of world titles came to a juddering halt.

His place at the top of the sport was taken by a Scotsman – Stephen Hendry – who proceeded to break most of the records set by Davis, including that for the most world championship wins in the modern era. His tally of seven was latterly equalled by another Englishman, Ronnie O'Sullivan, while the list of multiple winners includes two Welshmen (Ray Reardon on six titles and Mark Williams on four), another Scot (John Higgins on four wins) and Mark Selby, the Englishman who has also won four titles and lost Monday's final to Luca Brecel from Belgium.

The significance of all these names and numbers? The above list is almost entirely made up of British snooker players. In defeating Selby, Brecel became only the fourth non-Briton to win the world championship. It should be a watershed moment for the sport after one of the most thrilling tournaments in years. 

Brecel seems to think it will have a snowball effect in his home country.

Speaking after his swashbuckling 18-15 win in the final at the Crucible earlier this week, he said: "I was so nervous because I just wanted it to happen for Belgium and for Europe. It's going to explode. Now it has happened, I can't wait to see what it brings to the world.”

The Herald:

His observation holds a grain of truth but, at the same time, seems to be at odds with the general perception that snooker clubs around Europe are closing.

A look at the World Professional Snooker Board website confirms that across 14 countries in mainland Europe there are just 221 snooker halls and of that number 98 are situated in Belgium. That high figure can be attributed to Brecel's first appearance at the world championship in 2012 which triggered a surge in young Belgian children asking their parents to take them to clubs.

"We noticed a lot of young children coming over here too and wanting to play. Some played snooker, others played pool because the smaller table may be easier for them," Georgios Stephanos, the owner of the club in Flanders where Brecel learned to play the game, told the BBC earlier this week.

It stands to reason that the numbers will rise in Belgium with Stephanos admitting that following his protege's victory he has decided to abandon plans to sell one of his three remaining snooker tables.

However, while Belgium now has three players inside the world's top 100 it is a different story in other European countries where there are only two – the Swiss Alexander Ursenbacher and Germany's Lukas Kleckers. It seems the only likelihood of a similar story emerging elsewhere on the continent will be by accident rather than design.