Judd Trump is convinced he could be facing a future world champion when he resumes his quest to crush the 'Crucible curse' in the second round on Thursday.
Sixteenth seed Yan Bingtao fought off a spirited fightback by Elliot Slessor to book a clash with the world number one and Trump believes the 20-year-old can spearhead a surge of Chinese title challengers.
Trump said: "He (Yan) is very mature for his age and he doesn't go for anything stupid. He takes his time and he has certainly got a chance of being world champion in the future."
Yan, now 20, became the youngest ranking event finalist at the Northern Ireland Open in 2017 and went on to reach the final of this year's Players Championship – where he was thumped 10-4 by Trump.
Despite almost blowing a 9-2 first-round lead over Slessor, Yan is already considered the most promising member of a new Chinese generation who are yet to live up to frequent prophecies of future domination of the sport.
Yet with nine Chinese players currently in the world's top 50, Trump, bidding to become the first first-time champion to retain his title in the Crucible era, is convinced the power-base in the game is shifting more towards the east.
Trump added: "The future of the game is in really good hands with these Chinese players, and in the future there will certainly be a more even ratio of players from China and the UK.
"It's also good to have young players coming through. It keeps you on your toes and it's nice to have the 40-plus players not winning everything all the time."
Yan had looked set to coast to his first Crucible win when he led Slessor 7-1 overnight but admitted he felt the pressure as his opponent launched his unlikely comeback.
Yan said: "I was getting a bit nervous near the end and I was very glad to win when I did because we would have had to come off and I did not want to come back later in the evening."