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Sport is ever-evolving and this year’s Snooker World Championships has seen a new piece of history created by finalist Luca Brecel. The 28-year-old Belgian has become the first player from mainland Europe to reach the final of the World Snooker Championship.
The path to the Final not an easy one for Brecel either. He has thrilled the crowds with some astonishing comebacks, the first of which saw him topple the reigning champion, Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Now the Belgian sensation has an opportunity to put his hands on snooker’s biggest trophy as he meets Mark Selby in the 2023 Snooker World Championship Final.
That Match vs O’Sullivan
The name of Luca Brecel was doing the rounds after he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals from a position that looked hopeless. In what was a scrappy error-strewn match, Brecel was the pre-match underdog.
Brecel had lost three of the four most recent meetings with O’Sullivan ahead of the Crucible Clash, and the Belgian had failed to record more than one frame in any of those defeats. So when O’Sullivan raced away to claim the first session 6-2, things had a familiar feel about them.
Even at 8-4 and then 10-6 down ahead of the final session of the match, Brecel didn’t appear to be in the running. But then he launched a stunning comeback, winning seven consecutive frames in that final session to land a 13-10 victory.
The Early Rounds
Brecel’s journey to the Final started with a nail-biting 10-9 victory over Ricky Walden in the opening round. That was the first success in a World Championship match that Brecel had managed in his career.
All five previous appearances at Snooker’s most prestigious event had ended in First Round failure for Brecel. So that makes his run to the 2023 Final even more thrilling and spectacular .
The victory over Walden put the young Belgian through to a tough match against three-time champion Mark Williams in the Second Road, in which he claimed a 13-11 victory. Then came the O’Sullivan match, but Brecel would need an even bigger comeback performance in the semis.
Brecel Topples Si Jiahui
In his semi-final, Luca Brecel met young Chinese sensation Si Jiahui and once again, Brecel looked to be in a hopeless position. He was, quite remarkably, in a nine-frame deficit at 5-14 down at one point in the match.
That was a worse spot than he’d been in against O’Sullivan in the previous round. But what followed from there was staggering. Brecel ran off 11 consecutive frames to put himself in the ascendancy to close out at 17-15.
Brecel The History Maker
Now Luca Brecel has earned himself a place in snooker history as mainland Europe’s first ever World Snooker finalist. He will face Mark Selby, who held off a late challenge by Mark Allen 17-15 in another thrilling semi-final, for the title on Sunday and Monday.
The last player from outside of Britain and Ireland to win the World Championship was Canada’s Cliff Thorburn in 1980. For a player who has won only two ranking titles in his career, and had never won a match at The Crucible, a tremendous story has been written by Brecel.
The Belgian has shown that he has the talent, temperament and tenacity to compete with the best in the world. But can he now complete the final chapter at the Crucible to write his name in the history books alongside other great winners like his 2023 opponent Selby, the conquered O’Sullivan, Williams and more?
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