Luca Brecel wins snooker Championship League


Flemish snooker player wins the first world-level sports tournament to take place since the corona lockdown

‘I’m over the moon’

Limburger Luca Brecel, 25, has won snooker’s Championship League, one of the first professional tournaments to be held since the global coronavirus lockdown. It is Brecel’s second title since he turned professional aged 16.

Brecel is ranked 37th in the world and won the event in Milton Keynes in the UK on Thursday. The tournament was played under strict conditions in light of the Covid-19 pandemic: There were no crowds present, players, staff and commentators were tested for the virus and isolated until results were available, and all participants had to remain inside the venue.

“The last frame was probably the hardest test of my career,” Brecel said. “Most of the time I’m pretty cool under pressure, but this time I was very nervous, pretty shaky. I had to stay in quarantine for three days since Sunday, but if you win the tournament it doesn’t matter. I’m over the moon; I don’t know what to say.”

The Belgian Bullet

The tournament, which took place from 1 to 11 June, comprised three rounds of four-player mini-leagues. Brecel recovered from a bad mistake in the second round of matches – missing the reds with three successive shots, meaning he forfeited the frame – to progress to the final.

In the final round, he drew two matches and won one against British players Ben Woollaston, Ryan Day and Stuart Bingham. Against Bingham he played a remarkable shot to escape a snooker and scored breaks of 105 and 106. He then chalked up a break of 111 in the final frame of his match against Wollaston to take the tournament.

Brecel, known as the Belgian Bullet, wins €33,000 as well as qualification for the Champion of Champions event in November, to be held at the same venue. His previous success came in the China Championship in 2017, when he became the first player from mainland Europe to win the event.

As a 17-year-old in 2012, he was the youngest player ever to qualify for the World Championships, the sport’s flagship event played at the Crucible in Sheffield, England, and the first Belgian to play at the venue.

Photo courtesy Matchroom Live