Championship League 2020 – Luca Brecel is your champion

Luca Brecel, who traveled from Belgium to play in the Championship League Snooker 2020, ended up winning it!

Here is the report by WST:

Thursday 11 Jun 2020 11:17PM

Luca Brecel made a tremendous century in the final crucial frame against Ben Woollaston to win the Matchroom.Live Championship League.

After 11 days and 126 matches involving 64 players, the tournament came down to the very last frame. Woollaston, leading 2-1, needed to win the match to take the title, while Belgium’s Brecel only needed a draw.

Leicester’s Woollaston attempted a tough red early in the frame and it wobbled in the jaws of a top corner, and cruelly that proved his last shot as he spent the rest of the match in his chair watching his hopes of winning his first televised tournament disappear. After slotting a red into a baulk corner, Brecel compiled a marvellous break of 111 to end the event in style.

It’s the second pro title of the 25-year-old’s career and first since the 2017 China Championship. He leaves the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes with total prize money of £30,000 plus a spot in the lucrative Champion of Champions at the same venue in November.

“I am usually cool under pressure but on that break I was very nervous, shaking on every shot,” admitted world number 37 Brecel, who was the only player to go unbeaten in all nine matches during the tournament, winning three and drawing the other six.

“That frame was probably the biggest test of my career because Ben was playing so well. It was a struggle to pot the balls, until I got to 50 or 60 and then I knew I wasn’t going to miss. To win a title is amazing.

“To be in the Champions of Champions as well is a massive bonus, that made the final more special. It gives me something to look forward to.”

Earlier on the final day, Brecel beat Stuart Bingham 3-0 and drew 2-2 with Ryan Day, while Woollaston scored a 3-1 success over Day and lost 3-1 to Bingham.

That left Brecel a point ahead of his opponent going into the decisive last match. And when the Belgian took the first frame, making a break of 67, he knew he needed just one of the last three for the title.

The contest turned when world number 38  Woollaston made a 141 total clearance in frame two – aided by a huge fluke on the pink on 25. And the 33-year-old fired another century, 126, in the third. But his narrow miss early in the last frame turned out to be costly. He finished second in the group and takes home £18,000.

The next tournament at the same venue, also televised on ITV4, will be the Coral Tour Championship from June 20th to 26th. Again it will be behind closed doors and the same rigorous procedures on testing, sanitisation and social distancing will be followed. All 116 players, staff and officials at the Matchroom.Live Championship League tested negative for Covid-19 as snooker made a successful return to live action.

And here are the winners group results:

I enjoyed the event. One reason for this is the fact that we got to see players who we usually never see on the main table, unless they play one of the top boys, more often than not in the rather grim setup of some qualifiers. Here the setup was nice, the commentary was quality. There weren’t many dead matches, the prize money structure being such that, even when out of the event, a player had always a financial incentive to try their best.

I’m very happy to see Luca and Ben playing well again. Both are quality but have gone missing in recent years for some reason. Luca seems to have been around for ages, but he’s only 25.

Well done Luca and well done WST.

6 thoughts on “Championship League 2020 – Luca Brecel is your champion

  1. Let us hope this is a new start for Luca in his career.I hope he will be more consistent fromnow on,starting with the qualifiers for the WCS.

  2. So despite having serious reservations whether he could make it at all, Luca Brecel ends up winning! Sometimes a situation like that can relax a player by lowering their expectations. He did really well and looked more mature that I have seen.

    He actually won the event by winning only 3 matches, drawing the other 6, which is quite remarkable. But it is not ‘unfair’. Amateur players will be familiar with leagues, ladders and team events where it is necessary to keep going and stay optimistic. It is a different philosophy from the one-on-one knockout match dynamic which the top players excel at.

    The best thing about the tournament was ultimately the ending. If Brecel had gone 2-0 up there would have been an anti-climax. But to finish in the way it did – three centuries and a decider – was a great advert for the game. Also, an overseas winner helps the ‘global’ narrative, even if it’s just an illusion at the moment.

    Speaking of which, with Ding unable to travel to the UK, Yan Bingtao’s presence in the upcoming TC is very important. With the two most popular players absent, it keeps the tournament alive for the Chinese audience (last year CCTV5 were showing basketball) This has implications. Unfortunately, despite giving lavish praise to Sam Craigie, Harvey Chandler, Joe O’Connor and Ashley Carty (who might all be relegated), the pundits again found time to doubt Yan Bingtao’s ‘pedigree’. Yan is doing a great service to the game if Ding (and other Chinese players) are missing for the next few months.

    The TC contains 4 players who participated in the Covid Classic – amusingly each playing someone who didn’t. We’ll see if this makes a difference. Even with long matches I think it’s unpredictable. But it’s wonderful to have snooker again!

    • Lewis, do you know for sure whether Ding is unable to travel or if he chose not to because he didn’t feel safe traveling?

      • The official line is that ‘he decided it would be safer for his family’, which makes for an excellent press briefing. His practice partner Luo Honghao also travelled to Beijing. Last week other sources (non-gov) suggested he ‘thought it might be impossible’ to make it. It’s very difficult for Jason to make any headway – I’m aware of some Chinese players who are struggling with VISA applications for the World Championship. Flights are subject to severe limitations (“Five-One” – one flight per airline per destination per week) until October.

  3. Thankfully Bingham was unable to fluke 3 group wins in a row so i’m happy to see Brecel wins this one.
    Such a great talent who has lots of time to improve his game.

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