Luca Brecel won the first ranking event of the season, yesterday evening. It was his third in total and the first whith his father Carlo present to watch him.
‘Fantastic. It’s also the first time with him when I won a trophy, all the other times I was alone, so this one’s for him.‘ was Luca’s reaction.
This is the report shared by WST:
Belgium’s Luca Brecel claimed the third ranking title of his career, defeating China’s Lu Ning 3-1 in final of the BetVictor Championship League in Leicester.
It’s the second time he has won the Championship League, following his victory in the non ranking version in 2020. On that occasion he edged out Ben Woollaston into second place.
The 27-year-old landed his first ranking title back in 2017, when he beat Shaun Murphy in the title match of the China Championship. He added his second victory at last season’s 2021 Scottish Open, defeating John Higgins in the final. Today’s win over Lu secures his third taste of ranking glory.
Brecel started the day in a group against Zhao Xintong, Xiao Guodong, and Lyu Haotian. He got off to a rocky start with a 3-1 loss against Xiao. However, 3-0 whitewash wins over Lyu and Zhao were enough to see him seal a place in the final.
Lu was seeking his maiden ranking title and he topped a group consisting of Ricky Walden, Stuart Bingham and Pang Junxu. That set up a best of five showdown with Brecel for the trophy.
Lu made 67 in the first frame, but Brecel stole it on the black to establish a 1-0 lead. Lu restored parity, but that proved to be the last frame he would win in the tournament. In the third, the Belgian Bullet contributed with 72 of his own to be one away from victory. Breaks of 72 and 100 saw Brecel claim two on the bounce and run out a 3-1 victor.
Brecel said: “I feel fantastic. I played so well for the whole tournament. I felt like I was playing in practice. I really enjoyed it. To be here as a winner is strange, because I could’ve lost the last game today, but I had to win 3-0 so it was crazy. Zhao missed a couple at the end with the rest which he usually makes.
“It’s unbelievable. This is all your can wish for. It’s the best start you can hope for. I can’t wait to play in the next tournament in Germany.”
This is the table summarising what happened yesterday:
Group 1 was very close, with three players finishing with two wins and a defeat. It was all decided on frame difference. Lyu Haotian had a truly miserable day … he started badly and didn’t recover.
Group 2 was close as well, with a lot of draws. It was not the greatest of standard either. Lu Ning dominated that group: he was the only one to actually win matches in that group: he defeated Bingham and Pang.
4 thoughts on “Luca Brecel wins the 2022 ranking CLS”
It was quite similar to Luca Brecel’s previous win in the Summer Championship League (2020), where he somehow scraped through several groups. But it’s all about playing well enough at the right moments, which he managed to do very well.
Zhao Xintong really threw it away in the last group match. Actually, the signs were not good earlier in the day, although commentators were praising him, nodoubt anticipating him winning the event. Zhao’s success last season was achieved by adopting a measured pace around the table, but yesterday I thought he was far too quick, despite the way he won his first 2 matches. This meant it would be more difficult to adapt when pressure comes, when the tournament reached its climax. He missed several straightforward chances to win the 1 frame he needed.
After that it was almost inevitable Brecel would win the final. Lu Ning was a bit nervous and hesitant. He needed to win that first frame, but was unable to close it out.
The tournament actually ended with the final frame of the Bingham-Walden group match, in which Bingham’s 132 break edged him ahead of Pang. Pang Junxu ran out of stream yesterday, and Lyu Haotian didn’t set started – he would be better off playing one match per day in a knockout, rather than have 3 days gap. But both should reflect positively on effectively a Q-final in the first tournament of the season.
Although this tournament is epic (21 days), and tests the patience of many watchers, it is quite important in many ways. There are a few things that should be improved. The schedule leads to too many ‘dead’ matches (I have a simple algorithm to avoid that in 50% of cases) which is bad for the drama. The standard of some of the refereeing was very poor. The TV camerawork was terrible: frequently missing shots, or focusing on the object ball when the cue-ball’s path was critical. However, I do think the guest commentators did a good job.
And the problem of not interviewing Chinese players (except Zhao, now that he is a star player). Wherever this policy comes from (Matchroom? WST? Eurosport?), it should be recognised as discriminatory. In sport, treating some players differently from other players amounts to a competitive advantage – those excluded are made to feel like outsiders. We all agree that having women on tour helps ‘inclusiveness’. They should be more consistent with their inclusiveness…
It’s not just Chinese players. In Stage 2, they failed to interview Luca when he won his group. Luca is on tour for years, a proven winner. They know that his command of English is very good. So why? It feels like it’s all non British players. That’s why I’m so keen that the UK bias should be broken. You have a tournament in China? play all rounds in China at or near the main venue. It will cost more to UK players? well yes. They will need visas and stuff, well yes. It has costed more, with more administrative burden for everyone else over so many years. How is that right? It’s supposed to be WORLD snooker tour. Yes they are the majority, and, to a significant extend, the system keeps it that way. Looking at the young players, they certainly aren’t the best anymore. Why should they be priviledged?
I’d give them some leeway – some decisions about interviews may be based on scheduling. I first realised it was a policy specifically for Chinese players in the Autumn Championship League of 2020, where 6 Chinese players won groups and were not interviewed, whilst the 26 others were all interviewed, including Thepchaiya and Ursenbacher (Luca Brecel didn’t win his group in that event).
But yes, I do agree that for snooker to have any chance of going global, they have to break out of the mentality of British-based events, with a few token foreigners, and the occasional excursion overseas for the later rounds. The only tournament that was played entirely overseas was Gibraltar, which has now gone. With that structure, any professional would be required to live in the UK for 10 months of the year to play in qualifiers. Indeed, most of the Chinese players have stayed in the UK for 12 months, due to the ongoing quarantine rules. Remarkably, some people have suggested that gave them an unfair advantage! It’s a bit insensitive considering they haven’t been able to see their parents, grandparents, girlfriends, in some cases wives and young children…
I really wished some tournament organiser, say in the German Masters, had insisted on 32 specially invited players, perhaps including a small number of qualifiers, but not a flat 128 draw. That could have allowed Ronnie to play in the Tempodrom, and might have saved Simon Lichtenberg’s career. That’s my main motivation for advocating an incremental ranking system: flexibility.
To be fair I’m not sure who is actually responsible for the policy when it comes to Chinese players. When I was on the tour, there were always Chinese interpreters present or interviews didn’t happen and I had the feeling that this was actually a request by Chinese authorities to make sure their players weren’t “trapped” into saying things that would be misinterpreted, or maybe to control what those players said, or both.
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