2023 Crucible – Day 12 – Ronnie bows out to Luca Brecel

Ronnie’s World Title defence came to an end in the quarter-finals as he was beaten by an excellent Luca Brecel.

Ronnie came to play the third and last session of his quarter-final match today, leading by 10-6, but he failed to win a single frame this afternoon and the match ended on a 13-10 score in favour of his opponent, Luca Brecel.

These are the scores for the third session session: Ronnie left, Luca right

That’s quite damning. Ronnie didn’t play well at all although he didn’t make that many mistakes, but every single one proved very costly. The simple truth is that Luca played exceptionally well today. He looked relaxed and confident, was getting all the difficult shots, scored heavily and starved his opponent of any amount of quality table time. If he carries on that way, he is very capable of winning the title and, of course, that would be great for the development of snooker in mainland Europe, and Belgium in particular.

I don’t know if Luca listened to Alan McManus yesterday, or if someone in his entourage did, but there was no nonsense today, just sheer brilliance.

For Ronnie it has largely be a season to forget. He won two invitational events, but failed to go past the quarter-finals in any ranking event. He has suffered from that elbow injury for most of the season and that probably didn’t help. He also arrived at the Crucible suffering from a bug. But maybe – and it pains me to write this – it’s age finally catching up with him.

Here is the report by WST:

Sensational Brecel Smashes Rocket

No one else can play like that,” said Ronnie O’Sullivan after his hopes of an eighth Cazoo World Championship crown were ended by an astonishing seven frame burst from Luca Brecel, winning 13-10 to reach the semi-finals.

For once, snooker’s all-time greatest O’Sullivan was on the receiving end of a blistering display of attacking snooker. Brecel’s average shot time across the match was just 17.7 seconds as, seemingly unburdened by pressure or doubt, he allowed his remarkable natural ability to take over. The last seven frames took just 75 minutes as the Belgian ace rattled in a series of fluent breaks, thumping balls into pockets with confidence and accuracy. Brecel has won three ranking titles but this was perhaps his best ever performance.

The first player from mainland Europe to go this deep into snooker’s biggest tournament, the 28-year-old will now experience the one-table situation at the Crucible for the first time,  facing Anthony McGill or Si Jiahui over 33 frames on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Brecel did not win a match in his first five visits to Sheffield, but is now making up for that record.

A year ago, O’Sullivan equalled Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles, but despite a resounding 13-2 defeat of Hossein Vafaei in the second round this time, he was outplayed by Brecel, albeit making no more than a handful or errors in the last session. O’Sullivan has won two invitation titles this season but has failed to land a ranking title and will lose his world number one spot if Mark Allen reaches the final this week.

The opening frame today came down to the last two reds. O’Sullivan was trapped in a difficult snooker and handed his opponent the chance to clear and close to 10-7. Brecel then set sparks flying with breaks of 112, 64 and 72 to level at 10-10.

If Brecel’s fans were concerned that the interval might his affect his momentum, they were soon pacified. The last three frames took just 26 minutes and O’Sullivan potted just one ball, as Brecel added runs of 61, 78 and 63 to reach the 11th ranking event semi-final of his career.

To win seven frames in a row against Ronnie is probably the best session I have played,” said ninth seed Brecel. “I was so composed for the whole match, I felt very calm, even at the end. It’s amazing to do that in the Crucible. It was like a dream because there was  big crowd, Stephen Hendry was in the commentary box, I was playing Ronnie and playing my best stuff. It doesn’t get any better than that!

I struggled at the Crucible many times but it has all changed suddenly and I don’t know why. I feel so good here now and I have not struggled to get over the line in my three matches. If I wasn’t happy off the table then I wouldn’t be able to play like this.

The attention in Belgium when I beat Mark Williams was unbelievable. Fans could follow it live online on newspaper websites. I don’t think many people expected me to win but I did, which is great for snooker in Belgium. I am feeling exhausted now, I need to feel fit to be able to play my next match, otherwise I will not be able to play at 12 seconds a shot. So I have to wait to see how I feel tomorrow, but if I feel good I will play the same game.

O’Sullivan said: “Luca was phenomenal, brilliant, amazing. What a player, what a talent. I’ve never seen a talent like that before. No one plays like that, it’s impossible. That was confident, solid, assured. I don’t think he realises how talented he is, it’s very hard for you to see your own gift, other people see it. But he is one gifted snooker player. The way he gets through the ball, the art, the work he gets on the white. He plays with no inhibitions. I’m sure he gets nervous, but when you play like that you don’t really get nervous because it happens at such a good speed. It’s a lovely way to play snooker.

He’s got a great attitude towards the game. He turns up plays, loves it, enjoys his life. Even if he doesn’t win it, it’s still great to have him in the game and we love watching him.

And here are some more quotes, reported by the BBC


He played unbelievable. He is such a good player and I love watching him. He is such a dynamic player and he is full a talent,” O’Sullivan told BBC Sport.

Probably the most talented snooker player I have ever seen. I would love to go and see him win it just for snooker because that is how the game should be played

If I’d have put up a bit more resistance maybe he wouldn’t have played as well but you still have to pot the balls. I just wasn’t playing well enough to have an impact on the game. 

If it was a boxing match they’d have stopped it very early because I was pinching frames and hanging on and it catches up with you at some point.”


It was a great feeling to play like that. I know that if the balls go well for me I can easily win seven frames in a row even against Ronnie, so I am not surprised,” Brecel said.

Mentally I was ready but physically I wasn’t feeling too well, I was sweating and my arm didn’t feel good. It is amazing to beat someone like Ronnie from so far behind.

I felt good from 10-9 down. My cue ball improved when I got to 10-10 and every frame got better.”

Inevitably after this season there will be questions about the future

Here is what Ronnie said only a few days ago as reported by Phil Haigh

I’ve played a lot of matches here,’ he said. ‘At some point it has to end but I hope it doesn’t end soon.

I hope when I’m not performing as well as I need to win tournaments, I can still come here and keep enjoying playing.

If I have to qualify, then so be it. Not do what Stephen Hendry did which was walk away a little bit earlier than he maybe should have done. You can keep playing, enjoying it, reinventing yourself, I don’t have to win tournaments to enjoy this game.

I love my practice more than my tournaments. That is a massive incentive for me to keep playing.

See you next season Ronnie … hopefully fully fit, injury free and happy

22 thoughts on “2023 Crucible – Day 12 – Ronnie bows out to Luca Brecel

  1. Let me pop my head over parapet, too. Yes, the loss against Brecel was painful, but I agree with the opinion that the first three frames of the last session were crucial as Ronnie did have his chances in all of them but did not take them for whatever reason. Had he taken one or two of them, the match would have taken a different perspective. But to be honest, we have all witnessed such painful losses of Ronnie in the previous WCHs, most notably against Cahill in 2019. At that time, I personally thought that Ronnie would never win another World Title, never mind two. This year, though, Ronnie has had various problem with health etc., so I don’t think his failure has anything to do with age. I suppose Ronnie still has something left in the tank and can win another title, should he wish, concentrate and prepare properly…and health is paramount.

    • Ronnie was suffering from food poisoning when he played Cahill, although he didn’t say anything on the moment as not to detract from his opponent win. But it was clear for all to see that he was unwell that time. Matt Huart said that he wasn’t himself coming into the media room. That’s why I was so unhappy about all the hype around that win BTW. But, yes, had he been able to build one decent break before the MSI we might have had a different outcome. That said Luca played fantastically well.

      • Yes, Monique, I remember that Ronnie was under the weather during that match, even though, I believe he could have won it as he did in the first round this year having a bug and against a more formidable opponent. But my point was something different. I mean Ronnie lost some matches at the Crucible while was more than capable of winning them… for different reasons. And as far as I remember, there was a lot of talk about his retirement and, most recently, ageing. But now and again Ronnie was proving any doubters wrong. And to use the opportunity, Monique, many thanks to you personally for dedicating time and efforts to this blog. Nice job, I really appreciate it all these years.

    • thanks Alex for accepting my view 🙂

      After a day later I was calmed a lot but this one still hurt me because the last time he was 6-2 (and 10-6) up but lost the match I think was the 2005 world quarter against Ebdon.
      I wish Ronnie whatever happens in his career in the future a happy life! That’s the most important fact.
      A happy life without any injury, problem! That’ll give us a very big hope in the future
      I hope he’ll give us “one more last hurray”! And hopefully not the final one.
      But I cannot remember when was the last time when Ronnie had 2 really bad Crucible session in a row.

  2. It’s small margins ! If Ronnie would have landed a ‘fraction’ better on the red in the first frame of the third session, when on a break of 29, he would have won the frame and the score would have been 11-6. He would have been relax after that and won the match in my opinion. You always need a bit of luck to win a match. In frame 20 Ronnie could easily have landed on the red to the left middle after potting the black when on a break but instead landed in the worst possible place on the open table, just behind the only ball (a red ball) that could stop his break and a possible 11-9 score at the interval. No run of the ball during the whole session. In frame 21 Ronnie misses a long red and leaves that ball on by a ‘fraction’ for Brecel who pots the red and clears up. In frame 22 Brecel misses 2 long pots and not by a small margin and leaves no chance of a pot for Ronnie. After his second miss Ronnie is frustrated and takes on a double. It’s the only ball he could leave and where does it land… in front of the left corner pocket… Brecel clears up and goes 12-10 in front. In frame 23 Ronnie pots a great long red and has only a tough pink to go for, he misses and Brecel clears up and wins the match. The snooker gods were not on Ronnie’s side yesterday. You need a bit of luck, run of the ball to win a match between 2 good players. That’s the main reason why Ronnie lost yesterday. A fraction better on the red in the first frame of the session when on a break of 29 and he wins the frame and later the match in my opinion. Age, elbow injury before the tournament , a bug in the first round,… for me that’s not the reason why he lost yesterday. That said Brecel was playing great snooker in the session yesterday, as he did against Mark Williams at the end of that match and he certainly did not steal the win, but the snooker gods a were also on his side. It simply wasn’t meant to be for Ronnie! That’s life!
    I think he would have beaten Si, a final against Selby or Allen would have been difficult to win… but not impossible. We will never know. Good luck for the future Ronnie, i ‘m an optimist… i think there are still good tournaments/years for Ronnie ahead of us!
    And he remains the GOAT with his 7 world titles and 21 triple crown tournaments ahead of a certain Stephen Hendry!

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