Flying Start For Belgian Bullet
Luca Brecel seized the early initiative in the Cazoo World Championship final, storming to a 6-2 lead after the opening session of his clash with four-time Crucible king Mark Selby.
Belgium’s Brecel is aiming to become the first player from continental Europe to capture snooker’s biggest prize. He’s already the youngest player in Crucible history, having competed at the hallowed venue in 2012, aged 17. The now 28-year-old had previously struggled to produce his best in Sheffield and his first five appearances at the Theatre of Dreams all ended in opening round defeats.
Brecel has enjoyed an incredible turnaround to his World Championship fortunes. He scored his first ever win in the final stages of the event by beating Ricky Walden 10-9 in the opening round this year. The quarter-finals saw him dump out defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan 13-10 and Brecel earned his place in the title match by staging the Crucible’s greatest ever comeback, rallying from 14-5 down to beat Chinese debutant Si Jiahui 17-15.
Selby is chasing a landmark of his own, with a fifth world title in his sights. That would move him above John Higgins in the all-time World Championship winner’s list and just one behind Steve Davis and Ray Reardon. The Leicester cueman has already picked up the crown in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2021. He booked his place in this year’s final thanks to an epic late night 17-15 defeat of Mark Allen, which concluded at 12:45am.
It was Brecel who looked the fresher of the two. He crafted a quickfire break of 77 to take the opener and lead 1-0. He added the second, before a contribution of 90 made it 3-0. Brecel had the chance to go 4-0 up, but missed a red with the chance to clear. Selby punished with 54 to trail 3-1 at the mid-session.
After the break, it was Brecel who continued to push forward. A run of 67 in the fifth extended his advantage and he deposited a thin final blue to take a tightly contested sixth and lead 5-1. Selby then made it 5-2, before Brecel crafted a 70 break to end 6-2 in front. They return for the second of four sessions this evening at 7pm.