Wednesday, May 29, 2024

World Snooker Championship | Blik van Bauwens – “Brecel is difficult to understand, but he can easily become world champion again”


He had never won a match at the Snooker World Championship, but in April 2023 Luca Brecel set his own career on fire: in a decider Ricky Walden was put aside, after which a tournament followed that even the best screenwriters would have thought impossible.

After first beating Mark Williams in a beautiful battle of stylists, the absolute surprise came in the quarter-finals: reigning (seven-time) world champion – and the best of all time – Ronnie O’Sullivan was beaten by the Belgian.

In the semi-finals, with a 14-5 deficit against Si Jiahui, the World Cup seemed to be over for the then 28-year-old Brecel, but an amazing comeback ensured a place in the final. The Belgian defeated perhaps the toughest opponent in the snooker world: four-time world champion Mark Selby.


World Snooker Championship | “It’s just great” – Brecel reacts after winning the World Cup final

Seek balance

To what extent did this world title turn Brecel’s life upside down? As always, commentator Rudy Bauwens does not hide his opinion. “Luca expected that life after the World Cup would be enormous chaos. That is indeed the case for the first few days, but then there will be a period of rest, since the season is over.”

“That was a bit unexpected for Luca. He has messed up a bit on the way to this season by playing a lot of demonstrations and things like that,” said Bauwens. “That is of course good for the wallet and that also counts, but in terms of performance it really comes down to finding balance. And that search took longer than he wanted.”

According to Bauwens, Brecel visibly lost the ‘desire’, the will to do a lot for it. “It was good in the Shanghai Masters, but after that he had to reinvent it a bit. You approach every tournament in a different way, because after all you are the world champion.”

“You are looked at differently; Previously it was not so bad if Luca lost a first round match, but now it is seen differently. It took a long time before he found the ‘craving’ again: okay, it’s all nice to participate, but now we’ll start training a little more. At the end of the season you saw that the training work was also reflected in the matches, that he started playing better.”


World Snooker Championship | “Brecel reminds me of Van Gerwen, he does things differently” – O’Sullivan full of praise

Behind the wheel

Brecel’s story at the previous world championship was extra special because the Belgian looked incredibly calm in almost every interview and said he had not trained – not before the tournament, not in between matches. Did that unorthodox nature hinder him after his big title?

“Luca is very difficult to understand,” Bauwens tries to analyze him. “He’s a quirky guy. For example: he always drove himself to the tournaments and back home. If he didn’t have to play for two days during a tournament somewhere in the UK, he felt free to take the car and drive back. Himself behind the wheel, his father alongside him.”

“Be careful: that’s not only across the water, but also to Maasmechelen – close to the Dutch border near Limburg. As far as I’m concerned, that’s all energy that is wasted, which is much better saved and used differently. He has now discovered that this is quite expensive, so his father now drives.”


World Snooker Championship | Luca Brecel crowns magnificent comeback with historic final place

Barking dogs seldom bite

At the end of March, Brecel won the World Mixed Doubles tournament together with Reanne Evans, but a singles title was not possible for the Belgian this season. Disappointing? “Yes, indeed. I think so,” Bauwens thinks out loud. “You expect a world champion to win at least one or two titles during the season. He may win that Mixed tournament, but that is also more of a game.”

Everything can go well at once for the 29-year-old number four in the world, who will soon kick off the World Cup against David Gilbert. A good draw, says Bauwens. “When the qualifiers were known and there had been no draw yet, I thought: Gilbert might be an ideal player for Brecel.”

“He is a fast and attacking player, so you immediately get into the rhythm and waste little energy.” Rudy does not comment on whether he thinks Brecel will simply get past Gilbert, although he does note one thing: “Gilbert remains a bit of a barking dog who never really bites.”


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Hope gives life

What is possible this tournament? “What strikes me, besides the fact that the lower half of the schedule is of better quality than the upper half, is that Luca’s quarter contains a lot of attacking and fast players. That makes a huge difference, in terms of the rhythm of the game, but also in energy. Suppose you win these matches, it will all happen quickly, whether it comes to a decider or not. You can possibly put that energy to good use later.”

“If Luca were to win all his matches in that quarter, then potentially only in the semi-finals with either Mark Selby or Mark Allen – and they also have to get through their own pots – there would be an opponent who can match Brecel’s speed and rhythm can get the most out of it,” Bauwens is hopeful about the draw for his fellow countryman.

“We saw last year in the final against Selby that this does not necessarily pose a problem for Luca, but every match is different. Luca is a quirky guy who has a bucket full of talent. It doesn’t take much to turn the tide for Luca, who knows, maybe this World Cup will be as good as last year – and then Brecel can just take the title again.”


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Where are you looking?

The time has finally come: you no longer have a choice, because from now on all the balls go to the Snooker World Cup. Who calls the shots at The Crucible in Sheffield? 6 colored balls, 15 red balls, 1 white cue ball and 32 players: follow everything live via Eurosport and discovery+ and check whether Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump or perhaps Luca Brecel delivers the best punches! Also follow our channel on WhatsApp!

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