Luca Brecel

Luca Brecel (born 8 March 1995) is a Belgian professional snooker player. He won the European Under-19 title at the age of 14 and is the youngest player to play at the Crucible Theatre after qualifying for the 2012 World Championship aged 17. In 2017, Brecel became the first player from mainland Europe to win a ranking event, defeated Shaun Murphy in the final of the China Championship.

Luca Brecel
Brecel (right) in a match against Kyren Wilson at the 2016 German Masters
Born (1995-03-08) 8 March 1995 (age 26)
Dilsen-Stokkem, Belgium
Sport country Belgium
NicknameBelgian Bullet[1]
Highest ranking11 (October, December 2017, March 2018)[2][3][4]
Current ranking 39 (as of 4 May 2021)
Career winnings£842,541
Highest break147:
2018 Championship League
Century breaks150
Tournament wins

Amateur career

In April 2009, Brecel became the youngest European Under-19 champion at 14 years of age.[5]

In May 2009, in the Grand Final of the World Series of Snooker in Portugal, Brecel beat six-time World Championship runner-up Jimmy White, 4–3, 1997 world champion, Ken Doherty, 5–3, on his way to the quarter-finals, where he lost 4–5 to 2006 world champion, Graeme Dott.[6]

In August 2009, he beat Joe Perry, the then world number 12, at the Paul Hunter Classic[7]

In January 2010, Brecel defeated seven-time world champion, Stephen Hendry, 4–1, in an exhibition game in Bruges, Belgium.[8]

Brecel became the Belgian senior champion in May 2010, beating professional Bjorn Haneveer, 7–4, in the final. He also had the highest break of the tournament with a 136.[9]

Brecel was one of eight players to take part in the new Power Snooker tournament that was held at the indigO2 in October 2010, alongside then reigning world champion, Neil Robertson, Ding Junhui, Mark Selby, Ali Carter, Shaun Murphy, Jimmy White and Ronnie O'Sullivan. Brecel was defeated by eventual champion O'Sullivan in the first round.[10]

In December 2010, Brecel was named the Young Belgian Sportsman of the year.[11]

Brecel received a wild card for the Main Tour of the professional 2011-12 season in May 2011.[12]

Professional career

2011/12 season

Brecel in 2011

Brecel became a professional snooker player in June 2011, beating Anthony Hamilton in his first official professional match. By August 2011, he was ranked 87 on the Snooker world rankings, as second Belgian after Bjorn Haneveer, then ranked 65. In January 2012, he made his first 147 break in an amateur tournament.[13]

Brecel played in all 12 of the minor-ranking Players Tour Championship events throughout the season, with his best finishes coming in Event 2, Event 8 and Event 9, where he reached the last 32 each time. He finished 69th on the Order of Merit.[14][15]

Brecel became the youngest ever player to qualify for the World Snooker Championship in 2012, after defeating Ian McCulloch, Barry Pinches, Michael Holt and Mark King. In doing so he broke the record of Stephen Hendry from 1986, as he was almost 2 months older than Brecel. He also became one of five players to qualify for the tournament under 18 years of age and played in his first ranking event main draw,[16] but lost 5–10 in the first round against Stephen Maguire.

Although finishing the season outside the top 64 who automatically retain their places on the snooker tour, Brecel received a two-year wildcard, along with Tony Drago. World Snooker chairman, Barry Hearn said the decision was made as it would be a "loss to the sport" if Brecel did not feature.[17] Brecel was awarded the Rookie of the Year Award at the World Snooker Annual Award Ceremony.[18]

2012/13 season

In July 2012, Brecel made his second 147 break in an amateur tournament.[19] In qualifying for the first ranking event of the season, the 2012 Wuxi Classic, Brecel reached the third qualifying round but ultimately lost 5–4 to Jamie Burnett. He made three century breaks.[20]

Next up for Brecel was the first PTC event of the year. The teenager had a good run, beating former world champions Graeme Dott and Ken Doherty on his way to the last 16 where he met Judd Trump who beat him 4–1. Brecel made two centuries in the tournament.[21] Brecel was beaten in the first round of the second PTC event of the year, 4–2, by Matthew Selt.[22] He fared a little better in the first European Tour event of the season reaching the last 64 but was beaten 4–3 by Rory McLeod.[23] The Belgian was also knocked out in the last 64 of the third PTC of the season, 4–1, by Chinese player Xiao Guodong. He made one century in the tournament.[24] Brecel lost in the last 64 of both the Gdynia Open (where he made a century) and the Antwerp Open to Mark Joyce and Stuart Bingham respectively. The Belgian was eliminated in the first round of the fourth PTC event of the season, losing 4–3 to Jimmy Robertson.[25] Soon after this defeat Brecel traveled to Sofia to play in the Bulgarian Open. He won his first round match but was beaten 4–0 by Mark Davis in the second round.[26] He finished 51st on the PTC Order of Merit.[27]

Brecel failed to qualify for the 2012 Shanghai Masters, losing 5–1 in the second round to Andy Hicks.[28] He also failed to qualify for the fourth ranking event of the season, the 2012 International Championship, losing 6–3 to Anthony Hamilton in the third round.[29] Brecel led Barry Pinches 3–0 in qualifying for the 2013 German Masters but was eventually beaten 5–4.[30]

Brecel qualified for the 2012 UK Championship after coming through four rounds of qualifying. He beat Scott Donaldson 6–5, Peter Lines 6–4, Liu Chuang 6–3 and former World Champion Peter Ebdon 6–1, making 5 century breaks in the process, to reach the main draw of a ranking event for the second time.[31] The Belgian won his first ever match in a ranking event by beating Ricky Walden 6–5 in the first round. He followed this up with a 6–4 win over Mark King (notably coming from 0–3 behind)[32] to become the first Belgian player to reach the quarter-finals of a ranking event.[citation needed] He was eventually defeated 6–5 in the quarter-final by Shaun Murphy, having missed a pink which would have given him an opportunity to win on the final black in each of the last two frames.[33]

Following this success, surprisingly, Brecel failed to win any other qualifying match for the rest of the season and therefore could not repeat last year's run to The Crucible, as he was beaten 6–10 by amateur Fraser Patrick in the first round of World Championship Qualifying.[34] He ended his second year as a professional ranked world number 72.[35]

2013/14 season

The 2013–14 season started badly for Brecel as he lost in the qualifying rounds for the first five ranking events.[36] He received automatic entry into the first round of the UK Championship as all 128 players on the tour began the event at the venue and he beat Mike Dunn 6–4, but then lost 6–5 to Stephen Maguire, despite having held a 5–2 lead.[37] Brecel qualified for the next ranking event, the German Masters, by defeating James Wattana 5–3, but was eliminated by Joe Perry 5–2 in the opening round.[36] Brecel failed to win a match in either of his next two ranking events as Jimmy Robertson defeated him 4–2 in the last 128 of the Welsh Open whilst Ryan Day won a deciding frame in the first round of the World Open to win 5–4.[36] His best result of the year came at the penultimate ranking event of the season, the China Open where he reached the second round thanks to the withdrawal of Mark Allen. Brecel then comfortably beat Dominic Dale 5–1 in the last 16, but missed out on his second career quarter-final as he lost 5–2 against Graeme Dott.[38] In the minor-ranking European Tour events played throughout the season, Brecel advanced to the quarter-finals of the Ruhr Open by seeing off Stuart Bingham 4–1, but was then edged out by Robbie Williams in a deciding frame by 73 points to 72 in a 4–3 defeat.[39] He finished 39th on the European Order of Merit and inside the top 64 in the world ranking for the first time, at number 63.[40][41]

2014/15 season

The first ranking event Brecel qualified for in the 2014–15 season was the Australian Goldfields Open where he was defeated by Matthew Stevens 5–3 in the opening round.[42] He was whitewashed 6–0 by Mark Allen in the second round of the UK Championship.[43] At the Welsh Open he defeated world number 15 Robert Milkins 4–0 in the opening round, Tian Pengfei 4–1 and Oliver Brown 4–0. In the Pengfei match he made a break of 140, the highest in his professional career and ultimately the highest in the tournament.[42] Furthermore, he would go on to beat reigning world champion and world number one Mark Selby in the fourth round after a deciding frame (4–3), having been 2–0 and 3–2 down, to reach the quarter-finals.[44] There, Brecel met Ricky Walden, another top 16 player (ranked number 9 at the time). Brecel lost the first three frames, but he followed this up by winning the next five on the trot in order to reach the first ranking semi-final ever of his professional career.[45] Four-time world champion John Higgins beat him 6–4.[46] A pair of quarter-final exits in the European Tour events during the year saw Brecel finish 16th on the Order of Merit to make his debut in the Grand Final, where he lost 4–0 to Judd Trump in the opening round.[47] His good season saw him climb 19 places in the rankings to end it at 44th in the world.[48]

2015/16 season

After failing to qualify for the Australian Goldfields Open and exiting both the Shanghai Masters and International Championship in the first round, Brecel then beat Hossein Vafaei 6–1, Anthony McGill 6–4 and Robin Hull 6–2 to reach the fourth round of the UK Championship.[49] He subsequently lost to Matthew Selt 6–4 after being 3–1 up in the interval.[50] After beating Zhao Xintong 5–2 and Kurt Maflin 5–3 he reached his first quarter-final of the season soon afterwards at the German Masters, where he recovered from 4–2 down to defeat Mark Joyce 5–4, closing the match with a 102 break.[51] Brecel then won a scrappy game 6–3 in the semi-finals against Kyren Wilson to become only the second European player from outside the UK and Ireland, after Tony Drago from Malta almost 20 years ago (when he was defeated by Stephen Hendry at the same stage of the 1997 International Open), to play in a ranking event final and the first one from Belgium.[52] He would lose it 9–5 to Martin Gould, but targeted a top 20 world ranking before the end of the season.[53] He lost in the final of the Snooker Shoot-Out to Robin Hull.[54] Brecel was beaten in the fourth round of the Welsh Open 4–2 by Ding Junhui and, after losing in the first round of three successive ranking events and failing to qualify for the World Championship, he finished the year at 30th in the world, still the highest he has ended a campaign.[49][55]

2016/17 season

Brecel could not get past the first round of any of the first seven ranking events he entered in the 2016–17 season, before he restricted Shaun Murphy to eight points as he defeated him 4–0 in the opening round of the Northern Ireland Open.[56] He then beat Jamie Cope 4–2, before losing 4–1 to Michael White. At the UK Championship, Brecel whitewashed Aditya Mehta 6–0 and then overcame Sam Craigie 6–5, Yu Delu 6–1 and Stephen Maguire 6–3 to play Murphy in the quarter-finals of the event for the second time.[57] It was nowhere near as close as their previous meeting however, as Murphy easily won 6–1.[58] Brecel qualified for his second World Championship and raced in to a 7–1 lead over Marco Fu in the first round.[59] He also held an 8–4, 9–8 advantage, but would go on to lose 10–9.[60]

2017/18 season

Brecel won his first ranking title, the China Championship in August 2017. He defeated Jimmy Robertson, Marco Fu, and Mike Dunn, before defeating Ronnie O'Sullivan 5–4 in the quarter-finals after being 1–4 down. He then defeated Li Hang 6–5 in the semi-finals, before defeating Shaun Murphy 10–5 in the final. His victory propelled him into the top 16 of the rankings for the first time.[61]

A month later, at the World Open, Brecel confirmed his status as a top 16 player with a semi-final finish, winning three consecutive rounds in a decider, before succumbing to eventual winner Ding Junhui in a 6–4 defeat. He repeated this feat at the Champion of Champions invitational tournament. Brecel whitewashed Judd Trump 4–0 in the first round and went on to beat world champion Mark Selby 6–4 later that day. In the semi-final, he suffered a 6–4 defeat by the hand of Shaun Murphy, who went on to win the tournament.

2018/19 season

In the 2018 Northern Ireland Open, Brecel lost in the last 16 to the eventual tournament winner Judd Trump. He also reached the last 16 in the 2019 Snooker Shoot Out and the semi-finals of the non-ranking 2018 Six-red World Championship and the China Open. In the 2019 World Snooker Championship, he lost 10–9 in the first round to Gary Wilson, with the deciding frame lasting a record 79 minutes and 31 seconds. He finished this season with the same ranking (15) as he had at the start of it.

2019/20 season

Brecel's best result in a ranking tournament in this season was an appearance in the Last 16 in the Welsh Open, in which he lost 4–3 to John Higgins. During this season he dropped out of the top 32. In June 2020, he won the non-ranking Championship League, beating Stuart Bingham in the final group and drawing against Ryan Day and Ben Woollaston.

Performance and rankings timeline

Tournament 2008/
Ranking[62][nb 1] [nb 2] [nb 2] [nb 3] [nb 4] 72 63 44 30 27 15 15 38
Ranking tournaments
European Masters Tournament Not Held 1R 3R 3R 1R 3R
English Open Tournament Not Held 1R 2R 2R 1R 2R
Championship League Non-Ranking Event RR
Northern Ireland Open Tournament Not Held 3R WD 4R 3R 3R
UK Championship A A LQ QF 2R 2R 4R QF 3R 3R 1R 2R
Scottish Open Tournament Not Held MR Tournament Not Held 1R A 3R 1R 2R
World Grand Prix Tournament Not Held NR 1R DNQ 1R DNQ DNQ DNQ
German Masters NH WR LQ LQ 1R LQ F LQ LQ LQ 2R 2R
Shoot-Out Non-Ranking Event 3R 3R 4R 1R 1R
Welsh Open A A LQ LQ 1R SF 4R 1R 2R 1R 4R 1R
Players Championship[nb 5] NH DNQ DNQ DNQ DNQ 1R 1R DNQ 1R DNQ DNQ DNQ
Gibraltar Open Tournament Not Held MR 3R 1R 1R 3R 2R
WST Pro Series Tournament Not Held 2R
Tour Championship Tournament Not Held DNQ DNQ DNQ
World Championship A A 1R LQ LQ LQ LQ 1R 1R 1R LQ LQ
Non-ranking tournaments
Champion of Champions Tournament Not Held A A A A SF 1R A 1R
The Masters A A A A A A A A 1R QF A A
Championship League A A A A A A A A RR WD RR W A
Variant format tournaments
Six-red World Championship A A NH A A A A QF WD SF RR NH
Former ranking tournaments
Wuxi Classic NH Non-Ranking LQ LQ LQ Tournament Not Held
Australian Goldfields Open Not Held LQ LQ LQ 1R LQ Tournament Not Held
Shanghai Masters A A LQ LQ LQ LQ 1R LQ QF Non-Ranking NH
Paul Hunter Classic PA Minor-Ranking Event 1R 2R 3R NR NH
Indian Open Tournament Not Held LQ 2R NH WD 1R 3R Not Held
China Open A A LQ LQ 3R LQ 1R LQ 1R SF Not Held
Riga Masters[nb 6] Tournament Not Held Minor-Ranking 1R 2R 1R 1R NH
International Championship Tournament Not Held LQ LQ LQ 1R 1R 2R LQ 2R NH
China Championship Tournament Not Held NR W 1R 3R NH
World Open[nb 7] A LQ LQ LQ LQ Not Held 1R SF 2R 1R NH
Former non-ranking tournaments
World Series Grand Final QF Tournament Not Held
Power Snooker NH QF A Tournament Not Held
World Grand Prix Tournament Not Held 1R Ranking Event
Shoot-Out NH A A A 1R 2R F Ranking Event
Romanian Masters Tournament Not Held 1R Tournament Not Held
Shanghai Masters Ranking Event 1R A NH
Paul Hunter Classic PA Minor-Ranking Event Ranking Event SF NH
Performance Table Legend
LQ lost in the qualifying draw #R lost in the early rounds of the tournament
(WR = Wildcard round, RR = Round robin)
QF lost in the quarter-finals
SF lost in the semi-finals F lost in the final W won the tournament
DNQ did not qualify for the tournament A did not participate in the tournament WD withdrew from the tournament
NH / Not Heldmeans an event was not held.
NR / Non-Ranking Eventmeans an event is/was no longer a ranking event.
R / Ranking Eventmeans an event is/was a ranking event.
RV / Ranking & Variant Format Eventmeans an event is/was a ranking & variant format event.
MR / Minor-Ranking Eventmeans an event is/was a minor-ranking event.
PA / Pro-am Eventmeans an event is/was a pro-am event.
VF / Variant Format Eventmeans an event is/was a variant format event.
  1. It shows the ranking at the beginning of the season.
  2. He was an amateur.
  3. New players on the Main Tour don't have a ranking.
  4. Players qualified through European nomination started the season without ranking points.
  5. The event was called the Players Tour Championship Grand Finals (2010/2011–2012/2013) and the Players Championship Grand Final (2013/2014–2015/2016)
  6. The event was called the Riga Open (2014/2015–2015/2016)
  7. The event was called the Haikou World Open (2011/2012–2013/2014)

Career finals

Ranking finals: 2 (1 title, 1 runner-up)

Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score
Runner-up 1. 2016 German Masters Martin Gould 5–9
Winner 1. 2017 China Championship Shaun Murphy 10–5

Non-ranking finals: 3 (2 titles, 1 runner-up)

Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score
Winner 1. 2010 EPTC Plate Trophy – Event 2 Barry Pinches 3–2
Runner-up 1. 2016 Snooker Shoot Out Robin Hull 0–1
Winner 2. 2020 (1) Championship League Ben Woollaston Round-Robin

Pro-am finals: 6 (5 titles, 1 runner-up)

Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score
Winner 1. 2013 Dutch Open Bjorn Haneveer 5–3[63]
Winner 2. 2014 3 Kings Open Tony Drago 5–4[64]
Runner-up 1. 2015 3 Kings Open Tony Drago 4–5[64]
Winner 3. 2018 Golden Q Cup Michael Georgiou 5–1
Winner 4. 2020 3 Kings Open (2) Alexander Ursenbacher 5–2[65]
Winner 5. 2020 Italian Snooker Open Sybren Sokolowski 4–1[66]

Amateur titles

  • Belgian Under 16 Championship – 2007, 2008, 2009
  • Belgium Ranking Events
    • St.Martinus Gent – 2007
    • Happy Snooker Hasselt – 2009
    • Zele – 2010
    • Peer – 2011
  • Malta Under 16 Open – 2007
  • Flemish Under 16 Championship – 2008
  • Belgian Teams Championship – 2008
  • Belgian Open Under 21 – 2008
  • Belgian Under 21 Championship – 2008, 2009
  • European Under-19 Championship – 2009
  • International Open under 21 – 2009
  • Belgian Senior Championship – 2010, 2013, 2014
  • European Snooker Championship – 2010


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