Brecel wins World Championship after holding off Selby fightback

Luca Brecel held off a remarkable fightback by Mark Selby to win his first World Snooker Championship. The Belgian had stormed into a huge lead in the opening sessions at the Crucible – only for Selby to fight back. 

Brecel had led 15-8 at one stage in the afternoon session on Monday. He was 15-10 ahead before the evening session began. 

However, Selby staged an incredible comeback and seemed set to overturn the deficit. The four-time champion stormed back to win five of the next six frames. 

With Brecel struggling to rekindle his composure, Selby seemed set to go all the way and win one of the most memorable World Championship finals in recent times. It had been made even more thrilling by Selby completing the first maximum break in a final in the competition’s 46-year history.

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But Brecel finally held off Selby’s heroic efforts with his own fine performance. The youngster had incredibly never won a match at the Crucible in his five previous visits. 

Brecel took everything Selby could throw at him including a 147 break. And the maverick ace then hit back in a fascinating clash of styles, putting on a shot-making masterclass that saw him lift the trophy and pocket the £500,000 first prize.

Early in the tournament Brecel – the youngest champion since Shaun Murphy at 22 in 2005 – admitted he had put in just 15 minutes’ practice for the event. The self-confessed party boy insisted he struggled to find the time amid nights out and drinking sessions with his girlfriend and pals, and games of darts.

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There were also two long return road trips back to Belgium after his first two matches, including getting “very drunk” before coming back to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan. But one thing that has never been in question with Brecel is a God-given ability that has even the likes of O’Sullivan – whom he saw off in the quarter-finals – purring.

It was a valiant effort though from Selby, who looks back to near his best after a tough 18 months battling mental health issues. And he did very little wrong in this contest. Brecel, with his ‘Free Bird’ and ‘La Vida Loca’ tattoos, may just have the ability to actually make snooker cool.

And he was cheered on by father Carlo, mother Mirella and brother Jordi and girlfriend Laura who all joined him in the arena afterwards. Brecel reeled off seven frames in a row to see off the Rocket, and then 11 on the spin for the greatest Crucible comeback ever in the semi-final against Si Jiahui.

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