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Reigning World Snooker Champion Luca Brecel 16/1 to break the Crucible curse in 2024

Luca Brecel has been priced up at 16/1 to become the first player in Crucible history to successfully defend their maiden World Snooker Championship crown.

World Snooker Championship

Despite his pre-tournament tagging as a 33/1 outsider 12 months ago, Brecel was able to navigate his road to Crucible success in an almost unprecedented fashion - sending two of the three members of the fabled Class of 92, Ronnie O'Sullivan and Mark Williams, packing along the way.

Displaying his own brand of front-footed, attacking and care-free snooker, the Belgian overcame all who stood in front of him to capture the biggest prize the sport has to offer.

Luca Brecel's Route to Glory

  • First Round - Luca Brecel 10-9 Ricky Walden
  • Second Round - Luca Brecel 13-11 Mark Williams
  • Quarter-Finals - Luca Brecel 13-10 Ronnie O'Sullivan
  • Semi-Finals - Luca Brecel 17-15 Si Jiahui
  • Final - Luca Brecel 18-15 Mark Selby

For many a year, only O’Sullivan, who Brecel ousted in the quarter-finals, was perceived to possess the talents, ruthlessness and bravery needed to literally steamroll his way to world titles.

However, against the odds, that all changed in 2023.

Brecel has made no secret of the fact that it was 'The Rocket' who served as his inspiration to first pick up a snooker cue as a youngster.

Clearly inspired by the Londoner's artistry on the baize, he vowed to one day follow in his idol’s footsteps by capturing the world crown, at just 15 years of age.

Such bold statements are often taken with a pinch of salt, especially when they come from a teenager.

But Brecel's words were spoken with both purpose and intent, and a little bit of arrogance that may have also stemmed from O'Sullivan's influence.

Thirteen years later, not only had he succeeded in fulfilling his promise, he managed to do it in a style that has only previously been synonymous with the sport’s undoubted GOAT.

He displayed nerves of steel to edge a tense and dramatic first round shootout with Ricky Walden, holding off a spirited fightback with a classy break of 84 in the 19th, and deciding, frame to notch a first ever win at the iconic Yorkshire venue.

Luca Brecel's World Championship Record

  • 2012 - 1st Round
  • 2013 - Losing Qualifier
  • 2014 - Losing Qualifier
  • 2015 - Losing Qualifier
  • 2016 - Losing Qualifier
  • 2017 - 1st Round
  • 2018 - 1st Round
  • 2019 - 1st Round
  • 2020 - Losing Qualifier
  • 2021 - Losing Qualifier
  • 2022 - Losing Qualifier
  • 2023 - Winner

Brecel then registered 12 breaks of 50 or more, including four tons, in his second round success over Williams, before producing some truly awe-inspiring stuff as he miraculously reeled off seven successive frames to overturn a 10-6 deficit to oust the tournament favourite, and his beloved, O’Sullivan, in the quarters.

When Brecel and the other breakthrough star of the 2023 World Championship, Si Jiahui, were paired together in the semi-finals, nobody could have dared to predict the drama that would unfold across four of the most absorbing sessions of snooker you could ever wish to see.

The Chinese sensation looked a shoo-in to become the first Asian player to reach the World Championship final as he stormed into a 14-5 lead, producing a masterclass in temperament and break-building.

But, with nothing to lose, Brecel slipped free of his shackles and miraculously turned the game on its head, in a manner that the World Snooker Championship had never seen before.

Si had won 14 of the opening 19 frames of snooker, only for the Belgian to counter-act by remarkably winning 11 in succession to establish an unimaginable 16-14 lead, before finally prevailing 17-15.

Luca Brecel

It was a match that will live long in Crucible folklore, and one that will forever be etched into the heart and soul of Brecel himself.

On the flip-side, it's also one that will continue to haunt Si to this very day.

How much had that gutsy performance taken out of Brecel, and how on earth could he back that up against the granite Mark Selby in the final?

Well, we didn't have to wait too long to find out, and initially it didn't seem as though it had taken too much of a toll on him at all.

Brecel established a 6-2 lead at the end of the first session, and whilst Selby offered some resistance in the second, the Belgian was still a couple of frames to the good at 9-7.

But, the very fact that the 'Jester from Leicester' had signed off with a scintillating 147 maximum break in the 16th and final frame of that session, once more, left you questioning whether that would be a significant turning point in the match.

It could have been, especially when Selby notched the first frame of the third session to close the gap to one, but, again, Brecel responded in style - reeling off four frames in succession to establish a stronghold on the final at 13-8.

The pair traded blows until Brecel stood on the periphery of his maiden world crown at 16-10.

Surely, just two frames from home, the 28-year-old was set to become the first World Snooker Champion from mainland Europe?

But as we all know, Selby is granite. He's a four-time champion of the world and a player, who more than anybody else, never knows when he is beaten.

That six frame advantage slowly started to evaporate, until the match was on a knife-edge, remarkably at 16-15. At that point, the bookmakers couldn't split the pair - Selby had the momentum, Brecel was, seemingly on the rocks. They were both priced at 10/11.

Mark Selby

Brecel hadn't potted a single ball in over 90 minutes of play, but still, he wasn't to be deterred, for he, after a long 'comfort break' returned to the table, with a steely look in his eyes, and a clear determination not to allow this potentially once in a lifetime opportunity to pass him by.

A nerve-jangling 51 break, following a prolonged safety battle, edged him two frames in front, and just one away from the most momentous triumph of his life.

Many players have been known to buckle under such pressure, but Brecel proved he wasn't any other player... for he, displaying an almighty air of confidence as he strut around the hallowed table, scored his fifth century break of an incredible final to finally see off Selby.

The Belgian star had done it; he was the World Snooker Champion, and he had achieved it in his own swashbuckling, inspiring, affirming style!

He, with tears rolling down his cheeks, embraced his opponent, shook his head, took a second to try and absorb a fraction of what he had just achieved and then shared a long, emotional hug with his dad.

It was a moment that will live long in the memory of snooker enthusiasts all across the globe.

The ticker tape hadn’t even settled on the green baize by the time that pundits and some of snooker’s biggest names were talking up his chances of becoming a multiple world champion.

‘He’s capable of winning two or three world titles, if not more,” declared John Parrott in the immediate aftermath of the Belgian’s enthralling 18-15 victory.

But, as we have seen previously, backing up a world title with another is far more problematic than it may seem - even for somebody boasting the undoubted talents of Brecel.

The great Stephen Hendry added to the many accolades coming his way by declaring him as a potential all-time great in waiting; and even O'Sullivan, who, of course, first inspired Brecel to turn his hand to the sport, described him as the most-naturally gifted player he has ever faced.

But the very fact that no maiden World Champion has ever been able to successfully defend the title in Crucible history however, tells you everything about the size of the Belgian's task in Sheffield this year.

Many believed that Luca Brecel’s World Snooker Championship triumph 12 months ago would symbolise a changing of the guard in the sport.

And who knows, despite the reigning World Champion struggling to maintain those elevated standards in the months since his crowning glory, maybe it will be he who banishes that fabled Crucible Curse.

The Crucible Curse

The 18 first-time world champions listed below all succumbed to the 'Crucible curse' after failing to successfully defend their title at the following year's World Snooker Championship.

  • 1979 Champion - Terry Griffiths (1980 - Lost in R2)
  • 1980 Champion - Cliff Thorburn (1981 - Lost in SF)
  • 1981 Champion - Steve Davis (1982 - Lost in R1)
  • 1985 Champion - Dennis Taylor (1986 - Lost in R1)
  • 1986 Champion - Joe Johnson (1987 - Lost in Final)
  • 1990 Champion - Stephen Hendry (1991 - Lost in QF)
  • 1991 Champion - John Parrott (1992 - Lost in QF)
  • 1997 Champion - Ken Doherty (1998 - Lost in Final)
  • 1998 Champion - John Higgins (1999 - Lost in SF)
  • 2000 Champion - Mark Williams (2001 - Lost in R2)
  • 2001 Champion - Ronnie O'Sullivan (2002 - Lost in SF)
  • 2002 Champion - Peter Ebdon (2003 - Lost in QF)
  • 2005 Champion - Shaun Murphy (2006 - Lost in QF)
  • 2006 Champion - Graham Dott (2007 - Lost in R1)
  • 2010 Champion - Neil Robertson (2011 - Lost in R1)
  • 2014 Champion - Mark Selby (2015 - Lost in R2)
  • 2015 Champion - Stuart Bingham (2016 - Lost in R1)
  • 2019 Champion - Judd Trump (2020 - Lost in QF)
  • 2023 Champion - Luca Brecel (2024 - TBC)

World Snooker Championship

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