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World Snooker Championship 2023

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Post by Duty281 Thu 13 Apr 2023, 12:39 pm

First topic message reminder :

It's been a tough year for Snooker. The biggest match-fixing investigation in the game's history saw ten Chinese players, including Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong, charged with match-fixing and suspended indefinitely. Weirdly, World Snooker have decided to hold the tribunal during the World Championships, meaning the showpiece event could be overshadowed. All this and persistent poor attendances at ranking events through the season have left a dark cloud over the game. Let's hope the World Championship can raise the game out of the gloom.

Defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan is 4/1 favourite to make it a record-breaking 8th title in the modern era. Last year's finalist, and this year's Masters winner, Judd Trump is close behind at 5/1. Mark Selby's won a couple of ranking tournaments this season and finds himself at 6/1, with the 2010 World Champion, who has struggled ever since at the Crucible, Neil Robertson in at 7/1. One of the form players of the season, Shaun Murphy, has been backed heavily and is going off at 9/1.

This is the draw:

Spoiler:

The top half looks very stacked, with Ronnie, Trump, Lisowski, Williams and Murphy all very strong. Then you've got Milkins who has shown good form this season, plus the dangerous Ding and Brecel. McGill, Hossein and Walden are all good qualifiers too. Any player making it through that will have worked hard for it.

The bottom half looks much weaker. Selby a clear standout on current form, but Allen and Wilson could provide a threat to that. Carter's had a good season and Bingham will be optimistic about his chances. Higgins' level seems to have dropped off a lot, with plenty of early exits this year, and Robertson's failure seems inevitable as he seemingly has a mental block here.

I'm going to be astonishingly, dismally, fantastically dull for my overall prediction - Ronnie v Selby in the final, with Ronnie winning. The two have, of course, dominated this event in recent times, with O'Sullivan or Selby winning it on 8 out of the last 11 times, but they've only met in one final thus far.

O'Sullivan generally falls early or not at all - once he's reached the SF stage, he is very tough to stop. Of the last six times Ronnie has made the semi-finals of this event, he has gone on to win it five times and lost in the final once. The second-round or QF is generally his stumbling block, but he's forecast to play Ding and Williams in those rounds, and he has strong records against both (although I note both Ding and Williams have beaten him in the most recent meeting!). And Selby is in great form, the easier half of the draw, and has a pretty gentle incline to the final.

Outsiders I'd keep an eye on would be Carter and Liswoski. Lisowski has the game to win it, but mentally he falls apart in crunch situations. Maybe he can put it together this time?

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Post by Duty281 Fri 28 Apr 2023, 10:06 pm

Brecel cuts the lead to 14-10, but Si still in control. Si started off the evening like a train and looked as though he was going to win with a session to spare, but the Belgian finished the stronger by winning the last five frames, giving him momentum heading into tomorrow. Si missed a fairly regulation green that would have probably seen the overnight score 15-9.

Si should still get home from here, but I guess pressure and nerves could play a part - not that he seems to have felt much of that so far!


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Post by Soul Requiem Sat 29 Apr 2023, 12:13 pm

I mentioned it a couple of years ago when Selby trudged past Bingham and Murphy but it would appear he suffers from some sort of mental block when it comes to the single table format. He can play fairly free flowing snooker in the early rounds and look like a genuinely great player but come the semi finals he shuts up shop completely and turns every match in a real chore.

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Post by 88Chris05 Sat 29 Apr 2023, 3:27 pm

Superb break of 81 for Brecel, and he closes to just 13-14 behind. That's eight frames on the spin he's won. Looked as if he might get beaten with a session to spare yesterday, all of a sudden now he's arguably the favourite.

Great match to watch, this.
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Post by Duty281 Sat 29 Apr 2023, 4:42 pm

Amazing comeback, barely believable. Ten frames in a row now for Brecel, surpassing the seven consecutive frames he won v Ronnie.


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Post by Duty281 Sat 29 Apr 2023, 5:37 pm

The greatest comeback by margin in Crucible history. 5-14 down, wins 17-15, quite amazing by Luca Brecel. What a run it has been. Beaten in the first round five times out of five previous to 2023, now the Belgian has toppled Walden, Williams, O'Sullivan and Si to get to the final, the last two with astonishing comebacks.

Si will be heartbroken, but hopefully we see more of him going forward.

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Post by 88Chris05 Sat 29 Apr 2023, 8:37 pm

Yep, incredible stuff from Brecel. Si did run out of steam badly in the end, but again just like against O'Sullivan you've got to give Brecel enormous credit for seizing the opportunity and sticking to his guns under the pressure.

Two matches running where he's looked absolutely dead and buried (here even more than the O'Sullivan one) and stormed back in phenomenal style.

As for the other semi final, Selby is starting to suffocate Allen, who similar to Si just seems to have hit a wall. Where others tire and falter, Selby usually excels. He's built for these long, draining matches and the scrappier they get, the more you fancy him pulling away. 14-10 and I don't see a way back for Allen here.
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Post by 88Chris05 Sun 30 Apr 2023, 12:30 am

Somehow, Allen has clawed it back to 15-16, after being 10-16 down. Selby has looked very shaky as the winning line has approached on a few occasions, and Allen has admittedly also had some timely run of the ball. It's not as if he's been playing lights out snooker himself.

Surely we couldn't have another comeback win? If Brecel's was astonishing, this would be absurd.
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Post by 88Chris05 Sun 30 Apr 2023, 12:54 am

Selby keeps Allen scoreless in the 32nd frame and finally wins 17-15. Allen just left himself too much to do, and cracked a little bit in the end after getting himself back into contention - that was a crazy red he went for at 0-64 down in that final frame.

That was a hard grind of a match, to say the least. Normally you'd wonder how much that would take out of Selby for the final, but he's the marathon man and if anyone can turn up fresh tomorrow afternoon and ready to go again, it's him.

Selby obviously a clear favourite for the final, but unlike 2021 he's not been anywhere near his best in this tournament. If Brecel was ever going to beat him over four sessions, this just might be the time.
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Post by Duty281 Sun 30 Apr 2023, 1:00 am

Well, that went on a bit! Wasn't quite 2020 for drama, but it tried to run it close.

Selby started slow before picking up, but Allen did absolutely nothing, so the score was 16-10. Then Selby went to pieces, his nerves looked shot, and he didn't look a four-time world champion, before eventually scraping over the line.

So a Selby v Brecel final. I'm still strongly favouring Selby, even if he has been below his best for the most part. These long format matches are where Selby is near unbeatable, and add that to his astonishing record in ranking finals - 19 wins from his last 21 ranking finals. And he's up against a first-time world finalist, so nerves may suffocate or inhibit Brecel. Brecel has also suffered from quite big dips in games so far, which he can't afford against Selby, as I can't see Brecel winning 11 or 7 in a row this time around!

Where Brecel has to take advantage is early on. Selby has generally started slow this tournament (6-6 v G Wilson; 1-4 v Higgins; 3-6 v Allen), so the Belgian must start quick if he's to have any realistic chance. Selby's slow starts may be exacerbated by a slight fatigue factor. Brecel has to win that first session and get ahead, because Selby will get stronger later in the game.

Overall, I reckon Selby will win comfortably, something like 18-10, but I hope Brecel powers his way to the trophy.

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Post by 88Chris05 Sun 30 Apr 2023, 2:30 pm

3-1 Brecel, but could (and probably should) have been 4-0.

Selby does look jaded and if it was anyone else, you'd think he might be a bit burnt out. But he's the one player you don't worry about in these situations. Either way, Brecel needs to take full advantage because Selby hasn't been starting well in any of his matches in this tournament, and if he doesn't come away from this first session with a lead you'd fear for his chances
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Post by 88Chris05 Sun 30 Apr 2023, 3:59 pm

A brilliant 70 break from Brecel and he takes the first session 6-2. He's full of confidence and is sauntering around the table as if he's playing in the club.

Selby looks out of sorts, but that's not uncommon for him in the early stages of world finals, even the ones he's won. A couple of troubling misses under no pressure, but he'll pick it up later today, I'm sure.
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Post by Duty281 Sun 30 Apr 2023, 5:03 pm

That was a good session for Brecel, although it perhaps should have been a 7-1 return. I think he needs to win the next session (which I believe is 9 frames) as well, then he'll be tough to stop. But if Selby starts reeling him in tonight I can't see the Belgian holding on tomorrow.

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Post by No name Bertie Sun 30 Apr 2023, 6:14 pm

In the quarters and semi-finals Brecel has also shown he is quite good on the finishing stretch of a match.
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Post by 88Chris05 Sun 30 Apr 2023, 9:56 pm

Selby makes a bit of history by compiling the first ever 147 in a World Championship final. Magnificent break, never really looked in doubt once he got to 73.

Closes to just 7-9 behind.
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Post by Duty281 Sun 30 Apr 2023, 10:25 pm

Stupendous achievement for Selby, and fully backed up by taking that tight final frame which means he's won that session 6-3. He reversed early deficits against Higgins and Allen, now looks set to do the same here. Very tough ask for Brecel tomorrow.

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Post by 88Chris05 Mon 01 May 2023, 1:26 pm

Very important that Brecel started this session well, and he more than does that with a ludicrously easy-looking century to move 10-8 ahead.
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Post by Duty281 Mon 01 May 2023, 1:41 pm

11-8. Selby a bit unfortunate that a long red didn't drop into a usually generous pocket, and Brecel counters magnificently. Really strong start again from Brecel.

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Post by Duty281 Mon 01 May 2023, 2:00 pm

Another amazing century from Brecel, after Selby broke down on 35, sealing the frame with an exquisite double. 2/3rds of the way to the trophy....

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Post by Duty281 Mon 01 May 2023, 2:12 pm

And again. Barely believable stuff from Brecel who puts in another century - 141 this time! - and stretches the lead to 13-8.

This is almost like Trump v Higgins in 2019, the way Brecel has played in this session so far.

Selby needs at least three of the final four frames this afternoon. But he needs Brecel to miss the odd pot for that to happen!

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Post by Duty281 Mon 01 May 2023, 4:25 pm

Selby took the first two, but Brecel the last two, and that gives the Belgian a 15-10 advantage going into the final session. This would be one of the most remarkable World Championship victories ever seen - to beat Williams, Ronnie and Selby is one thing, but to do it having had to come back from 6-10 against Ronnie and 5-14 versus Si, plus needing to beat Selby in a final and over the longest distance...It's just astonishing.  I struggle to think of a run quite like this one. Especially with the aggression and general fearlessness that Brecel has shown throughout.

He was highly talked about when he came through to the professional game, having achieved what he did as a youth - being the youngest under-19 European Champion, beating one of the world's top sixteen when he was just 14, but until now Brecel has been seen as a largely unfulfilled potential, with just one triple crown final prior to this event and only a few ranking titles to his name. It could alter tonight and be the spur his career needs.

But, of course, Brecel's not quite there yet. Still needs three frames this evening. It would be quite an irony if the master of the comeback was defeated by one.

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Post by 88Chris05 Mon 01 May 2023, 4:29 pm

15-10 Brecel going into tonight's final session.

Normally it'd be an absolutely foregone conclusion, and it almost definitely is here as well....But this is Selby we're talking about. And while there's been absolutely no indication of it with Brecel so far, there's always a chance that a first-timer can get clincher's disease at the Crucible as the winning line nears.

I think Selby will get close tonight and put Brecel under pressure, but this might just be a bridge too far, even for a performer as granite and dogged as him. Would be a fantastic thing for the game if Brecel completes the job, as his play and attitude has been a delight and it would surely help grow snooker across the continent.
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Post by Duty281 Mon 01 May 2023, 8:41 pm

16-10 and it was looking like an early night, but Selby's taken the next three, the last of those with a century, to breathe life into the final.

Wonder how Brecel's feeling at the interval? If Selby takes the next and closes within two, it gets very nervy...

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Post by 88Chris05 Mon 01 May 2023, 9:09 pm

I did put a speculative little bet on Selby to win this 18-17 before this final session started. He might just be about to close to 14-16.....
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Post by Duty281 Mon 01 May 2023, 9:31 pm

Selby closes to within one, benefiting from a fluke and later a frazzled shot from his opponent, and now it must be a full-blown panic for Brecel. His long potting has completely vanished from view, with Selby racking up 300+ points without reply.

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Post by 88Chris05 Mon 01 May 2023, 9:31 pm

The lead is cut to just one. Brecel looks gone, and Selby is just getting stronger and stronger.

Brecel will do very well to win from here. Selby is dominating and that gulf in big time experience and bottle is starting to tell.
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Post by Duty281 Mon 01 May 2023, 9:51 pm

17-15. Brecel did look gone, especially with a horrible long pot attempt to start the frame, but Selby missed a very gettable black which allowed his opponent to re-find his touch. Selby then compounded this error with another miss, this time on the brown.

One more for Luca. Just one.

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Post by Duty281 Mon 01 May 2023, 10:11 pm

Amazing. Sealed with a century. What a run it has been for Brecel and he's toppled Selby over the best of 35. clap

Selby will be replaying that missed black in the 32nd frame for a fair while. Until that point it looked as though Selby was going to run to the winning line.

I don't think anyone will quite win a World Championship like Brecel has again. Hopefully the launchpad for a career that hasn't, until tonight, lived up to promise.

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Post by Guest Mon 01 May 2023, 10:13 pm

Brecel plays snooker the way it should be played. A worthy champion.
Selby, not really my cup of tea, but he’s a magnificent competitor.
Excellent and enjoyable final.

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Post by 88Chris05 Mon 01 May 2023, 10:50 pm

Been many, many dramatic and sudden momentum shifts in this tournament, and it's finished with yet another one. Seeing Selby miss that tricky black in the 32nd frame seemed to just instantly revive Brecel, and after struggling to get anything going for most of this evening's session he suddenly looked like the Brecel of earlier today again for that last frame and a half; as if he didn't have a care in the world and was practising with a mate.

Great tournament overall. I've no doubt that Selby will win number five before too long, and immense credit to him for making a proper match of it.

But what a sensational talent Brecel is. I knew he was good, but had no idea he was that good or even anywhere near to it. He was a pleasure to watch all tournament and make it look incredibly easy at times. Also, if my maths is correct - he played 131 out of the maximum possible 137 Crucible frames you can play to win the title, which must be the highest for many years. He was faced with top opposition and many difficult, pressure situations, and he breezed through them when it mattered most.

Just fantastic. Hats off to both players and what a story for Brecel. Very Joe Johnson-like.
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Post by Duty281 Tue 02 May 2023, 12:42 am

Agree that Brecel plays snooker the way it should be played. Snooker is struggling - I saw quite a few empty seats at the Crucible this year, even in the semi-finals and final, which isn't a good look for such a small venue - and the game needs players like Brecel and Si to attract new viewers. Brecel's title win can hopefully give snooker an exposure boost on the continent.

Selby: I've got nothing against him as a person and he's one of the ATGs, but the way he plays the game is so soporific and not conducive to gaining new viewership. If everyone played snooker like Selby then the game would have the viewing figures that lawn bowls gets. Will he get number five? Yes, I reckon so, but I have a few more doubts after this campaign as he hit so many low points throughout.

Also, the World Seniors Championship starts on Wednesday, if you're needing a snooker fix. Mark Davis, Jimmy White, Ken Doherty and Stephen Hendry are some of the names taking part.

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Post by dummy_half Tue 02 May 2023, 4:44 pm

There's no problem with having players like Selby, as long as he's playing against more fluent players. The contrast in style between him and Brecel made for a watchable match. The match between him and Allen on the other hand was proper matchstick in the eyelids stuff.

The biggest turn-off from snooker for me was Hendry at his best - utterly brilliant but absolutely robotic, and only seemed to miss if he got a kick. Uncertainty and risk taking are needed to make sport (any sport) compelling to the viewer.

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