After 11 days and 126 matches involving 64 players, the tournament came down to the very last frame. Woollaston, leading 2-1, needed to win the match to take the title, while Belgium’s Brecel only needed a draw.
Leicester’s Woollaston attempted a tough red early in the frame and it wobbled in the jaws of a top corner, and cruelly that proved his last shot as he spent the rest of the match in his chair watching his hopes of winning his first televised tournament disappear. After slotting a red into a baulk corner, Brecel compiled a marvellous break of 111 to end the event in style.
It’s the second pro title of the 25-year-old’s career and first since the 2017 China Championship. He leaves the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes with total prize money of £30,000 plus a spot in the lucrative Champion of Champions at the same venue in November.
“I am usually cool under pressure but on that break I was very nervous, shaking on every shot,” admitted world number 37 Brecel, who was the only player to go unbeaten in all nine matches during the tournament, winning three and drawing the other six.
“That frame was probably the biggest test of my career because Ben was playing so well. It was a struggle to pot the balls, until I got to 50 or 60 and then I knew I wasn’t going to miss. To win a title is amazing.
“To be in the Champions of Champions as well is a massive bonus, that made the final more special. It gives me something to look forward to.”
Earlier on the final day, Brecel beat Stuart Bingham 3-0 and drew 2-2 with Ryan Day, while Woollaston scored a 3-1 success over Day and lost 3-1 to Bingham.
That left Brecel a point ahead of his opponent going into the decisive last match. And when the Belgian took the first frame, making a break of 67, he knew he needed just one of the last three for the title.
The contest turned when world number 38 Woollaston made a 141 total clearance in frame two – aided by a huge fluke on the pink on 25. And the 33-year-old fired another century, 126, in the third. But his narrow miss early in the last frame turned out to be costly. He finished second in the group and takes home £18,000.
The next tournament at the same venue, also televised on ITV4, will be the Coral Tour Championship from June 20th to 26th. Again it will be behind closed doors and the same rigorous procedures on testing, sanitisation and social distancing will be followed. All 116 players, staff and officials at the Matchroom.Live Championship League tested negative for Covid-19 as snooker made a successful return to live action.
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