Brecel Targets Improvement Despite Championship League Progress

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We take a look at some surprising long-shots and established favourites making the running at the snooker Championship League in Milton Keynes.

Luca Brecel makes progress in snooker's Championship League

Luca Brecel has admitted he must improve if he wants to go far in the Championship League after just winning Group 9 on the second day of the Milton Keynes tournament.

The Belgian managed the highest break of the behind-closed-doors tournament so far when firing a crucial 138 on his way to recording a 3-0 victory over Oliver Lines at the Marshall Arena.

The world number 37 started out with a 2-2 draw against Robbie Williams before finding his rhythm against Lines and he then secured his place in the last 16 after edging out Jack Lisowski in the decider.

World number 12 Lisowski had also disposed of Lines 3-0 and then threw away a 2-0 lead to replicate Brecel’s 2-2 result against Williams, leaving him with the chance to win the group by seeing off Brecel.

The shoot-out between the two ebbed and flowed at 1-1 before the ‘Belgian Bullet’ claimed a 2-1 lead on the black, meaning Lisowski needed to better his opponent’s earlier 138 break against Lines to go through. However, he wasn’t able to deliver such a big score in the final frame, although he did take it on the black to at least ensure he remained unbeaten.

Brecel, who is 25/1* to win the Championship League, now plans to get back to the practice table in a bid to be in better shape before resuming his campaign in the second group stage next week.

Afterwards, in quotes carried by Eurosport, Brecel said: “Happy to get over the line. Jack is a world-class player. I didn’t practice for two months, but started three weeks ago.

“I missed too many easy balls, but I need to improve for next week.”

Outsider Joyce Moves into the Last 16

Meanwhile, world number 68 Mark Joyce (100/1 – Tournament Outright) topped Group 3 to also move into the last-16 thanks to two 3-1 wins over Mark Davis and Michael Holt.

Those victories were enough to seal his place in the next stage but Joyce didn’t take his foot off the gas in his final match and maintained his 100 per cent record with a 3-1 win over Louis Heathcote.

Brecel and Joyce now go into Group A in the second stage, which takes place next Wednesday, where they will be joined by the eventual winners of Groups 14 and 16.

World champion Judd Trump is the 2/1 outright favourite for the tournament after he made it into the last-16 on Monday. He was joined by world number 11 David Gilbert (14/1 Outright), who also progressed from the opening day’s action after winning Group 13.

*All odds correct at time of writing

A sports journalist for over 15 years, Aidan has been part of written and audio coverage on a wide-ranging number of events. Having played and coached at amateur level, he offers in-depth insight and opinion into the world of football in particular.
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