By Colin Bell in Australia
Last year I spent a week understanding the whole tournament was, so this year I thought I would try to understand the players and try my hand at journalism.
There were a few new names that qualified for the tournament this year, but the youngest ever to qualify is the Belgian Bullet Luca Brecel. I caught up with him after watching him practice at the venue, and asked him a few questions…
It’s your first time qualifying for Australia, what have you made of your time here so far?
“It’s a bit different than I expected. I expected it to be bigger, more lively, busier and warmer of course.”
It’s probably the longest flight you’ve ever done. How are you coping with the jet-lag, do you prepare in any particular way?
“I haven’t really had any problems with jet-lag. I’ve only been here one day so far and I don’t have any special preparation before a long flight.”
You’ve been to the venue already to practice, what do you think of the conditions?
“It’s a small venue, but if the tables are good then it’s OK.”
You just about managed to get into the world’s top 64 at the end of last season. How much of a relief was that for you? Where you aware of what you needed to do to keep your tour card?
“I wasn’t so relieved as I was no.4 on the PTC Order of Merit, so it was a bonus to be in the top 64. I never think about my results because I just play each game as it comes. I have a lot of goals but I don’t look at the individual results.”
However, after you’ve played a match, do you evaluate your performance?
“After a game, I write down the good things and the bad things. I’ve had this list for several years now, but I just write it down for the moment.”
So you’ve just started this new season, what goals have you set yourself for this year?
“I would like to reach at least one semi-final of a ranking tournament but I also believe I could win a tournament.”
Do you believe you have any weak points in your game, areas you need to work on?
“I am constantly trying to improve my game. I don’t believe I have any particular weak points although I do play quickly, that’s my style.“
How is the game going in Belgium?
“A lot of youngsters look up to me, I don’t do much extra promotion but may consider some coaching in the future. It’s a pity there’s no tournament in Antwerp this season and I don’t really know the reason why.”
There aren’t any other Belgian snooker professionals, would you consider moving to England to work on your game and practice against other top players?
“Not at the moment. I would miss Belgium too much, although in the future I may consider spending one or two years there but never permanently.”
You’re still very young at 19 but as the ‘experienced’ one of the younger crop of players do you feel any extra pressure is on you?
“I don’t feel any pressure. I believe in destiny, if you are destined to be good at the game then you will be. You just need to put the work in and don’t put pressure on yourself.”
The game is becoming more and more popular in mainland Europe. Do you see a big rise in the numbers of people playing?
“It’s growing slightly in these countries, but not very fast.”
What would help it to grow?
“More characters in the game, the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan or Jimmy White, and the late Alex Higgins.”
In the first round this week you play Matthew Stevens. Have you played him before? What kind of game do you expect from him?
“I’ve only played him once before when I was 12 – he won 2-1. I like his attitude to the game but I don’t know too much about his style. I think I can beat him though.”
Some of the bigger names like Ronnie and Ding are missing. Do you see this as a bigger opportunity to go further in a ranking event?
“I have no expectations. I will just play my own game, it depends how I play as to how far I go.”
If there was someone that you might fear playing, although I’m sure you don’t fear anyone, who would it be?
“Selby, because he’s tough and would really slow down my game.”
Who do you think can win this tournament?
“Either Robertson or Trump”
There’s a lot of talk on the circuit about the cost and lack of sponsorship, what do you think would make the game more attractive to sponsors?
“Make it more exciting and maybe have more events like the Shootout. It’s difficult to watch a full tournament. I don’t watch snooker when it’s on, I only play it.”
How do you feel about playing on the TV? I know you’ve played many times now, do you still get nervous?
“I don’t get nervous I just ignore the cameras and play my game, I don’t think about that I’m on TV.”
How do you relax away from snooker?
“I listen to music, go on holidays and play football.”
Have you been following the World Cup. What about Belgium’s chances?
“I’m not sure how the players are thinking mentally, but I think they’re capable of going to the final. It has been great to be in Belgium during the first stages of the World Cup, there’s been a lot of support and enthusiasm.”
Good luck to Luca who plays Matthew Stevens at 12:00pm (3am Irish time).
The full draw for the Australian Open can be viewed by clicking here.
That’s my boy!!
Good interview and fair play as you stated, one of your firsts so well done.
I like Luca and can see him being near the top the more tournaments he plays and gain more experience and fine tune him into a class act but also agree that snooker does need more characters in the game but his definition of a character in my opinion doesn’t mean he has to play fast e.g he mentions Ronnie, Jimmy and the late Alex Higgins, but they had / have that something else other than fast play within their character, Alex , well if it wasn’t for him and his off the table antics snooker wouldn’t be where it is now, love him or loathe him by his peers he put snooker on the map which turned it from pot black to the BBC putting on the big money tournaments and even itv gave it the odd one showing the 1st max by the nugget, then jimmy, the people’s champion, in his prime the Jimmy v Davis was the talk of every club around the country but not only was he fast he oozed enthusiasm and had a character in which he attracted millions of people to watch him, the greatest player never to win the world championships, then Ronnie, the genius, again my opinion the greatest player to pick up a cue, flamboyant on form traumatic when his head wasn’t ‘there’ , other personal matters and his different personality of Ronnie on the baize “which Ronnie is going to turn up” made people watch, sell out most of his matches, and basically without him the game sadly would have struggled and when he hangs up his cue who knows, China maybe the new venue for the world’s,, in fact I think it will anyway.
Now my point being, would you or others or Luca describe Ricky Walden, Michael Holt, bingham, and a few others outside the 64 as exciting players and put bums on seats I think not, they are definitely no slouches, Walden amoungst the balls is quicker than most and also hotly when he’s on form, Michael white who I know personally is quicker but it takes more than a speedy player to stand out like the aforementioned big 3.., my point being is sadly you cannot say the word s### on Twitter without being fined as Mark Williams and Mark Allen have found out, the players now are restricted in such a way by the governing body that they are too scared to even celebrating a win over the top to show their real character, don’t get me wrong I don’t expect them to walk on chucking free chalks and towels in to the audience Wimbledon style or swearing in post match interviews as ” they are role models for the kiddies” but a little character makes it more interesting and sells the tickets , gets the ratings higher and inevitably saves snooker from a sad end in the public eye.
In my opinion there are plenty of characters in the game but it is an issue that is raised time and time again. A big problem is that it is more difficult to get publicity in newspapers and even major sporting websites such as the BBC than it was back in the 1980s and 90s, so comparisons to players in those days are slightly misleading as people had more opportunity to read and learn about these people then than what they do now.
I must say, though, your thought of chucking free chalks or the like into the crowd would be pretty hilarious, especially if it was done more of the ilk of Ted Hankey and his toy bats.
thanks for the interview. It would be great if there were more interviews at this site. As for the player himself, I think he lacks professionalism. Sometimes it is better to watch Ronnie play rather than to do it himself.