Luca Brecel triumphed in the 2021 Scottish Open on Sunday after a 9-5 victory over John Higgins at the Venue Cymru in Llandudno.
The Belgian Bullet produced an excellent display to see off the challenge of the four-time world champion – compiling a terrific century break of 127 to clinch it.
In addition to capturing the Stephen Hendry Trophy and pocketing the top prize of £70,000, Brecel will make a welcome return to the top 16 in the official world rankings list.
The 26 year-old has capped a magnificent run of recent form – which began with a first quarter-final appearance in a ranking event in more than two years at the English Open and was substantiated by his appearance in the UK Championship final a week ago – with a fully deserved second career ranking crown.
It marks the second week in succession that a ranking event has been won by a player in his twenties, administering an injecting of energy into the sport that had been craved for a while.
Brecel has been heralded as one of the game’s brightest young stars for more than a decade, having burst onto the professional scene as a teenager in 2011 following victory in the European Amateur Championship.
After his maiden ranking glory in the 2017 China Championship, he flirted with the big-time and enjoyed a brief first spell within the elite 16, but his standard has generally not lived up to the hype.
That has all changed in recent weeks as a newfound dedication has started to reap the rewards, and Brecel has been able to prove just why so many have been excited about his potential.
As the higher seed and boasting more illustrious credentials, Higgins was the understandable favourite going into the 2021 Scottish Open final but had to settle for second place for a fourth time this season.
The Wizard of Wishaw was made to pay for a slow start, and in addition to being runner-up in the Champion of Champions, Higgins has now been a beaten finalist in all three Home Nations events so far this term.
Brecel won the first three frames of the 2021 Scottish Open final and never looked back, compiling breaks of 104, 96, and 61 in orchestrating a 6-2 advantage after the opening session.
That cushion was stretched to six frames when Brecel won the first two of the evening’s play with runs of 79 and 64 to move to within the brink of the title.
Higgins fought gallantly as his opponent endured a slight wobble, but after losing three frames on the spin Brecel steadied himself to finally power past the winning post in style.
The latter is now second behind UK Champion Zhao Xintong on the one-year rankings list, which is based on prize money from the 2021/22 campaign and determines the qualification places for all three lucrative events on the Cazoo Series.
The first of those commences on Monday with the 32-field World Grand Prix, and on current form with his confidence brimming Brecel will be a tough competitor to beat.
Featured photo credit: WST