Luca Brecel believes he might be the player to finally break the famous Crucible Curse next year.
The Belgian Bullet memorably secured his maiden world title at the Crucible Theatre in May.
However, no first-time winner of the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield has managed to defend the crown the following season.
- CLICK HERE: Luca Brecel wins 2023 World Championship
Indeed, Joe Johnson and Ken Doherty are the only two players to have reached the title-deciding contest again in the year after.
In 1998, Doherty embarked on a run to the final only to be denied 18-12 by John Higgins, who in 1999 then fell at the semi-final stage during his attempt to break the voodoo.
Johnson came closest in 1987 when he got to within four frames of capturing the trophy again, losing 18-14 to Steve Davis in a repeat of the 1986 showdown for glory.
The latter, meanwhile, lost in the very first round a year after his maiden victory – sensationally crumbling to a 10-1 defeat to Tony Knowles in 1982.
The likes of Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, and Mark Williams have also failed.
But reigning world champion Luca Brecel has a typically laidback approach to the challenge of negotiating the Crucible Curse in 2024.
“I think I can do it actually, to be honest. I think I can do it,” Brecel said on Stephen Hendry’s Cue Tips.
“I don’t really care about those things, so for me it’s just if I play well then I can do it.”
In another enjoyable interview on Hendry’s popular YouTube channel, Brecel also discussed this year’s triumph.
The world number two’s run included victories over Williams and O’Sullivan before an incredible fight back against qualifier Si Jiahui in the last four.
Despite at one point trailing the Chinese competitor 14-5, Brecel conjured up a remarkable string of frames and eventually overturned the deficit to prevail 17-15.
He then overcame four-time winner Selby in an entertaining final that ended 18-15.
“I think the first frame (of the final) I won it in six minutes, so that settled me down,” the 28 year-old said.
“But for me, the difficult part was the semi-final. Because I’d never been in the one-table setup.”
“It was so different, and I think I told you in the mid-session. Backstage, I told you.
“It’s so different, it just feels like a different tournament. Normally you’re close to the table.
“Now, all of a sudden, it’s a long walk to the seat. It took me a bit of time to settle down.”
Since his triumph in Sheffield, Brecel has been enjoying his life mostly away from the baize with not much of a workload on the practice table.
But he gets his 2023/24 snooker season going on Tuesday in the European Masters in Germany.
His first outing as world champion will be a held over qualifying match in Nuremberg against Jackson Page.
Featured photo credit: WST