John Higgins - Luca Brecel



That'll do us

After a humble, heart-warming interview with Rachel Casey and the Whirlwind in the Eurosport studio, Brecel tears up as he sends a message to those watching back home. What a player, what a guy. The future of this glorious game is in very good hands indeed.
Scottish Open
Top 10 shots from the Scottish Open featuring O'Sullivan, Trump, Brecel
13/12/2021 AT 08:56
Thanks for your company tonight and this week, we'll cross paths with you again soon.

How the Scottish was won

Brecel is a heavy, brutal scorer, and breaks of 96, 61, 104, 79 and that rousing 127 all contributed heavily to his victory. The key frame though was the sixth; from a seemingly doomed position, Brecel managed to dish up and nick it on the black to go 5-1 ahead rather than be pegged back to 4-2. On top of that his safety game was tight, and allied to his attacking intent and uncanny ability to get in from distance, Brecel is going to be a problem not just for Higgins but everyone else. On Higgins, a thought; he's lost six of his last seven ranking event finals, and all three Home Nations event finals this season. As with Ronnie anyone questioning his ability, nerve or title-winning moxie should be laughed out of the room, but the fact that two legit, seasoned geniuses are having a hard time banking ranking event titles right now tells you everything about the depth at the top end of the sport.

The Stephen Hendry Trophy

Luca lifts the trophy high and proud, and that seventy grand will put a decent turkey on the table in a few weeks. What a moment for him, his second ranking event title four years after his first. At 26, and playing like this, you'd imagine it's not his last. Beyond that, what a week for the global profile of snooker, and the future of the game. The 24-year old Zhao Xintong pipped Brecel to the UK seven days ago, and Brecel bounces back to claim the Scottish Open tonight. It also begins to bookend a year that began when 20-year old Yan Bingtao beat Higgins to win the Masters. We're not done yet either; all three will be at the World Grand Prix in Coventry next week.

Luca Brecel wins the Scottish Open

Last week we saw two stars born. Zhao Xintong burned brightest by winning the UK Championship, but the beaten finalist Luca Brecel rocked up in Llandudno and proved just what a supernova he is too. What a three weeks he's had; we really are watching the confirmation of a serious talent here. Higgins, as ever, is wonderfully magnanimous in defeat and says much the same. It's a mutual appreciation society, as Luca tells us what an honour it is to play and beat Higgins in a final, and what a nightmare it is to have him chipping away at your lead. As Higgins also pointed out, it's ridiculous that one of the game's current marquee talents won't be playing at the Masters next month.

Higgins 5-9 Brecel

This is how champions round off, and Brecel is a worthy one. He allows himself a little punch of the air as he reaches his ton, and pots a preposterous pink to right middle followed by a no-look (!) black to empty the table for a magnificent 127 to win the Scottish Open!

Higgins 5-8 Brecel (0-70)

He's done it, and in style! A black leaves Higgins needing three snookers, and he's not done yet! Luca Brecel is going to win the Scottish Open!

Higgins 5-8 Brecel (0-54)

What's in the open will do it for Brecel, who has noticeably slowed his rhythm down to make sure of every shot. 'This is not a normal frame of snooker for Luca Brecel,' notes Fouldsy in co-comms. I'll say; there's a title and 70 large on the line here. The half-century is in the bag, and two reds and colours will leave Higgins needing snookers. You could hear the proverbial pin drop.

Higgins 5-8 Brecel (0-20)

Brecel still looks relatively unflustered by this burst from Higgins. The dramatic, ominous violins aren't playing yet, but they're in their cases and waiting to be tuned up if this goes 8-6. Brecel gets the first red down from distance in frame 14, but can't land conveniently on a colour. A long, long safety exchange follows, before Higgins catches the blue on his way back up the table and leaves Brecel a red to the bottom right. That goes, and he plays his key shot early boy playing on and potting the black to get it back on its spot. It's all there for him now; this is the chance he's been waiting for.

Higgins 5-8 Brecel

The impasse ends when Brecel takes on a red to the green pocket, misses, and serves it up to the right middle. A pink follows, and Brecel now needs two snookers. It's a tall order, and a red-pink from Brecel means it's two snookers to tie on the colours. Higgins ends the argument with a long yellow into the bottom left, and he's now won three in a row!

Higgins 4-8 Brecel (53-18)

Brecel picks up four when Higgins can't escape from a snooker, and gets in with a mid-range red soon after. The reds are awkward though and he can only make 13 before playing safe. We've got three reds left out there and it's a tense exchange of safety shots that follows. Brecel then gets a long red down and plays an excellent snooker, which Higgins swerves his way out of. We go on.

Higgins 4-8 Brecel (53-0)

Higgins is making a good fist of this, not just because of the pressure that he's under but because the black is tied up and the pink has drifted to the right of the table. He makes another half-century, though it's getting harder to find reds to take him back up for the blue. The break curtails on 53 when good position is lost, and with 67 left on there's still a chance for Brecel.

Higgins 4-8 Brecel (16-0)

We're back, so let's see where this goes. In the interval the advice from Angles was for Higgins to 'make the other guy earn it'. Sound advice. A long safety exchange opens the 13th frame, before Higgins finally takes on a pot and fails to make a difficult plant into the bottom left. Brecel then tries a similar plant in response, misses, and Higgins is in. A good shot on the blue to open the pack and bring the pink into play has turned this into a good scoring opportunity.

Higgins 4-8 Brecel

That's two in a row for Higgins as a 73 secures frame 12.
We'll be back in 15 minutes.

Higgins 3-8 Brecel (65-17)

We'll be back after the interval; frame ball black goes as Higgins makes only his second half-century of the day. Admirable moxie from the Wizard, who looks intent on keeping the argument going.

Higgins 3-8 Brecel (44-17)

A black to bottom left wobbles furiously before dropping, and sends a murmur through Venue Cymru. Higgins is in no-miss territory now, so everything he does is on a knife-edge.He's composed himself though, and a nice pot on the black sees him split two reds away from the pink, which could win him the frame.

Higgins 3-8 Brecel (0-17)

A safety exchange opens the 12th frame, and Higgins blinks first as a poor containing safety leaves a red on to the right middle. Brecel drains it, and this is a chance to post a big, potentially title-winning break if he can get down near the black and clear some reds to the left of it. In potting a red to the bottom left however, he shorts position on the blue and has to take on a tough green. It doesn't go, and Higgins is in.

Higgins 3-8 Brecel

He needs all six, and there's one of them; a 44 from Higgins reduces the deficit.
One upon a time in 2010, when he was 7-2 and 9-5 down to Mark Williams in the UK Championship final, Higgins came back to win 10-9. I'm just putting that out there as a disclaimer.

Higgins 2-8 Brecel (53-1)

Higgins shakes his head in disbelief as he misses a black off its spot to bring this break clanging to a halt on 33. He really is struggling, but he should win this frame now, as a woeful safety from Brecel leaves a red on to the right middle.

Higgins 2-8 Brecel (20-1)

There's no quit in Higgins. He picks off a difficult cut on a red to left middle after Brecel's break-off shot, and he's on the green. It's a decent chance, but he soon misses a routine red to the bottom left when trying to open the pack, and he's left a chance for Brecel. Just when you're wondering if that's his last shot however, Brecel misses a black off it's spot and Higgins returns to the table.

Higgins 2-8 Brecel

As Dave Hendon notes in commentary, Higgins battered Ronnie O'Sullivan in his semi-final yesterday; and Brecel is absolutely toying with Higgins here. With the frame quickly in the bag, a few exhibition positional shots help him mop up the remaining reds on his way to 64. It's a six-frame lead, and Brecel is just one frame away from the title.

Higgins 2-7 Brecel (0-54)

Higgins looks gone here. He misses a red that's almost over the yellow pocket, and then leaves Brecel a red to bottom right after a poor safety. Brecel pots it but can't get on a colour, but soon gets a look at a gimme as Higgins goes in-off after catching a safety too thick. Higgins is in real bother here, because there enough on here for Brecel to secure the frame. He's added 20 already, and it looks a cakewalk from here.

Higgins 2-7 Brecel (0-29)

Fearless of Dilsen-Stokkem is at it again, rolling in a long red to the bottom right deadweight to land on the black. It's very easy to go for everything - we all do, down the club - but not to nail it with such repetition with John Higgins sat in the other seat. Brecel then opens the pack off the black, and drains another devastating red from distance into the green pocket. There's no hangover from York in evidence here, Brecel is absolutely flying. He doesn't want fearless to tip into reckless though, and he needs a brilliant thin cut on a red to keep going, followed by a billiards shot when he plays the yellow in off a red into the green pocket. This is thrilling stuff - completely on edge, but an ongoing highlights reel of a break. Eventually position deserts him, and after that unorthodox mini-break he calmly rolls the white back to baulk.

Higgins 2-7 Brecel

The frame is long won by the time Brecel flukes the last red, and a break of 79 extends his lead. It's the worst possible start for Higgins, who has very little margin for error now.

Higgins 2-6 Brecel (27-59)

A brilliant red along the bottom rail takes Brecel to a half-century. The black follows, and in potting the third to last red he brings out the final two reds and lands on the pink. This is superb from Brecel, and he's zoning in on a five frame lead.

Higgins 2-6 Brecel (27-30)

What a touch for Brecel! After being forced to pot his way out of trouble from a good Higgins safety, he drills a red into the bottom left, topspins through, catches the jaws of the pocket and the white flies across the table to land on the black. Higgins's lead is quickly toast, and there's more out there for Brecel to take. Three of the remaining reds are awkward though, so there's plenty to do to win the frame at this visit.

Higgins 2-6 Brecel (27-0)

Brecel gets the first chance of frame nine, but can't convert a long, straight red to the bottom right. Higgins responds by dropping a red into the left middle, and then perhaps signalling his intent for the evening by hosing a long blue into the bottom right. It's a decent early chance, and although difficult bridging to pot a black to move to 22 leaves a cut on a mid-range red to keep going, he manages to clip it in. He's not on a baulk colour though, and plays a snooker that draws four points from Brecel.

Here we go

Right then, let's get this settled. Our MC Phil Seymour brings out Luca, swiftly followed by John. First to nine it is for the Scottish Open.


There's a lovely clip on Eurosport just now, of Angles McManus and John Higgins visiting the practice rooms of the great Fred Davis. The awe on their faces as they peel the cover off the 112 year old table, and imagine together what it must have been like to watch old Fred put a break together on a surface that now hasn't been touched for decades, is just wonderful. Kids in a candy store.

Good evening!

Welcome back to the 2021 Scottish Open final. Part the second will commence in around 15 minutes, and John Higgins has at all to do if he’s to get his mits on his home trophy for the first time. As things stand, he’s 6-2 in the hole to Luca Brecel, so it’s imperative that he wins the first mini-session 3-1 as a minimum. If he splits it, he’s surely done for.
If he does worse, then Luca Brecel will be the Scottish Open champion and claim his first ranking event title since the 2017 China Championship. The recipe for Luca is simple; more of the same. His all-out attacking game got him this far, so there’s no need to change up now. A four-frame lead gives you more licence to be the aggressor, and Brecel will not be shy in taking it.


That's us for the afternoon

Join us again from 6.45pm to find out how it all plays out.

Luca Brecel leads John Higgins by four frames

That was a big, big final frame for Brecel, the difference between leading by four instead of two ahead of the evening session.It's a fair reflection of the afternoon session, because he's bossed it and potted difficult balls at crucial moments. When we return tonight Brecel will be just three frames away from his second ever ranking event victory. If we know anything about John Higgins though it's that he has an uncanny knack of inexplicably rising from the canvas when he looks done, like Tyson Fury did against Deontay Wilder. He won't let any title, let alone the Scottish Open, get away easily.

Higgins 2-6 Brecel

What a time to hit your first ton of the tournament. A 104 wins this crucial eighth frame for him.

Higgins 2-5 Brecel (0-75)

This has been faultless from Brecel. A black takes him to 74, another red to left middle then brings up 75 and we're done for the afternoon bar the admin of the final few shots.

Higgins 2-5 Brecel (0-53)

Brecel moves imperiously to a half-century by slashing the black into the bottom left, which sees the white bounce of the bottom cushion and disturb the remaining cluster of reds. That leaves him a difficult cut on a red to right middle only, but he stuns it in superbly to come off two cushions and land on the black. That's a huge shot, and he's got a great chance to take this out in one hit.

Higgins 2-5 Brecel (0-13)

Here we go then with the final frame of the afternoon, and there's a lot on this. Brecel gets the first chance, when Higgins rests onto the side of the pack but leaves a red on to the green pocket. That goes, the pink follows, and there are points on here.

Higgins 2-5 Brecel

Brecel booms the ball around the angles, misses the green and smashes into the pink, meaning he now needs three snookers to win this seventh frame. He gets one of them back a few shots later, but when he then leaves the green on he folds it and Higgins gets a frame back.

Higgins 1-5 Brecel (70-42)

In the game they say if you had to stick your life savings on anyone to dish up, it would be Higgins. He clears up all of the reds with colours to take his break to 68, and he's dropped in behind frame ball red which is on the upper right rail. It's a tough shot, and Higgins is stretching...but it's there, and a snooker in behind the pink to follow sees him right in charge here.

Higgins 1-5 Brecel (17-42)

Brecel goes into the pack off the black, running the white through the middle of it but failing to emerge beyond it and he's on nowt. Whoever gets in next will have a big chance though, and it's Higgins with a gutsy red across the table and into the bottom right. He starts chipping away at Brecel's lead, and a counter-steal here would set up a barnburner of a final frame of this afternoon.

Higgins 1-5 Brecel (0-18)

The gradient of this climb is getting quite steep now for Higgins, but if he can blag the final two of the day it will put a different complexion on things. He misses his first two long reds by a huge margin, before fear-is-just-a-four-letter-word Brecel gambles everything on a cut back on a red to left middle and makes it to land on the brown. That is some shot! He's 18 points and runnin' now, though will need to head into the pack shortly to keep this going.

Higgins 1-5 Brecel

Nerveless! Brecel rolls the black in calmly to nick a crucial frame. He's guaranteed a lead in the evening session now, and that will be a blow to Higgins.

Higgins 1-4 Brecel (56-52)

What a shot from Brecel! He drains the yellow long to the bottom right, before coming back up the table to land perfectly on the green. They all need to go, and the black tight to the bottom cushion is Higgins's only out here. Brecel drops on it...

Higgins 1-4 Brecel (56-32)

After a good safety by Brecel, Higgins pots his way out of mither by gliding in a long red and even better long pink to wrestle control of this frame from Brecel. After adding 21 he lays a snooker on the final red, from which Brecel gives away four and then escapes from it with his second attempt. He's left a cut on to the right middle though, which Higgins makes...but he's collided with the black and dumped it in the bottom right! Extraordinary, and although the white is safe Brecel can still win this on the colours.

Higgins 1-4 Brecel (31-25)

This is a difficult, delicate break by Brecel, which comes to an end when he misses a blue to the right middle with the rest. The white opens a little cluster below the pink as planned, but Higgins isn't left with a pot on any of them. We've got four reds left out there, and it's up for grabs.

Higgins 1-4 Brecel (31-1)

It's a tale of two long reds at the start of the sixth. Brecel drains one but overruns the baulk colours, while Higgins drops his in to land on the black and start building a break. It's 30 and counting already, with three reds still in the open and a nice-looking pack to go into. He soon tries that off the black...but he's taken his eye off it and missed the pot! My oh my, he's missed some balls this afternoon. Chance for Brecel.

Higgins 1-4 Brecel

Higgins misses a long red to the bottom right, and sticks it up near the green pocket. This is curtains; Brecel mops up a quick seven points and he restores his lead to three frames.

Higgins 1-3 Brecel (21-62)

Just as it looks like he might lose position, Brecel recovers it by creaming a brown into the left middle. What a shot! It's a losing battle with position though, and on 61 he plays safe to the bottom cushion with three reds remaining. Brecel needs red-colour, Higgins red-everything.

Higgins 1-3 Brecel (21-53)

An early split on the remaining cluster of reds leaves Brecel a great chance to step in and take this one. A very quick half-century deals with everything south of the blue spot, before he heads up to deal with the four remaining reds in baulk.

Higgins 1-3 Brecel (21-1)

We're back, and Brecel gets in first in the fifth with a superb plant on two reds to the right middle. He doesn't mind chancing his arm, this lad; he then cuts in a wafer thin black to the bottom right, which explodes the pack open perfectly. Just as it looks like being a frame-winner though, the pink trickles into the right middle and this has left a load on for Higgins. What's this, though? On 14 Higgins misses a thin cut on a red to left middle, and Brecel is back in!

Higgins 1-3 Brecel

It's 49 for Higgins, and the gap reduces to two.
We'll be back in 15 minutes after the interval.

Higgins 0-3 Brecel (70-0)

A swift 28 from Higgins puts the frame beyond Brecel's reach. Whatever the situation, Higgins is not for panicking. He was three down to Dave Gilbert earlier in the week and turned it around, and now has a foothold in this final.

Higgins 0-3 Brecel (43-0)

Higgins clips in a long red but again overruns the baulk colours, though his snooker tight behind the green yields 12 in fouls before Brecel perfects his one cushion escape and lands on the pack. Another long red then gives Higgins the chance to tuck in behind the yellow, and this time with reds everywhere Brecel decides to hit and hope. It doesn't work out; he connects with a red, but leaves a mid-range red on and Higgins plugs it. There's a load on for him here.

Higgins 0-3 Brecel (28-0)

The fearless Brecel cuts in a superb thin red to the left middle at the start of the fourth, but catches the high knuckle of that pocket on his way back up the table and flies in-off in the green pocket. Is that the touch Higgins needs to get a foothold in this final? He buries a long red from the D and he's perfect on the black. He quickly gets to 24, but loses position when going into the pack off the black and has to play the white back to baulk.

Higgins 0-3 Brecel

These are the kinds of frames Brecel needs to win if he’s going to claim the title. A swift 32 from Brecel leaves Higgins needing three snookers with two reds left out there. Higgins has a look, but sits back down again and concedes. Brecel has won three on the bike.

Higgins 0-2 Brecel (2-35)

It's a battle so far for Higgins, who hasn't settled yet. He misses a long red to the bottom left, but isn't punished for it as Brecel misses a red to right middle to follow. This frame has gone very bitty; Brecel inadvertently pots the pink to ship six points, and then tags in a red as a shot to nothing. Is this the chance now though? Brecel drains another long red, following it this time with brown to right middle and a red boomed into the bottom right to land on the pink. Chance.

Higgins 0-2 Brecel (2-28)

Higgins drains a long red after Brecel's break in the third, but overruns the baulk colours and lays a snooker. From there Brecel escapes off one cushion, but he's left a red on to the bottom left. Higgins drives that in and tickles the pack open, but then misses a shocker of a green to it's own pocket! I did a double take then, that's so unlike him. Brecel needs no second invitation; he picks off a stray red, and then utterly explodes the pack open after potting the blue. That's a statement of intent alright; he won't leave Llandudno wondering tonight, whatever happens. It takes a few good recovery pots on reds and a black to lasso position, but he eventually loses it again and misses a red to right middle.

Higgins 0-2 Brecel

A red to left middle wobbles a bit before dropping, but frame ball black soon takes Brecel to 74 and he's home and hosed in this one. He doesn't get the ton, missing a black off it's spot on 96, but he's fair flown out of the gate today.

Higgins 0-1 Brecel (0-60)

The Bullet? I'll say. It's a 60 in less than five minutes for Brecel, and a two frame lead and a ton look in the post here. This is some start.

Higgins 0-1 Brecel (0-30)

Brecel started well and stalled against McGill yesterday, but it's all A game so far this afternoon. A superb long red gets him in at the start of frame two, and he's quickly into the pack off the black. A flurry of points follow and this is a great chance now for a quick, one hit frame.

Higgins 0-1 Brecel

That is it. Brecel clears up to the blue to take the lead in this final.

Higgins 0-0 Brecel (33-49)

Brecel gets a chance to pinch the frame as Higgins misses a red with the rest to the green pocket and leaves it on. He tidies up 17 but can't land on the final red, so plays safe to baulk. A safety exchange follows, and Brecel gets the edge when Higgins misjudges one and serves up a red to right middle. That should be it...

Higgins 0-0 Brecel (33-32)

Higgins is away, jabbing a red long into the yellow pocket. He quickly accumulates points, taking the lead with a blue to the left middle, but then misses a difficult cut on a red to bottom left. It's played with safety in mind though, and with four reds still out there this is anyone's frame.

Higgins 0-0 Brecel (0-32)

Both players miss yahoos at long reds in frame one, but Higgins's is more damaging as he's left a red on to the right middle. That goes and Brecel starts confidently, thin cutting a black, making a difficult plant and hosing a long blue into the green pocket early in his break. Impressive stuff so far, but on 32 he misses a black off its spot wildly, and it's a chance for Higgins.

Here we go!

Our MC Phil Seymour baizes the boys. Our first session today will have eight frames, with an interval after four. Let's get it popping.

The Stephen Hendry Trophy

Let’s give a quick nod today to the man that the Scottish Open trophy is named after. You’ll remember him. The Guvnor. The Don. The Benchmark. The Revolution. The Prodigy. The Last Word. The architect of the greatest one-man reign of terror over the game we’ve ever seen. In any place a snooker could think of calling home in the nineties, it would by Stephen Hendry’s word that found them.
And what better indication of his ability than to remind yourself of the fact that John Higgins is only the second best player to have come out of Scotland. Hendry rightly has the Scottish Open trophy named after him; it couldn’t be anyone else. He didn’t just dominate the game, he changed the entire way in which it was played, a style all players now play a variant of. The debt those players and the game in general owe the guy is incalculable. Ronnie O’Sullivan might be the greatest player in the history of the game, but Hendry is the most important.

26 with a Bullet

Xu Si, Tom Ford, Stephen Maguire, Anthony Hamilton, Anthony McGill, Kyren Wilson, Joe Perry, Pang Junxu, Fergal O’Brien, Matthew Selt and Anthony McGill again. That’s the rolodex of players that Luca Brecel has beaten in the last three weeks in York and Llandudno; an imperious stretch during which the only blemish was losing the UK Championship final to the prodigious Zhao Xintong last Sunday. Luca hasn’t sulked about that though and he’s straight back into another final, looking for the second ranking event win of his career.

The Sound of Middle-Aged Scotland

Don’t call it a comeback, he’s been here for years. John Higgins has never not been great; he won his first ranking event title in 1994 and his last one in February of this year. It’s been one of the greatest careers we’ve ever seen. Yet this season, it feels like we’re watching Wizard 2.0. Higgins slimmed down over the summer, losing three stone through a spin class regime, and it seems to have re-energised him. This is his fourth final of the season so far, but it comes with an asterisk; Higgins has been beaten in the three before today and has even questioned his own ability to get over the line in a ranking event anymore. Will today be the day?

Bella Caledonia

I heart Scotland. It’s been enriching my life for years, providing a bountiful supply of amazing musicians, artists, writers, comedians, actors, footballers, football managers and, most recently, politicians who demand the resignation of charlatans that are somehow allowed to run countries (at time of writing).
As for its contribution to snooker, let’s run the list. Stephen Gordon Hendry and John Higgins, two of the top three in history; Graeme Dott, the 2006 world champion and three-time Crucible finalist in total; Stephen ‘On-Fire’ Maguire, a six-time ranking event winner and former UK champion.
There’s also Angles McManus, one of the great snooker brains and a Masters winner; Anthony McGill, a two-time ranking event winner and big seed scourge of Sheffield, and Chris Small, who provided one of the great outsider ranking event wins in the 2002 LG Cup before having his career curtailed by illness. In snooker as in culture, Scotland punches in the highest weight class.
Today we arrive at the final of the Scottish Open, and although a row between the original venue and the sponsors means the event is rehoused in Llandudno in North Wales, this is Scotland’s snooker showpiece. John Higgins, the ‘local’ lad, takes on the in-form Luca Brecel for the title, and it should be a belter.

'Some of it was special' - Higgins admits he had run of balls against O'Sullivan

John Higgins admitted he had the run of the balls in his win over Ronnie O’Sullivan, but was delighted with how he secured the 6-1 victory to reach the Scottish Open final.
The Scot was a shade below par at the start of the week, but produced some electric snooker to come back and beat David Gilbert in the quarter finals - and carried that momentum into his meeting with O’Sullivan.
He was comfortably the better player, but took his chances that came his way in ruthless fashion.
I did get a bit of the run of the balls, some of it was special,” Higgins said in the Eurosport studio. “But you take them as sometimes it goes against you.”

'Some of it was special' - Higgins admits he had run of balls against O'Sullivan

- - -
Stream the Scottish Open and much more top snooker action live and on demand on discovery+
Scottish Open
Top 3 Flukes and fails from the Scottish Open
13/12/2021 AT 08:55
Scottish Open
Brecel wows crowd with brilliant no-look black to seal Scottish Open crown
12/12/2021 AT 22:36