Luca Brecel finished in style as a classy 100 break saw him claim the third ranking title of his 11-year career with a 3-1 Championship League final win against world No. 34 Lu Ning in Leicester.
The Scottish Open champion triumphed at the Morningside Arena five years after he won his first ranking event with a 10-5 victory over Shaun Murphy at the 2017 China Championship.
It is the second time the 'Belgian Bullet' has lifted the Championship League after his success amid the Covid-19 lockdown two years ago.
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Brecel lost 3-1 to Xiao Guodong in his opening Group 2 match earlier on Friday, but recovered strongly with 3-0 wins over Lyu Haotian and Zhao Xintong respectively seeing him edge out Zhao – who defeated him in last year's UK Championship final – on frame difference.
Zhao made 138 and 70 against Lyu and 125, 63 and 58 against Xiao, but could not snare the frame he needed against Brecel to reach the final.
Brecel contributed 93 and 108 against Lyu with an 82 helping him secure a 3-0 victory against Zhao to progress.
Lu was the dominant figure in Group 1 as a 2-2 draw with Ricky Walden – including a sparkling 139 break – was followed by 3-1 wins over Stuart Bingham and Pang Junxu that saw him finish four points clear of Walden.
“I feel fantastic. I played so well for the whole tournament. I felt like I was playing in practice. I really enjoyed it," said Brecel.
To be here as a winner is strange, because I could’ve lost the last game today, but I had to win 3-0 so it was crazy. Zhao missed a couple at the end with the rest which he usually makes.
“It’s unbelievable. This is all your can wish for. It’s the best start you can hope for. I can’t wait to play in the next tournament in Germany.”
Lu lost the first frame of the final despite rolling in a break of 67 before restoring parity at 1-1 with a 73.
Brecel punched the air after claiming the title and £26,000 as he moves up to ninth in the provisional world rankings.
He returns to action at the European Masters live on Eurosport next month with a last-64 match against Wu Yize.
The season's second ranking event takes place in the German city of Furth between 16-21 August.
Luca Brecel with Championship League trophy.
Image credit: Eurosport
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