Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan missed the semi-finals of the World Snooker Championships in Sheffield. The seven-time world champion from England looked like a sure winner against Belgian Luca Brecel, but then collapsed completely. He did not win another frame in the crucial quarter-final session at Sheffield’s Crucible Theater and lost seven in a row. And so Brecel converted a 6:10 deficit into a 13:10 triumph.

O’Sullivan produced an unusual number of errors. In addition to a few balls that were not pocketed, he even committed a so-called clothes foul. As he leaned across the table to play the cue ball, he touched the black ball lying on the front cushion. He wasn’t allowed to push, it was Brecel’s turn again.

In the end, the Belgian played so big that his opponent had almost no chance. O’Sullivan ungrudgingly acknowledged that. “I couldn’t resist anymore,” said the 47-year-old at Eurosport, praising his opponent: “I love watching him. He plays so strong and solid.”

This means that the dream of becoming the sole record world champion with eight titles has burst for this year. O’Sullivan currently shares the throne with Stephen Hendry. But he has no problem with that, he said: “I have accepted not to judge myself too harshly. In the end it’s just a lost snooker match.”

The opponent of the 28-year-old Brecel is the only 20-year-old Chinese Si Jiahui from this Thursday. Si defeated the Scotsman Anthony McGill in the last quarter-final by a razor-thin 13:12 and thus achieved the greatest success of his career so far. Four-time world champion Mark Selby of England and Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen meet in the second semi-final. To get into the final on Sunday and Monday, you need to win 17 frames. The semi-finals are scheduled up to and including Saturday.