World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) successfully staged its first tournament in mainland Europe for three years last weekend as the latest tour champions were crowned at the Trickshot Snooker Club in Bruges, Belgium.
The fourth edition of the popular event saw 40 players from the UK and mainland Europe contest eight tournaments across three-days, including a Challenge Cup tournament for players who did not qualify for the final day.
Kurt Deklerck claimed his second Belgian Open title and first in five years following a hard-fought 3-2 victory against top ranked Tony Southern in the final.
The pair met in the Group 1-2 final for the third time in Bruges, after they both progressed from a group stage which included Patrick Puttemans and Kenny Vangampelaere.
It was England’s Southern, who was bidding for a hat-trick of titles in Belgium, who made the early-running to lead 1-0 and 2-1 in the best of five final, before home player Deklerck hit back to claim the final two frames and his second WDBS crown.
Victory completed a perfect weekend for the Belgian, who also claimed the high-break prize with a run of 44 in the group stage.
England’s Kal Mattu defeated Joe Hardstaff 3-1 to claim his second ranking title of the season in Group 3.
The pair each progressed from a three-player group with Kit Kennedy to reach the final, with Hardstaff scoring a 3-2 victory against Mattu along the way.
It was to be Mattu, however, who would reverse the loss in the title match to win his second career WDBS title and consolidate his position at the top of the Group 3 rankings.
There was also a second WDBS title for England’s Carl Gibson, who defeated David Church 3-0 in the Group 4 final in Bruges.
The pair were among eight players in a strong field which included each of the top seven ranked players in the group. Hull’s Gibson, who won his first title earlier in the season at the Stockport Open, progressed from his group for the loss of just one frame, before he deposed three-time Belgian champion Daniel Blunn 3-1 in the semi-finals to reach the final.
There he would face David Church, who likewise topped his group before scoring a 3-0 victory against Scotland’s William Thomson to progress to his fifth ranking final since October 2021. For Thomson, however, he does have the consolation of knowing that he will rise to number one in the Group 4 rankings for the first time in his WDBS career following a strong two years on Tour.
It was Church who entered the final having twice defeated Gibson in their previous meetings in Hull and most recently at the British Open, but this time it was to be Gibson’s day as he ran out a comfortable 3-0 winner to secure his second WDBS gold and a top four ranking for the first time.
The highest break of the group was a career-best run of 72 by Daniel Blunn.
There was a new winner crowned in Group 5 as England’s Dalton Lawrence defeated fellow debutant Gerdy Dupont of Belgium 3-1 in the Group 5 final.
The pair both topped their groups before seeing off established duo David Moore and Dean Simmons respectively in the semi-finals to guarantee a first-time champion in the group.
With the first two frames shared, it would ultimately be Lawrence who claimed frames three and four to secure his maiden title at the first attempt.
In Group 6 it was to be Leroy Williams who would become the latest WDBS player to hit double figures as he claimed a tenth gold medal since his debut in 2017 following a 3-0 success against Mohammed Faisal Butt.
Faisal Butt – who was one of two players to receive a 21 point start as a Group 6A player competing in a combined group – actually defeated Williams during the round robin group stage, but it was to be the Group 6B number one who would avenge the loss in the final with a deceptively close victory.
Group 7 number one Mike Gillespie consolidated his position in top spot following a 4-0 victory against Ronnie Allen in the group for players with visual impairments.
Joined by Scotland’s Gary Gallacher, the trio contested an initial round-robin phase, which saw the top two progress to the final with Gillespie looking to claim his second title of the season and Allen his first, having reached his seventh final to date.
The title match was to prove closer than the scoreline appeared, but it would be Gillespie – who also made the four highest breaks of the group – who would prevail to claim a fourth career WDBS title.
England’s Gary Taylor claimed his second consecutive WDBS title in Group 8 following a 3-1 victory against Luke Drennan at The Trickshot.
Having both progressed from the same round-robin group, the pair defeated Welsh youngster Dainton Barrass and former Hull Open winner Blake Munton respectively in the semi-finals, to progress to a best of five frames final.
It was Drennan who won their round-robin meeting with a 2-0 success, but Taylor who would avenge the loss with a top break of 31 in what would prove to be the final frame of the tournament to claim a second gold following his success in Stockport last October.
For Drennan, he had the consolation of having claimed the high break prize with a run of 39 during his semi-final win.
In the Challenge Cup event for players who did not qualify for the knockout rounds, there was a victory for Group 8 star Lewis Knowles, who defeated Nigel Brasier 2-0 to claim his latest Challenge title.
The WDBS Tour will return with the final ranking tournament of the 2022/23 season, the Hull Open from 19-21 May 2023. Online entry remains open until Friday 12 May.