Brian Sean beat Aaron Busuttil 6-2 in the final to win the 2021 Malta National Snooker Championship. This is the third time the 24-year-old has won the title after previous victories in 2016 and 2018.
The national championship first contested in 1947, the event was organized by the Malta Billiards and Snooker Association and held over several weeks at the purpose-built Malta Snooker Academy in Hamrun.
Cormi Cinney won all of his seven round robin matches, dropping only six frames in the process as he qualified for the final eight knockouts. He then eliminated the veteran former professional and multiple-time tournament winner Alex Borg 5-1.
In the semi-finals, Sene broke 66, 84 and 133 en route to score a 5-0 win over Frans Mintov. In the previous round, four-time defending champion Mintov ousted Duncan Pesina 5-3.
Busutil – who was aiming to lift the trophy for the first time – also reached the title match impressively, giving up just two frames in his first nine games before sending off Chris Piplo 5-4 in his last four games by 63 points.
In the final itself, Cini was on his way to skip the opening frame with an effort of 59 but Busuttil cleared it with 33 to take it on the final black. Then Busuttil doubled his advantage with the second frame.
However, Cini recovered, putting together six consecutive frames featuring 53, 85 and 50 breaks to reclaim the championship. The result meant more heartbreak for Busutil, who has now lost in his last four finals. In 2018 he was rejected by Cini in a critical framework.
Cini and Busuttil recently traveled to England to participate in the Q School. Cini won five games at Sheffield and scored a number of big breaks including two 120s, while Busuttil made it to the last 32 of Event One.
Speaking after his victory, Ceni said “Winning this tournament is always an honor for me; there are some good players in it. Throughout this tournament I managed to accumulate a few good breaks, the highest of which was 140 in the group stages.
“Before the knockout stages started, I was in the UK at Q School where I trained long hours at the Victoria Snooker Academy, so I came back to Malta feeling ready and confident.
“As we got to the final, I knew it was going to be a tough match against Aaron – he is a very good and dedicated player. The final didn’t start the way I wanted and I found myself 2-0 down but I managed to win the next three important frames and then I found my rhythm.
“I would like to thank the Malta Billiards and Snooker Association along with SportMalta for organizing another great tournament, and to Xandira Live and the AMA for broadcasting live the broadcast of the final matches. I would also like to thank all the sponsors.”
Photos courtesy of Matthias Brancleon and the Malta Billiards and Snooker Association.
Article by Michael Day.