Bratislav’s Bulgarian Brilliance

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Bratislav Krastev defeated defending champion Velian Dimitrov 5-3 in the final to win the 2023 Bulgarian Snooker Championship and regain the national title. 

The tournament was played at the new National Snooker Academy in the capital city Sofia – a facility that Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White partially helped open a few months ago. Organised by the Bulgarian Snooker Federation, Bulgaria’s Deputy Minister of Sports Petar Georgiev was in attendance for the start of the competition. 

A prolific winner of titles in his homeland and a qualified WPBSA coach, Krastev didn’t drop a frame in the early phases as he topped his group with a 100% record and then defeated Tencho Papazov 3-0 in the quarter-finals. 

In the semi-finals, Krastev faced Viktor Iliev – runner-up in each of the last three years – and came back from 2-0 down to oust the contest 4-3, making a 65 break in the deciding frame. 

On the other side of the draw, reigning title holder Dimitrov won three of his four group games to qualify for the knockout phase. In the last eight he defeated former multiple-time champion Georgi Velichkov 3-0, and in the last four he pipped promising youngster Maksim Kostov 4-3. Earlier this year, Kostov reached the final of the European under-16 championship in Malta. 

Dimitrov made the better start to the final as he established a 3-1 lead, but Krastev – highlighted by a half century – strung together the next four frames in a row for victory. It is thought he has now claimed this title on five occasions. 

Bulgaria is set to help host several continental events next month alongside the European Billiards and Snooker Association in Albena between 5-17 June.