Mark Selby has won the 2014 World Snooker Championship.
At that point in the match on Sunday evening it appeared as though O’Sullivan was going to romp to his sixth world title – and continue his quest to eclipse Stephen Hendry’s record of seven.
However, Selby dug deep to take the last two frames of the opening day and at only three frames back knew he was in with a realistic shout of launching a charge today.
That certainly materialised as the former UK and Masters champion, who has become the ninth player to win snooker’s career Triple Crown following this success, collected the first four frames on Monday to take the lead for the first time at 11-10.
Several protracted frames ensued, as there had been throughout the entire contest, but it was Selby who was getting the better of the majority of the lengthy duels.
By now the 30 year-old was dictating the pace of the game, slowing things down with superb tactical astuteness and reeling off frame after frame despite lacking the high-scoring prowess of his more illustrious opponent.
O’Sullivan was rattled, missing a routine pink into the middle pocket to lead 12-11 at the end of the third bout of play.
Instead, Selby boasted the one-frame cushion and, even though the ‘Rocket’ produced a stunning century to square the tie upon its final resumption this evening, the former remained calm and surged 15-12 ahead.
Despite evidently being frustrated by his challenger, 38 year-old O’Sullivan, who had been on an incredible run of 14 matches unbeaten at the Crucible, never threw in the towel and continued to battle hard as he pulled it back to only 15-14 down.
This revival came with the help of what appeared to be a pivotal potted yellow three-quarters of the table along the cushion and one would have been forgiven for having thoughts that the pendulum had swung once again.
Yet, Selby’s confidence rarely wavered and he finally found his heavy scoring as brilliant breaks of 127 and 87 brought him to the brink of becoming world champion for the first time in his career.
O’Sullivan looked set to extend the encounter even further when he opened up a 50 point lead in the 32nd frame, but Selby reeled him in and a superb clearance to the black, that included a gutsy powered green along the top cushion, guaranteed that he was not to be denied glory.
Not only does Selby win the £300,000 – a record prize for snooker – and the trophy, but he also becomes the maiden player to feature as world no.1 in the revised money-list world rankings system.
That’s largely irrelevant, though, in comparison to what Selby has always dreamed of, becoming snooker’s supremo in Sheffield.
Commiserations to O’Sullivan, who put up a valiant fight.
But the fact is he was outplayed in the second half of the final by Selby, whose attritional snooker ground down O’Sullivan to the point that, in his own words, he felt numb.
With this triumph, Selby has firmly put to rest his status as an underachiever in the sport – mainly due to his win-loss ratio in major ranking event finals.
That’s irrelevant now, as he is deservedly crowned the sport’s newest world champion.