Michael Georgiou captured his maiden ranking event title by brilliantly winning the 2018 Snooker Shoot Out in Watford on Sunday.
In beating Graeme Dott in a thrilling final frame showdown, Georgiou becomes the first Cypriot and only the second European from outside the United Kingdom and Ireland to claim a ranking tournament victory.
Georgiou looked in the zone for much of the final day of action, scoring a 73 break to defeat former runner-up Luca Brecel in the last 32 before a wonderful tournament-high 109 against China’s Zhang Yong in the quarter-finals.
The 30 year-old also controlled his semi-final encounter against Martin O’Donnell and his final affair against Dott appeared to be following a similar avenue when he constructed an excellent early run of 52 in composed fashion.
When Georgiou got in again a short time later, the outcome seemed to be clear but he finally began to feel the pressure and missed a routine black off the spot to allow his opponent in with an opportunity with just five minutes left on the clock.
Dott sped around the table at lightning speed to compile a terrific break of 51 to the brown and later added the blue to reduce his arrears to a mere five points.
The pair then traded audacious cracks at the pink in a tense and frantic finale with Dott agonisingly jawing the penultimate ball to the middle pocket with the subsequent black seemingly at his mercy.
The clock eventually ran down towards zero and Georgiou finally potted the match-winning ball for his breakthrough moment.
With the triumph, Georgiou, who had never previously even reached the quarter-final stage of a ranking event, collects a tidy sum of £32,000.
There will be many critics out there who will disagree with the fact that the Snooker Shoot Out has been awarded ranking event status but that has nothing to do with Georgiou and the former world under-21 champion, originally from England, deserves to be credited with an excellent performance on the day.
He superbly dealt with the unique conditions of one-frame, ten-minute snooker contested under the shot-clock format and the success could completely change his career, which up until this point had not been particularly special.
Georgiou will rise up into the top 64 in the world rankings and the money he has earned will also be enough to see him qualify for next week’s lucrative World Grand Prix – where the top 32 money-earners from this season will compete for a £100,000 winner’s cheque in Preston.
For Dott, it marks disappointment in a ranking event final for the second time in February after also losing at the same hurdle of the German Masters last week in Berlin.
The 40 year-old will be left to rue the missed pink that could have stolen him the victory late in the game but the tenacious Scot will surely again be pleased with his efforts.
A lot of people don’t like the Snooker Shoot Out and what it represents – a breakaway from the traditional traits of the sport – but for those who do enjoy it they were rewarded with a dramatic conclusion that was worthy of any climax to a professional tournament.