The 2018 Championship League Snooker concluded on Thursday with John Higgins successfully defending the invitation title at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
The Scot became the first player win the Championship League in consecutive seasons after a 3-2 victory over Zhou Yuelong in the Winners’ Group final.
The 42 year-old only entered the tournament this week in Group 7 – the final qualifying opportunity – and fought back from the brink of defeat in that final against Judd Trump to reach the Winners’ Group.
In the final stages, Higgins topped the round-robin phase with five victories from his six encounters and subsequently edged world champion Mark Selby in a semi-final decider that ended on the final black.
Against Zhou, Higgins was always one step ahead of the young Chinese, taking the first and third frames either side of a run of 100 from his opponent to establish a 2-1 advantage.
The 20 year-old was able to force the final frame shoot-out but Higgins, as he so often does, steeled himself well and compiled a break of 81 to seal his latest glory.
The victory represents the third trophy of the season for the “Wizard of Wishaw” after his previous ranking event triumphs in the Indian Open and Welsh Open earlier this term.
It also guarantees his place in the lucrative Champion of Champions invitation tournament next season, which is also staged in Coventry and is an event he won in 2016.
Higgins told World Snooker: “When you come in at the final group you think you’re just coming for some match practice but it was as if my name was on the trophy.”
“Judd Trump should have beaten me in the Group 7 final and then Mark Selby should have definitely beaten me in the semi-finals but he missed on 63 so it was as if it was going to be my tournament.
“I did play well in both groups, I have had some good breaks, and I am really pleased to win.
“I was lucky enough to already be in the Champion of Champions before this but to win another tournament, I’m over the moon.
“The main thing was to come down and get a few games in but I’ve played a lot of matches and hopefully that has got me sharp for China, and then the World Championship.”