Kyren Wilson fought back from behind to capture his second ranking title with a 4-2 victory over Peter Ebdon in the final of the 2018 Paul Hunter Classic on Sunday.
The Kettering cueist ended a three-year wait for a piece of silverware to add to his maiden triumph in the Shanghai Masters from 2015 and he collects £20,000 along with the coveted trophy.
Wilson faced close friend Ebdon in the final showdown, a poignant encounter as the 2002 world champion had played a pivotal role in the former’s early development in the sport.
Ebdon, who turns 48 on Monday, was bidding to become the second oldest winner of a ranking event and there were periods during the clash when it appeared as though the Englishman was going to add to his nine previous ranking event wins.
The 2012 China Open was the last time Ebdon emerged victorious in a competition of such status and he almost took full advantage of the depleted field in Furth, but in the end Wilson’s class shone through.
Ebdon, who dropped only two frames on Sunday in comfortably beating Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, Lee Walker, and Scott Donaldson, took the opening two frames of the contest with Wilson and had opportunities to extend his cushion only for his younger opponent to crucially steal the third frame on the black.
A superb 120 break from Wilson drew the scores level before the 26 year-old, who reached the semi-finals of the World Snooker Championship in May, moved in front for the first time in the match.
Wilson had narrowly edged Daniel Wells and Peter Lines in thrilling quarter-final and semi-final affairs that each went the distance but he made sure not to be taken that far again as runs of 68 and 57 in the sixth frame brought him across the winning line.
The triumph ends a somewhat lengthy wait for Wilson’s second ranking title after missing out three times in finals over the last couple of years.
Wilson was also denied glory in the final of the Masters at the start of this year by Mark Allen, so it will likely be a relief to him that he can finally be regarded as a champion competitor again.
There will be some who will belittle Wilson’s achievement because so few of the marquee names were in attendance but that arguably put even more pressure on his shoulders as he was expected to put in a firm challenge.
The former World Games gold medallist rose to that challenge and there’ll be no asterisk in the record books when people are looking back at the history of this event.
What the future holds for the Paul Hunter Classic remains to be seen as the tournament has definitely lost a significant amount of its appeal in recent years.
Sponsors are proving hard to come by, reflected in a prize fund that is the smallest for a ranking event on the calendar.
It’s difficult to blame the players who opted to skip this tournament because there’s a long season ahead and the harsh reality is that there wasn’t enough incentive for the majority of them to travel.
The rumour mill has been suggesting that this will be the last year that the Paul Hunter Classic, which has been running under some guise since 2004, will carry that ranking event status and that it might revert to a more straightforward pro-am in twelve months time.
If that is to be the case, Wilson will have, just in time, etched his name into a trophy that has been a welcome fixture on the calendar for the last decade and an event that always brilliantly celebrated the memory of the late Paul Hunter.