Judd Trump is the 2019 world snooker champion after a blistering performance saw the Englishman overcome John Higgins 18-9 in Sheffield on Monday.
Following a career crammed full of promise, Trump finally delivered on the greatest stage of them all to land his maiden Crucible crown.
The 29 year-old produced arguably the finest display ever in a World Championship final to outplay an esteemed opponent in four-time champion Higgins.
Trump’s tally of seven century breaks represented the most ever in a world title decider but the style in which he dominated the table, with outlandish potting and savvy break-building, was surely a class above anything that came before.
Higgins, whose quest to become a world snooker champion for a fifth time was denied at the last hurdle for the third year on the trot, didn’t do much wrong.
The “Wizard of Wishaw” contributed four tons of his own but was left to rue the second session on Sunday evening when he lost eight frames on the trot to trail 12-5 overnight.
The Scot responded at the outset of the third bout of play with a maximum attempt in which he stumbled on a routine 15th black, moments after sinking an outrageous double that would have been remembered as a shot for the ages had the maximum been completed.
Higgins subsequently battled in trademark fashion to share the session’s eight frames but, in truth, there wasn’t much he could have done as Trump seemed destined to fulfill his greatness.
The latter never looked like faltering as the winning line approached and was also denied a maximum when a tricky cut-back on the penultimate red narrowly missed the middle bag.
An imperious Trump led 16-9 as the pair was given a tremendous reception heading into the fourth and final session.
The seventh seed didn’t need long to finish the job, needing just two more scoring visits to become the 2019 world champion.
It was a far cry from the outset of the tournament when Trump required all 19 frames to scramble beyond Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in a nervy first round clash.
Indeed, Trump’s confidence was in stark contrast to many occasions at the Crucible since his tantalising reverse to Higgins in the 2011 final.
That year, the Bristol potter announced himself to a mainstream audience when he captured the season’s penultimate ranking event in China, before proceeding to knock out then defending world champion Neil Robertson amidst a memorable run to the Crucible final.
Few would have believed back then that it would take this long for Trump to make a return to this point.
Soon after that 18-15 loss eight years ago, Trump triumphed in the UK Championship and it wasn’t long before he held the coveted world number one spot in the rankings.
Yet, despite having long been credited with boasting one of the most natural talents ever in the game’s history, Trump’s inability to discover consistency frequently left his chances in the majors hampered.
A permanent member of the top eight and always good for a tournament win or two each campaign, it wasn’t until this term when Trump truly began to demonstrate a desire to advance to the next level.
With his brother Jack in his corner and diverting his focus away from fast cars onto the baize, Trump has quickly transformed into a more complete competitor.
In emerging victorious in January’s Masters at the Alexandra Palace, Trump arguably came of age with an assured and dominant defeat of favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Trump still possessed his unique brand of “naughty snooker” but, importantly, had enhanced his all-round game with a more tactically astute awareness to play the right shot when necessary.
It was this development of patience that helped him to overcome the likes of Ding Junhui, Stephen Maguire, and Gary Wilson in this tournament despite not producing anywhere near his A-game.
He duly saved that devastating standard for the final, becoming only the fifth player to do the Masters and World Championship double in the same year, and the eleventh to complete the career Triple Crown.
For Higgins, it marks further disappointment in Sheffield’s showpiece finale but the 43 year-old can take solace in the fact that he was simply outplayed on this occasion.
While he may have a few regrets about his tight losses to Marks Selby and Williams in each of the last two editions, Higgins will be honest enough to acknowledge that Trump’s display was at another level entirely.
The “Wizard of Wishaw” threatened retirement midway through this season after a dreadful spell of bad form and it will be interesting to see what decision he makes going forward.
It’s clear that the former world number one still has a lot to offer but whether he’ll have the drive and determination after another crushing blow remains to be seen.
That discussion is for another day as Trump deservedly takes the limelight as the sport’s newest world snooker champion.
Trump turns 30 in the summer but that’s relatively young in the modern era and one would think that he still has a decade or more remaining among the highest echelons.
For the time being he’ll probably just be relieved to get the monkey off his back but it’s a wonder how many times his name will be engraved on the famous silverware.
Trump can take time to celebrate his success, though, with the £500,000 winner’s cheque taking his season’s earning to more than a million pounds – the first player to ever eclipse the milestone for a single campaign.
More records will tumble throughout this great player’s career after the “Ace” has finally, and superbly, separated himself from the pack.