Neil Robertson has regained the Champion of Champions title after a mesmorising 10-9 victory over Judd Trump in Coventry on Sunday.
The Australian, who last won this event in 2015, conjured up a remarkable finish to a barnstorming affair that had a little bit of everything.
The pair shared eight century breaks between them – a record for a best of 19 frames encounter – with Robertson’s 137 in the last frame suitably deciding the contest.
After playing his part in a gripping affair from start to finish, Trump will be left to rue a missed opportunity in the penultimate frame that would have prolonged his hot streak of late.
The world number one had just snatched a dramatic 17th frame on the black after needing a snooker late in the frame.
But the tables were turned in the 18th frame when Trump, 9-8 in front, broke down on a run of 69.
It was Robertson’s turn to require a snooker to this time keep the showdown alive and the Melbourne man duly obliged before forcing an unbelievable re-spotted black, which he potted to force the final frame.
The snooker gods appeared to be on the 37 year-old’s side by this stage and Robertson fittingly produced his fifth ton of the tie to seal the £150,000 top prize.
An emotional Robertson was welcomed by his son soon after the absorbing affair reached its frenetic climax, before celebrating together with his young family to the grateful applause of a thoroughly entertained audience.
Trump was denied a second trophy in a matter weeks and a sixth piece of silverware this year, but the world champion was magnanimous in defeat.
The Champion of Champions title has become a coveted one to capture ever since its launch on the calendar six years ago.
Following a scrappy opening frame that went Robertson’s way, the pair conjured up a devastating display of power scoring to electrify the Ricoh Arena.
Robertson’s runs of 137, 135, 112, 111, and 104 were countered by a hat-trick from Trump, compiled in succession in the first session when he tallied almost 400 unanswered points.
The latter still trailed 5-4 heading into the evening’s bout of play but the topsy-turvy nature of the battle continued.
It looked as though the Englishman was going to etch his name onto the trophy for the first time only for Robertson’s late recovery to steal the show in what has already been described as one of the greatest finals ever.
🗣️ “That’s the best match I’ve ever been involved in.”
We all felt we witnessed a classic, and we’re glad @nr147 feels the same!
— ChampionofChampions (@ChampOfChamps) November 10, 2019
Victory represents Robertson’s third of the year, adding to his prior glories in the Welsh and China Opens in the second half of last season.
This time two years ago, the 2010 world champion was suffering a serious slide down the rankings that culminated in his brief plummet outside the world’s top 16 in the rankings.
A player of Robertson’s class was unlikely to be down for long and, although he missed out on qualification for the 2018 Masters, his return to the highest echelons has been rapid.
Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan have been the best players in the last twelve months, highlighted by the number of high-profile tournaments that they have both managed to win in that spell.
But Robertson, when he hasn’t been pulling out of competitions for travelling mishaps, has been a regular fixture at the business end too and this glory only reasserts his status as one of the game’s very top competitors.
Trump shouldn’t be too disappointed to miss out on the Champion of Champions title and will still head into his defence of this week’s Northern Ireland Open as a confident cueist in the form of his career.
Robertson, though, can revel in a triumph that will live in the memories of fans who were fortunate enough to witness it – especially live.
It was an appropriate way to end the Ricoh Arena’s tenure as the Champion of Champions host, with the tournament set to move to Milton Keynes in 2020.
— David Hendon (@davehendon) November 10, 2019