Stuart Bingham has won the 2020 Masters title after an entertaining 10-8 victory over countryman Ali Carter in London on Sunday.
It was a clash between two protagonists who few would have predicted would reach this stage when the event commenced a week ago.
Yet, the pair conjured up a memorable match that had the packed Alexandra Palace riveted from start to finish.
In a topsy-turvy affair, both players had moments in which they appeared to gain the ascendancy.
Carter started with a bang as a wonderful 126 century break, his first ton of the week, presented him with the opening frame.
Bingham responded with a run of 75 and edged in front after a scrappy frame that first demonstrated the nerves that each player understandably possessed with so much at stake.
The lead interchanged several times thereafter, with Carter immediately fighting back thanks to a brace of frame-winning contributions either side of the interval to lead 3-2.
A 66 from Bingham appeared to guarantee parity but the 43 year-old only pulled level after a lengthy tactical battle that concluded with a last-gasp pot on the final black.
The 2015 world champion rode his luck further as he also took the last two frames of the opening session to establish a 5-3 advantage.
However, Carter bounced back upon the evening restart and pounced on his opponent’s mistakes to claw his way to 5-5, before terrific contributions of 95 and 133 sent him 7-5 in front.
At this stage, the “Captain” obviously looked to be in control and a first Triple Crown title was within his grasp.
The final mid-session of the 2020 Masters was to play an important role, though, as Bingham returned from the practice table a different competitor.
A missed pink to the middle from Carter allowed his fellow Englishman in to make a break of 64.
Bingham quickly tallied an 84 before subsequent runs of 58 and 88 turned the match on its head, with the former world number two moving to the brink of glory at 9-7 in front.
Carter, who at this point hadn’t potted a ball for almost half an hour, gallantly fought on and retrieved the deficit with a break of 77.
But Bingham, who never stuttered when the winning line was in sight at the Crucible five years ago, constructed a cool 109 to seal the triumph and the £250,000 top prize.
“It’s unbelievable. I’m absolutely speechless,” an emotional Bingham said in the immediate aftermath of his success.
“I was thinking what to say if I got beat. How it changed around, I’ll never know.”
It was a gripping climax to a somewhat disappointing week of snooker in terms of the overall standard produced.
The Masters is the second most prestigious tournament in the sport and, as such, is held to a higher standard than most of the others.
It definitely didn’t live up to its billing and there were upsets right from the outset with the likes of Mark Selby, Ding Junhui, Neil Robertson, and world number one Judd Trump bowing out in the opening few days.
Bingham took full advantage of the situation and grew in confidence as the week progressed, particularly after fighting back from 4-1 down to beat Kyren Wilson in the quarter-finals.
The Basildon potter is now only one leg away from completing the career Triple Crown, with only the UK Championship missing from his collection.
Ten years ago, Bingham was ranked outside the world’s top 16 and couldn’t even qualify for the Masters.
He begins the new decade as its worthy champion and with his name forever etched on the Paul Hunter Trophy.