Ronnie O’Sullivan has captured the Hong Kong Masters trophy with a 6-4 defeat of Marco Fu in Sunday’s final.
A world record crowd for a snooker match of around 9,000 people were in attendance at the Hong Kong Coliseum.
It was a remarkable occasion that presented the sport in a different dimension, and it was a fitting finale in which the world’s best ever player emerged victoriously.
The enormous crowd was of course cheering for their home hero in Fu, but plenty of them were still happy to be wowed by the seven-time world champion.
After a couple of mesmorising semi-final duels on Saturday in which Fu compiled a deciding-frame 147 break against John Higgins and O’Sullivan overcame Neil Robertson in a heavyweight battle, expectations were high for a gripping conclusion to the invitational tournament.
It lived up to the billing as O’Sullivan held off a spirited fight back from his underdog opponent to land the £100,000 top prize.
After the opening two frames were shared, the Englishman won three on the spin to establish a commanding 4-1 advantage.
Fu seemed to struggle with the pressure but finally found some scoring form to stop the rot in the sixth frame with a run of 98.
But O’Sullivan duly compiled a 105 century break in the next frame to add to his earlier contributions of 71, 59, and 52.
It looked as though he’d wrap up the success in the eighth frame but a missed pink offered Fu a reprieve, and after clearing the table the latter also took a scrappy ninth frame to trail by just one.
However, O’Sullivan got in first in the tenth frame and, with pink and black out of commission, conjured a majestic break of 114 featuring mostly blue balls to seal the Hong Kong Masters success.
The glory represents the world number one’s first since claiming a record-equalling seventh world title at the Crucible Theatre in May.
He struggled recently in his first couple of appearances this season at the World Mixed Doubles and the British Open in Milton Keynes.
Yet O’Sullivan inevitably raises his level in these kinds of events, where there’s a small but elite field and significant prize money on offer.
That the 46 year-old was able to strut his stuff in front of such an astonishing attendance will have been an added bonus for him, such is his eagerness to entertain.
Overall it was a positive event that took snooker back to Asia for the first time since before the pandemic.
The tremendous ticket sales certainly highlighted that interest in the game in that part of the world remains as high as ever.
Featured photo credit: WST