Mark Allen won nine out of the last ten frames to beat Ding Junhui 10-7 in the UK Championship final on Sunday in York.
The Northern Irishman produced a stirring fight back from 6-1 down to deny his Chinese opponent a fourth UK crown.
The final was a tale of two halves, with Ding dominating the first session before being consigned to his chair for most of the evening’s play.
At one point during the afternoon, it had appeared as though the 35 year-old was going to run away to glory at the Barbican Centre.
Not only was Ding scoring heavily – compiling breaks of 135, 126, and 102 – but Allen looked a shadow of the player who had produced so consistently over the course of the last six or so weeks.
The Northern Irishman was flat after his come-from-behind victory over Jack Lisowski in Saturday night’s second semi-final.
But a break of 79 in the eighth and final frame of the first session proved crucial in spearheading his revival.
The Pistol then took advantage of a poor positional shot by Ding in the opening frame of the second session to reduce the arrears further with a run of 60.
Contributions of 93, 132, and 56 followed as he entered the last mid-session interval with parity restored.
Allen, sipping warm water and maintaining control of his emotions, proceeded to take the lead for the first time and moved 8-6 in front with a run of 109.
Ding finally stopped the rot and snapped Allen’s seven-frame winning streak with his fourth century of the final.
But he couldn’t build on that, with Allen taking the subsequent two frames to seal success and the £250,000 top prize.
Victory for Allen comes after two previous defeats in UK Championship finals, and it represents his second career Triple Crown title.
In terms of ranking events, Allen is the player of the 2022/23 snooker season so far having reached the title decider of the last three on the calendar.
- CLICK HERE: Mark Allen wins Northern Ireland Open again
The Northern Ireland Open champion rises to number five in the official two-year world rankings and is way out in front in first place on the single-season standings.
For Ding, it was a terrific tournament in which he outlined how his days challenging for silverware aren’t yet numbered.
After a difficult few years on the circuit, the former world number one will have renewed confidence ahead of the rest of the campaign.
But considering the commanding position he was in, Ding will of course be disappointed with how the final ultimately panned out.
Finishing runner-up also means he falls short of an invitation to January’s Masters, with Yan Bingtao instead holding onto the 16th and last spot at the Alexandra Palace.
The week belongs to Allen, however, who has transformed his game in recent months to add an extra level of steel and consistency to the natural talent he already possessed in abundance.
He had to fight back from behind in all of his matches in York, saving the biggest and most impressive revival for the final itself.
Featured photo credit: WPBSA