Chris Wakelin was understandably delighted after sealing a maiden ranking title with victory in the 2023 Snooker Shoot Out on Saturday.
The Englishman outlasted the field in the unpredictable shot-clock tournament at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
There was nothing uncertain about his performance in the last frame, however, with the 30 year-old compiling a magnificent tournament-high 119 to pocket the £5,000 high-break prize.
Wakelin denied Belgian teenager Julien Leclercq to seal the £50,000 champion’s cheque, having earlier beaten Joe Perry, Jak Jones, former champion Michael White, and amateur Daniel Wells.
The glory will see him rise to a career-high world ranking of number 33, and it could be a career-changing triumph with possible opportunities in the lucrative Duelbit Series and the Champion of Champions to come late this year.
“It’s a very surreal moment. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of,” Chris Wakelin told the World Snooker Tour while doing his post-match interviews.
“The last trophy I won was the English under-19s, which I was very proud of at the time, but it’s taken me ten years to get my hands on the next trophy.”
“I couldn’t be prouder of the events that have happened over the last four days.
“(The final) was the most comfortable I felt all week. I qualified for Germany just before Christmas, I qualified for Thailand, I qualified for the Welsh.
“So I was joking with my friends that I’d won the last seven or eight matches that I’d played coming into this tournament.
“Normally, if you win seven matches on the trot, you’d get a trophy, but they were all qualifying matches.
“But I brought that confidence here, and I managed to string another seven matches together – I’m just delighted.
“The tour is 128 players strong, and there are 128 players that can play snooker. We get a lot of stick on social media.
“I’m sure a lot of people have seen tweets from recent times of players getting absolutely abused on Twitter and Instagram.
“They don’t realise that it takes so much to be able to perform out there. In the quarters and semi-finals, I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to push the cue through.
“You’re that nervous and your hands get so sticky, but to perform like that in the final just proves that all the hard work really was worth it.
“Everyone in the world goes through tough times. Just because we are lucky enough to play snooker for a living doesn’t mean we haven’t got problems off the table as well.
“I had a lot of hardship when I turned professional, I’ve been through it a few times since then. I’ve had some really dark times, but I managed to fight through them.
“Being able to sit here now with my own silverware – I never thought I’d have to buy a trophy cabinet, but that seems like the order of the day tomorrow.
“It’s a life-changing amount of money. I’m just a guy from humble backgrounds, and that amount of money is inconceivable in a way.
“I didn’t realise until I’d potted the pink that I was nicking the high-break (prize) as well. Sorry, Ali.
“It looks in a way like I’ve fluked my way to this tournament, but the way that I’ve played throughout the last 18 months, my game has doubled and tripled.
“I feel like I’m playing the best I’ve ever played, but I’m not necessarily getting the results, so I know this result will trampoline me up the rankings.”
Featured photo credit: WST
Wakelin’s previous best in ranking events was four quarter-final appearances. He’s played at the Crucible three times. This win catapults him up to a career high 33rd. He’s currently set to qualify for the Player’s Championship.