Ronnie O’Sullivan fended off a gallant Kyren Wilson fightback to clinch a third Champion of Champions title with a dramatic last-frame victory in Coventry on Sunday.
O’Sullivan, who won back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014, looked to heading for a third consecutive final defeat in the prestigious invitational, but only for Wilson squander match ball at 9-8.
The five-time World Champion snatched frame 18 to force a decider before blasting in an emphatic break of 110 to secure the £100,000 top prize.
“We both didn’t play great and we should be allowed to say that,” O’Sullivan told ITV Sport.
“We have pride in our own performances, we’re professional, I know Kyren can play better, he knows I can play better.
“For me, I’m just pleased to be competing, my main goal was just to come out here try and enjoy it and play with freedom.
“It’s just nice to still be playing.
“It’s a great venue, great tournament and great crowd, it’s 16 of the best players in the world, this is what you get up for so it’s great to be a part of.”
O’Sullivan had established a 6-3 lead following the first session, having stormed into a 5-1 lead before Wilson took two of the next three to claw back.
Wilson then rallied to reel off six of the next eight frames to move to the verge of glory, but only for ‘The Rocket’ to seize his reprieve and snatch victory.
“I was just awful all day to be honest,” admitted Wilson.
“I was just terrible – fancy playing like that in a final.
“It’s hard, you’re playing someone that you’ve grown up watching, he was my hero growing up.
“It’s difficult, there’s a lot of pressure out there and I just wanted to make a good fight of it, it’s a bit of a sickener to lose like that.”
After Wilson had taken the first frame with a half century, O’Sullivan rattled off five in a row with breaks of 61, 94, 107 and 86 along the way.
Wilson stopped the rot in frame seven before following in with an 86 break to close the gap, but only for O’Sullivan to power in a 131 clearance to move 6-3 ahead.
Masters finalist Wilson made a bright start to the evening session, taking the first two frames before O’Sullivan got back on track with a 94 break.
The world number three then extended his lead to 8-5, but a run of four consecutive frames for ‘The Warrior’ saw him turn the match on its head with breaks of 56, 56, 104 and 65.
Wilson looked destined for glory in frame 18 but left a red over the pocket on 61, allowing O’Sullivan to punish in two separate visits and force a decider.
The 42-year-old then drew upon his vast experience to hammer home a decisive break of 110 to claim a second title of the season, following on from September’s Shanghai Masters.