John Higgins became the joint-most successful player in Championship League history after beating Stuart Bingham 3-2 to claim the 2022 title on Friday.
The Wizard completed a hat-trick of titles at the Morningside Arena in Leicester – adding to his triumphs in 2017 and 2018 – while joining Judd Trump on three successes in the invitational event.
Higgins also ended his wait for silverware this season, having fallen at the final hurdle of four events, while securing his place in the Champion of Champions later this year.
The four-time World champion, who won Group Seven on Wednesday, finished third in the Winners’ Group at the conclusion of the round-robin phase after winning four of his six matches.
He then survived an almighty scare against Yan Bingtao in the semi-finals.
The former Masters champion, who prevailed 3-0 when the pair clashed in the round-robin phase, threatened another whitewash with a wonderful 135 clearance putting him 2-0 to the good.
But after he was pegged back to 2-2, Yan missed a pink off its spot when in to clear for frame and match, allowing a relieved Higgins to knock it in.
That set up a showdown with table-topper Bingham, who had secured his Play-off place with two matches to spare on Thursday.
The 2015 champion took command of his semi-final with fourth-place Liang Wenbo, who was docked the opening frame after failing to arrive on time having qualified at the last minute following Scott Donaldson’s win over Zhao Xintong.
And although former English Open winner Liang replied with 91 to level at 2-2, Bingham held his nerve in the decider with a break of 65 seeing him over the line.
The Basildon cueist then responded excellently during the final after Higgins opened with runs of 50 and 82; a top break of 110 setting up a deciding frame after eight groups and 192 matches of competition.
Bingham was in first but broke down after failing to get the desired cannon into the reds on 44.
Higgins required no second invitation when his opportunity arrived; a brilliant clearance of 88 completing the hat-trick.
“[Stuart] was unlucky when potting the black when he didn’t get the kiss,” he said. “I was probably meant to win.
“Yan should’ve put me out in the semis. I had no pressure on me in the final. I am delighted to win.
“Although this isn’t the biggest tournaments to win all season, they all count. I am delighted to win it and get in the Champion of Champions.”
Championship League Snooker 2021/22 Results
Thursday February 3
John Higgins 3-2 Graeme Dott
Stuart Bingham 3-2 Yan Bingtao
John Higgins 3-1 Zhao Xintong
Liang Wenbo 3-0 Scott Donaldson
Zhao Xintong 0-3 Stuart Bingham
Graeme Dott 0-3 Scott Donaldson
John Higgins 2-3 Stuart Bingham
Yan Bingtao 3-0 Liang Wenbo
Stuart Bingham 3-2 Graeme Dott
Zhao Xintong 3-2 Yan Bingtao
Graeme Dott 3-2 Liang Wenbo
John Higgins 3-2 Scott Donaldson
Friday February 4
Yan Bingtao 3-0 Scott Donaldson
Zhao Xintong 3-1 Liang Wenbo
Yan Bingtao 3-0 Graeme Dott
Stuart Bingham 0-3 Liang Wenbo
Zhao Xintong 1-3 Graeme Dott
Stuart Bingham 3-0 Scott Donaldson
John Higgins 3-1 Liang Wenbo
Zhao Xintong 2-3 Scott Donaldson
John Higgins 0-3 Yan Bingtao
Stuart Bingham 3-2 Liang Wenbo
John Higgins 3-2 Yan Bingtao
John Higgins 3-2 Stuart Bingham