Ding Junhui ended a ten-year wait for a third UK Championship title as he overcame Stephen Maguire 10-6 in the final in York on Sunday.
Ding, who first lifted this trophy as an 18-year-old back in 2005 before doubling his tally four years later, secured a 14th career ranking success in style with a spell-binding win over the 2004 champion.
The Chinese sensation produced four century breaks, including a 103 to clinch victory, as he returned to the winner’s circle and denied Maguire a fairy-tale triumph 15 years after his first.
“It’s very special,” admitted Ding. “I’ve gone two years without winning anything but I played very well this week.
“I was asking myself “can I win again?” but this week I was so confident and beating Ronnie [O’Sullivan] gave me belief I could win the trophy.”
Ding had opened up a 5-3 lead at the end of the first session and maintained at least a two-frame cushion for the remainder of the contest despite spells of brilliance from the Scot.
Maguire, who also finished runner-up in 2007, admitted: “I’ve had a great week, I’ve competed with the best.
“Every time you let Ding in he makes a hundred, I said to him it’s not darts we’re playing, it’s snooker!
“I thought if I could get in I could maybe do it but his safety is that good it’s tough to get in.”
It was Ding who made a dominant start by racing into a 4-0 lead with breaks of 56, 105 and 128 along the way, but only for Maguire to hit back with three on the spin, including a break of 67.
Ding, however, restored a two-frame lead at the halfway stage thanks to a break of 66 and extended his foothold after the restart with a well-taken 83.
A 53 break proved insufficient for Maguire to win the tenth frame as Ding went 7-3 up before the Glaswegian eventually stopped the rot in style with a break of 103.
A 67 break from Ding was followed up by back-to-back centuries from Maguire as he piled in magnificent breaks of 103 and 124 to threaten a comeback.
Ding, though, responded emphatically with a 131 clearance to move within a frame of victory – which he sealed in style with a break of 103.
He becomes only the fifth player to have won three or more UK Championship titles and scoops the tournament record £200,000 top prize.