Jordan Brown defied the odds to claim the 2021 Welsh Open title with a thrilling 9-8 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final.
World number 81 Brown, who began the tournament as a 750/1 outsider, pulled off one of the biggest shocks in snooker history to secure his first ranking title at the Celtic Manor Resort.
The Northern Irishman, who had previously reached just one ranking Quarter-Final in his three seasons as a professional, produced a nerveless break of 74 in the deciding frame to deny O’Sullivan a record-equalling fifth Welsh Open crown.
“I’m absolutely speechless,” admitted Brown. “I don’t really know what to say.
“It’s an absolute honour to play Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final, he’s the greatest of all time so it’s a privilege just to play him.
“I’ve had some dark days but I’ve always believed in myself.
“That’s what makes you stronger as a player and as a person, just never stop believing.
“I’ve held it together so well all week, that’s the fifth deciding frame I’ve won. I’m just getting used to the big stage now and I feel like I belong here.
“If you want something so bad and you feel like you can achieve it, nerve give up. I’ve shown this week that anything can be possible.”
Brown had seen off the likes of Mark Selby and Stephen Maguire en route to the final and began superbly by racing into a 4-1 lead over the reigning World Champion with breaks of 58, 78 and 107 along the way.
O’Sullivan, bidding to claim his first silverware of the season, responded magnificently with consecutive breaks of 135 and 121 to close the gap, but only for Brown to clinch frame eight for a 5-3 lead at the end of the first session.
O’Sullivan started the evening session the stronger of the two, reeling off three consecutive frames to lead for the first time at 6-5.
Brown, though, stopped the rot in frame 12, and after O’Sullivan opted to take on on a tricky red, left from a foul by Brown, and missed, the Antrim ace punished with a 49 break to make it 7-6.
A break of 58 saw O’Sullivan restore parity before a 56 in response from Brown edged him back in front at 8-7.
The Rocket crashed in a vintage break of 119 to force a decider, in which he potted the first red by virtue of a fluke.
However, he missed a tricky blue and presented Brown with a chance, which he seized superbly by going on to make a break of 74 to seal a famous victory.
The 33-year-old becomes the lowest-ranked player since David Harold (in the 1993 Asia Open) to win a ranking title.
O’Sullivan, who suffered his third consecutive defeat in a raking final, admitted: “I’ve enjoyed every minute of that today. I’ve loved playing Jordan, he’s a great guy and a fantastic player.
“I’m so happy for him to win. I think that red in the last frame, I could see the disappointment in him and I thought, what a horrible way if I was to win it.
“I played alright today and not many people beat me when I’m playing alright, so he’s a proper player.
“It’s fantastic for Jordan, it’s his night.”
Brown’s exploits this week have secured him a place in both next week’s Players Championship and November’s Champion of Champions, as well as a career-high paycheque of £70,000.
𝗔 𝗺𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗵𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘆 👏🏻
— Live Snooker (@Livesnooker) February 21, 2021