Mark Selby was crowned World Snooker Champion for the fourth time following an 18-15 victory over Shaun Murphy in the 2021 final at The Crucible.
Selby continued his incredible spell of success in the sport’s show-piece event by making it four world titles in the space of eight years.
The Leicester ace carried a 14-11 lead into the final session in front of a sold-out Crucible crowd and withstood a late Murphy rally to clinch the £500,000 top prize.
He becomes the ninth player in snooker history to win four or more world titles and climbs back up to world number two in the process.
“To win it once against Ronnie O’Sullivan for the first time was a dream come true. To win it four times is something I could only have dreamed of,” Selby told BBC Sport.
“Every time you get to a world final you always try your hardest – it’s such a tough tournament to get there and you never know whether it’s going to be your last.
“My aim is to get back to world number one. You still have goals in your career. I’m going in the right direction.”
Appearing in his fifth World Championship final, Selby produced trademark granite snooker throughout a largely attritional final as he denied Murphy a first world crown since 2005.
Selby had opened up a 10-7 lead following the first half of the final on Sunday and maintained the upper-hand for the remainder of the contest, firing in a brace of century breaks along the way.
Murphy made a strong start on Monday with a break of 77 to clinch the opening frame of the third session but was left to rue a missed black in the following frame as Selby cut it in to snatch the 19th frame.
Murphy got back to within two again before Selby registered the first century of the match with a clinical 107 clearance to lead 12-9.
Breaks of 54 and 50 saw Selby stretch his advantage before Murphy notched his first ton of the match with an exact break of 100.
A 56 clearance prompted a trademark fist pump from Murphy as he closed the gap again, but Selby took the final frame of the afternoon session with breaks of 69 and 62 to make it 14-11.
The players were greeted to a standing ovation in a cauldron Crucible atmosphere for the evening session, and it was Selby who settled quickly with a break of 66 to edge ever-closer to glory.
Murphy sealed frame 27, and after Selby hit back with a break of 68 in the next, ‘The Magician’ continued the exchanging of frames with a 58 break to trail 16-13.
Selby powered in a stunning clearance of 120 to move one away from the winning line, but back came Murphy with consecutive contributions of 100 and 103 to kick-start a possible comeback.
Murphy had chances in frame 33, but a missed red with the rest proved fatal as Selby cleared the table to clinch the title, unleashing an outpouring of emotion after sinking the decisive black.
Murphy, who fell short in the final for the third time, admitted: “Mark is super-granite. I’ve known him since we were nine years of age and he’s always been the same.
“I started well but he went into super-hard mode, he broke me last night with that three-frame lead which is a significant lead in a match like this.
“Life has been difficult for everybody over the last 12 months but I want to say a very deep and personal thank you for everyone of you who has bought a ticket over the last 17 days.
“Sport is nothing without fans and we’ve been thrilled to have everyone back and a full house tonight.
“It’s been very tough for me this year with the travel restrictions but you’ve brought me back.”
Selby takes his tally of ranking titles to 20, moving him joint seventh with Neil Robertson on the all-time list and is now closing in on a return to the summit of the world rankings.