Anthony McGill came through a deciding frame thriller to end Ronnie O’Sullivan’s reign as World Champion and book his place in the Quarter-Finals at The Crucible.
McGill had stormed into a 10-6 lead going into the final session, but only for O’Sullivan to turn the match on its head and move 12-11 in front.
However, the unflappable Scot recovered with a stunning century clearance to force a decider, and after O’Sullivan had broken down on 42, McGill seized his chance in clinical fashion with an 85 break to seal victory.
“I played so well this morning and Ronnie just played like Ronnie tonight and I didn’t step up,” McGill told BBC Sport.
“I had to wipe the slate clean at 10-10 and I managed to stop the rot at 11 each.
“He left me two easy starters in the last two frames and I needed them. I’m delighted to get over the line.
“It’s one of my best wins. There’s no doubt about that. It’s a great achievement to beat Ronnie, but I want to go on and win the next match as well.”
O’Sullivan had been vying to equal Stephen Hendry’s record tally of seven world titles but saw his comeback efforts fall agonisingly short.
The 45-year-old admitted: “He was unlucky to lose in the semi-finals last year and if I had lost to anybody else I would be a bit sore but the snooker gods did the right thing today.
“I have to lick my wounds and come back again.
“I just want to enjoy my snooker because I haven’t really been playing well and I find it hard to enjoy it if I’m not playing well and cueing well.
“I am pleased I was able to focus and compete. But you can’t pot anything and it wasn’t meant to be.
“You could say it’s one that got away but there was six [world titles] that didn’t get away.”
McGill had come from 4-1 down to square it up the match at four apiece on Thursday but enjoyed a dominant second session which saw him win six of the next eight frames with high breaks of 126 and 105.
A break of 69 in frame handed O’Sullivan a lifeline at 10-6 behind going into the final session, and he picked up from where he left off by reeling off five in a row with breaks of 69, 71, 97 and 73 to lead 11-10.
McGill stopped the rot superbly with a break of 87 before ‘The Rocket’ moved to the verge of victory at 12-11.
The world number 16 then landed a sensational clearance of 136 to force a decider – in which the first scoring chance fell to O’Sullivan, but he could only make 42 before losing position and thumping his cue on the ground in frustration.
McGill picked off a fine red and took full advantage of an open table to complete a memorable win with a clearance of 85, unleashing a roar of relief.
He will now face either 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham or resurgent Welshman Jamie Jones in the Quarter-Finals.
Elsewhere, Neil Robertson maintained his two-frame advantage over Jack Lisowski to go into their final session leading 9-7.
Robertson led 5-3 overnight but it was Lisowski who got off to a flier with consecutive breaks of 91 and 80 to level up.
Lisowski then replied to a 59 break from Robertson in frame eleven with a 73 in the twelfth to remain level, but only for the Australian to reel off three in a row with majestic breaks of 137, 69 and 113.
Lisowski, bidding to reach his first Crucible Quarter-Final, took the final frame of the session with a terrific break of 116 to remain firmly in the contest going into Saturday’s climax.
Kyren Wilson also holds a two-frame lead going into the third session after he broke clear from four apiece to move 9-7 up on Barry Hawkins.
In the battle of the former world finalists, last year’s runner-up Wilson produced a brilliant burst of five consecutive frames with breaks of 54, 69, 92 93 and 56 to steam ahead.
Hawkins, however, dug deep to win the final three frames of the session with high breaks of 52 and 67 to stay in touch.
A repeat of the 2018 World Championship final saw John Higgins and Mark Williams kick off their box office clash, and it was Williams who opened up a 5-3 lead.
Higgins established an early 3-1 advantage with breaks of 58, 90 and 75, with Williams’ frame coming courtesy of a break of 102.
The Welshman then swung the match in his favour by compiling breaks of 101, 91 and 70 amid a run of four consecutive frames to take command.
World Snooker Championship 2021 Scores
Friday April 23
Ronnie O’Sullivan 12-13 Anthony McGill (R)
Barry Hawkins 7-9 Kyren Wilson (L)
John Higgins 3-5 Mark Williams (L)
Neil Robertson 9-7 Jack Lisowski (L)