Snooker is fast becoming the most unpredictable sport in the World. After another week of surprise results the tournament eventually concluded with the greatest fairytale of the past couple of years. 25 years a professional, 12 since his last tournament final and 42-years of age, veteran Mark King eventually broke his major tournament duck in front of his wife and daughter at the Titanic in Belfast.
King thrives off momentum
Looking at the results in the tournament, few could deny that the number 35 seed deserved his moment in the spotlight. King won all of his previous matches in the tournament by at least two frames. Young hotshot Kyren Wilson was simply outclassed in a 6-2 demolition during the semi-finals, with King winning five straight frames on his way to a 6-2 victory.
Despite a break of 110 in the third frame of the final, King looked to have eventually come unstuck when he fell 5-1 behind to Barry Hawkins. Yet there was still petrol in the tank as he accelerated once more in a period of deja-vu from the day previous. Without setting the table alight, top scoring with a contribution of 100, King went on to go one better with six consecutive frames to put Hawkins under pressure.
Hawkins hunts down his prey
Yet eleventh seed Hawkins had experienced another close encounter against Anthony Hamilton in the final four. After dropping just three frames in his first five matches, World number 70 Hamilton pushed Hawkins to a final frame decider before the Hawk drew on his class and experience to edge the contest 6-5.
Breaks of 73 and 76 helped Hawkins draw level against King before being edged out in the first of numerous tight tactical contests. All of a sudden Mark King was just one frame away from the dream result he had been seeking for a quarter of a century.
King holds his nerve
Neither player could afford a mistake. As Hawkins took a slight advantage in frame 16, leaving King requiring a snooker with just the pink and black left, the outsider continued to fight. The frame lasted the best part of an hour as King searched for the snooker and Hawkins looked for the pot. Eventually King forced a mistake causing the black to be respotted. Hawkins did eventually secure victory after King missed an ambitious pot, but the seed of doubt had been planted in Hawkins' mind.
It was down to another final frame decider as the crowd roared whilst wondering who would hold their nerve in the most tense of scenarios. Both players struggled to formulate a break of note but King was managing to sink more balls. Eventually the veteran potted the red that took the contest beyond doubt. The quarter of a century wait was over. Mark King had found a place in the heart of every snooker fan in the second installment of the Home Nations.