Ronnie O’Sullivan won the UK Championship for a record seventh time by outclassing Mark Allen 10-6 in York.
O’Sullivan retained his title to move to 19 World, UK and Masters trophies – surpassing Stephen Hendry’s record in the ‘Triple Crown’ events.
A run of six frames in a row allowed the Englishman to dominate the final.
Northern Ireland’s Allen rallied to trail 9-6, but O’Sullivan closed out the match with a break of 78 to collect the trophy and the £170,000 top prize.
Five-time world champion O’Sullivan sat out the 2015 event, but has dominated at the Barbican in recent years, claiming three titles since 2014.
He has now won a remarkable 27 of his 28 matches here since 2014, the only blemish being his 2016 final loss against Mark Selby.
O’Sullivan was tied with Steve Davis on six tournament victories but this win – 25 years after his first triumph – takes him past his fellow Englishman.
‘The Rocket’ celebrated by tipping a bottle of water over his head and jumped into the crowd after being presented with the trophy.
“History is fantastic,” O’Sullivan told BBC Sport. “It’s amazing, I can’t believe it.
“I played very well, but I still had to convince myself because that is how hard it felt. It’s great to create history, great to beat Steve Davis’ record.
“It’s amazing to beat my hero Stephen Hendry’s record. He was the ultimate player. I’ve still got eight world titles to get, so I’m chasing that one.”
O’Sullivan continues to rule
Despite turning 43 during the tournament, world number three O’Sullivan looks to be improving with age and is the most feared, most consistent and most successful player on tour by a distance.
He has been vocal regarding the amount of travelling players have to do for events across Britain, Europe and Asia, and has spoken about wanting to form a breakaway tour in order to continue competing. This was just his third out of a possible nine ranking events this season.
His record, though, is superb – winning here, reaching the final of the Northern Ireland Open and semi-finals of the English Open.
His triumph at the invitational Shanghai Masters in September made him the first snooker player to pass £10m in prize money and he also won the aptly named Champion of Champions event in Coventry.
His first victory in the UK Championship, aged 17, made him the youngest winner of a ranking event – a record which still stands – and he has further landmarks in his sight.
O’Sullivan is now just two ranking titles short of Hendry’s overall record of 36, and the 101 break he made in the second frame was the 986th century of his career, 14 short of the 1,000 mark, which no player has achieved before.
Despite his advancing years, he will also close further on Selby’s world number one ranking with a deep run at the Scottish Open which begins on Monday, and will chase an eighth Masters title at Alexandra Palace next month.
Allen unable to come up with the goods
World number seven Allen came into the tournament in good form after winning the International Championship last month, and defeated former world champions Neil Robertson and Stuart Bingham en route to the final.
But he has now lost two finals in York, the first to Judd Trump in 2011, and Northern Ireland’s long wait for a first UK champion since Alex Higgins in 1983 goes on.
Masters champion Allen was not at his best in the tournament, and loose safety play and missed opportunities were heavily punished by his final opponent.
“Ronnie played awesome, particularly in the first session,” said Allen. “I did not feel like I did that much wrong. I got punished and fell 6-2 behind and his long game was devastating, so was his safety.
“It is up to me to go away, practise and try and get closer to Ronnie’s level. He is by far and away ahead of everyone else.
“I still fancied it at 9-6, even though you are relying on him to make mistakes. I was never giving up.
“I hate losing and I will never be happy with second but there are lots to be positive about.”
The story of the match
The pair shared the first four frames in rapid fashion, O’Sullivan making breaks of 101 and 85, while Allen stroked in a 74.
But ‘The Rocket’ took control with further breaks of 66, 57 and 65 as he won five frames in a row.
O’Sullivan started the evening session by pinching a scrappy ninth frame, though Allen stopped his opponent’s run of frames with breaks of 56 and 105.
However, O’Sullivan snatched a 23-minute tactical battle to go two from victory.
There looked to be no way back when Allen broke down on 45 with O’Sullivan compiling a cool 57 clearance in response.
Allen missed the 10th red when on for a maximum 147 break but won the 14th frame and pulled another back before O’Sullivan crossed the line with a 78 break.
|O’Sullivan’s 2018-2019 season|
|10-16 September: Shanghai Masters – Won|
|15-21 October: English Open – Semi-finals|
|5-11 November: Champion of Champions – Won|
|12-18 November: Northern Ireland Open – Runner-up|
|27 November-9 December: UK Championship – Won|
Still the mean to beat – analysis
Former world champion John Parrott: Every time he looked like being challenged O’Sullivan pulled away again. He’s a snooker player for all ages.
I never thought we’d be seeing him like this when he was 17 years old winning his first UK Championship, but here he is 25 years later and still the man to beat after all these years.
|O’Sullivan’s other UK titles|
|1993 beat Stephen Hendry 10-6|
|1997 beat Stephen Hendry 10-6|
|2001 beat Ken Doherty 10-1|
|2007 beat Stephen Maguire 10-2|
|2014 beat Judd Trump 10-9|
|2017 beat Shaun Murphy 10-5|