A tournament which began with a chorus of complaints will end in a grandstand finish when world no.1 Neil Robertson meets world no.2 Mark Selby for the UK Championship title in York today.
These two tough, dedicated match players have made it through the melee of six rounds of snooker at the Barbican Centre to set up what seems likely to be a close, high quality final.
If Selby wins he will replace Robertson at the head of the rankings and become only the third player and the first since Stephen Hendry in 1996 to successfully defend the UK crown.
If Robertson wins it will be the sixth successive ranking title won by a non-Brit and he will become the eighth player after Steve Davis, Terry Griffiths, Alex Higgins, Hendry, John Higgins, Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan to have won the world, UK and Masters titles – snooker’s triple crown.
Robertson and Selby somehow avoided each other in draws for years but have played a fair amount over the last couple of seasons, including a right old grind in York last year when Selby recovered from 4-0 down to win 6-4 in the quarter-finals.
Despite a late night semi-final, Selby also beat Robertson 10-6 in the Masters final, a scoreline reversed by the Australian in the China Open final earlier this year.
They are evenly matched in temperament and style, though despite Selby’s maximum yesterday, Robertson has scored more heavily.
Most bookmakers have made him slight favourite but it would be a surprise if either player won be a large margin.
There’s £150,000 for the winner. It’s been a long tournament – probably too long – but we are left with what could be a classic final featuring two players imbued with the qualities needed to win the game’s biggest titles.
Robertson and Selby are two of snooker’s real fighters and this will be a fight to the finish.