Northern Ireland Open 2016 – Mark King is your Champion

At 42 years of age, and 25 years as a professional, Mark King achieved his dream: he’s now a ranking event winner after a thrilling final that went to a deciding frame. Heartfeld congratulations Mark King.

It looked unlikely when Barry Hawkins lead 5-1, but Mark King held his nerves and won 6 frames on the bounce to lead 7-5. Only for Hawkins to reply and make it 7-7. King won the next, and, being gave himself a chance to win by 9-7 when he managed to force a re-soptted black in the 16th frame after an epic tactical battle. But It was Barry who took it. Decider it was …

It had excellent shots, mistakes, twists and turns … drama and emotions aplenty. A great, great advert for the sport we love.

Here is the official report by Worldsnooker:

Monday 21 Nov 2016 12:49AM

Mark King has won his maiden ranking title following a remarkable 9-8 victory over Barry Hawkins at the Coral Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.

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The win had looked unlikely with King trailing 5-1 during the opening session. However, he crucially clawed it back to 5-3 at the break.

King then won the first four frames when they returned in the evening to lead 7-5 in a remarkable turnaround. He blasted to the front with breaks of 62, 100, 45 and 53. There were then scenes of pure drama as Hawkins fought back.

With King 8-7 ahead, he required one seven-point snooker on the colours to tie. The black ball had come to lie perilously over edge the bottom pocket and King ambitiously embarked upon trying to lay the object ball on top of it. He eventually achieved that thanks to one of the shots of the tournament, cross doubling the pink the length of the table. Hawkins fouled the black and his opponent forced a re-spot. King narrowly missed a double to middle for the title and allowed the Hawk in to force a decider.

After a match filled with fluent break building the final frame was understandably tense.  Both players had and missed chances. However, it was King who forced himself over the line and emotionally embraced his family as they entered the arena. The scenes were reminiscent of the man who the trophy was named after Alex Higgins, who had beckoned his then baby daughter Lauren onto the Crucible floor in 1972 after winning the world title. Lauren was present today, 44 years on, and handed over the trophy to an emotional King.

King said: “At 8-7 up my little daughter Polly was doing cartwheels outside and it just calmed me down seeing her happy. I thought to myself worst case scenario I have my three gems here and my wife. I left everything on the table and it is nice to come out and be a champ.

“I just thought all week my name was on the trophy. I haven’t said it but things were happening. People were missing game balls on the black. I just think it was meant to be,” said King. “The money is always nice. I came here and I don’t think I had a tenner in the bank. My dad and my mate lent me a few quid and hopefully I can build on it now.”

Enjoy the key moments here …

The battle for a respotted black in frame 16:

The decider:

A very emotional Mark King after the match:

All the datailed tournament results are on Cuetracker as usual.

On a much lighter note, one thing we, non UK viewers, didn’t get to see is Ronnie very smartly dressed in the new gear he had bought specially for the final …

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image source: Ronnie on twitter

Ronnie who before the final had tweeted this:

Looking forward to a good final today

He duly got it, and after the final congratulated Mark King, who, of course, is from Essex too …

@markking147 well done tonight well deserved

He also said he would rather be out there playing, in answer to a fan saying he looked comfy in the studio.

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