Masters 2018: Mark Allen beats Kyren Wilson 10-7 in final to take title
Mark Allen beat Kyren Wilson 10-7 to become the first Northern Irishman to win the Masters since Dennis Taylor in 1987.
The final at the Alexandra Palace was a tight affair until the 11th frame, when Allen, 31, made a 73 break to move 6-5 ahead before adding 119 in the next.
Englishman Wilson, the world number 14, went another frame behind before rallying to pull it back to 8-7.
Allen responded with breaks of 69 and 71 to take the £200,000 first prize.
And he hopes his first success in one of snooker's 'Triple Crown' events - the Masters, UK Championship and World Championship - will lead to many more.
"It's been a long time coming, I was never sure it was going to come," he told the BBC.
"I felt calm apart from in that first session and felt stronger as the match wore on. I'm just very, very pleased.
"It's 40 years since Alex Higgins first won the trophy to bring it back to the country, that's what I did it for.
"And now that I've done it, hopefully this is stepping stone to bigger and better things."
Allen class shines through
Allen, with three ranking titles to his name, was the outstanding favourite for the final - he even intimated that after his impressive semi-final victory over John Higgins.
However, the last time the pair met in one of snooker's majors - at the 2016 World Championship - the Antrim player was beaten 13-9.
The first session was laced with tension and errors. It included a memorable fourth frame that lasted 46 minutes, and was interrupted by another intruding wasp - following a similar incident earlier in the tournament - and a spectator who failed to switch his phone to silent.
That latter interruption came with Wilson over the final green. He potted the ball but left himself in a poor position, then missed an easy pink. Allen went on to level the scores at 2-2, before moving a frame ahead.
Wilson regrouped and made two 80-plus breaks, but Allen hit back to level once more before the interval.
After a 40-minute ninth frame was won by Allen, the arms of both players loosened.
Wilson had a break of 84 before Allen hit back with a 73 and established a two-frame advantage - the first of the final - with a run of 119.
That became 8-5 with a 50 break before Wilson produced a 73 to clinch the 15th frame and reduce the deficit to one.
The Kettering player had come from 5-2 down to defeat Judd Trump in the semi-finals, but there was to be no repeat as Allen clinched the final two frames for a deserved victory, his first snooker major and the biggest first prize of his career.
'Kyren will have many more days like this'
Wilson, 26, had reached this stage with wins over Barry Hawkins, Mark Williams and lastly - and most impressively - Trump.
He only entered the top 16 after a 2015-16 season during which he won his only ranking title to date - the Shanghai Masters.
"What a competitor Kyren Wilson is," said Allen. "He's also the nicest guy. Kyren will have many more days like this.
"I know what it feels like being in that seat, when I lost to Judd Trump in the 2011 UK final.
"Kyren will be in these major finals in years to come."
Wilson said he was "frustrated" with his display, but delighted with the growth of his profile.
"It was the best feeling in the final, such a big crowd and such a big TV audience," he said.
"I love playing in the UK. It was nice going into Pizza Express in the interval and people asking for signatures.
"Everybody is tuning into the snooker now. When you get Nicko McBrain from Iron Maiden asking you over to Florida you know you've made it."
Three-time champion Steve Davis on BBC Two
Mark is now a Premiership player in the game. He played the classiest snooker this week - the best under pressure - and controlled the cue ball the best.
He's so liked on tour, not just among the players but the crowd who saw he was genuine.
As for Kyren, it was emotion that burst out of him during the presentation as a result of the week he had.
Former world champion John Parrott on BBC Two
I'm thrilled for Mark. He's been a class act over the past few years.
Some of his snooker over the years has warranted a big tournament win. People kept saying he's a great player, but he's not got his head in front.
It's a wonderful, wonderful feeling to pick up a major trophy.
Kyren had a fantastic week. The semi-final against Judd Trump was brilliant - he gave everything today, but the better man won.