Yang Bintao’s fantastic first fight stunned Scotland’s John Higgins, the Chinese sensation who became the youngest master champion in 26 years.
At 20, Ian is a year away from the record held by Ronnie O’Sullivan, who beat Higgins in the 1995 final.
This is Jan’s first major world title as number 11, which he won at the Riga Open last season.
Leading 5-3, Ian equalised at 8-7 and although Higgins equalised, Ian won 10-8.
The Sheffield player won the Paul Hunter Trophy and earned £250,000, the highest amount in his short but promising career.
The first Masters final without an audience ended with a classic fight. The tournament was held behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A star is born
Higgins saw Yang’s potential in 2015, when he and his Chinese teammate Zhou Yuilong beat the Scot and his partner Stephen Maguire in the World Cup final at the age of 15.
He was a 50-1 underdog in this tournament and made a poor showing in his first Triple Crown final. Still, the irrepressible Yan is an undeniable star in the making, having won three fights in previous rounds with 6-5 victories.
Ding Junhui has been the undisputed number one in China since he came on the scene in 2005, but the title is now under serious threat from Yan, who has come under enormous pressure to beat one of the greatest snooker players of all time.
He came within a whisker of becoming the youngest winner of a ranking tournament in 2017, but Mark Williams beat him 9-8 in the final of the Northern Ireland Open.
Ian played solidly and unattractively, showing some naivety at first, but his calm demeanour didn’t change and he began to shock a big pre-match favourite.
Tapered Higgins relief
World No6 Higgins simply failed to make a remarkable turnaround for a player who was seriously considering retirement in 2018 due to a lack of motivation.
Wishaw has been disbarred and many believe his best years are behind him, as he last competed in the Triple Crown Final ten years ago, when he won his fourth world title.
Despite a busy schedule, it has been three years since he won a ranking tournament. Changes in his preparation for this invitation to the tournament, as well as adjustments to his tail end, helped him reach the final, where he has now suffered three defeats.
Higgins, winner in 1999 and 2006, regained his best form in the quarter-finals with a win over world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and a semi-final against England’s David Gilbert.
He sees this as a missed opportunity and leads 5-3 and 7-5, but cannot defend against Jan’s brilliant response.
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