RONNIE O’Sullivan made record 12th maximum 147 break to beat Ding Junhui 9-3 with the ultimate flourish and win the BetVictor Welsh Open on Sunday night.
If the magical clearance produced by the Rocket is indeed the last frame seen in this event at the Newport Centre with the tournament poised to switch to Cardiff, it was a fitting send-off.
With the score standing at 8-3 in favour of the reigning and five-time world champion, the story was really about the gulf that exists between O’Sullivan and those that would be king.
World No3 Ding was a worthy final opponent, at least on paper, having won four ranking titles this season and going for a record-equalling fifth, last achieved by Stephen Hendry 23 years ago.
But the showpiece proved a total mismatch, and though Ding salvaged some pride with two evening centuries after trailing 7-1 the match was long gone.
Instead it was O’Sullivan who snatched one of Hendry’s records for himself, choosing to roll in the final black left-handed for the novelty value.
It was the act of a born entertainer and showman, allied to a supreme ability. And the scary thing for the notoriously self-critical O’Sullivan’s would-be rivals is that he is now actually pleased with the way he is playing.
To the winner’s cheque for £60,000 O’Sullivan added another £12,000 for his maximum break, Mark Selby having made one just last December at the UK Championship.
Ding, 26, has already lifted the trophy in Shanghai, Delhi, Chengdu and Berlin during the current campaign, O’Sullivan represents a huge obstacle to him claiming the title he really wants at the Crucible in May.
O’Sullivan, who dropped just 10 frames in seven matches at the expanded 128-player Welsh Open, now moves on to 26 ranking titles to add to his five Masters crowns.
And that means he is now two adrift of Steve Davis in the all-time list, and clear of John Higgins. Hendry, on 36, may see that record stay intact though his seven world titles looks at real risk now.