Finland’s Robin Hull won the quickfire Shootout on Sunday night for a first tour title and the biggest payday of a career that might easily have delivered much more.
The 41-year-old beat Belgium’s Luca Brecel 50-36 in the final at The Hexagon in Reading to claim a £32,000 first prize that is the most handsome cheque he has received by a distance.
In the event played over single frames of a maximum of 10 minutes and a shot-clock dropping to 10 seconds, Hull held his nerve superbly when it mattered.
And in wider snooker circles this will be a popular success for a talented player who has twice had to retire due to ill health following a virus that at its worst was life-threatening, and left him at one time with an irregular heartbeat.
Without that sort of disruption, and you could say the same for Ali Carter, who knows what he might have achieved.
Hull has also made a go of it based in Scandinavia, never easy and incurring large expenses. This weekend’s work will help with that.
And it may also help further boost the popularity of the sport back home. Hull knows rallying, javelin, ice hockey and other winter sports will take some shifting.
But as he told Inside Snooker only last year: “The people probably deserve an ET event in Scandinavia, and I would obviously say Finland, because they watch in big numbers on Eurosport. For a country of five million or whatever, viewing figures are in hundreds of thousands which is substantial in percentage terms.
“Helsinki would be the place in Finland, it would be crazy to consider anywhere else, it is the biggest market and has the venues. Finland is a racing nation with its cars, loves athletics and winter sports so we are breaking new ground with the snooker.”
Brecel, 20, came in to the final as favourite (in as much there can be a favourite in this format) after his big breakthrough reaching the final of the German Masters in Berlin last week.
But he squandered a great chance to snatch a dramatic victory - missing a simple red poised to overhaul Hull with seconds to spare.
World No56 Hull, who also beat Judd Trump, Mark Williams, Ryan Day, Craig Steadman and Ian Burns, said: “My heart was in my mouth and I thought I was beat in the final there.
“I missed the winning red, hit it too thick and missed it by a mile and I am very lucky to win, I thought Luca was going to take it there.
“I am not used to this, a player of my ranking doesn’t get finals and occasions and atmospheres like this often.
“It is the biggest money by far in my career and for sure it helps – basically because it allows me to play snooker. I enjoy the competing.
“It would be nice if it could be a springboard, confidence-wise, ideally winning everything! But I am just over the moon to win.
“I was supposed to be playing at 9am at the Welsh Open tomorrow morning in Cardiff but they have changed that to the afternoon and taken pity on me.”
Photograph courtesy of Monique Limbos