Gary Wilson won the longest frame in Crucible history, which lasted 79 minutes and 31 seconds, to get over the line and defeat Luca Brecel 10-9 in their opening round clash at the Betfred World Championship.
The epic deciding frame came after the pair were pulled off at the end of the afternoon session, with Wallsend’s Wilson leading his Belgian counterpart 9-8. Brecel managed to force the decider when they resumed, before a cloud of tension descended on the Crucible Theatre.
The final frame got off to a cagey start, requiring a re-rack after a period of stalemate. They then embarked on a tactical battle longer than any other to have taken place at snooker’s Theatre of Dreams. Several reds gathered to the left of the black spot on the top cushion. The clock wore on, as they jostled for position to dislodge them.
Eventually Wilson managed to get in and crucially doubled the final red to allow him to clear with 31 and win the nerve-shredding contest.
The previous record for the longest frame at the Crucible was 76 minutes and 11 seconds, during a semi-final match between Mark Selby and Marco Fu in 2016.
Both players were battling for their first ever Crucible match win. Brecel, now 24-years old, became the youngest ever player to compete at the Sheffield venue back in 2012, aged 17. He lost on that occasion and has failed to record a win in four appearances at the Crucible.
Former China Open runner-up Wilson’s only other match in the final stages of the World Championship was a 10-7 loss against Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2017. He has now tasted victory at the second time of asking. Wilson’s prize is a second round meeting with either three-time World Champion Mark Selby or young Chinese star Zhao Xintong in round two.
“I’m just over the moon to get through it on the right side,” said 33-year-old Wilson. “I gave it 100% for the whole match and when I got a sniff of a chance it went my way.
“I tried not to give anything away. Even the moments when I left a bit of a long red and he potted it, I was annoyed. I knew that 15 or 20 points in that scenario were massive. I just wanted to leave as little as possible and do as much as I could.
“You know deep down in your gut what the right shot is and when to play it. I did with that double at the end. As soon as I got on the blue I had to try and get on the double for the last red. I knew it had to be played.
“Luca came in here just a second ago, he shook my hand and was nothing but complimentary. He just said that I had got out of some great escapes and it was phenomenal. He is a great kid and I don’t know if I would have been as nice five minutes after getting beat.”