Billy Castle ousted Andrew Higginson on a re-spotted black in the deciding frame of the final to win 5-4 and dramatically claim this season’s Q Tour Event 4 title.
Hosted by new Q Tour venue the Snookerhallen in the Swedish capital of Stockholm, local Scandinavian players joined fellow European cueists and those representing nations from further afield for the fourth leg of the six-event amateur series.
Former professional Castle – who reached the quarter-finals of Event 1 back in September – defeated Patrick Whelan 3-1, Michael Holt 3-2 and Scott Bell 3-0 to qualify for Sunday’s final eight stage.
There he registered breaks of 60, 65 and 76 to stop the run of Event 3 winner Farakh Ajaib 4-1 in the quarter-finals before crafting further efforts of 102, 73 and 50 to deny promising Welsh teenager Liam Davies by the same scoreline in the last four.
On the other side of the draw, former Welsh Open finalist Higginson appeared beyond the last 16 for the first time this Q Tour campaign, although he had to come through a gauntlet that included Event 2 winner Martin O’Donnell, Event 1 winner Ross Muir, and two-time event runner-up George Pragnell. In the semi-finals Higginson came from a frame down to see off Frenchman Brian Ochoiski 4-2.
In the all-English final, Castle led twice early on, although runs of 85 and 70 aided Higginson to go into the mid-session interval level at 2-2.
The process repeated on resumption, with Castle (breaks of 71 and 72) moving 3-2 and 4-3 ahead, only for Higginson to keep pegging him back; a break of 65 in frame eight helping him force a deciding frame.
More drama was to come in that ninth frame with the tightest finish possible. Both players had scoring visits within it, although it would ultimately come down to the colours.
Leading by five points, Higginson potted the pivotal pink but also the cueball in the same shot. Castle then sank the pink to move six in front, but after a safety exchange, the black was left over a pocket for Higginson to force a re-spotted black.
More brilliant safety was played on the re-spot before Castle secured an epic victory with a mid-distance pot on the black.
The 30-year-old former English Amateur Champion zips up the rankings and puts himself in contention for the number one spot at the end of the season and automatic promotion back to the sport’s top tier.