Stuart Bingham is through to his first Dafabet Masters final, after a thumping 6-2 semi-final defeat of David Gilbert at Alexandra Palace.
There is guaranteed to be a new name on the Paul Hunter Trophy tomorrow night, with Bingham being pitted against Ali Carter, who defeated Shaun Murphy in this afternoon’s match to reach his first Masters final.
It will be the third year in a row that the Masters has produced a maiden winner, after Mark Allen picked up the title in 2018 and Judd Trump was victorious 12 months ago.
Bingham and Carter will clash over the best of 19 frames for a top prize of £250,000, the richest in the event’s history.
As play got underway this evening, Bingham established control of proceedings with Gilbert struggling to settle. Breaks of 94 and 71 saw him establish a 2-0 advantage.
There was then an edgy third frame, where both players spurned opportunities. Ultimately it came down to a missed final brown to the baulk corner from Gilbert, which landed at the mercy of Bingham who cleared to the black to lead 3-0.
Gilbert steadied himself and got a frame on the board with a stunning break of 131 to keep himself in touching distance, trailing 3-1 at the mid-session.
They returned to a raucous reception from the packed crowd and 2015 World Champion Bingham managed to re-assert his authority. He took the fifth frame, before a run of 75 saw him move one from victory at 5-1.
Gilbert did pull another back courtesy of breaks of 45 and 42 in the seventh. However, Bingham wasn’t to be denied, firing in a run of 63 to secure victory.
“I settled down a bit quicker than Dave. You could see he was a bit nervous and missed a couple. I had a couple of good breaks,” said 2015 World Champion Bingham. “When we came back out after the interval the atmosphere was mad. I have never even been anywhere like that before. We both looked at each other and thought ‘wow’. I am just glad to be over the line and in the Masters final.
“Myself and Ali used to play in junior tournaments in the Essex county, now we are competing in a major final. It is a bit surreal.
“It would mean everything to win. Just being in the VIP lounge and seeing all of those names on the list of past winners and the history of the game. To be amongst them would be fantastic.”
Gilbert said: “It was a really poor start. People will put it down to nerves, as they always do with me. That was probably the best I have felt this week early on. I just missed a few easy pots.
“Thanks to everybody for cheering me on. It has been a brilliant week. The Masters was everything and more than I ever thought it was. I showed that I could play a bit. Stuart is a tough matchplayer and he doesn’t give it to you easily.”