Ronnie O'Sullivan hauled level with fellow greats Steve Davis and Ray Reardon as he surged past Kyren Wilson 18-8 to claim his sixth world snooker title at the Crucible.
Only Stephen Hendry's seven crowns now stand between the 44-year-old and undisputed acclaim as the greatest player in the modern sport after he wrecked Wilson's hopes of a final debut win.
Having cut a forlorn and frustrated figure through most of Saturday's opening two sessions, O'Sullivan rediscovered his sparkle to win seven frames in a row in the afternoon session and turn a tense 10-7 overnight advantage into a one-sided inevitability.
Requiring a single frame for victory upon their return, O'Sullivan duly obliged in a way which encapsulated his final performance – a stunning break of 96 finished by a miscue on the final black.
As he lifted the title for a sixth time, there was a touch of irony in the fact that having fashioned his campaign in front of empty seats, his dominant finish deprived those who had been granted a reprieve any more than the most perfunctory of coronations.
In truth it was not a final befitting a tournament which must go down as one of the most dramatic on record, culminating in a pair of last-frame semi-finals from which it sporadically seemed both winners had emerged battered and on occasion, spent.
But the final scoreline did scant justice to Wilson, who frequently looked the most composed player through Saturday's sessions, even when he fell 8-2 behind, and too often let himself down with simple missed pots and bad shot choices.
The 28-year-old will especially rue the missed pink to the middle that could have left him a solitary frame adrift overnight, and the red along the cushion that could have dragged him back to 10-9 having eased through the opening frame of the day.
Wilson's composed 73 proposed bad omens for O'Sullivan, who appeared unfocused and unhappy during much of Saturday, but it soon became clear that the favourite was much more settled, and ready to make his under-pressure opponent pay.
Wilson's missed pink maintained a painful pattern which would persist throughout O'Sullivan's seven-frame streak in the afternoon. With the kicks and bad bounces that marred much of Saturday's play all but absent, he eased into the mid-session interval 13-8 in front.
The interval did little to improve the outlook for Wilson, who had been the last player to enter this year's tournament following the unprecedented decision by his first round opponent Anthony Hamilton to withdraw from the tournament due to coronavirus concerns.
He came off worse in a safety exchange and O'Sullivan clinically cleaned up to green with a break of 60, then after back-to-back breaks of 71 and 72 by his opponent, Wilson's eagerness to end the nightmare got the better of him as he mistakenly believed it was the end of the session.
Instead, there was one more frame in which O'Sullivan could extend the agony, leaving him with the simplest of tasks to confirm the title when they returned for the evening session.
It was not the kind of classic ending fans have come to expect of the World Championship final since the halcyon days of the 1980s when black balls were over-cut and the likes of Davis and Reardon reigned supreme.
But no player since has been as captivating as O'Sullivan, whose sixth win underscored his ability to not only see off his emerging foe, but to win a very public personal battle to justify his status as being among and even above the game's all-time greats.