Richard Mann blogged live from the Crucible Theatre, where Mark Williams defeated John Higgins to win the World Snooker Championship - recap the action frame by frame.
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John Higgins 16-18 Mark Williams
I don't know where to start.
What a terrific final, a great advert for the game of snooker and a great advert for sport in general.
Two of the greatest ever seeing off the best young talent the game has to offer and then producing one of the finest finals you could ever wish to see.
The game was played in a terrific spirit, hard as nails on the table but so respectful off it. Just as it should be.
John Higgins was all class afterwards, just as he was on the table.
I was lucky enough to sit down and chat with him before the tournament and I can promise you, he is as humble and as generous with his time as he appears on TV.
A gentleman and a champion.
Higgins told the BBC: "An unbelievable occasion. Great to play in this incredible arena again against this incredible player.
"The red he potted in the middle was a joke and the clearance he produced was one of the best I've ever seen.
"I'm obvious disappointed but he's a brilliant champion."
As for Mark Williams, what a player.
He could barely win a game last season and didn't even qualify for the Crucible.
Incredible achievement, incredible story.
He very nearly quit the game last year, so bad was his form, and now he holds the trophy aloft as a three-time world champion.
He might laugh it off when people mention him in the same bracket as O'Sullivan, Hendry and Higgins but this man is a true great. No doubt.
I thought he might wilt in the face of the Higgins juggernaut tonight but he held his nerve to produce a break from the Gods to seal his victory.
Williams told the BBC: "It's unbelievable really, 12 months ago I wasn't ever here.
"Just to play John in the final is unbelievable, really.
"You've got to expect a comeback because when you're 50 or 60 in front, he's the best I've ever seen at clearing up and that includes O'Sullivan.
"Last year I was seriously considering packing in and she [his wife] convinced me to give it another go.
"I'm over the moon."
Higgins, too. He looked down and out at 14-7 behind but to level at 15-15 was something else, as was the snooker he produced.
Two champions, one winner. Doesn't seem fair but that's sport, that's snooker, and I have loved every minute of it.
I can confirm that, as promised, Mark Williams has attended his press conference naked.
Williams promised to do so if he went on to lift the trophy and true to his word...
And that caps off a truly unforgettable night and a brilliant 2018 World Snooker Championship.
It has been my pleasure to bring you coverage of an epic final. I do hope you have enjoyed the blog.
Until next time...
Frame Thirty Four
Williams responds with a brilliant long red but the white runs past the black.
The crowd are loving this. So am I.
Williams with another incredible pot, this time to the middle pocket.
Can Williams take his chance this time?
25 and well set.
I've said this before but this really is a golden opportunity.
It's there. And so is following the red.
The crowd go wild.
He's missed the brown.
Higgins needs three snookers but he's playing on.
He ain't finished just yet.
You have to feel for Higgins, he can't let this go.
It's over now. Williams sinks a long red.
Higgins slumps in his chair.
It's over now.
The players embrace.
Incredible final, incredible players, incredible men.
Frame Thirty Three
Williams in first.
Williams not messing about.
Already past thirty.
Key shot. Blue to reds.
He's on one, great chance now.
51 and counting. I can't keep up.
He's edging closer but finds himself wrong side of the blue.
Mid-range red straight into the heart of the pocket.
But he misses the pink, which was match and championship ball.
Higgins finds a great red to middle and the balls are there for the taking. Can he hold himself together?
Just the colours remaining and he needs them all.
He's taking these beautifully.
He's done it again. What a clearance, what a steal.
He ain't human, Higgins.
Higgins needs something.
He keeps finding but just how much does he have left?
Frame Thirty Two
So much admiration for these two. I'm incredibly nervous just watching, not sure how they are producing this level of snooker under so much pressure.
Oh wowzers! Williams has pulled off a screamer of a red and has a real chance here.
Williams misses to middle again - this time the pink - and Higgins fairly gallops to the table.
Things getting tricky for Higgins, though.
And now Higgins misses to middle.
Williams with another decent opportunity.
Looking good for the Welshman. Only a few pots away.
Williams has found something here. Tremendous effort.
The century is still on.
Fabulous, nerveless clearance of exactly 100 and Williams is only one from away from the world title.
Frame Thirty One
Higgins plays a stinker of a shot and Williams is in first again.
What does he have left?
Williams has to take this chance you'd think.
33 so far from Williams.
Oh Mark. Another miss to middle and the break comes to an end on 41.
We might be in for some safety here.
Williams pushes the boat out and misses by some way but Higgins can't make a long red to take advantage.
And Williams now left with a glorious chance to get his first frame on the board this evening.
And he's over the winning line in this frame. Boy he must be relieved.
No clearance but it's 16-15 Williams.
Higgins pots a long red but misses a simple pink.
Williams up and running but can't find his extension now. It's all happening here.
Massive test for Williams is this.
He's working hard but still potting them.
Williams misses on 47.
Can Higgins pounce again?
18 so far and the balls are lined up beautifully.
Just the colours remaining.
Brown and blue needed.
He's done it.
Another flawless clearance - this time 62 - and Higgins is level at 15-15.
And so are the players.
This next couple of hours could be quite something.
What a game snooker is.
The players leave the arena for the mid-session interval with Williams clinging on to his 15-14 lead.
John Higgins, the great champion that he is, has found snooker from the Gods to win the first frames of the evening and set up a blockbuster finish.
I kid you not, this could well turn out to be one of the great World Championship finals.
Sky Bet can't split them and are now 10/11 the pair.
What a turnaround, Higgins was available at 9/1 not so long ago.
I need to take a minute.
Frame Twenty Nine
Williams in a spot of bother and concedes four.
Should find the pack this time. And he does.
Plenty of safety as both players sense the enormity of this frame.
Higgins pulls out a brilliant long red and lands nicely on the pink.
30 and counting from Higgins as Williams watches on.
Fine cut-back red from Higgins but he can't find position on the colour.
A break of 52 gives Higgins a very handy lead.
Williams misses a tough red with a counter attack possible. Is he starting to feel the heat?
Higgins does the rest and it's going to be 15-14.
What a mini-session of snooker from Higgins.
Frame Twenty Eight
Poor safety from Higgins.
Doesn't want to let Williams off the hook here.
Williams flying. Past forty already.
Williams runs out of position on 47.
Higgins struggling with his safety game.
But Williams can't make a tough red from off the cushion.
Can Higgins steal another frame?
The reds need a split but nothing tied up on the cushions.
Massive shot on the green coming up.
And he splits the reds. Oh my, what a chance this is.
Higgins loses the white but pulls out a terrific long pot on the green.
Just the colours to come.
Just the blue needed.
And it's there.
A superb clearance of 82 from Higgins under extreme pressure.
The man is made of iron.
Only two behind now.
Where's your money going now?
Frame Twenty Seven
Higgins up before Williams is ready to break off. He's up for this alright.
Shoddy break-off from Williams, too.
Higgins slots in the mid-range red but can't pot the tricky yellow with the rest.
Williams presented with a decent chance to strike straight back.
Williams finds yet another plant when it looked like end of break.
43 and counting and Williams edging towards chalking another frame off.
Williams puts in a twitchy one on 58 and hands Higgins a lifeline.
This is a huge visit for Higgins.
Williams banking on the yellow tied up on the side cushion.
Incredible shot from Higgins on the brown to get right behind the yellow.
Yellow sunk. Green, too.
What a clearance from Higgins.
What a champion John Higgins is.
Frame Twenty Six
Williams starts with a brilliant red to middle but misses the following black.
Higgins straight into his work.
Nice split on the reds.
29 so far. This is a great chance to make an early statement.
Quickly past sixty now.
74. Frame safe. Now let's see a century, John.
Higgins noticeably quicker round the table here.
I suspect he won't die wondering tonight. If he's going to go down, he'll go down swinging.
And there's the century.
A magnificent clearance of 131. What a start.
Game on in the Crucible.
Welcome back to the Crucible Theatre for the final session of the World Snooker Championship final between John Higgins and Mark Williams.
Williams is firmly in control having won each of the three sessions so far and leads 15-10.
However, Higgins gave himself a glimmer of hope by winning three of the last four frames this afternoon and as we saw against Judd Trump last week, he is a dangerous man to have chasing you down.
It will be fascinating to see how Williams, usually such an unflappable character, copes with the pressure as he gets closer to the winning line and if Higgins makes a strong start tonight, we could yet have a grandstand finish.
I fear Higgins might have left himself too much to do but if he can win three of the first four frames tonight, with the Crucible crowd roaring him, he might just start to believe.
The atmosphere is building nicely now.
Something tells me the crowd want this to go down to the wire.
Here come the players.
Electric. Goosebumps. Hairs standing on my neck.
Fair play to John Higgins.
He looked down and out at 14-7 down but has given himself a glimmer of hope ahead of the final session tonight.
Nevertheless, you would have to think this is Mark Williams' title to lose now and frankly, he looks to be playing too well to throw it away from here.
For Higgins, I would suspect he'll be hoping to win the first mini-session 3-1 to give himself a sniff and put some pressure on Williams.
If you fancy Higgins to pull it off, Sky Bet are offering 6/1 about him triumphing.
I'll be back at 7pm for the concluding session.
Please do join me then.
Frame Twenty Five
Williams pounces on a missed red from Higgins.
He'll want to make this count.
33 not out so far.
Tough black with the rest missed.
50 a very handy lead, though.
And Williams is back in the balls with the frame at his mercy.
And he does enough.
Frame over. Session over.
Huge final frame of the session coming up.
Game on if Higgins can somehow take it.
Frame Twenty Four
Higgins off and running with a long red. Black to follow.
Higgins gets to 40 but he's lost the white. He wants to push the boat out.
Brilliant red with the rest but he's not good on the black.
He's not messing about now, do or die.
What. A. Pot.
Still all blacks by the way.
Higgins loses the white again but pulls off a tremendous double.
He's made his intentions clear, plays for the black when pink would surely have been better.
But the thin-cut black wriggles in.
What a shame. He misses a red from mid range.
Frame Twenty Three
Williams sinks another long red.
Three reds, three blacks...
41 and counting but forced to take the blue next.
65 from Williams but he sticks to the reds when going into the pack.
Foul from Williams when attempting a thin safety.
Brilliant long red from Higgins but the cut-back black is very tough.
The crowd are willing Higgins on here. The want a match.
Still going well enough.
41 and counting.
On the brown now, work to do.
Nerves of steel. Higgins sinks the black and steals the frame.
Tremendous clearance of 76.
Do we have a game on?
Another huge frame coming up for Higgins.
You feel he needs Williams to falter but stranger things have happened.
Frame Twenty Two
What have you got left, John?
Early miss from Williams.
Red, black from Higgins.
Higgins moves onto 24. You can here a pin drop in the Crucible.
Black missed off the spot.
Higgins is unravelling in front of our eyes. Hard to watch.
Williams doesn't make Higgins pay this time and the Scot follows with a long red.
Great chance for Higgins here. One he must take.
Higgins working so hard for what would usually be a simple break.
Higgins trying to clear the table now.
A break of 67 and Higgins has a lifeline of sorts.
Higgins needed to start well today but having lost that mini-session 4-0, this final could be heading for an early finish.
Such a shame for Higgins, who just hasn't been at the races.
Higgins now out to 9/1 with Sky Bet.
Frame Twenty One
Safety to begin with but Higgins is all over the place.
Stop the press. Mark Williams has missed one.
But Higgins fluffs the brown and Williams must think it's Christmas.
Williams breaks down and Higgins desperately tries to force his way back into the match with some telling safety.
Solid red to open from Higgins but another easy red is missed by some way.
Vintage stuff from Williams here but work still to be done.
Williams absolutely flying now.
14-7 and Higgins looks done.
A missed black from Williams gives Higgins hope but he can't make the shot to nothing.
Williams follows up with a stunning long red and finds himself well set again.
Past fifty now and this is turning into a procession.
Tough red along the rail coming up.
But he doesn't look like missing.
Safety now with Higgins needing a snooker.
A failed plant from Higgins and Williams clears up with 56.
We could be in for an early finish.
Higgins just can't get into the match.
The Scot pulls out a superb long red. Huge moments for him now.
Higgins smashes into the red from the blue. Tough pot to follow.
Williams pots from distance but can't get position from the subsequent blue.
Higgins would have fancied making that long red but he misses again. Not looking good for the Scot.
Williams off again.
The Welshman loses the white so a lengthy safety exchange in prospect.
Williams finds a plant now.
And moments later he finds another. This one much tougher with the reds a foot apart.
A decent lead building now and Higgins staring down the barrel.
Williams easing through the gears.
Williams enjoys an outrageous piece of luck as he misses a long red by a foot, only for it come back down the table and drop into the yellow pocket.
28 and counting and well set.
Into the forties now. Hard to see him missing from here.
Only a few pots away now.
Williams gets a huge kick and breaks down on 61.
No easy starter for Higgins, though.
Now Higgins with a fluke but he was playing safe. Hasn't helped him too much.
Williams with a brilliant pot to middle.
Higgins leaves the arena.
Don't forget, Sky Bet are offering in-running betting on the match.
Welcome back to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield where the final day of the 2018 World Snooker Championship is about to get under way.
The third session of the final between John Higgins and Mark Williams promises to be an enthralling one with the Scot desperate to reduce his arrears ahead of tonight's concluding session.
Williams leads 10-7 thanks a brilliant finish last night, winning the last three frames having looked in trouble when Higgins levelled at 7-7.
It was a brilliant session of snooker and here's hoping for more of the same today.
Higgins looked jaded to me last night, the efforts of the last couple of weeks possibly catching up with him, but Williams was far from perfect and his long game was certainly some way below its best.
Can Higgins summon one final push? Or will Williams prove too hard to catch?
Whatever the result, these are two of the greatest players to ever grace the game and I'm sure they are going to serve up something special to cap off what has been a brilliant tournament.
The players share a smile as Rob Walker wakes up the crowd. Great atmosphere again.
Now the introductions.
Not Tom Jones again. Please Mark, no more.
Tom Jones could be number one this time next week...
Here comes Higgins. All business.
Take a moment to digest that.
What a remarkable session of snooker and one which John Higgins will surely feel was an opportunity missed.
Having drawn level at 7-7, a couple of poor errors from the Scot have allowed Mark Williams to establish a 10-7 overnight lead and you have to fear for Higgins now.
That said, he came back from the dead against Judd Trump in the quarter-finals so never write off the four-time world champion.
I'll be back at 2pm tomorrow for the third session.
Please do join me then.
Final frame of the day coming up and one you feel Higgins cannot afford to lose.
Ominous signs for Higgins as Williams pots a red to middle and gets a colour to follow.
Only worth 16 but the follow-up safety is a telling one.
Higgins pushes the boat out with an attempted long red and Williams handed another golden opportunity.
Williams will know the importance of this visit.
Big shot coming up.
Another split on the red goes wrong and Williams lets Higgins back in with a failed double.
Two reds out in the open but the final one locked together with the brown near the green pocket.
Higgins doesn't like the look of it.
Higgins losing the plot out there; he tries to dislodge the tricky final red, only for the brown to go in.
It always looked on in fairness. Poor decision and it might well have cost him a fifth world title.
First chance to Higgins after Williams misses from distance.
Plenty of work to do but Higgins up to 29.
Higgins misses a black off the spot on 35 and Williams with a real chance to land a body blow.
Williams still going strong. This will really hurt Higgins who keeps letting the Welshman off the hook.
A nerveless run of 64 and Williams leaves Higgins reeling in his chair.
Huge frame that one but an even bigger one coming up.
This final is really hotting up now. Brilliant stuff.
Where's your money going?
Higgins misses from distance and Williams races into the thirties.
Great character from Williams who looks sure to regain the lead.
Williams comfortably over the winning line now and eyeing up his first century of the match.
A hundred from Higgins and Williams responds with a century of his own.
118 of the very best. Oh my we are being treated to some tremendous stuff tonight.
Williams unlucky when he goes in off having split the reds.
Higgins with a great chance to level. Pink and black both on their spots.
Higgins struggling through, here. 31 and counting.
Past fifty now. One more red needed.
92. 95. 99. 104.
A quite brilliant clearance of 117 and now Williams is the one left with something to ponder.
It was hard work for Higgins initially but he soon found his touch and looks to be growing with confidence.
Big moments coming up.
An attempted double from Higgins goes awry and Williams gets first chance.
Williams too straight on the red and misses.
Higgins straight into his work but fails to take advantage of a kind split on the reds.
A magnificent long red gets Higgins straight back in the balls and there's no mistake from the Scot this time.
So, the first four frames of the night shared but definite signs that Higgins is beginning to find his groove.
Williams still in front but Higgins now snapping at his heels.
A fluked red gets Williams started.
Williams pots the blue and then the pink. Off the same shot. I'll try and get a video to explain better.
Higgins pots a lovely opener as he looks to level the scores.
A thin cut fails to drop and Williams finds himself back at the table.
Great chance, this.
Only 37 but Higgins left with a horrible shot, snookered behind the brown with the reds scattered far and wide.
- Sky Bet now make Higgins their 8/11 favourite. Where do I sign?
Williams has ditched the water for a pint of Fanta by the looks of it.
I usually save my Fanta drinking for warmer climates but they tell me it's been a scorcher out in the real world today.
Williams sticks on the pack and has to play safe.
Cat and mouse with both players retreating behind or near the black.
Williams forced into taking on a near impossible pot to the middle and it very nearly drops. Might well have done so with a little bit less pace.
Superb positional shot from Higgins to retrieve ideal position.
Whisper it quietly but Higgins might just be finding his range.
53 not out.
Almost jogging round the table now, Higgins. Can he make a hundred?
The crowd want one.
No Joe Root from Higgins as he brings up a quite brilliant hundred in fine style.
A total clearance of 127. Stunning.
Awesome response from Higgins. What a champion.
Poor break-off from Higgins. Looking a bit miffed, too.
Higgins needs some swerve to make a pot to middle. Goes wrong.
Never mind swerve, where's his verve?
Red, blue, red, black. Higgins needs to make this mount.
51 and out. And I'm not talking about Joe Root.
Has Higgins found a plant? A three-ball one.
He didn't fancy it. Looked on to me.
Higgins putting a few reds safe now. Not sure anything is safe with Williams about.
And sure enough, Williams sinks a long red. Higgins all over the place at the moment.
Williams misses an easy red on 22 but Higgins left nothing to go at.
Higgins misses from distance and the balls have gone very scrappy now.
Too many misses to list but they keep missing.
Higgins finds a tremendous pot but the white rolls into the other bottom pocket. Some game.
Williams rattles the jaws from distance. Higgins needs to finish this frame off.
Hard going but Higgins does enough.
A cheeky double to start from Williams but a thin cut-back black fails to drop.
Higgins misses a tough red to middle. Very close.
Red black from Williams but only a safety to follow.
Higgins in and 22 and counting.
Bad miss from Higgins to middle. Nothing for Williams to go at, though.
Outrageous pot from Higgins. White tight on the cushion and sinks the red into the heart of the pocket.
Higgins breaks down when a split into the pack goes wrong. 24 and end of break. Just can't get going, Higgins.
Poor safety from the Scot and Williams floats a red into the middle.
Williams on the counter attack. His touch really is something else.
This is going to hurt Higgins.
6-3 to Wales.
Welcome back from the Crucible Theatre where the second session of the World Snooker Championship final is only minutes away.
The first session was a strange one with Mark Williams taking a 4-0 lead despite not making a break over fifty.
Higgins was ragged by his own high standards but managed to win three of the last four frames and will probably be the happier man heading into tonight.
Don't forget, Sky Bet are offering in-play betting on the match here.
Which way is your money going?
The excitement is building here. I fancy Higgins to come back strongly tonight.
Rob Walker does his stuff and the crowd get noisy.
Mark Williams out first. Yes, it's Tom Jones again...
I might send him some Van Morrison for his summer holidays.
And here comes The Pride Of Scotland. He looks ready for this.
Fine fightback from Higgins who looked in big trouble when trailing 4-0.
Another exhibition of his mental toughness and having finished the session strongly, he'll surely fancy the job tonight.
They players are back at 7pm, as am I, so please join me then.
Williams in first but runs out of position on 21.
Balls everywhere but Higgins with his hand on the table.
He'll be delighted if he can take this frame.
Work still to do but Higgins keeps potting them.
Higgins pulls off another double and that could be enough.
Williams snookered when needing one himself.
And Higgins seals the frame.
He knows he's had a result there from 4-0 down.
Higgins starts with a peach of a long red.
He'll be desperate to get out of this session only 5-3 in arrears.
Five reds, five blacks...
Higgins forced to take the blue now but he remains in good position.
End of break on 46 but Higgins with a healthy lead.
Higgins picks out a double and is now only a few pots away from his second frame.
A run of 52 and Higgins closes the gap to three frames.
Huge final frame of the session coming up.
Brilliant pot to middle from Williams with a cannon on the red leaving him perfectly placed on the black.
William unlucky when going into the reds and he's forced to retreat to the balk cushion.
38-0 a handy advantage, though.
Higgins miles wide with an attempted long red and Williams cruising towards 5-1.
Williams past fifty now, his highest break of the match so far.
95 clearance and Higgins left with plenty to ponder.
That will have done Higgins the power of good.
Interesting that Williams' top break in the match is only 42, yet he leads 4-1.
Williams breaks off in frame five.
The struggle continue for Higgins; superb shot to nothing comes off but the roll up to the brown just fails to reach its intended target.
Higgins quick to tell the referee. Great sportsmanship.
Red to middle from Higgins and he looks to get going again.
34 and counting from Higgins.
Black still tied up but he keeps chipping away.
Great effort this, black still tied up but Higgins over the winning line and finally gets a frame on the board.
Ton up from Higgins, a clearance of 119 to be exact.
I'm not sure any of us saw that coming.
4-0 to Mark Williams at the mid-session interval with John Higgins reeling badly on the ropes.
Don't forget, it was Williams who endured the late finish last night and it is Higgins who was expected to be the fresher of two this afternoon.
Strange game at the times.
Sublime long pot from Williams and he's in again.
That visit only worth 14, though, and Higgins with another chance to impose himself on the match.
48 and counting from the Scot. Still early days but this feels like a big moment.
A kick on the red stops Higgins in his tracks. He looks distraught.
Williams up and out of his chair in a flash.
The jaws rattle with Williams edging towards 4-0.
55-52 with 35 remaining.
Higgins with a golden opportunity but he's struggling to control the white.
And he over cuts the green.
Huge steal for Williams.
4-0 to the Welshman.
Higgins rocking in the Crucible as they head to the mid-session interval.
Williams' three-ball plant in frame two.
Williams begins the frame by taking some sweets from a member of the crowd. Maybe he needs a sugar rush.
The Welshman finds another long red but no position to follow.
And again. Another long red but unlucky with position.
He takes a few Minstrels from the crowd now.
Higgins can't get a sniff and he misses a long red.
Now he's away. Plenty on here if he can find his touch.
Worrying signs for the Scot who somehow manages to lose the white before missing a tricky red when hampered.
42 from Williams but still hope for Higgins until a missed red allows Williams to extend his lead.
Higgins snookered and in a spot of bother.
Williams off and running.
27-0 Williams as the players get tactical.
Incredible. Williams picks out a three-ball plant into the green pocket. Where does he get them from?
Williams misses a black off the spot and Higgins finally with a chance to get his hand on the table.
Only 14 before Higgins is back playing safe.
More scrappy stuff and Williams misses a sitter of a pink.
Higgins in off after potting pink with the rest and Williams seals the second frame with another long red.
Higgins yet to get going.
First punch landed by the Welshman.
Don't forget Sky Bet are offering live betting on the match here.
Some safety to begin with before Williams sinks a long red and drops perfectly on the black.
Williams runs out of position on 37 and can't make a tricky cut-back red. No damage done, though.
Williams looking sharp despite his late finish.
Apparently he was eating a kebab at 2.30 this morning. What a character.
Early tester for Higgins and he doesn't miss out.
A missed black from Higgins and Williams left with a great chance.
More early nerves as Williams misses a red along the bottom cushion.
Fear not, a terrific long red from the Welshman and he takes the opening frame.
Hello and welcome to live coverage from Sheffield as John Higgins and Mark Williams are only minutes away from the final of Snooker's blue riband.
We have two sessions of snooker to be played today, with two more tomorrow, after which the 2018 world champion will be crowned.
Will it be a fifth world title for Higgins or a third for Williams?
Read my preview here while we wait for the action to get underway.
Steve Davis is in the arena now talking about the incredible achievements of both players to reach another Crucible final despite their advancing years.
Quite right, too. Maybe life does begin at 40.
I've got goosebumps by the way. What a great game snooker is.
The players are ready and Rob Walker is doing his stuff.
The crowd going wild.
Williams walks out to Tom Jones. The Welsh...
And now Higgins. Smiles on his face. He's ready for this.
A warm handshake between the players.
Let's get ready to rumble.