Ronnie O'Sullivan produced a fabulous display of snooker to lead Mark Allen 6-2 after the first session of the final of the UK Championship in York.
O'Sullivan is bidding to lift the UK Championship for a record seventh time and become the first player in the history of the game to win 19 Triple Crown events.
However, this year's Masters winner, Allen, has enjoyed another terrific season and drew first blood here, holding his nerve to clear to the pink after O'Sullivan had seemed likely to take a tense opening frame.
O'Sullivan responded in fabulous style, a break of 101 drawing him level, but Allen quickly re-established his lead with a typically brisk break of 74.
The pair went to the mid-session interval locked at 2-2 after O'Sullivan knocked in a break of 85 but a breathtaking display of snooker from The Rocket upon the resumption left the match firmly in his favour and with one hand seemingly on the trophy.
Breaks of 54 and 66 helped O'Sullivan dominate frame five and more stunning long-potting and masterful break-building saw him take a two frame lead at 4-2 thanks to a run of 57.
A scrappy seventh frame - one of the few of the afternoon - went O'Sullivan's way courtesy of more brilliant long potting and he capped a fine couple of hours work when closing out frame eight with a break of 65.
O'Sullivan left the arena to a standing ovation from a crowd that had been treated to a stunning session of snooker while Allen made his exit knowing he will need to find the performance of a lifetime this evening in order to claw his way back into the match.
Play resumes at 1900 GMT.