Mark Selby, represented by Scott Edwards, won the inaugural Virtual Betfred World Championship, beating John Higgins 3-2 in the final.
The new tournament featured 16 of the best gamers from snooker’s official video game Snooker 19, each representing one of the sport’s top 16 players.
Edwards steered Selby to victory and his prize includes a trip to the actual Crucible Theatre in Sheffield to receive the trophy. He knocked out Ding Junhui, Neil Robertson and Mark Williams to reach the final, before getting the better of a dramatic clash with Higgins, who was represented by Belgium’s Benny de Nayer.
After losing the opening frame at the virtual Crucible, Selby took the second with an excellent break of 92. Higgins regained the lead with a run of 65, then Selby’s 74 clearance in frame four made it 2-2.
Both players had chances in a marathon 70-minute decider. The key moment came when Selby, leading 57-43, trapped his opponent in a tough snooker with two reds remaining. From the chance that followed, Selby built a lead of 33 points which proved enough.
"I am just relieved because it was such a tough match, and the last frame was incredible," said Edwards. "It was draining but I had set my mind on keeping it safe and waiting for him to make a mistake. I ground it out in the end."
Selby himself, a three-time world champion, sent a message to Edwards: "I watched it from start to finish and thought you played really well in the final. It was nerve-racking towards the end, a lot like my games! I hope we can meet at the World Championship if it goes ahead so I can say congratulations in person."
The tournament ran on the original dates of the Betfred World Championship, with matches broadcast on WST’s YouTube and Facebook channels. WST, Ripstone and Lab42 teamed up to run the virtual tournament, which featured gamers competing on PlayStation 4 consoles.
As well as a trip to the Crucible, which may happen next year if this year’s event is played behind closed doors, Edwards’ prize package also includes a cue signed by the world’s top professionals and a copy of the Snooker 19 Gold Edition on PS4.
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