The Rocket dominated the final day, winning seven of the eight frames in the afternoon session and then sealing a resounding victory with a 96 break in the first frame of the evening.
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Victory moves him level with Ray Reardon and his hero Steve Davis on six world titles, one shy of Stephen Hendry's record of seven. He also surpasses Hendry at the top of the all-time list of ranking event wins with 37 titles.
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"When I was a kid I never dreamed I would be here," said O'Sullivan, who last won the title in 2013.
I played for the fun of the game and I still try to play for the fun of it. To be here and to have all those victories is a dream. It’s becoming a bit of a reality so it’s nice to be living the dream.
Ronnie O'Sullivan on 'snooker god moment' against Mark Selby after sixth World Championship title
O'Sullivan went into the final session of the match leading 17-8 following a one-sided afternoon, which was watched by around 300 fans.
He needed less than 10 minutes to wrap things up as a break of 96 sealed victory over Wilson, who was competing in his first World Championship final.
White: O'Sullivan will want the record
At the age of 44 - and apparently feeling as fit as ever - O'Sullivan appears to have ample time to equal or surpass Hendry's record of seven world titles.
While he wouldn't be drawn on talk of records after the win, Eurosport's Jimmy White thinks O'Sullivan will be keen to make history.
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"He’s just a class act - 27 years since he won his first, that’s incredible. He will now be back to try and equal Hendry’s record and go one better. He will be after the records for sure," said White on Eurosport.
"As soon as he found his game and got his scoring boots on there was only one winner. Mark Selby will be kicking himself a bit because he had him in all sorts of trouble, Mark Williams had him in trouble at 6-2, but he survived those matches and the rest is history.
"He has played flawless snooker at times and when you do that your opponent can only admire your brilliance."
Third session report
Wilson, who trailed 8-2 at one point on Saturday, took the first frame of the afternoon session on the back of a fine 73 to cut the arrears to 10-8, but the Kettering cueist passed up a golden opportunity to apply further pressure to O’Sullivan in the 19th frame.
Wilson looked primed to cut the arrears to one after the Rocket had run out of position with 53 on the scoreboard, but the 28-year-old - with the table open - missed a rudimentary pink to the left centre pocket to allow the five-time champion back in to re-open a three-frame lead. It proved to be a momentum shifting moment.
It was dominant yet far from vintage O’Sullivan from there, but it need not be against an increasingly out-of-sorts Wilson as the 44-year-old added runs of 61, 57, 60, 71 and 70 to win the next six frames – winning seven of the eight on offer in the penultimate session – to move within one frame of a sixth world title.
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Second session report
O'Sullivan held a 6-2 advantage following an error-strewn afternoon session on Saturday, but he and Wilson continued to struggle at the table in the evening. 2010 world champion Neil Robertson, watching from home, even offered up an excuse for the players, saying it was the 'worst he's ever seen a one table set up play," blaming an unsuitable cloth in humid conditions.
Yet O'Sullivan managed to extend his lead to six frames. Wilson threw away a 53-point lead in the first frame of the session and then gifted the second to O'Sullivan too after missing an easy black.
But the Warrior finally came to life to kick off a remarkable comeback. He pulled one frame back with a run of 92 before reducing the deficit to four once more after winning another marathon frame littered with errors.
Wilson made it three in a row after the break, playing by far the better snooker as a lacklustre O'Sullivan struggled to stay at the table for more than a minute. A run of 58 then helped the underdog to go within two.
Kyren Wilson knocks in vital century against Ronnie O'Sullivan
Now just 8-6 up, O'Sullivan finally found some form to take a closely-fought frame and bring Wilson's run of four consecutive frames to an end.
Unfazed, Wilson responded with a fantastic century, but O'Sullivan took the last frame of the session after Wilson missed a crucial, frame-ball red.
After falling six behind, Wilson will be delighted to remain within touching distance heading into the final day.
What drama! Kyren Wilson misses crucial red and Ronnie O'Sullivan cleans up
First session report
O'Sullivan took a quick first frame but Wilson showed guts to level despite falling 44 behind, grinding his way through a tough second frame to get on the scoreboard.
But the underdog slipped in the third to let O'Sullivan in, who made no mistake to make it 2-1 before doubling that lead with a break of 75 before the mid-session interval.
Neither player was anywhere near their best as the afternoon session continued as they struggled to build big breaks while making a series of elementary errors.
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The Rocket then fluffed an easy safety to let Wilson pull one back for 3-2 with a break of 63, but the low standard of play suited the Rocket who was able to steal frames whenever Wilson made mistakes at the table.
He regained a two-frame lead in the sixth after Wilson missed an easy red, and then hit the first century of the match to go 5-2 up.
O'Sullivan then made a litany of errors in a marathon eighth frame and was visibly shocked at his own performance, but nerves got the better of Wilson who failed to capitalise and the Rocket took the scrappiest of frames to make it 6-2 ahead of the evening session.