The 16 Seeds: Mark Allen
Continuing our series of Cazoo World Championship previews.
By Phil Yates
Seed 3: Mark Allen
History shows triumphing at the game’s leading international amateur events is no guarantee of sustained success in the paid ranks but Mark Allen enjoyed a seamless transition.
His first two professional matches yielded wins over Steve Davis and John Higgins. The dye was cast.
That said, it took seven years for Allen to capture the first of his nine ranking titles at the 2012 World Open.
Allen’s also collected two pieces of Triple Crown silverware, firstly at the 2018 Masters, and undoubtedly has the credentials to shine on the highest profile stage of all.
In terms of ranking points earned, Allen has lapped the field during what has developed into his most profitable campaign.
Runner-up in the British Open was followed by a rousing defence of his Northern Ireland Open crown and his comeback from 6-1 down to beat Ding Junhui 10-7 in a gripping climax to the UK Championship.
Roles were reversed in the World Grand Prix final as Allen moved 7-2 up against Judd Trump, was pegged back to 9-9 but dramatically completed a notable hat-trick.
Allen will journey from Antrim to south Yorkshire stationed a career high third in the world. Total prize money for his most golden season is already £573,250. Impressive in both regards.
Given his tenacity, precise cue-ball control, and ability to hold his nerve under pressure, some say Allen should have done more at the Crucible since debuting in 2007.
An ever present since, he has stumbled at the first hurdle five times, his deepest involvement, a run to the semi-finals 13 long years ago.
On that occasion, his stirring 13-11 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last 16 underlined Allen’s potential to emulate Alex Higgins and Dennis Taylor as a Crucible king from Northern Ireland.
Since then, though, Allen’s Sheffield productivity has been low – three quarter-finals in his 13 most recent visits.
Previous Crucible appearances: 16
Matches played: 32
Matches won: 16
Crucible centuries: 50
Will the real Mark Allen step forward?
On the face of it, Allen is entitled to be among the chief contenders and the £500,000 first prize which would propel him to world number one.
Yet, since leaving Cheltenham clutching the World Grand Prix trophy, his form has plummeted. Playing at an appreciably slower pace than usual, less fluent, more circumspect, Allen has downgraded from victorious to vulnerable.
At his devastating peak, Allen is all-conquering. On the evidence of recent tournaments, a first round exit would not overly shock.
Mark one or Mark two – take your pick.
Bookmakers’ odds on Allen: 14/1