Luca Brecel's Best Long Pots | 2023 Cazoo World Championship

Top Seed Allen Floored By Ding

Ding has been at the Crucible every year since 2007 and wants to avoid having to go through qualifying this time

Ding Junhui, who earned a place in the Duelbits Tour Championship by the narrowest of margins, knocked out top seed Mark Allen by a 10-5 scoreline, boosting his hopes of a Crucible berth.

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China’s Ding would have missed out on a place in Hull if Gary Wilson had won one more frame at last week’s WST Classic, but Wilson’s 5-4 semi-final defeat against Pang Junxu meant that he finished just £500 behind Ding on the one-year ranking list. So Ding progressed to this week’s elite eight-man event for the first time, and took full advantage with a fine display against Allen, making a century and nine more breaks over 50.

The result means that if Ryan Day loses to Mark Selby on Thursday, Ding will be among the top 16 seeded players at the Crucible next month. If Day wins, then Ding would need to win one more match. He’ll face Ali Carter or Kyren Wilson in the semi-finals on Friday.

Today’s tussle was a repeat of November’s UK Championship final, which Allen won 10-7. The Northern Irishman has landed three titles this season, though has suffered a dip in form in recent weeks, and in fact it was Ding who came into the tie with a more recent taste of silverware, having won the Six Red World Championship this month.

From 2-0 down, Ding took five of the next six frames in the first session to open up a 5-3 lead. That soon became 6-3 as he made a break of 91 in the first frame of the evening session, then he stole a crucial tenth frame by clearing from the last red. Allen might have pulled one back but missed the final green to a centre pocket in the 11th and again Ding punished him for 8-3.

Allen took two of the next three frames to restore some respectability to the scoreline at 9-5, but Ding then wrapped up the result with a run of 95.

“I played well all day, I was very focussed and took my chances well,” said 35-year-old Ding.” I was fighting hard. Winning the Six Red has given me confidence. It’s great to win a match like this. Mark might be tired because he has won so many tournaments. If he had played tonight like he did in the UK Championship second session I would have been in big trouble. He had big chances and it could have been different if he had taken them.

“I am not focussed on the Crucible. I am just trying to win more matches to get in to the top 16, but it doesn’t matter whether that happens fast or slowly. I am just happy to win the match today.”

Allen, who could have gone to the top of the world rankings for the first time in his career if he had won the tournament, said: “It’s disappointing, I didn’t play my best stuff. It was a bad day at the office. I wasn’t good enough, you get days like that. Credit to Ding because he scored better than me and looked more composed. There’s no need to panic, I have had a great season, there’s a lot to be positive about. I will get ready for Sheffield now. I am looking forward to seeing what kind of animal I can be at the Crucible this time after such a good season.”