It’s a Young Man’s Game After All

Mark Allen won the Kay Suzanne Memorial Cup in Gloucester yesterday, making it back-to-back European Tour titles.

The Northern Irishman was rarely troubled throughout the weekend as he collected a second trophy in a month following his success in October’s Ruhr Open in Germany.

Allen overcame Judd Trump in the final 4-1 in what was still a good tournament for the Englishman as he finally refound some of his old form.

Allen’s biggest test came in the third round on Saturday when he was pushed all the way by Gary Wilson to a decider, where he compiled an excellent 116 century to advance to Sunday’s Finals Day.

Although he had tough battles with world no.1 Neil Robertson and International Championship semi-finalist Graeme Dott in the last eight and last 4 four respectively, Allen was never taken the distance again and was predominantly in control of all his contests.

The triumph earns the Antrim potter his third title in 2013 and fifth overall in his career since early 2012 when he was a ranking event champion for the first time at the World Open.

Snooker is a funny old game.

It wasn’t all that long ago when I was writing consistently on here as to how it was unlikely that one player would dominate in an era where the competition is so fierce.

Not only that, but we were becoming aware of the situation whereby the majority of the higher ranked players were in their mid-to-late thirties.

Well, these theories have been somewhat thrown by the wayside in recent months with the successes of Ding, 26, and now 27 year-old Allen.

This pair makes up two-thirds of only a trio of players under 30 inside the top 16 in the standings but both of them have between them won five out of the last seven tournaments carrying ranking points.

The third player in that triangle, 24 year-old Trump, was the beaten finalist at the Capital Venue this weekend while Jamie Jones, 25, narrowly lost to the former in the semi-finals.

Ding was defeated by Allen in Germany while 24 year-old Xiao Guodong and 28 year-old Aditya Mehta lost to the Chinese in the finals of the Shanghai Masters and Indian Open respectively.

Furthermore, Ding’s countryman Liang Wenbo, who is 26, beat Lu Haotian to win the third Asian Tour event of the campaign last month – a player who is 11 years Liang’s junior.

So after months of speculation that the sport wasn’t producing enough young talent, we learn that maybe snooker is a young man’s game after all.

Or maybe this is just a coincidence.

Either way, the increased number of younger players who are contesting the business end of tournaments can only be good for the game as it helps to freshen up the entertainment over the course of a long season.

Sadly, Allen and Ding have not been seeded in opposite sides of the draw for the upcoming UK Championship in York so there is to be no intriguing quest for bragging rights should both of them had continued their rich vein of form in runs to another final.

One of them might, though, and could well be joined by another young pretender to the throne.

As ever, we eagerly await to find out. 

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