Mark Allen
Finals, Snooker News

Players Championship Victory for Allen

Mark Allen won his third ranking event after beating Ricky Walden 10-6 in the final of the Players Championship in Manchester on Sunday.

Mark Allen
Allen rises to number 6 in the world rankings – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos

It marks the first time that the 30 year-old has landed a full ranking event title in the UK following two previous victories at the World Open in China.

Allen also becomes the first Northern Irishman since Dennis Taylor’s famous 1985 World Championship triumph to claim a ranking event on UK soil.

The success avenges his defeat to Walden in the final of the 2014 International Championship in Chengdu.

At the outset of this encounter at Event City, it looked as though there might be a repeat of their previous showdown in China.

Despite taking the opening frame, Allen trailed 3-1 at the mid-session interval following a brace of 85 breaks from his opponent.

But where Walden looked confident in the opening exchanges, he then appeared equally tentative after the brief respite, losing a number of scrappy frame to see his lead evaporate.

It got worse for the 33 year-old from Chester, as Allen reeled off the last five frames of the opening session to establish a surprise 6-3 advantage.

A break of 52 was enough for Allen to extend his cushion upon the evening’s resumption, before Walden battled back with breaks of 62 and 92.

By winning the 13th frame on the black Walden offered hope of a revival as he drew to within just one frame at 6-7.

However, Allen stopped the rot in the next frame before controlling the last two with runs of 61 and 67 to secure the victory and ¬£100,000 winner’s cheque.

It’s a great achievement for Allen, who after almost a decade has finally realised one of his dreams of being able to win in front of a large home audience.

With ITV4 broadcasting it across Ireland and Britain, Allen’s stature in the game will have grown with extra meaning – in good time too with the Crucible now firmly on the horizon.

Allen has been criticised in the past for not translating his obvious talent into more sustained success but perhaps this moment will provide him with the confidence he needs to progress and capture at least one of the sport’s majors.

While in the past Allen has been the one to let leads slip away from him as his challenge prematurely fades in events, on this occasion he was the one forcing the issue, remaining calm as his challenger wilted under the pressure.

In both the semi-final against Shaun Murphy and the final, Allen came from behind in the early stages when it would have been equally possible to let things run away from him.

This determination to be victorious at all costs, coupled with the fact that he didn’t even really produce his A-game this week, should stand him in good stead in the future.

For Walden, it’ll be disappointment for somebody who was also seeking to collect his maiden silverware in the UK.

However, it remained a positive tournament for a player who had previously been knocked out in the early rounds of every event bar one this campaign.

Overall, the Players Championship came and went with a medium degree of success.

There were plenty of enjoyable encounters but it was just a shame that not many fans were at the venue up until the semi-finals.

Many have alluded to the fact that Event City is difficult to get to, which begs the question as to why it was chosen in the first place.

The atmosphere was better when the arena was packed for the final but if it’s going to be more than half empty on weekdays then there are plenty of other options in the UK and throughout Europe for staging high-profile tournaments.

Next stop is Beijing for the China Open, which believe it or not is already under way.

Click here to view the China Open draw.

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  1. Pete Farrelly

    I find it totally unbelievable that a major event can start literally within 5 hours of the previous major event coming to a conclusion, and even more staggering that it is on the other side of the world. This must have an impact on the players that reached the latter stages of the Manchester event. There MUST be a better way………

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