Ahead of the upcoming World Championship, let’s have a look at how the top 16 seeds have been getting on during the interrupted 2019/20 campaign.
Mark Allen’s season has seen the Northern Irishman rise to a career-high of number four in the official world rankings.
Yet, despite several appearances in the latter stages of tournaments, the 34 year-old hasn’t been able to acquire any silverware to show for his general consistency.
Six semi-final defeats throughout the term prior to the enforced coronavirus lockdown were finally bettered upon the resumption of play when he reached the final of the lucrative Tour Championship behind closed doors in Milton Keynes.
Allen’s loss to Stephen Maguire at the Marshall Arena extended his barren run to a year and a half.
Still, it hasn’t been for a lack of trying, and that the Antrim man has often been there or thereabouts bodes reasonably well for his chances at the Crucible in a few weeks times.
That being said, apart from his most recent display last month, Mark Allen’s season has somewhat been a tale of two halves.
Up until Christmas, the former Masters champion reached the last four stage in four ranking events – the International Championship, English Open, UK Championship, and Scottish Open – in addition to featuring at the penultimate round in both the Shanghai Masters and the Champion of Champions.
But since failing to qualify for both the German and European Masters, Allen’s form took a dip with much earlier exits in most of the competitions coming at the start of the year.
Having long been a streaky player, it’s hard to predict what kind of Allen will turn up to Sheffield for the upcoming World Championship.
A disappointing record at the Crucible means that he has only once reached the quarter-finals in the last eight years.
Although he’ll still have to wait and see which qualifier he ends up getting paired with in the opening round, Allen will likely be quietly pleased with his quarter of the draw.
The unpredictable and inconsistent Jack Lisowski could be a second-round opponent, with an ageing John Higgins and David Gilbert the other seeded competitors in the same quarter.
It’s unusual for a player of Allen’s stature to have never made a proper stab at world glory, and while time isn’t running out just yet, he would want to start challenging sooner rather than later if he plans to achieve his ultimate goal in the sport.