It was the Northern Irishman’s first tournament victory on the Main Tour in almost two years.
Mark Allen produced an excellent performance to win the 2020 Champion of Champions title with a 10-6 victory over Neil Robertson on Sunday.
In what was a repeat of the 2015 final, Allen generally controlled the contest after winning the opening frame with a century break.
Robertson, the reigning champion who was bidding for a record-equalling third crown in the prestigious invitational, immediately responded with a ton of his own and was again on level terms when a couple of additional hundred-plus contributions later restored parity at 4-4.
But Allen crucially won the last frame of the first session to take a deserved 5-4 advantage into the evening’s play, and try as Robertson did to then stay in touch, the Antrim man was always at least one step in front.
A break of 84 upon the resumption of play helped Allen to a 6-4 lead before Robertson twice pulled his arrears back to within one.
After the last mid-session interval, though, it was one-way traffic as Allen shifted through the gears with breaks of 119, 70, and 105 taking him to the winning line in style.
A tournament in which invitations are usually reserved for the previous year’s winners on the circuit, Allen only received the nod to compete as a top-up on the basis of his high ranking position.
Any doubts surrounding the justification of his place among the line-up were quelled by his displays in the last three rounds at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
Before beating the defending champion, Allen overcame world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in a feisty last-eight tie before a 6-1 thrashing of Judd Trump in the last four – meaning the 34 year-old dispatched of the world numbers one, two, and three en route to glory.
Other than his notable triumph in the Masters, this 2020 Champion of Champions title probably represents Allen’s biggest achievement of his career.
There are no ranking points on offer, but this silverware has become one of the most prized on the calendar and the £150,000 champion’s cheque is among the richest available.
Allen, who has been a consistent force at the business end of events for a number of years without actually acquiring the number of trophies that his play possibly merits, will have renewed confidence ahead of the remainder of this campaign.
Whether he will be able to overcome that final hurdle to become one of the regular winners and a member of the very highest echelons alongside the likes of Robertson, Trump, O’Sullivan, and Mark Selby remains to be seen.
🏆 “To finally win one, it makes all those losses worthwhile!”
An ecstatic Mark Allen reflects on an epic week of snooker, taking home the £150,000 winners’ cheque, and the title of @888sport Champion of Champions!
— Champion Of Champions (@ChampOfChamps) November 8, 2020
For Robertson, the Australian has now suffered a reverse in each of the two title-deciding fixtures he’s participated in this term.
The 38 year-old’s scoring was in full flow as usual, but he bemoaned his below-average safety play that provided his opponent with more opportunities than normal.
Still, Robertson is a constant force at these latterly stages of events and he’ll quickly dust off the disappointment of this defeat ahead of the next event on the schedule.
That, in fact, will be the Northern Ireland Open, which unfortunately for local hero Allen will not be on home soil – instead taking place once more in Milton Keynes.
Featured photo credit: @ChampOfChamps