Mark Allen and Stuart Bingham will face each other in the second round of the 2023 World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.
This season for Mark Allen
At one point during the 2022/23 campaign, it looked as though Mark Allen might be on course to break a few records.
Such was his dominance between October and January, the Northern Irishman reached four ranking finals in quick succession – winning three of them.
That sequence included lucrative triumphs in the UK Championship and the World Grand Prix, helping him rise to a career-high ranking of number three in the world.
While the Pistol has been enormously successful this season, it’s questionable whether or not he has actually produced his A-game, instead relying on a patient dogged mentality to win at all cost.
Allen has lost a bit of that winning formula since January, leading to concerns that he might have maxed out on his season.
He openly admits to his poor record at the Crucible, with just one semi-final appearance in Sheffield to his name.
This season for Stuart Bingham
It’s a good thing Stuart Bingham reached the semi-finals of the World Snooker Championship two years ago.
Without those ranking points, which will soon be deducted from his tally under the two-year rolling system, there is no way he’d be a top 16 seed this year.
Bingham boasts just one quarter-final appearance in a ranking event this term, meaning his provisional end-of-season ranking is as low as number 24.
That is a more accurate reflection of the former world champion’s current form, and the 46 year-old will have to channel his inner 2015 self if he’s to end the campaign on a high note.
Bingham’s highlight of a forgettable 2022/23 season was at the Masters when he beat Kyren Wilson and Shaun Murphy en route to the last four.
What happened in the first round?
Allen was one of four players who were affected by the unusual protests on Monday, although after a brief suspension of play his first-round game was able to resume.
The Pistol compiled a brace of century breaks in the second session to eventually beat Fan Zhengyi with a relatively convincing 10-5 scoreline.
At the weekend, Bingham recovered from a slow start to pummel an out-of-sorts David Gilbert 10-4 and reach the second round for a fifth consecutive year.
Mark Allen and Stuart Bingham head-to-head
There was once a time when Allen and Bingham didn’t quite see eye to eye, but that rivalry is all in the past and they share a common respect for each other’s games now.
They have clashed 13 times in all competitions, but strangely their paths have not crossed since the 2019 Players Championship.
Allen boasts a superior 7-4 advantage (with two draws) having won the last three times they have played each other.
Their most notable showdown went the way of Bingham, however, with Ballrun claiming a Shanghai Masters glory at Allen’s expense in 2014.
The problem with Bingham’s victory over Gilbert was that he wasn’t tested at all.
In fact, Gilbert was so bad that it was all too easy for Bingham to take advantage of the numerous opportunities that were gifted to him.
Allen was given a sterner workout and has generally been the far better player of the two during the 2022/23 campaign.
The Antrim man’s Crucible record is definitely a cause for concern, but in the past he struggled with stamina during the 17-day slog.
Having shed several stone in weight since his appearance in 2022, Allen is better prepared to make a sustained charge at the title this year.
Prediction: Mark Allen 13-10 Stuart Bingham
Thursday, April 20th – 7pm
Friday, April 21st – 2:30pm
Saturday, April 22nd – 10am
Featured photo credit: WST