Players Championship
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Mark Allen prevails in Players Championship

Mark Allen won a hard-fought Players Championship final with a 10-8 victory over Zhang Anda on Sunday in Telford.

In a turgid affair that was bereft of attacking quality throughout, Allen eventually reached the winning line to claim an 11th career ranking title.

It’s the second of the campaign for the Northern Irishman, who captured the Snooker Shoot Out in December.

Allen also triumphed in the invitational Champion of Champions, taking his tally of silverware to three for the second successive season.

The 38 year-old looked to be in a spot of bother in the final when he lost the first three frames.

But he fought back to share the opening salvo of the afternoon session, leaving things delicately poised heading into the evening bout of play.

A drawn out sequence of exchanges followed, with high breaks at a premium and both players struggling to gain any foothold in the fixture.

After taking turns in the ascendancy, the pair entered the last mid-session interval with the scores all square again at 6-6.

Allen regained the lead in the next frame with a break of 64 – one of only two breaks about 50 he compiled in the entire contest.

When he made it 8-6, it looked like it was only a matter of time before the favourite would get the job done.

But time it took, with Zhang winning two out of the next three scrappy frames to remain in the hunt.

The 34 year-old, chasing a second ranking title to add to his earlier success this season in the International Championship, needed the champion’s cheque to break into the top eight of the world rankings.

That would have seen Zhang gain an invite to the upcoming Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker in Saudi Arabia.

However, it was Allen who collected the jackpot top prize with the Antrim man controlling the 18th frame to seal glory.

Mark Allen earned £125,000 for capturing the Players Championship title. To be in with a chance of winning some money of your own, check out this list of Online Slots websites that provide the best free spins offers and sign-up bonuses.

“I’m not quite sure how I won that this week,” Mark Allen said after completing his Players Championship victory.

“I started off really well against [Mark] Williams and just got progressively worse.”

“I hung in there, played some good safety and potted some good balls when it mattered.

“I was fortunate that Zhang didn’t play as well as he has done, but I’m sitting here with the trophy and that’s all that matters.

“As the match went on he missed a few he hadn’t done and looked a little bit tired. That is understandable.

“It was a late finish against Mark Selby last night. It takes everything out of you playing him.

“The way Zhang is playing, he is going to be about for a long time to come. He is a dangerous opponent.

“There is a big six or seven weeks to come. To go in there off the back of another tournament win is something to be positive with.

“If I can just find a bit more comfort in my technique I can be dangerous in these last few tournaments.

“Everyone knows that I can win without playing well. It would be nice to find some form.”

Although he stays as the world number three on the official rankings list, Allen is poised to take top spot by the end of this term.

Indeed, he boasts a buffer of more than £200,000 in the provisional end-of-season standings.

While he didn’t produce his A-game in this title-deciding affair, the fact he saw it through to lift the silverware aloft once again highlighted his stock as a proven winner on the tour.


2024 Players Championship draw

Round of 16 (bo11)

Judd Trump 6-2 Chris Wakelin
Tom Ford 2-6 Ali Carter

Mark Williams 3-6 Mark Allen
Gary Wilson 6-4 Hossein Vafaei

Zhang Anda 6-5 Noppon Saengkham
Ding Junhui 4-6 John Higgins

Barry Hawkins 3-6 Mark Selby
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-2 Zhou Yuelong

Quarter-Finals (bo11)

Judd Trump 4-6 Ali Carter
Mark Allen 6-4 Gary Wilson

Zhang Anda 6-4 John Higgins
Mark Selby 6-0 Ronnie O’Sullivan

Semi-Finals (bo11)

Ali Carter 3-6 Mark Allen
Zhang Anda 6-5 Mark Selby

Final (bo19)

Mark Allen 10-8 Zhang Anda


Featured photo credit: WST

6 Comments

  1. Jakob Kidde Sauntved

    Dissappointing final, been a while since we’ve had a good one.

  2. Daniel White

    Barry Hearn needs to watch the last two Sundays worth of finals! For a sporting spectacle they were poor. For a snooker completists they had nervy edgy vibes but as pure sporting entertainment they have been lacking.
    If Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy and Judd Trump all got permanently stuck in a lift it would be very difficult to “sell” snooker to anyone but the avid fan in this country based on what the rest of the tour is putting up.
    Unfortunately 5 of those 6 are getting on in years and aren’t exactly beacons of consistency, one way or another, as things stand.

    • There’s no doubt the last two finals have been disappointing viewing. I wouldn’t agree that this is too common for finals though.

      It’s also hard to criticise Allen for adopting a more pragmatic approach when he’s just won three tournaments in a season two campaigns running. He has developed a Selby-esque ability to win when far off his best game.

      • Daniel White

        I agree about the effectiveness of Mark Allen’s play and the comparison to Mark Selby as well. You can’t criticise something that is so effective on its own terms but it isn’t endearing to casual fans or potential fans as far as I can tell.
        As for the last two finals being underwhelming, I think that I was aiming for a broader observation on the attractiveness and entertainment of pro snooker in the UK and how dependent it is on half a dozen players, 5 of whom are past their 40th birthdays. If Luca Brecel can snap out of his malaise he would be able to build up a brand of his own as a player to draw crowds in, ATM though it looks like a handful of old stagers, plus Judd Trump, are keeping up the “mass” entertainment stakes in quality and style of play and stage performance.

        • The lack of UK talent coming through us a concern but I see Si Jiahui becoming a new big star and gradually talent may emerge from continental Europe to supplement China’s conveyor belt of gifted cueists.

  3. Allen wins a 20th career title. He now moves into outright 11th on the all-time list of ranking event winners, sitting one win behind his good friend Shaun Murphy.

    Allen has won all six career finals where he’s faced a Chinese opponent. Four of his last five ranking finals have seen him defeat a Chinese player.

    He becomes the fourth player after O’Sullivan, Trump and Murphy to win the Player’s Championship twice.

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