If timing is the key to success in life, Mark Allen has unlocked the door at just the right moment.
The Irish snooker ace had not been enjoying the best of seasons up until the Champion of Champions event, but something clicked for the 37-year-old there and he ended up hoisting the trophy – beating the in-form Judd Trump in the final.
And with two of the most prestigious tournaments in the sport, the UK Championship and The Masters, coming up in December and January, Allen could not have timed his return to his confident best any better.
With an excellent record in the majors, it’s no wonder that Allen finds himself so prominent in the snooker betting for the sport’s blue riband events.
The snooker UK Championship odds make the Irishman a +1200 chance to successfully defend the title he won so superbly 12 months ago, with Trump (+400), Ronnie O’Sullivan (+500) and Mark Selby (+800) those expected to provide the stiffest competition.
But Allen has made the tournament, held annually at the Barbican Centre in York, England, his own in recent years, with that triumph in 2022 following two other final appearances in the event.
A winner of The Masters in 2018, Allen is now two-thirds of the way to snooker’s ‘triple crown’ of majors, which also includes the one they all want to win: the World Championship.
That will have to wait until April, because the more immediate concern is the UK Championship – a title Allen won in extraordinary fashion in 2022.
After defeating Kyren Wilson and Jack Lisowski, amongst others, in the earlier rounds, Allen’s final opponent was the resurgent Ding Junhui – and the man from China was not slow in getting to work.
Ding opened up a 6-1 lead in a race to ten frames, meaning that he really ought to have been out of sight heading into the evening session.
But Allen showcased all of his battling qualities to rally and level the scoreline at 6-6, before romping into a 9-7 lead. He made no mistake in the 17th frame to clinch the most remarkable comeback victory.
He’ll be hoping for a repeat in 2023… albeit in rather more straightforward circumstances.
Making Snooker Great Again
As his namesake Donald gears up for another presidential election campaign, Judd Trump has been busy establishing himself as the top don of world snooker.
The left-hander lost in the final of the European Masters earlier this year, before embarking on the kind of run that any professional athlete dreams of – three tournaments entered, three trophies hoisted.
Trump overcame his old nemesis John Higgins in the semi-finals of the English Open, before besting Zhang Anda 9-7 in the final – a game which the man from China led 7-3 before Trump overturned the deficit with some outrageous snooker to win six frames in a row.
A week later, Trump found himself in China for the Wuhan Open, and while the continent had changed the outcome remained the same: the 34-year-old beating the likes of former World Championship finalists Barry Hawkins and Ali Carter on his way to the title.
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) October 30, 2023
Only four players – Ray Reardon, Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ding – have won three consecutive ranking titles, but Trump is now in that illustrious company after adding the Northern Ireland Open to his collection in October.
The left-hander overcame the ever-difficult Stephen Maguire and Hawkins on his way to the final against surprise package Chris Wakelin, where Trump’s class told in a 9-3 victory.
If timing really is the key to success in sport and in life, Trump and Allen have peaked with Swiss precision ahead of the UK Championship and The Masters.