Pistol proving he’s up there with the elite

Feb 26 / Snooker System
Mark Allen has always been good enough to win any title – but now he’s doing it on the regular and is without question one of the sport’s very elite players.

His 10-8 win against Zhang Anda last night secured him the Players Championship title in Telford and marked a third trophy of the campaign – which he’s now achieved two seasons in succession.

Few would argue that Allen was anywhere near his best and he even said as much in his winner’s speech but that only makes it more impressive. The Pistol has seemingly found a formula to compete and contest for the major prizes without hitting top form. Contrast this to the story of his early career where he was arguably capable of winning any title but only when he hit top form.

A lot of this comes down to maturity and experience on the table but also a mental fortitude to hang in there when things aren’t all plain sailing.

Allen is now up to 11 ranking titles; ahead of Jimmy White and now just one behind Shaun Murphy. He is ranked number three in the world but even more impressively, he’s provisionally expected to jump to top spot by the end of the season as it stands.

This proves that Allen is now well and truly among a very small cluster of elite players in the game right now. He is a handful for anyone and capable of really scrapping it out when it’s not going all his own way. This is an important strength at a time when there are so many great players battling for titles and there are so many events that it is difficult – if not impossible – to stay in form on a consistent basis.

The fact is Allen will hit form again very soon and at that point he becomes even more dangerous.

A lot was made of the quality of yesterday’s final which at times was quite a battle. Not least from the seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry in the commentary box. While it’s refreshing to hear things being called out for what they are, it’s important for context that we all remember what a difficult game this really is.

Hendry has played the game to the very highest level and is more than qualified to give his opinion, but are we forgetting how high the standard is now? Because it seems that every time we get a match which isn’t quite at that level, the outpouring is ferocious. We’ve been spoilt with some remarkable snooker this season and let’s remember that when frames go a little scrappy. There’s a lot on the line out there.

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