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National Sport

A Masterful Display from Mark Allen

People cue around the block for snooker’s Masters Tournament

Over the course of a gruelling week which saw him defeat top opponents such as Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins, Northern Irishman Mark Allen became the latest addition to a long line of Masters winners at Alexandra Palace on Sunday 21st January 2018. The first from his country to do so in 31 years after Dennis Taylor, Mark Allen defeated Kyren Wilson after a week of world-class snooker, featuring the world’s finest.

Snooker has always featured players from all over the world, but only those deemed the best of the best can enter into the hallowed arena of The Masters. Familiar names such as Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins, Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy graced the table with their prowess throughout the week, wowing the crowds and drawing thousands to Ally Pally.

However, the tournament wasn’t without its trademark humorous moments. Shaun Murphy and Judd Trump’s quarter final was delayed somewhat by the arrival of a wasp, prompting Murphy to wield his cue like a sword and swing it about in a desperate attempt to fend off the wasp. That wasn’t the only incident however, as other flies and wasps made their way into the arena, giving the match official’s plenty of time to showcase their lightning reflexes and kill the insects with one swipe of their white gloves.

“Cueing well, and potting balls no matter where they landed, Allen was in fine form from day one, never looking anything less than razor sharp.”

It was a historic final, as both players were there for the first time, and not by luck. Kyren Wilson, playing in only his second Master’s tournament, showed excellent composure around the table throughout, as well as true grit and determination. Wilson faced Judd Trump in the semi-final, and despite finding himself 5-2 down, gathered himself together to play some truly marvellous snooker and claw his way into the final, 6-5.

Allen has spoken at length throughout this tournament about his calmness, and being able to stay relaxed around the table in order to maintain his composure and retain the key parts of his game. Cueing well, and potting balls no matter where they landed, Allen was in fine form from day one, never looking anything less than razor sharp.

The final began as a cagey affair, neither player really settling into any kind of rhythm throughout the first four frames before the mid-session interval. Mark Allen snuck his way into a 2-2 draw at the break, after nerves and mistakes got the better of Kyren Wilson, who missed a straight pink towards the end of the fourth frame. Both players couldn’t build up a significant lead until the eleventh frame, when Allen shot a 73 to move 6-5 ahead, before adding another break of 119 in the twelfth.

Despite Wilson’s attempts to pull it back, Allen then broke with 69 and 71 in the sixteenth and seventeenth to win the championship, 10-7. Both players were visibly emotional in the post-match interviews, with tears of joy and sorrow. Allen was relieved to finally have a major ranking title under his belt, and Wilson was grateful for all the support he had received at such an early stage in his snooker career.

The tournament is called the Master’s for a reason, and the snooker world watched on with bated breath as two first-time finalists locked horns in a battle that could go on to define both of these players’ careers for many years to come.

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