Mark Allen: Champion of Champions winner hopes to use victory as ‘a stepping stone’

Allen defeated the top-three ranked players in the world on his way to winning the Champion of Champions

Mark Allen hopes to use his victory in the Champion of Champions tournament as “a stepping stone” to more success.

The Northern Irishman beat defending champion Neil Robertson 10-6 in the final of the invitational event.

“I’d gone nearly two years without winning a tournament and for me I feel that’s not good enough,” said Allen.

“I have to keep working hard, get on the practice table and get ready for the next tournament,” said the 34-year-old world number eight.

Allen won The Masters at Alexandra Palace in 2018 and later that year triumphed in The International Championship and the Scottish Open.

Although his 2019-20 campaign failed to yield any tournament victories, consistent form saw him reach five semi-finals, as well as losing to his good friend Stephen Maguire in the final of The Tour Championship in June.

This was followed by a disappointing first-round exit to Jamie Clarke in the rescheduled World Championship in August, while the English Open in October failed to deliver an upturn in Allen’s fortunes as he fell 4-0 to Robbie Williams in round one.

Allen’s indifferent form looked set to continue as he struggled past Scotland’s Scott Donaldson in his first group match at the Champion of Champions but a much-improved performance in the group final saw him defeat world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-3.

World number one Judd Trump was the next to fall to the Antrim man, going down 6-1 in the semi-finals, before Allen also saw off Australian Robertson in Sunday’s decider.

‘Completely different matches’

“They were completely different types of matches. I played really well against O’Sullivan – then not so well against Trump although I still dominated,” said Allen, who qualified for the event by virtue of his world ranking.

“I played a mixture of some good safety and some good scoring in the final against Robertson but there were a lot of positives to take away.

“It’s a bit surreal and it hasn’t really sunk in yet. To beat the world numbers one, two and three in successive matches shows my game is in good shape and it’s nice to finally get a win.

“This tournament would be the biggest one behind The Masters that I have won. Everyone wants to win the world title but you only get one chance a year and you have to make the most of it. I haven’t quite done that yet.”

After competing in qualifying for the German Masters, Allen’s next tournament will be the Northern Ireland Open, which like most events at the moment will be staged at The Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes rather than its traditional venue of the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.

Allen has conceded that the pressure of playing in front of his home supporters has sometimes proved difficult to cope with in recent years so he will hope that the change of environment will help him move beyond the fourth-round stage he managed 12 months ago.

The UK Championship and the Scottish Open will complete his itinerary for 2020.

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