2024 Players Championship: Mark Allen Secures His Third Title of the Season

In a thrilling showdown in the 2024 Players Championship final, Mark Allen claimed victory against Zhang Anda. Despite Zhang's determined challenge, Allen secured a hard-fought 10-8 win in a scrappy encounter. Allen's triumph not only reinforces his status as a top contender but also sets the stage for an exciting race to the summit of the world rankings, while Zhang's spirited performance signals a bright future ahead in the world of snooker.

Mark Allen celebrates his 10-8 win against Zhang Anda
Louis Hobbs

Written by: Louis Hobbs

(Senior Sports Writer)

Fact checked by: Wade McElwain

(Senior Sports Writer)

Last updated: 2024-02-26

5 minutes read

Allen Triumphs in Tense Final

Mark Allen emerged victorious in a tense final against Zhang Anda at the 2024 Johnstone’s Paint Players Championship, inching closer to his aspiration of claiming the world number one spot.

 

The match, which unfolded in Telford, was a closely contested affair, with Zhang mounting a determined challenge against the Northern Irishman. Despite Zhang's valiant effort, Allen maintained his nerve and composure, ultimately securing a hard-fought 10-8 win in a scrappy encounter that lasted until the late hours of Sunday night.

A World-Class Safety Battle

After winning three consecutive frames to take an 8-6 lead in the final session, the match grew tight and scrappy. Although Zhang seemed to lose momentum in the following frame, Allen missed a couple of opportunities to extend his lead. Seizing the chance, Zhang claimed the frame to narrow the gap to 8-7. However, Allen responded emphatically in the subsequent frame to regain a two-frame advantage at 9-7.

 

The following frame was a gruelling affair, lasting 37 minutes and culminating in Zhang potting a pink ball from a cushion to reduce the deficit to just one frame. Yet, Allen remained composed and focused in the subsequent frame, showcasing breaks of 40 and 24 to secure the victory and clinch the championship title.

 

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World Number One Aspirations

Ranked third in the world, Allen's triumph brings him within striking distance of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump, the two players currently positioned ahead of him in the rankings. With the points from their world championship final encounter two years ago set to expire at the end of the season, Allen sees an opportunity to ascend to the summit of the rankings with continued strong performances.

 

Reflecting on the match, Allen acknowledged the pressure he faced but credited his tactical acumen, particularly in safety play, for keeping him competitive throughout the final. Despite not always feeling in top form, Allen's determination to secure positive results remains unwavering. He views his recent string of victories, including three ranking titles last season and two more this season, as stepping stones toward his ultimate goal of winning the World Championship.

 

A relieved Mark Allen told ITV Sport post-match: “It was tough all day, I think I dragged Zhang down with me. My safety kept me in the match, but it wasn’t a lot of fun to be involved in.

 

“I’ve won five [ranking titles] in the last couple of years. I want to keep doing that and if I can get to 20 or 30 at the end of my career, I would have done all right. But my career will be a disappointment if I don’t win the world championship”, Allen added. 

Zhang’s Bright Future

Zhang's spirited performance in the tournament highlighted his remarkable season, characterised by significant victories over Mark Selby and John Higgins enroute to the final, as well as a notable rise in the world rankings. Despite falling short in the final, Zhang's journey from being considered a journeyman to becoming a top contender exemplifies his dedication and perseverance in the sport. His runner-up finish in the English Open and subsequent triumph in the International Championship propelled him to No. 12 in the world rankings, marking a significant milestone in his career.

 

For Zhang, his recent achievements have positioned him as a formidable force in the world of snooker. With guaranteed top seedings and exemption from world championship qualifying matches, Zhang's future in the sport looks promising as he seeks to build on his recent successes and further solidify his place among the sport's elite players.

 

Image credit: World Snooker Tour (WST)

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Louis Hobbs

Louis Hobbs

Meet Louis Hobbs, our esteemed authority on all matters sports-related. With a wealth of knowledge and experience, Louis effortlessly emerges as our go-to expert. His particular expertise in the realms of darts and snooker sets him apart and brings a level of insight that goes beyond the ordinary. Louis also holds a deep affection for all things related to US sports, with a special emphasis on basketball and American football, which stand out as his particular favorites. His content may not resonate with you, if you don't consider Lamar Jackson the most skilled player in the NFL.

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