Mark Allen enjoyed the most successful season of his career during the 2022/23 campaign as he lifted three ranking event titles including the UK Championship.
A nine-time ranking event winner, Allen became only the third player from Northern Ireland to win a Triple Crown Series event at the 2018 Masters following victories against Luca Brecel, defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Kyren Wilson.
Allen is a two-time winner of his home tournament the Northern Ireland Open, having defeated John Higgins 9-8 in 2021 and Zhou Yuelong 9-4 in 2022.
He reached the semi-finals of the World Championship for the first and so far only time in 2009 before his run was ended by eventual champion Higgins.
In 2016 Allen compiled the first 147 break of his career at the UK Championship, with his second coming five days later at the 2021 Northern Ireland Open.
Allen turned professional in 2005 following a highly decorated junior career which saw him claim the world and European amateur titles in 2004, as well as national titles at all age groups.
He was invited to compete at the invitational Northern Ireland Trophy later that year where he immediately announced himself at the top level with victories against former world champions Steve Davis and John Higgins, before losing to Stephen Hendry in the quarter-finals.
He made his debut at the televised stages of the World Championship in 2007, defeating Ken Doherty 10-7 in the last 32. The following year he again qualified for the Crucible where he narrowly went down to Hendry in a deciding-frame, but crucially had done enough to break into the top 16 of the world rankings for the first time in his career.
Allen continued to establish himself as a regular contender at the highest level, notably reaching the semi-finals or better at each of the sport’s biggest three events by the start of 2011.
It was not until the following year however that he was to triumph at his first ranking event, crushing Stephen Lee 10-1 to win the World Open in China. He subsequently repeated the feat a year later to complete the successful defence of the title with a 10-4 victory against Matthew Stevens.
Although not classified as full-ranking events, Allen would also enjoy success at the European Tour events held during the early part of the 2010s, notably claiming five titles from six finals. In 2014 he reached the final of four successive tournaments, winning the Paul Hunter Classic.
In 2016 he won his first full-ranking event title in three years by defeating Ricky Walden 10-6 to win the PTC Finals. This represented not only his first full-ranking event success in the UK, but the first by any player from Northern Ireland since Dennis Taylor claimed the World Championship in 1985.
Although Allen was unable to add to his haul of ranking event titles over the course of the following two seasons, he was able to claim the most significant tournament victory of his career to date at the 2018 Masters in London.
Notably, he ended the title defence of seven-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals, before adding the scalp of two-time winner John Higgins in the semi-finals. Facing Kyren Wilson in the final, he pulled away from 5-5 to take a 10-7 victory.
The victory appeared to give him renewed confidence as the following 2018/19 season he won the International Championship and Scottish Open tournaments to win multiple ranking event titles during a season for the first time in his career. He also reached the final of the UK Championship for a second time, losing to Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Champion of Champions
Almost two years after winning his previous ranking title at the 2018 Scottish Open, Allen returned to winning ways at the 2020 Champion of Champions.
Having qualified for the tournament through his ranking position, Allen came close to an early exit against Scott Donaldson, coming back from 3-2 down with a century break in the deciding-frame to progress to the quarter-finals.
From there he would defeat the world’s top three players on his way to lifting the trophy, including reigning world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan (6-3), world number one Judd Trump (6-1) and defending champion Neil Robertson (10-6) in the title match.
Best in Belfast
At the 2021 Northern Ireland Open, Allen enjoyed a week to remember as he won the last three frames to defeat John Higgins 9-8 and win his home title for the first time in his career.
Earlier in the week, he had already compiled his second maximum break as a professional at the event, before going on to claim his sixth professional title in front of his friends and family at the Waterfront Hall.
The following year he would repeat the feat as he successfully defended the title with a 9-4 victory against China’s Zhou Yuelong in the final. He won eight consecutive frames from 4-1 down to lift the Alex Higgins Trophy for a second time.
Second Triple Crown
Almost five years on from having won his maiden ‘triple crown’ title, Allen completed the second leg of snooker’s holy grail following a 10-7 victory against Ding Junhui at the UK Championship in York.
Wins against compatriot Jordan Brown, Kyren Wilson, Sam Craigie and dramatically Jack Lisowski in a deciding-frame took Allen to his third UK final, before he recovered from 6-1 down to conquer three-time winner Ding in the title match.
WST Ranking Event Titles (9)
- 2022/23: Northern Ireland Open, UK Championship, World Grand Prix
- 2021/22: Northern Ireland Open
- 2018/19: International Championship, Scottish Open
- 2015/16: Players Tour Championship Finals
- 2012/13: World Open
- 2011/12: World Open
WST Minor-Ranking Event Titles (5)
- 2015/16: Bulgarian Open
- 2014/15: Paul Hunter Classic
- 2013/14: Ruhr Open, Kay Suzanne Memorial Cup
- 2012/13: Antwerp Open
Professional Non-Ranking Event Titles (3)
- 2020/21: Champion of Champions
- 2017/18: Masters
- 2009/10: Jiangsu Classic