In this interview Ronnie explains why, in his opinion, Mark Allen can’t really get to the level of the likes of Judd Trump and Neil Robertson
How Mark Allen faces the same dilemma as Tiger Woods, explains Ronnie O’Sullivan
Ronnie believes NI ace lacks power game to match big hitters
Tiger Woods and Mark Allen are struggling to crack the same sporting conundrum, reckons six-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Antrim’s Allen will kick off his pursuit of a second Masters title in three years on Wednesday as he takes on four-time world champion John Higgins in the first round.
World No.10 Allen soared to Champion of Champions glory this season but World No.1 Judd Trump, No.2 Neil Robertson and three-time Crucible king Mark Selby have dominated the start of the campaign.
O’Sullivan, one of the sport’s all-time greats, hailed the Northern Ireland player’s game but believes Trump and Robertson are doing to snooker what big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau is currently doing to golf.
The 45-year-old said: “Mark Allen’s a very good break-builder and very good scorer but if you look at Neil and Judd, they have a power game.
“They play power shots which no one else can play, and that gives them an advantage.
“When I say power game, I don’t mean hitting the ball hard – I mean to be able to get the white around effortlessly like Judd and Neil do.
“When the ball travels 18ft round the table, they’ve just done it because it’s easy to them whereas with Mark Allen, maybe he struggles with that and that’s the only thing that I think if you could put in his game, he would win like Judd is winning.
“It’s the equivalent of these new modern-day golfers. They hit the ball so far that they’re turning the golf course into a bit of a pitch and putt.
“Whereas Tiger Woods, he realises that and thinks these guys are shrinking the golf course. Although he’s capable and has got the skill to do it, it’s hard as you’re on your limit quite a lot.
“Someone like Mark Allen, if he had the power game and was able to manoeuvre the white around like them (Trump and Robertson), he would be up there with them because he’s a break-builder, he’s got the bottle and he’s got a great mentality for the game.
“He’s a real dogged player that can play – but the one thing he could put into his game is that power game.”
Allen (34) tasted Masters nirvana in 2018 after toppling 2020 World Championship finalist Kyren Wilson 10-7 in the showpiece.
He won the Scottish Open later that year before also claiming the prestigious Champion of Champions trophy in Milton Keynes earlier this season.
This year’s Masters was due to be held at Alexandra Palace but a surge in coronavirus cases means that the event will now be held behind closed doors at the bio-secure Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
Allen will bid to become just the 10th dual Masters winner and seven-time champion O’Sullivan, who has lost four times in 10 matches against the Antrim man, says the ball is firmly in the five-time ranking event winner’s court.
“Do you say to Mark Allen, ‘Look, let’s try and get that into your game’ or do you say, ‘Look, why bother? You’re going to win tournaments and you’re going to have a good career, are you happy with that?'” the current World No.3, who plays Ding Junhui in the first round of the tournament, added.
“He might go, ‘Yeah’ or he might go, ‘No, I want a power game and I want to be able to manoeuvre that white’.
“Then he might have to change something technically to enable him to do that.
“I’m not saying that he’s got to get to their level, but just improve by 20 or 30%, maybe.”
This is something that has been discussed by commentators and pundits many times. Mark has a very short compact cue action, and it’s a bit jabby too. That gives him a very good cue ball control, but little power. He’s extremely efficient and reliable at close range, but is rather limited when it comes to get the cue ball covering distances around the table. That said tampering with his technique could be a huge risk.
Meanwhile, the man who Mark Allen beat to lift the Masters trophy, Kyren Wilson has made a bold promise to his mother, as he explained to Eurosport.
SNOOKER NEWS – KYREN WILSON: I’VE PROMISED MY MOTHER THE MASTERS TROPHY – IT LOOKS AWESOME!
Kyren WIlson is determined to secure his maiden Triple Crown title at the upcoming Masters – partly because he has promised his mother the iconic trophy. The 29-year-old was encouraged by his performances in 2020, which saw him reach his second career major final at the World Championship, where he lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Kyren Wilson will be doubly motivated to win the upcoming Masters, having promised his mum that he would one day bring home the “awesome” trophy.
Wilson has appeared in each of the last four editions of the prestigious event, his best result coming in 2018, when he was edged out 10-7 by Mark Allen in the final.
The 29-year-old believes that the tournament has overtaken the UK Championship as the second most prestigious in the snooker calendar, and is hoping to make his parents proud with victory.
He exclusively told Eurosport: “It’s definitely number two behind the World Championship. It’s overtaken the UK Championship now… it’s probably our showpiece event.
“Last year it looked amazing, with all the sofas, the bar, the arena, all the fancy light work. IT’s really sort of come into its own. I’m grateful to be part of it and got a good few appearances under my belt.
“I love it when it comes around. I always enjoy my new year, knowing I’ve got that round the corner.
FOR ME, IT’S PROBABLY THE BEST LOOKING TROPHY – IT LOOKS AWESOME. I PROMISED IT TO MY MUM ONE DAY, SO I’M GOING TO TRY TO MAKE IT HAPPEN!
Wilson reached his second career Triple Crown final in 2020, losing to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the World Championship last summer, but starts the new year knowing he can win the sport’s biggest tournaments.
“I worked so, so hard for last year’s World Championships. I was doing six to eight hours a day for six weeks before it and I was just so driven and I believed with every ounce of me that I was going to win that title.
“So I came up one short but I know that if I put the work in and dedicated myself to the game, I can achieve great things.
“I’ve been really consistent. I’ve been around where my ranking would suggest I’d need to perform at. But it’s not always as easy as that because the standards are so high these days.
“I’d have liked to have kicked on a little bit more as I got to the latter stages of events, but it’s tough to win these titles these days.”
And Wilson is hoping to use his two defeats in Triple Crown finals as learning experiences, and not get frustrated by losing.
“I was actually tuned into Eurosport the other day and they were showing the re-run of my final with Mark Allen… seeing my family in the crowd and how nervous they were.
“I think I handled it really well for my first time in a big Triple Crown event final. You’re playing top class players on these occasions and sometimes you’ve got to hold up your hands and say, ‘you know what? He deserved it today.’
“But you’ve got to learn from where you may have gone slightly wrong and just hope it can hold you in good stead. It’s better to look on those occasions as learning experiences, rather than kicks in the teeth.”
With England back in a full-scale national lockdown, the Masters has eschewed its traditional home of Alexandra Palace to take place in Milton Keynes, with players subject to strict Covid-19 protocols.
“It’s tough being locked in the hotel but it’s obviously really good that we’ve got snooker going on in this second lockdown. We’re lucky to have events to play in.”
Well such promise will certainly motivate Kyren, but will bring additional presure as well…