Mark Allen aims to emulate those greats by going on to win the World Championship in Sheffield this spring, buoyed by his excellent form and surging confidence.
“Hopefully I can take confidence from that and bring it to the World Championship,” he said. “I’ve always been touted to be going in the footsteps of Alex and Dennis, but to be finally filling those shoes is a big accolade. I've been saying for a long time that I felt my game was in good shape but I wasn't getting the results to show that. This win was confirmation of that. "I need to go on and win more tournaments like Alex and Dennis did. It would be nice to bring that world trophy back to Northern Ireland.”
Allen’s stock has risen dramatically since claiming his first ever Triple Crown title and he has climbed back into the world’s top 10. The odds on him winning the World Championship have dropped and he is now the seventh favourite to lift the famous trophy. Betonline will have lines, check it out and you will see that the irrepressible five-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan is naturally the clear favourite, but you just never know what you are going to get from him nowadays. The great man’s talent is undeniable, but his desire to win is questionable. Allen thrashed him 6-1 in the quarter-finals at The Masters and O’Sullivan said he was glad to be eliminated.
Next up in the betting is reigning champion Mark Selby, who beat Ding Junhui to claim the title last year. Selby currently holds the world number one ranking and he will be the man to beat in Sheffield. He has won the World Championship in three of the past four years, and always looks at home at The Crucible. Third favourite is world number three Judd Trump, who made it to the semi-final at The Masters but narrowly lost out to Wilson in a gripping contest. He is followed by Neil Robertson, Junhui and John Higgins, and then it is Allen at around the 25/1 mark. That looks a fantastic price on a man that is bang in form and riding a wave of momentum.
Mark Williams, who just took the German Masters with a thumping 9-1 victory over Scotland's Graeme Dott, is another interesting long shot at 28/1. “I am going to try now and keep the momentum going and build on what I have achieved in the last six to eight months,” said Williams. The Welshman has now won his 20th ranking event, joining an elite group of five to ever pull of the feat, so he too will be brimming with confidence going forwards.
The field is deep and strong and full of danger as there are so many talented individuals plying their trade at present. Shaun Murphy is another long shot attracting a lot of attention after his run to the semi-finals in Berlin. Murphy won the World Championship all the way back in 2005, but has failed to add to his tally ever since, although he did reach the 2015 final. He is up to sixth in the world after a strong start to the year and looks interesting at 28/1 at The Crucible. A real long shot is world number 22 Ricky Walden, who is receiving a huge amount of interest at 150/1.