Mark Allen is one of the most dangerous characters on the snooker circuit whilst in recent years, he’s also become well-known for his outspokenness away from the green baize.
And the Ulsterman is set to defend his one and only full ranking event win next week at the Haikou World Open on Hainan Island, China after winning the even last season.
Born in Antrim, Allen has taken on the nickname of ‘The Pistol’ after his attacking style of play which quickly saw him rise up the rankings since turning professional back in 2003.
Allen developed a good footing in the game having winning multiple titles in his homeland and on the world amateur scene.
Allen enjoyed relative success in his debut season on the main tour in 2005/06 after a couple of seasons on the feeder Championship Tour and reached the Quarter-Finals of the Northern Ireland Trophy after gaining entry to the competition as a wildcard.
His rapid progress in the professional game saw him reach the World Championship at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in 2007 and beat Ken Doherty in the last 32 before losing out to Matthew Stevens in the next round.
However it was against Ken at the 2007 Grand Prix that Allen was involved in his first notable controversial moment in the sport. After the black would not spot, Allen struck the table cushion with his fist in frustration. This earned him a warning from the referee whilst after the match, Doherty branded him a ‘Disgrace’ and stated that he had a ‘Serious attitude problem.’
He enjoyed even more success in the next season, reaching the semi-finals of the World Championship before bowing out to John Higgins but he did win his first professional tournament that summer, defeating Ding Junhui 6-0 to secure the 2009 Jiangsu Classic as he secured a place in the illusive top 16 in the rankings.
And his prominence as one of the members of the successful new generation of players coming through the sport was re-affirmed in the 2010/11 season when he reached the semi-finals of the UK Championship and Masters.
Later that year, Allen reached a ranking event final for the first time in his career when he made it all the way through in the UK Championship. His opponent was Judd Trump and the Bristolian ended up winning the encounter 10-8.
It was at the UK Championship that year that Allen became embroiled in another disagreement as he called the chairman of the head of snooker, Barry Hearn, to resign. This was due to Hearn reducing the format at the UK down from best of 17 to 11 but Hearn hit back saying he was: “Far too busy to worry about silly little boys making silly little comments.” Allen was fined £1,000 for the comments he made after swearing in a press conference at the event.
More controversy followed a few months later as Mark Allen enjoyed a successful week at the 2012 Haikou World Open in China. An outburst on his twitter account said: “Journey a nightmare. People are ignorant. Place stinks. Arena’s rubbish, tables poor, food is horrendous. Other than that I love China.” Further tweets were written by Allen attacking the venue and were later deleted but he remained in hot water and was again fined £1,000.
Despite his dislike for the venue on Haikou Island, Allen stormed to the final beating the likes of Judd Trump and Mark Selby to reach the final. He completely dominated the final, easing to a 10-1 win over Stephen Lee to capture the first full ranking event of his career.
A disappointing end to the season saw him bow out of the World Championship at the First Round stage after being defeated 10-6 by qualifier Cao Yupeng. However, there was more controversy as Allen believed Cao played a push-stroke, but the Chinese did not own up to it. This led Allen to criticise Cao and fellow far-East players whom he believes have not owned up to fouls in previous matches against him. World Snooker fined him a further £11,000.
Despite his fiery temperament, Allen has proved himself to be one of the top players in the game and will be around the top of the sport for a number of years to come.