Comeback king Mark Allen took the biggest title of his career after scoring seven in a row by beating Ding Junhui 10-7 and winning the British Championship at the Barbican Center in York.
Allen looked down after a 6-1 lead against the resurgent Chinese star, but returned to pocket the £250,000 winning check, becoming the first Northern Irishman to win the prestigious crown since Alex Higgins in 1983.
He completed an outstanding tournament for the 36-year-old who had fought from at least two squares behind in each of his previous matches in the tournament, including winning the last three games by beating Jack Lisowski 6-5 in the semi-finals.
“I really don’t know how I did it – I didn’t play very well most of the week and struggled from the start and Ding punished me heavily and scraped the last frame (of the session),” Allen said.
“I don’t know what happened tonight. The first frame was as good a break as I did all day, and all of a sudden I felt really good.
“I was struggling but trying to stay as positive as I could in my seat, which is something I’ve been working really hard on. I thought to myself, can I win the next frame, and my answer was always yes.
While Ding sought to become the first qualifying contender to win since winning his first title in 2005, he looked unlucky for a fourth UK title of his career, after shooting for three centuries in a sparkling afternoon session.
Ding, who gave Ronnie O’Sullivan his first major whitewash earlier in the tournament, was in irresistible form with 126 and 135 timeouts on either side of the mid-session gap followed by a 102 hit to take a five-frame lead.
Allen gave himself a glimmer of hope when he compiled a square-earning 79, capitalizing on a red that Ding missed in the final frame of the afternoon session – and after Ding broke down on a 33-point break in the next round, momentum slackened. The direction of the Antrim man.
Allen charged back with a 63-point timeout to cut the gap to 6-3, while Ding didn’t have another ball in the basket for an hour before back-to-back 93 and 132 hits took him back within one square of his opponent.
Allen, whose previous career pinnacle was to win the 2018 Masters, took control of the next with a 56-point break and despite a tough comeback from Ding, a missed green eventually allowed the Northern Irish to advance 6-6 in the middle of the session. gave. December.
Allen took the lead for the first time in the game after setting him up to clinch a tough 13th frame after a 59-point hiatus, and was ruthless again the next game when he fired his second-century 109 to take two frames away from completing a remarkable frame. turn back.
Ding punched the table in frustration after his position was exhausted in the next round, but continued to stop the rot spectacularly to narrow the deficit to 8-7 with a 105-pound fourth-century break from the match.
An angry red to the middle gave a 42-point break Allen was able to build within a victory square, and on the 17th that stretched to almost an hour, he kept his temper and clenched his fists after screwing up the game-winning game. pink.
“Following in Alex’s footsteps is definitely a great achievement,” Allen added. “But I’m trying to create my own legacy in this game and I’m a long way from that.”