Mark Allen primed for Crucible test: ‘There’s no one stronger mentally than me’

Mark Allen feels ready for the mental challenge in Sheffield (Picture: Getty Images)

Mark Allen feels he is stronger mentally than any other player at this year’s World Championship and is aiming to win the first of many Crucible crowns.

The Pistol has been one of the standout players on the circuit over the last two years, winning five ranking titles and the Champion of Champions since the start of the previous campaign.

There have been some early exits in there and the Northern Irishman is still searching for more consistency, but he is very pleased with his game, especially the mental side of it.

‘I’m happy with where my game’s at,’ Allen told Metro. ‘I’m happy where I’m at mentally, prepared really well off the table, working with a psychologist so things are really good. That doesn’t guarantee success, you have to go out there and play well.

‘I’ve been working with [psychologist] Paul Gaffney for the best part of two years and it has really opened my eyes to how under-prepared I was mentally when I still felt I was very strong.

‘I’d say I was stronger than a lot of them [other players] but he’s taken me to the next level. I genuinely believe there’s no one stronger in the game mentally than me at the minute.

‘It would just be nice to play to the level I know I’m capable of to back that up. You can’t always rely on being in the right place mentally, you need to go out there and perform.’

Allen narrowly lost a semi-final to Mark Selby last year in Sheffield (Picture: Getty Images)

Allen’s performances have caused some debate among snooker pundits as he has slowed down at times, with some wins more of a grind than a free-flowing romp.

The 38-year-old couldn’t care less how he wins, as long as he wins, and says the change originally came out after his significant weight loss two years ago.

‘I just play how I feel. If I’m feeling great I’ll go for more shots, play a bit faster, if I’m not feeling great I’ll turn a few down and wait for an opportunity,’ he said.

‘A lot of that came from the weight loss and struggling with my technique. I needed to give myself an extra few seconds out there because I was missing easy shots because my body was a different shape. A lot of it came from that, losing a bit of confidence. But then results came from that so why change?

‘I don’t care about criticism, I just want to go out there and try and win, if that’s the best way for me to compete then so be it.’

2024 Players Championship - Day 7

Allen beat Zhang Anda to win the Players Championship in February (Picture: Getty Images)

Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry has been one of the voices questioning Allen’s new style of play and the Pistol says it is disappointing to hear it from a legend of the game, but is sticking to his guns.

‘You see it and hear it and from people who I respect their opinion, so from them it’s a little disappointing,’ he said. ‘But it’s not going to change how I approach things. I’m a huge fan of Hendry, he criticised it, but I’ve won six tournaments in 18 months, why would I change that?

‘He had an attitude of going for everything, but that probably cost him some matches and shortened his career. I’ve not been close to the dominant force Hendry was, but I feel like I’ve got a game that can compete for many years to come.’

The way the sport has developed over the last few years, age appears to be little barrier to success and despite being 38 with no world titles, Allen still intends to add a string of them to his CV.

‘I’m not just chasing one world title,’ he said. ‘I’m chasing multiple and that might sound strange sitting on zero, but if I just chase one and get it, where do I go from there? I want to win more, I’m here to win many.’

Allen takes on Robbie Williams in his opening match at the Crucible this year, starting at 2.30pm on Tuesday.

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