World Snooker Championship: Allen 'on guard' against upset at Crucible


Allen lost to good friend Stephen Maguire in the Tour Championship final in June

Mark Allen is wary of suffering a first-round upset in Tuesday’s World Championship match with Jamie Clarke at the Crucible Theatre.

The Northern Irishman, 34, fell at the first hurdle in 2019, losing 10-7 to China’s Zhou Yuelong.

“I’ve lost a few first-round matches here so I know to be on guard,” said Allen prior to facing the Welshman.

“I don’t know a lot about Jamie Clarke, I’ve never seen him play, but he had some very good wins in qualifying.”

Allen reached a career-high world ranking of four when he reached the final of The Tour Championship in June while his opponent on Tuesday is the lowest- ranked player in the tournament at 89.

“On paper I’m a big favourite but we don’t play snooker on paper,” he added.

“If he plays anything like he is capable of then I am in for a very, very tough match.

“When I saw I had been drawn against Jamie I was hoping the crowd would get on top of him as I remember from my first time here it can be pretty daunting.

“Now that there is no crowd I’ll not be able to use that to my advantage. I’ll just have to try and out-play him on the table.”

Allen has lost in the opening round at Sheffield on four occasions, with his best performance a semi-final appearance in 2009.

‘Strange’ Crucible atmosphere

Despite having played in front of no spectators at The Championship League and the Tour Championship at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, the former Masters champion expects a very different experience when he steps out to play in the biggest event on the calendar.

“It’ll be very strange, I’m not sure how it’s going to be when I get out there with no crowd,” said Allen.

“We played in Milton Keynes with no crowd but there were no seats, there was no arena.

“It will be completely different, when there are normally 900 people shouting and roaring and creating an atmosphere.”

The winner of the match will play Jack Lisowski or Anthony McGill in the second round.

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