Mark Allen said the ‘crazy and chaotic’ Snooker Shoot Out was back to its best in Swansea this year, after he won an historic edition of the event.
The Pistol beat Cao Yupeng in the final to become the first current top 16 player to lift the trophy in the one-frame tournament, played under a shot clock and in the rowdiest atmosphere in snooker.
The unique rule set and surroundings mean that picking a champion is always tough, but Allen came in as the bookmakers’ favourite and number one seed, proving that quality can shine through in the chaos.
The Northern Irishman is enjoying another great season, after winning the Champion of Champions last month and the Shoot Out now takes his career tally of ranking titles to 10, however much that will annoy some people that the event carries ranking status.
‘It was crazy, it’s chaotic, it’s just what the Shoot Out’s all about,’ said Allen.
‘I was a little disappointed on Wednesday because it was a little quiet, but today [Saturday] was absolutely nuts. It reminded me of when we first played this event in Blackpool – in my opinion that was the best Shoot Out venue but this is right up there, it was unbelievable.
‘The crowd got noisier and noisier as the day went on. There were a few abusive things thrown at me which was great fun, I was mentally prepared for what they were going to throw at me. It was good see the event right back to its very best this week.’
As a former Masters and UK Championship winner, Allen has lifted some of the most iconic trophies in the sport, and while the Shoot Out cannot compare to those stellar events, a win is very much a win and a £50,000 top prize is certainly a welcome result.
‘It’s a box ticked in the sense that I entered a tournament and won the tournament,’ he said. ‘That’s what I want to do every time I enter one.
‘I’m not going to put it anywhere near the Masters, the UK or Northern Ireland, let’s be realistic on where the event is in the grand scheme of things, but I still want to win the event, I wouldn’t enter if I didn’t, so I’m happy to tick that box.’
The Pistol, happy to wind up the purists about his latest ranking win, posted on X after the victory: ‘Winner winner chicken dinner. Mad out there at times and it’s a bit of a lottery but very happy to be this years winner. 10th ranking event win too.’
Allen may have become the first top 16 player and top seed to win the Shoot Out, but arguably the more memorable piece of history came in the first round when Shaun Murphy became the first player to make a 147 in the event.
There have been 15 editions of the Shoot Out and only 30 centuries made in the 10-minute matches, but one of those is now the Magician’s maximum, an achievement which seemed unlikely to ever be made.
There was also a contender for the greatest Shoot Out frame ever as Kyren Wilson and Si Jiahui battled it out and finished level thanks to some stunning late pots from the Chinese star.
This meant a blue ball shoot out was required to separate them and Si potted five on the spin before Wilson missed his fifth attempt to eventually lose the brilliant contest.
It was another thoroughly entertaining four days of Shoot Out action in a new venue at the Swansea Arena, which was getting rave reviews from players and pundits alike.
There was a fair number of empty seats on the opening two days but the audience looked very healthy by the climax, creating the wild atmosphere Allen was enjoying so much.
While the favourite may have won the event, there was the usual level of unpredictability elsewhere, with amateur player Steven Hallworth reaching the semi-finals.
Hallworth has been a professional before and can compete at the highest level, so it was not a great shock to see him do well, but the £8,000 prize money will be a nice pre-Christmas bonus for him.
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