Back

Allen has edge over Walden for International Snooker final

From 13 previous meetings, world number eight Mark Allen and Ricky Walden have shared 98 frames. It’s ‘The Pistol’ who starts as odds-on 8/13 favourite with Coral to win the International Snooker Championship final in Chengdu, because of edging the head-to-heads 7-6.

In the last two World Open events, Northern Ireland native Allen has handsomely beaten Walden, so that recent record makes the latter a 5/4 outsider to scoop the title.

World number 11 Walden has won both of the two major ranking tournament finals he has contested. That perfect record is significantly better than the 50 per cent strike rate this year’s Shanghai Masters runner-up Allen has from four appearances at the business end of events.

What counts against Walden is the low calibre of opposition he’s faced en route to setting up this encounter with ‘The Pistol’. Allen, by contrast, came through a final frame decider with former World champion Mark Williams in his semi. That late finish could count against Antrim native Allen, however, as Walden made easier 9-2 work of beating Robert Milkins on the other side of the draw.

It’s the first to 10 frames in Chengdu, and neither a drubbing nor a whitewash looks likely, if the only previous meeting over such a distance is anything to go by. Allen triumphed 10-8 at the 2008 World Championship at snooker’s spiritual home The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, and a repeat scoreline is a 17/2 chance.

Odds of 9/2, meanwhile, say there will be a deciding frame. This bet must be considered, because of Allen edging Williams 9-8 in the semis. Alternatively, why not consider the higher ranked of the International Championship finalists in the handicap market?

Give Allen a deficit of -1.5 frames, and a more favourable price of 17/20 say he will claim the title. He is also odds-on in the races to four (7/10) and eight frames (8/13).

Knocking out seasoned baize players Nigel Bond, Martin Gould and Stuart Bingham, as well as Williams, really does press Allen’s claims to add this International crown to his CV ahead of the UK Championship at York’s Barbican Centre later this month. Back ‘The Pistol’, then, to fire himself to glory in the Far East across a two-session format.