Mark Allen driven by dream final against Ronnie O'Sullivan
Mark Allen's dream scenario is to play defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan in the World Championship final at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield next month.
With both on opposite sides of yesterday's draw, the dream is possible though Allen is well aware he faces some mighty tough challenges if he is to have any chance of following in the famous footsteps of previous Northern Ireland winners Alex Higgins and Dennis Taylor.
Allen will start his bid for glory in the first round against fellow left hander Mark King, who can be extremely dangerous on his day.
Should Allen come through that, he will play either Ding Junhui or Alan McManus. It won't get any easier because victory in the second round would set up a likely quarter-final meeting against world number one Mark Selby with possibly former champion Neil Robertson, from Australia, waiting in the last four.
If all goes according to plan, and Allen certainly has the game and form to make it happen, 'the Pistol' could get his wish and take on 'the Rocket' in the final played over May 5-6.
After deciding to take a break from the game, O'Sullivan is making his comeback at the Crucible in his first tournament since winning the world title there in 2012.
O'Sullivan was yesterday drawn against Scotland's Marcus Campbell in the first round and will start the defence of his title on Saturday.
"I'd love to play Ronnie in the final. I have a pretty good record against O'Sullivan and think I've beaten him in three out of our four meetings, though there is a lot of work to do before I reach that stage," said Allen, the world number six.
"Obviously nobody knows what will happen with Ronnie. This will be his first tournament in a year since he won the World Championships but if anyone can turn up and play well having been out of the game for that length of time it is Ronnie.
"He's one of the main contenders along with Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and John Higgins, but any of the 32 players at Sheffield will go there feeling they have a chance.
"If I can play my own game and not worry about anyone else I think I have a good chance this year.
"It would mean everything to me to be world champion. It would also be nice to be world number one but ultimately you play to be world champion and if you go out early at the Crucible it sort of ruins your whole season.
"It makes or breaks your year. It's the last tournament of the year, but by far the biggest and every player wants to go there and do well. I think the bigger stage does bring out the best of me. I've played a lot of good snooker there in the past and I feel in good form going into the tournament.
"No stone has been left unturned in the lead up to it, the preparations are going very well and I can't wait to get started."
While Allen and O'Sullivan will draw the crowds the first round match between former world champions Peter Ebdon and Graeme Dott promises to be interesting – and long.