How Mark Allen became favourite to win UK Championship as Ronnie O'Sullivan joins fallen top stars
Antrim's Mark Allen has found himself as the bookies' favourite to win the UK Championship ahead of today's quarter-finals.
The 2018 Masters champions has safely navigated his way to the last eight, which is more than can be said for the overwhelming majority of the world's top-ranked stars.
Allen goes into this evening's quarter-final as the heavy odds-on (1/12) favourite to ease past 54-year-old Nigel Bond.
World number 98 going into the tournament (already set to rise to 79th), Bond is the oldest quarter-finalist at the UK Championship since 1980. He's the main reason Allen finds himself in such a favourable position, responsible for ousting the world's top player Judd Trump before backing it up with a 6-5 win over Gary Wilson.
That upset over Trump not only opened up Allen's route to the last four, it was joined by a series of more surprise results that led to Allen being installed as the favourite to be clutching the trophy come Sunday evening.
World number two Ronnie O'Sullivan is the latest to drop out of the running, edged 6-4 by Ding Junhui on Thursday. Number three Mark Williams was sent packing by 62-ranked Michael White in the second round while number four Neil Robertson is also out, thrashed 6-1 by Yan Bingtao (20th) in round four.
Bingtao will play the highest-ranked player left in the draw - world number five John Higgins.
But with number six Matthew Selby having also bit the dust in a shock-laden fourth round, the bookies reckon world number seven Allen is the man most likely to win the title - rated a 2/1 shot ahead of Higgins and Junhui at 3/1.
Providing there's no slip against Bond this evening, Allen will go into his semi-final highly fancied to go through, against either Matthew Stevens or Stephen Maguire.
Given how the draw has opened up, it's an unmistakably good opportunity for Allen to win his second Triple Crown title.
Of course, that does not mean anything will be easy, as he discovered in his own round four tie when he relied on a missed brown by Kurt Maflin to win a final-frame shoot-out against the world number 42.
Allen's quarter-final gets under way at 1pm on Friday evening.