Mark Allen insists there is plenty of room for improvement, despite kicking off his bid for UK Championship glory in ideal fashion with a 6-1 win over professional tour rookie Jamie Wilson.

The 2018 Masters winner won the coveted Champion of Champions title earlier this month, and signalled his intent to add a second Triple Crown win to his tally by notching six successive frames after initially going behind in Milton Keynes. 

Though only just 17-years-old, Wilson represented a potential banana-skin opponent for Allen, having held the Antrim man to a 2-2 draw in the Championship League in September. 

And although world No.8 Allen notched a ton and two half-centuries to comfortably book his spot in Round 2, he admits he is going to have to start playing better if he is to progress to the latter stages of the first major event on the snooker calendar. 

“I started slowly but I played much better in the middle part of the match,” Allen said. “I didn’t close it out the way I would’ve liked, but just getting through that first round is important. 

“I played really well at the Champion of Champions, but it hasn’t been so good since so I just need to get back to that form. It’s there, I just need to show it. 

“The UK Championship’s on everyone’s bucket list and I know what it takes to go deep here. Hopefully I can continue improving and peak at the right time.”

Next up for two-time UK Championship runner-up Allen is a Round 2 clash with China’s Chang Bingyu, and Allen is wary of the threats posed by the 18-year-old, who beat Sam Craigie 6-4 in his opener. 

And while the tournament continues to be played behind closed doors due to Covid-19 restrictions, Allen is excited about the prospect of fans returning to snooker in the near-future, believing it will serve as a boost to the whole tour. 

He added: “Chang used to win a lot of matches as a wildcard in China. He’s had a bit of a slow start as a pro, but he’s a very talented player, and I’m going to have to be on my game. 

“It’d be amazing to get the fans back. It’s not a lot of fun out there playing with no-one watching. I know we’re on TV but it’s not quite the same at the moment.” 

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