Ronnie O’Sullivan said he had “never seen anyone play so bad” after watching Mark Allen flounder at the start of his UK Championship final against Ding Junhui.
Allen faces an enormous battle to claw his way back at the York Barbican after a nightmare first session and will return at 19:00 GMT on Sunday evening trailing 6-2.
The Northern Irishman cut a despondent figure as poor shots and misfortune combined to leave him short of table time, with his opponent building a commanding lead as he chases a first title since 2019.
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Speaking after Ding opened up a 6-1 lead ahead of the final frame of the afternoon session, O’Sullivan was unsparing in his assessment of Allen's display.
“He just can’t pot a ball. I’ve never seen anyone play so bad, it’s the worst I think I’ve seen from anybody in a long, long time,” said O’Sullivan.
“A lot of that’s got to do with Ding. He’s just playing fantastic snooker.”
Perhaps Allen had a direct line to the Eurosport studio, because he responded to sign off the afternoon session with a much-needed 79 break to move within four frames.
The Pistol recovered from 5-3 down in his best-of-11 semi-final with Jack Lisowski and will need an even bigger swing of momentum to stop Ding taking away the trophy on Sunday night.

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“Everything’s at sea with him at the moment,” said Jimmy White alongside O'Sullivan.
“It’s a horrible feeling, I’ve been there myself many times.”
But O’Sullivan insisted the fate of the trophy was not yet decided and praised Allen for digging in during the eighth frame.
“It’s admirable. Listen, this game isn’t over. I don’t want people to say, ‘don’t watch it tonight’,” said O’Sullivan.
“It’s over if Ding continues to play well. But if Ding has a little bit of a meltdown, there’s still a game on.”
Ding, who whitewashed O'Sullivan 6-0 earlier in the tournament, has seen his form desert him since winning the UK title in 2019 and had reached just one semi-final in three years before his run in York.
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