The 16 Seeds: Mark Williams
Continuing our series of Cazoo World Championship previews.
By David Hendon
Seed 8: Mark Williams
A member of the celebrated Class of ’92, Williams has won 24 ranking titles, including three World Championships.
His first success was at his home event, the 1996 Welsh Open, but his major breakthrough came when he defeated Stephen Hendry 10-9 on a re-spotted black to win the 1998 Masters.
This launched Williams as a regular winner and he enjoyed such a spell of dominance that between 1998 and 2003 he did not lose a first round match in a ranking event.
A brilliant shot-maker, Williams has had three spells as world number one and is currently the oldest player to have compiled a competitive 147.
Williams once again proved his class with his performances at the Masters, where he edged Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-5 in one of the matches of the season before ultimately losing 10-8 in the final to Judd Trump.
In addition, he has reached the semi-finals of the European Masters and the quarter-finals of three other ranking tournaments.
Williams first played at the Crucible as a top 16 seed in 1997 and was runner-up to Stephen Hendry two years later. In 2000, in recovered from 13-7 behind to beat his fellow Welshman Matthew Stevens 18-16 to become the first left-handed world champion.
In 2003, having already won the UK Championship and Masters titles that season, he edged Ken Doherty 18-16 to win a second world title.
In the 15 years that followed, Williams went through various peaks and troughs. In 2017, he failed to qualify but a year later produced a stunning performance to beat John Higgins 18-16 and complete a remarkable hat-trick of Crucible triumphs.
Last year, he equalled Hendry’s record of 16 centuries during a single Crucible campaign and came within a frame of reaching another world final, losing 17-16 to Judd Trump in the semis.
Previous appearances: 24
Matches played: 66
Matches won: 45
Crucible centuries: 75
Williams has come close to landing a major title over the last 18 months, losing some tight matches at the business end of tournaments. He still plays a young man’s game and is impossible to rattle, and this coolness can only be a positive in the Crucible cauldron.
At 48, the irrepressible Williams remains a dangerman. It could be worth a punt on him to reach the final.
Bookmakers’ odds on Williams: 18/1