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Williams: Brecel Should Enjoy Champion Status

Mark Williams believes that Luca Brecel will handle the pressure of being World Champion and embrace the challenges which come his way in the new season.

Brecel beat Williams 13-11 in the second round in Sheffield in April, and went on to knock out Ronnie O’Sullivan and Si Jiahui to reach the final before an 18-15 victory over Mark Selby gave him snooker’s most famous trophy.

“After I got knocked out I only watched bits of it, but I saw the way Luca finished off every match when the pressure was on was on,” said Welshman Williams. “Apart from Ding Junhui winning it, I think it’s the best thing that could have happened to snooker. Our chances of getting more tournaments in Europe now have to be good. And people love to see attacking, fast players so he will bring new fans into the sport.

“Everyone will want to beat Luca now, but I don’t think that will bother him, I expect he will enjoy it. Everyone wants to be World Champion. He’s the one who has done it and is now driving around in a Ferrari! Good luck to him, he has earned it. After I first won it (in 2000) I definitely took my foot off the gas, because it is hard to keep motivating yourself to work hard.”

Going into his 32nd season as a professional, Williams made a strong start on Friday by winning his opening group at the BetVictor Championship League. “The calendar is looking good and I’m really looking forward to going back to China this season,” he said.

Asked his opinion on whether Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and John Higgins will get back to winning ranking titles this season, Williams replied: “I think so, they are all more than capable of it. We all know how good Ronnie still is, when he gets his head down. But it’s hard to keep winning three or four tournaments every year – that’s too difficult with the standard of players now.”

Williams has been a mentor for up-and-coming Welsh players such as Jackson Page, Liam Davies and Riley Powell, and he is encouraged to see a crop of promising British teenagers – Stan Moody, Liam Graham and Liam Pullen – turning pro this season

“It’s good to see. I have always been one for the winner of any world amateur under-16, under-18 or under-21 event getting a card,” said the 48-year-old. “We need them on the tour because the chances are they will drop off after their first two years, but that gives them experience, and when they come back they are much better players. We should give more youngsters a chance on the tour and give them the experience they need.”

In years to come, a name to watch out for could be Joel Williams, the youngest of the Cwm cueman’s three boys, who is playing in an under-14 event in Ireland this weekend.

“He loves it,” said the proud dad. “He plays in as many junior tournaments as he can. I see a bit of myself in him, the way he cues. He’s only been playing for a year but he can knock in 20s and 30s in a line up. He has a nice cue action. At the moment he’s really keen and with my help he might turn into a decent player. He’s ten now and might give it up when he’s 11, so we’ll see how long it lasts.”