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Theory about Ding and Williams

Postby chengdufan

I've been watching Williams and Ding today. And a few days ago I was reading an old thread in which a comment stuck with me, when someone said that tactical ability was basically the same as safety ability (I think it was a thread about the ultimate snooker player). I was surprised at the time as to me, the two things are quite different. Safety, to me, is about your ability to play the best possible single shot when there's no pot on. Tactical play though is about manipulating the balls to give yourself the best possible chance of winning a frame. Part of that can be when playing a safety shot, but it is also how you move the balls during a break. And it's about knowing what to do with the balls based on your own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of your opponent.

So anyway, these three things, Williams, Ding, and tactics have been milling around my brain today and I have come up with a theory. It's not something I've observed particularly, but I wonder if there's any merit to it.
It's well-known that Williams hasn't made as many centuries as other top players, and the thinking is that he's not bothered, so he plays loose shots after the frame is won. Meanwhile, Ding is renowned as a great break builder who makes lots of centuries. It's also well-known that Williams has had a better career than Ding, particularly in terms of World Championships.

My theory is that Williams has done better because he is a better tactical player than Ding. And one thing that demonstrates this is that he doesn't make many centuries.
Going into the interval just now, Ding made a lovely century. But did you notice where the colours and the last few reds were when he got towards the end of the break? They were all in nice easy pottable positions, because of the way he had manipulated the table through the frame, giving himself a great chance of a century.
When Williams gets over the winning line though, aren't there always a few tough pots there that make the chance of a century small? Perhaps that was his plan, so that if he broke down before the frame was won, his opponent wouldn't have an easy clearance.

Re: Theory about Ding and Williams

Postby SnookerFan

For me, it's more that Ding has suspect temperament as much as anything.

When it's all going for him, he's brilliant. An amazing talent. But sometimes, it looks like the the pressure or the occasion is getting to him. Sometimes he looks like he flat out doesn't want to be there.

Re: Theory about Ding and Williams

Postby Iranu

It’s funny with Ding and Williams.

Like you say they’re completely different players, almost polar opposites in terms of their strengths and weaknesses: Ding has impeccable cue ball control and breakbuilding with an ability to nurse a pack of reds into pottable positions that’s second only to O’Sullivan (in some ways I’d argue better), but is a relatively poor long potter by today’s standards. Whereas Williams is one of the best potters ever but is lacking in cue ball control and breakbuilding.

I don’t think there’s much between them in terms of actual safety ability. I’ve always thought Ding’s safety’s a bit underrated and he’s one of the best in the game at laying snookers. Williams definitely copes better with safety-orientated matches, though. I don’t think it’s so much to do with tactical nous as patience and attitude. Plus because his potting is better he probably makes the most of more half-chances in tricky frames than Ding does.

Funnily enough, I remember Williams himself said in the BBC’s Perfect Player segment that safety and tactics are the same thing. This suggests to me that he doesn’t really consciously think tactically. (I think his record against Ronnie also suggests this, when you compare with other top players’ records against Ronnie.)

I’d be surprised if Williams deliberately left things awkward while making a big break in case he broke down any more than any other player, purely because I don’t think winners think so negatively on a general basis.

The strange thing is, despite being so different as players, Ding and Williams really remind me of each other in terms of their demeanour around the table. Neither of them have the intimidating air of players like Ronnie, Robbo, Judd and the way they strut around the table.

What’s intimidating about Ding and Williams when they’re playing well is their serenity. They both glide languidly around the table as if they’re casually surveying a beautiful duck pond, which contrasts with how mercilessly they’re dominating.

Ronnie et al are like the T-800, fixed in a steely determination as they mow down their opponents. Williams and Ding are like the T-1000, going smoothly about their business as if oblivious to the trail of destruction being left in their wake.

Re: Theory about Ding and Williams

Postby chengdufan

Iranu wrote:It’s funny with Ding and Williams.

Like you say they’re completely different players, almost polar opposites in terms of their strengths and weaknesses: Ding has impeccable cue ball control and breakbuilding with an ability to nurse a pack of reds into pottable positions that’s second only to O’Sullivan (in some ways I’d argue better), but is a relatively poor long potter by today’s standards. Whereas Williams is one of the best potters ever but is lacking in cue ball control and breakbuilding.

I don’t think there’s much between them in terms of actual safety ability. I’ve always thought Ding’s safety’s a bit underrated and he’s one of the best in the game at laying snookers. Williams definitely copes better with safety-orientated matches, though. I don’t think it’s so much to do with tactical nous as patience and attitude. Plus because his potting is better he probably makes the most of more half-chances in tricky frames than Ding does.

Funnily enough, I remember Williams himself said in the BBC’s Perfect Player segment that safety and tactics are the same thing. This suggests to me that he doesn’t really consciously think tactically. (I think his record against Ronnie also suggests this, when you compare with other top players’ records against Ronnie.)

I’d be surprised if Williams deliberately left things awkward while making a big break in case he broke down any more than any other player, purely because I don’t think winners think so negatively on a general basis.

The strange thing is, despite being so different as players, Ding and Williams really remind me of each other in terms of their demeanour around the table. Neither of them have the intimidating air of players like Ronnie, Robbo, Judd and the way they strut around the table.

What’s intimidating about Ding and Williams when they’re playing well is their serenity. They both glide languidly around the table as if they’re casually surveying a beautiful duck pond, which contrasts with how mercilessly they’re dominating.

Ronnie et al are like the T-800, fixed in a steely determination as they mow down their opponents. Williams and Ding are like the T-1000, going smoothly about their business as if oblivious to the trail of destruction being left in their wake.

Very :goodpost: this Iranu.

I think you're probably right that Williams isn't necessarily thinking about playing tactically. I do think he has naturally honed a tactical ability growing up in the UK, which Ding may not have had through his early experiences. You learn by technique coaching in China, while in Wales you learn by playing against wily old amateurs.


   

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