At that stage, Williams had won two UK Championships, two Masters and two World Championships. He was also crowned World Number One for a second time, making him the third most succesful modern day player.
Williams won the next ranking event also, the LG Cup, making him only the third player to hold all 4 televised BBC events. He had 15 ranking events to his name, and a figure in the region of 25 was more than achievable by the end of the decade. What a change we have witnessed.
Within months, Williams' form was a pale immitation of what it once was. He was knocked out of the 2004 World Championship by Joe Perry, and the aura he held was fast fading. He has never come close to reclaiming those heights.
When he won the China Open in 2006, a comeback was expected. He performed very well at the World Championships a month later, and probably should have beaten Ronnie O'Sullivan. Ronnie and Mark have never been great friends, but Ronnie proclaimed him 'as one of the best players he had ever faced'. And it's hard to argue with that.
Unfortunately, the comeback never materialised, but Williams is again beginning to show signs of a resurgance. He made the semi-finals of the Grand Prix, and although he was very much outshone by Ding Junhui, it was an encouraging result. He played awfully against Hendry, but got away with it, and was marvellous against Stuart Bingham. Maybe their is hope.
One thing is for sure: Mark is one of the best players I have ever seen. His potting is unrivalled, and I've never seen anyone who can put away a raking long ball quite like the Welshman. His safety is also very sharp, and although his cue-ball control isn't remarkably good, his greatness has never been in doubt. His 147 at the 2005 World Championship is quite possibly my favourite, as he had to pull out some ridiculous shots to keep the run going.
I know Williams put his family first, and fair play to him for that. But have we been deprived of a few great chapters in snoker history? Had he the potential to be a better player that Higgins, and maybe even O'Sullivan? Is the fact that he's rated as a comfortably top-10 player in the games history a testament to his greatness considering his years of underachievement? Or has he the ability to reclaim his position and maybe even win another World title? Your view would be very much appreciated.
- Posts: 5009
- Joined: 02 October 2009
- Location: Ireland
- Snooker Idol: Ronnie OSullivan
- Highest Break: 49