Let’s be honest – there are many sports where the sands of time are cruel to their participants, and where the ageing process is directly correlated with a downturn in success.
But in snooker, that’s not so much the case, and despite the World Championships being a gruelling two-week marathon in which the winner will have to play more than a hundred frames, there’s still hope that Mark Williams has the stamina to prevail.
The ‘Welsh Potting Machine’, as he’s nicknamed, turned 47 in March, but he remains amongst the game’s elite and there will be plenty who consider his Paddy Power snooker betting odds of 28/1 to win the World Championships to be more than fair value.
Williams, a three-time world titlist, will be only too aware that the likes of Neil Robertson, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump will be the favourites to lift the trophy – a status confirmed by the snooker World Championship 2022 betting market, but you also know that the laidback Tredegar potter probably won’t give a hoot about that either.
If he can outlast the field and lift the trophy on May 2, he would surpass the achievements of another legendary Welshman. Ray Reardon currently holds the record as the oldest snooker world champion at a sprightly 45 years and 203 days – can Williams gate-crash the party as a young-at-heart 47-year-old?
If he can, hopefully this time he will do his post-final press conference with some clothes on…
This is a different kind of winning streak…
Mark Williams, after winning the World Snooker Championship, was true to his word and conducted his post-match press conference naked
(Well, sort of – he did have a towel on) 😳 pic.twitter.com/SIuQhNgkqD
— Omnisport (@OmnisportNews) May 8, 2018
They say that finding form heading into the tournament at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre is crucial for any potential world champion.
To that end, you would think that Williams will be pretty satisfied with how his game is shaping up. In his last outing in the Tour Championship, the Welshman was downed 9-10 by his old adversary O’Sullivan – but even so, he made seven breaks of 50+ and looked to be in fine fettle. It was simply a case of the ‘Rocket’ being at the top of his extraordinary game.
The 2021/22 season has been one of inconsistency for the left-hander, but at times he has shown glimpses of his class. He reached the semi-finals at The Masters, downing quality operators like John Higgins and Yan Bingtao along the way – the latter with a tremendous seven 50+ breaks in just ten frames, and he also won the British Open. There’s plenty of life in the old dog yet.
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) February 4, 2022
Like his fabled ‘Class of ‘92’ colleagues O’Sullivan and Higgins, Williams shows no sign of slowing down as he reaches the autumn of his career, and indeed the evidence suggests that experience proves very handy in the unique atmosphere of The Crucible – in the past 15 years, only one world champion (Trump in 2019) was aged under 30 at the time of his triumph.
And so we write off the older generation of players at our peril – for a guy like Williams, with an exceptional World Championship record, age really is no barrier.