Ahead of the upcoming World Championship, let’s have a look at how the top 16 seeds have been getting on during the interrupted 2019/20 campaign.
With a seeding position of number three, people would be forgiven for thinking that Mark Williams’ season has been a good one.
The reality is less optimistic, with the Welshman only holding onto that lofty standing as a result of his brilliant 2018 World Championship glory.
When it’s taken into consideration that those earnings will be deducted from his two-year tally next month, the 45 year-old’s provisional ranking doesn’t even make it inside the top ten.
Indeed, it’s a struggle to suggest that Williams is even a credible top 16 player at the moment as he has struggled for form and more importantly motivation for the majority of this term.
A rare and unexpected run to the final of the China Championship in September, where he was denied by Shaun Murphy in the title decider, was the exception to what has otherwise been a disappointing year on the circuit in terms of results.
Williams has generally lost in the early rounds of tournaments, and his lackadaisical approach was highlighted by his decision to not enter several competitions before Christmas.
The former world number one did manage to reach the semi-finals of the depleted Gibraltar Open just before the lockdown was enforced.
However, few will be predicting a deep run in Sheffield akin to his achievements two years ago when he captured a surprise third world crown.
Aside from Guangzhou and Gibraltar, Williams hasn’t featured beyond the last 16 stage of a ranking event.
A difficult quarter of the draw means it will be challenging to overcome that kind of slump at the Crucible Theatre.
Williams fans will be hoping he receives a kind draw when the qualifiers are slotted into the line-up, but even besides that his bracket already includes the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Ding Junhui, and Stuart Bingham.
Similar to the comments made about John Higgins in a previous piece in this series, it would be foolish to completely write off the 22-time ranking event winner because he has proven on so many occasions his pedigree for the big matches.
But time does inevitably catch up with every player, and at the moment Williams genuinely has the look of a competitor who has seen his better days.
Featured photo credit: WST