Mark Williams Luca Brecel
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Mark Williams vs Luca Brecel: preview, prediction, session times

Mark Williams and Luca Brecel will face each other in the second round of the 2023 World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.

This season for Mark Williams

Like a few other top-eight seeds, it hasn’t been an especially strong campaign for Mark Williams.

The Welshman’s most fruitful week was at the Masters in January when he reached the final only to be narrowly denied by Judd Trump at the Alexandra Palace.

Other than that, there have been a few quarter-final runs in ranking events, with just one semi-final appearance to his name way back in August.

The three-time world champion’s failure to qualify for either Players Championship or the Tour Championship accurately reflects his indifferent form.

In saying that, Williams has performed strongly in Sheffield in the last few years, and it would be foolish to write off the 48 year-old entirely from challenging again.

This season for Luca Brecel

Brecel began the 2022/23 season in confident fashion, capturing a third ranking title at the campaign-opening Championship League.

A final appearance in the English Open followed not too long after, but since the turn of the year there has only been a single run to the last eight of a ranking event.

For much of the season, Brecel looked like qualifying for the lucrative Tour Championship that boasted just the top eight players from the one-year rankings list.

But he missed out on a spot in Hull after an unexpected loss to Haydon Pinhey in the first round of the WST Classic.

What happened in the first round?

On his sixth attempt, Brecel finally bagged his first victory at the Crucible Theatre with a 10-9 defeat of Ricky Walden.

Having already lost in two Crucible opening-round deciders, he did well to hold his nerve with a break of 84 after watching his opponent fight back from 9-6 behind.

For Williams, the champion in 2000, 2003, and 2018 looked to be in a spot of bother when he trailed Jimmy Robertson 5-4.

But last year’s semi-finalist dominated the second session of play, winning all six frames for a 10-5 success.

Mark Williams and Luca Brecel head-to-head

Williams and Brecel have faced each other on five occasions, and it makes for ominous reading for the former European amateur champion.

Brecel has lost on all five occasions he’s faced the Welsh Potting Machine, and the aggregate scoreline for the last four ties is 14-3 in the latter’s favour.

They haven’t encountered each other since 2020, however, with Brecel having become a more frequent presence at the business end of tournaments and a more reliable threat on the tour since then.

The verdict

On his day he exudes brilliance, but when the balls aren’t flying in there are periods when Brecel can look a little amateurish.

This is the type of opponent that Williams thrives upon playing – highlighted by their head-to-head record – as he can dictate the play and pounce on any mistake made.

Brecel looked a relaxed figure after his first-round win, even admitting that he barely put in a minute’s practice ahead of his journey to Sheffield.

This kind of laid-back approach is something that has served Williams so well in the past. Indeed, he’s the master at it.

Prediction: Mark Williams 13-9 Luca Brecel
Thursday, April 20th – 1pm
Friday, April 21st – 10am and 7pm

Featured photo credit: WST


  1. Jay Brannon

    I’m not sure I entirely believe Brecel about his lack of practice!

    Williams craft and guile should see him a greater chunk of the closer frames and totally agree the tempo and aggression of the Belgian is ripe for the fluid three-time world champion to progress. Prediction: Williams 13-8 Brecel

    Brecel is one of eight players from continental Europe to play at the Crucible. The other seven are Tony Drago (Malta), Paul Mifsud (Malta), Kristian Helgason (Iceland), Robin Hull (Finland), Michael Georgiou (Cyprus), Alexander Ursenbacher (Switzerland) and Kurt Maflin (Norway).

  2. Jakob Kidde Sauntved

    A bit funny to include four players from island nations (Malta, Cyprus and Iceland) as being from “continental Europe” and Maflin is an Englishman who acquired a Norwegian citizenship, so not really “from” the continent.

    • Jay Brannon

      To be fair a better way of describing it would’ve been European players that are not British or Irish. There seems a fair amount of conjecture as to which countries class as being in Continental Europe.

  3. Jay Brannon

    Maflin was playing under the Norwegian flag though.

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