Ronnie O’Sullivan is still “number one” says Mark Williams

Jamie Shaw in Snooker Interviews

Left arrow

Barry Hearn blasts slow players “Dull as dishwater”

Right arrow

Steve Davis insists “Snooker doesn’t have to be fast to be entertaining”


Welsh ace Williams looks on (credit: Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images)

Reigning World Champion Mark Williams says the world number one spot “does not mean anything” and believes Ronnie O’Sullivan can still be regarded as snooker’s top dog.

Williams claimed his third World Championship title in fairy-tale fashion at The Crucible in May, becoming the oldest World Champion since fellow Welshman Ray Reardon in 1978.

Since then, the 43-year-old has gone on to claim the World Open title in Yushan – his 22nd career ranking title – leapfrogging O’Sullivan into second position in the Order of Merit.

Williams has closed the gap on leader Mark Selby to less than £150,000 but insists recapturing top spot is not something high on his agenda.

“The number one spot doesn’t mean anything anymore,” Williams told Live Snooker.

“We all know who the best player in the world is and if I end up number one in the rankings I wouldn’t think I was the number one, it’s Ronnie O’Sullivan – everyone knows that.

“The rankings are a bit fake really because if you entered everything you’d be world number one by a mile.

“I will pick and choose, I haven’t entered a few already but I will play in most because I’m enjoying playing.”


Williams celebrates his Crucible glory (Photo by Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images)

Williams’ World Open triumph saw him battle back from the brink to deny David Gilbert in a last-frame decider and the Welshman admits he is continuing to surprise himself with the success he is enjoying.

He added: “It’s being going unbelievable really, more than I could have expected.

“That [World Open] was the first time I’d touched my cue since the World Championship.

“I’d barely practiced three hours since the Worlds, a lot of people don’t believe that but it’s the truth.”

Williams famously conducted his post-match press conference naked after winning the World Championship, honouring the promise he had made earlier in the competition.

The world number two had considered calling time on his career prior to last season but now says he plans to push on in an attempt to secure further silverware.

“It’s one of the best wins I’ve ever had to be honest and probably one I’ll celebrate forever,” added Williams.

“I’ll just keep enjoying it because I never thought it was coming to be honest.

“I did say about ten years ago I’d love to win another one but how can you possibly finish on that season? You’ve just got to keep going and see what happens.”

Williams has also waded in on the ongoing shot times debate after World Snooker announced in May they are to publish quarterly reports listing players’ average shot times, with those exceeding 30 seconds at risk of being warned or even fined.

“I think they should ban everyone who takes over 25 seconds a shot,” joked Williams.

“Not everybody can be fast, some are slower than others and I don’t think there’s anyone doing it to put anyone off, it’s just they play slowly and that’s it.

“It’s going to be very difficult to penalise them and how they go about how many seconds you have to play a shot.

“It’s going to be very interesting to see what Barry [Hearn] comes up with but no doubt someone’s going to get fined and punished first.

“It’s probably a choice of three players who that’s going to be.”