Mark Williams begins his 26th Masters campaign when he locks horns with Ali Carter in the first round on Monday.
Only John Higgins, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Steve Davis have appeared at snooker’s most prestigious invitational event more often than the Welshman, who won the tournament in 1998 and 2003.
Regardless of today’s result, he will also follow in the footsteps of O’Sullivan, Higgins and Stephen Hendry by becoming only the fourth to earn over £1million at the Masters.
Williams can count himself unfortunate not to have added to his silverware tally in recent years at Alexandra Palace, where he has become something of a crowd favourite with his entertaining style of play.
Beaten 10-8 by Judd Trump in last year’s final, he was cruelly denied in the 2022 semi-finals by eventual champion Neil Robertson, who recovered from needing two snookers to snatch a dramatic decider on the black.
Williams, who was also runner-up to the late Paul Hunter in 2002, arrives this year with silverware already in the bag courtesy of his British Open triumph in October.
Carter also returns to Alexandra Palace in form, having reached the Wuhan Open and Shoot Out finals this term – losing to Trump and Mark Allen respectively.
The Captain will appear at the Masters for the 13th time and first since reaching the final in 2020, when he was narrowly beaten 10-8 by Stuart Bingham from 7-5 up.
Although aside from that, Carter does not boast the fondest of memories at the Masters. Prior to reaching the final four years ago, he had won just three matches in his 11 previous appearances.
He was beaten 6-3 by Williams at this stage at Wembley Arena in 2010; the only time the players have previously faced off in the tournament.
The winner of this match will play either Trump or Kyren Wilson in the Masters quarter-finals.
Play gets under way at 7pm GMT on Monday and will be contested over the best of 11 frames at Alexandra Palace.
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