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Mark Williams defends “perfectly legal” break-off at the World Championship

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Mark Williams looks on (Photo by George Wood/PA Images)

Mark Williams has defended his unorthodox break-off method during his First Round victory over Sam Craigie at the World Snooker Championship.

The three-time World champion advanced to the Last 16 at The Crucible after easing to a 10-4 win over Crucible debutant Craigie.

Despite a tight opening session from which he prevailed with a narrow 5-4 lead, the Welshman took full command of the evening’s play by reeling off five frames on the spin to seal victory.

During the contest, the 46-year-old commenced each frame in which he broke off by rolling the cue-ball into the pack of reds via the top cushion.

This subsequently denied his opponent the opportunity to gain control by potting a long red, while effectively forcing him into another safety shot.

Williams’ decision to adopt this defensive tactic divided opinion across the game, with calls from some quarters for it to be banned due to the delay it inflicts during the early exchanges of each frame.

The 23-time ranking event winner, who has posted an average shot time of 18.06 seconds this season – the quickest on the tour – first utilised this during his defeat by Shaun Murphy at the Masters in January, having seen the Magician frequently capitalise on his previously orthodox break-offs by subsequently knocking in a long red and assuming control of the frame.

And during his post-match interview broadcast on Eurosport, he insisted the tactic is here to stay.

“How can they ban a perfectly legal shot?” said Williams.

“There are a lot worse things happening than worrying about my poxy break-off.

“Just count how many frames were lost today from somebody’s break-off; it’s not going to happen against me.

“Within three shots, you’re back to a normal frame and the black is never tied up. 

“I’m the quickest man on tour; my average frame time can’t be longer than 12 to 15 minutes, so there’s no problem there.

“(If every player on the tour does it) then you might have a problem. But at the minute, there’s only me doing it.

“The only reason I’m doing it is because I’m sick and tired of leaving a red on, and people potting it and making breaks. 

“I just thought: ‘I’ve got to find a way to stop them doing it’, which I have.”

Williams set up a mouth-watering show-down with John Higgins in what will be a repeat of the 2018 world final, which he won 18-16.

And the Welshman admits he is excited to lock horns once more with his fellow member of the renowned ‘Class of 92’.

“I can’t wait. I’ve been playing John since I was about 14 years of age,” he added.

“Every time we play, it’s a special occasion because we’re not getting any younger and don’t know how many more times we’re going to keep meeting. 

“It’s just fantastic that we’re still going. 

“We’re playing again on Friday over three sessions; if you can’t get up for that then you shouldn’t be playing the game.”