Mark Williams labels Yan Bingtao and two others the future of snooker after Crucible battle

April 27, 2022
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Phil Haigh ✍️  

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Eleven
Mark Williams came through a real scrap against Yan Bingtao at the Crucible (Picture: Getty Images)

Mark Williams would be amazed if Yan Bingtao doesn’t win the World Snooker Championship at some point in his career, naming Yan, Zhao Xintong and Jackson Page as the future of snooker.

Williams tamed the Tiger at the Crucible on Wednesday, beating the 22-year-old 13-11 to book a place in the semi-finals in Sheffield.

It was a brilliant tussle between the two, with Williams holding his nerve superbly at the end – a skill he has become renowned for over his lengthy career at the top of the game.

At 47 the Welshman becomes the oldest Crucible semi-finalist since Ray Reardon in 1985, and while he, Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins are showing no signs of slowing up, he believes his opponent in the quarter-finals will take over as Crucible king in the coming years.

‘He’s got everything,’ Williams said of Yan. ‘I can’t sit here and say he’s definitely going to win it, because we all thought that about Ding [Junhui], but he’s got everything.

‘He’s a brilliant player, looks good under pressure. He’s a little but methodical but he’s got everything and he’s only 22. He’s got 25 years on me!

‘I’d be amazed if he didn’t [win the Worlds] but you never know, there’s a lot of really good players. But he’s the future of snooker. Him, Xintong, Jackson Page are the future of snooker. It’s in great hands.’

Yan is certainly steady for a player of his age, clocking an average shot time over 24 frames of 27.8 seconds, and while Williams feels this can make him difficult to play, he could help himself by speeding up a bit.

‘It can do [make him a difficult opponent] because he’s not as fluent as Xintong when he’s in the balls,’ said the Welshman. ‘But on the other hand he don’t make as many easy errors as Xintong because he’s maybe a bit too fast sometimes.

Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong
Former Masters champion Yan Bingtao and current UK champ Zhao Xintong have got very bright futures on the baize (Pictures: WST)

‘If you could gel them pair together you’d have the perfect player.

‘Maybe he could speed up a little bit, maybe, just a little bit more fluency, but that’s being highly critical because he’s a brilliant player. Maybe he goes a little bit too slow and bogs himself down a bit, but it’s a tiny thing.’

Williams will now take on either Judd Trump or Stuart Bingham in the semi-finals in Sheffield, played from Thursday to Saturday.

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