Northern Ireland Open 2017 – Mark Williams is your Champion

Congratulations Mark Williams !

Mark Williams NIO Champion 2017

And thanks to both players for a fantastic and gripping final. Yan Bingtao played his part – and how! – and there is no doubt that he will win something soon. But tonight I’m pleased for Mark who had to face very difficult personal circumstances this week. I hope that his wife Joanne will be alright and out of hospital soon. Now, Mark, this brand new trophy would be a the perfect container for giant bunch of flowers …

Here is the report on Worldsnooker

Mark Williams has claimed his 19th ranking title after a stunning 9-8 defeat of Chinese teenager Yan Bingtao in the Dafabet Northern Ireland Open final in Belfast.

The two-time World Champion was either behind or level right until the final frame today, in what was one of the most enthralling matches of the season so far.

Williams’ last ranking victory came at the 2011 German Masters. His win tonight ends a spell of 14 years without ranking silverware on UK soil, where he last tasted glory in the 2003 LG Cup in Preston.

The Welshman stands alone in fifth place in the all-time list of ranking titles won. He’s now six ahead of Mark Selby and Ding Junhui who have won 13 titles.

All-Time Ranking Titles

  • Stephen Hendry 36
  • Ronnie O’Sullivan 30
  • John Higgins 29
  • Steve Davis 28
  • Mark Williams 19

Williams can now look forward to the Dafabet Masters in January after securing his place at the showpiece invitational event. He will also climb back to 11th in the world rankings.

17-year-old Chinese prodigy Yan came agonisingly close to eclipsing Ronnie O’Sullivan’s record as the youngest ever winner of a ranking event. However, he will have to settle for the runner-up spot in his maiden appearance in a ranking final.

The afternoon session saw Yan seize the initiative, earning himself a 5-3 advantage coming into this evening’s all important final session.

Yan came roaring out of the blocks tonight by making the highest break of his career, a run of 137, to move 6-3 ahead.

However, Williams showed his steel to claim the tenth frame and runs of 90 and 58 saw him draw level at 6-6.  They then traded blows before a thrilling fifteenth.

Yan had looked set to take the frame before breaking down on 60. Williams then had an opportunity to steal the frame, but landed awkwardly on the final red, which he missed with his run at 45. An extended safety battle ensued, before Yan eventually moved one from victory at 8-7.

Williams levelled and then took the final two frames to take home the title on the decider and claim the Alex Higgins Trophy 9-8.

Williams said: “Everything I threw at him, he was just potting long ones for fun and making breaks. You have to realise that he is only a 17-year-old. That is unbelievable. He was only one frame from breaking Ronnie’s record. If he keeps improving like that he is going to be winning many titles.

“I said to myself a while ago if I could get to 20 ranking titles I would be over the moon. You never know now. I just need one more.

“Up until six or eight months ago I thought I was never going to get another title. I have changed coach to Steve Feeney and he has helped me loads.

“My only aim for the season was qualifying for the Masters. I’ve done that now and my next one is to try and qualify for the Crucible.

Yan was disappointed not to claim the silverware in his maiden ranking final. However, he was reflective upon what he achieved and positive about his chances of reaching further finals.

I am disappointed not to beat the record,” said the 2016/17 Rookie of the Season. “But I will always have another chance so I will look to the next event.
 
“I really liked the venue, the crowd and the fans in Belfast. I’m looking forward to next year here
 
“After this, I feel confident despite losing because I reached the final. I know how to handle this occasion so I will aim high for more finals rather than semi-finals.

Videos of interest:

The Final preview:

The second session preview:

The Final treview by the Eurosport team, with Mark Willams:

Mark Williams interview with Worldsnooker:

6 thoughts on “Northern Ireland Open 2017 – Mark Williams is your Champion

  1. Wiliams finally won his 19th ranking title. It’s remarkable that after 2003, which was his best year, he won just three ranking events. He has mostly underachieved considering how much have won Ronnie and Higgins in the same period. I like his character and his way to take life. He has played the last 7 years without winning any tournament. This has to be very frustrating for Willo. He lost some very close final with Selby and Bingham, some time ago he thought also sbout retirement, he wasn’t satisfied with his game. Now this victory is more than deserved. Well done Willo!

  2. A wonderful win for Mark Williams! He’s been playing with such consistent style, great attitude and cue skill. Given his wife’s situation, I’m sure it was difficult for him but he was able to keep his composure – another sign of a champion.

    Bingtao earned new respect from those watching this tournament and it will be great to see him in the years to come. Such a hard worker!

  3. Whilst this tournament may appear as an insignificant interlude, it has brought out some of the major themes of this season, such as the rise of the young Chinese players.

    Above all, it has shown graphically that players are human beings: they practice like crazy, they get tired, they get frustrated, they have families, they make sacrifices, they desperately want to achieve their goals. There’s a message there for World Snooker, particularly about scheduling and qualification for events.

    The people in Belfast may not have got to see the best players at their best, but they got great snooker drama. It was compelling!

  4. What a hero Mark Williams is!

    His wife is at the hospital he was 6:3 down but somehow he managed to do it!
    What a fantastic comeback and i’m very happy for him!

    Hopefully his wife will be ok soon!

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