MARK WILLIAMS (Wales)
World ranking: 1
Last five seasons: 1-3-5-4-16
Date of birth: 21-03-75
Lives: Cwm, Gwent
Turned professional: 1992
Ranking tournament victories: 10
Last season抯 prize money: �2,850
Career prize money: �914,853
Highest tournament break: 142
The 1999-2000 season was always going to be a hard act to follow for Mark Williams and so it proved.
World champion and world No 1, Williams again looked like proving the dominant force in snooker as he finished runner-up to Ronnie O'Sullivan in the Champions Cup and then took his revenge on the 'Rocket' in the Grand Prix at Telford, beating him 9-5 in the final.
That proved to be his only title of the season but by finishing runner-up in the Liverpool Victoria UK Championship and China Open, he more than did enough to maintain his massive lead at the top of the Embassy World Rankings.
Already guaranteed the No 1 spot for a second successive year going into the Embassy World Championship, the Welshman became the latest victim of the Crucible curse that afflicts all first-time Sheffield winners of the trophy.
He lost an epic second-round match against Northern Ireland's Joe Swail 13-12, then vowed to cut down on the amount of time he spends on the practice table. "I practised so hard for this tournament - I've practised hard all season - yet my form has been so bad. I haven't got a clue why; perhaps I've been trying too hard," he said.
That crisis of confidence was in stark contrast to his mood at Sheffield 12 months earlier. Victories over John Read (10-4), Drew Henry (13-9), Fergal O'Brien (13-5) and John Higgins (17-15) took him through to the first-ever all-Welsh final, in which he defeated Matthew Stevens 18-16 after trailing 13-7 at one stage to claim a record �0,000 first prize.
The first left-hander to lift the trophy in the 73-year history of the event, he declared: "This means everything to me. I have dreamt about this moment since I was a kid. Even if I had lost I couldn't have grumbled because I was guaranteed the number one spot. I didn't want to be too greedy but to do both is really scary."
His manager Ian Doyle said: "No one deserves this more than Mark. He has worked his socks off over the last two years and I'm delighted for him. He's got a big lead in the rankings and he is going to be hard to catch."
A promising amateur boxer before opting for a career on the green baize, Williams showed his ability to perform under pressure when winning the Benson and Hedges Masters at Wembley in 1998.
Trailing Stephen Hendry 9-6 in the final, he drew level at 9-9 and, at 56-56 in the deciding frame, potted a re-spotted black to land the �5,000 first prize.
Hendry took his revenge in the 1999 World Championship final, winning 18-11. But Williams, part of the victorious Welsh team in the 1999 Nations Cup, put that experience to good use a year later.