After the conclusion of another extraordinary snooker season, we pick 10 of our favourite shots from the 2021/22 campaign as captured by the Eurosport cameras. You can vote for your personal choice when we reveal our final list of contenders this month.
No. 8 – Williams produces masterful escape at Alexandra Palace
Every journey begins with a single step. Every sporting comeback begins with a single shot.
‘I’m full of mistakes at the moment’ – O’Sullivan ‘struggling’ despite win
Mark Williams perhaps did not turn the tide with one piece of brilliance against Yan Bingtao on the opening day of the 48th Masters in January, but it certainly provided the Welshman with safe harbour as the waves threatened to crash over him at the sport's biggest invitational tournament.
Defending champion Yan – a 10-8 winner against John Higgins in the 2021 final – enjoyed knocks of 64, 71 and 57 to lead 3-1 at the mid-session interval with Williams offering up 63 in the third frame to avoid the likelihood of a sixth first-round defeat out of seven previous appearances.
The fifth frame was to prove a pivotal moment of mood swing.
A break of 56 was not enough to get the job done for the Welshman, who looked in peril when the unyielding Yan, already a serious strategist at the tender age of 22, left him in a potentially punishing snooker with Williams holding a nervy 16-point lead and only two balls left up.
Missing the pink could have sounded the death knell on his hopes when he lined up a one-cushion escape behind the black off the top rail.
Rather than size up the challenge with hand on table, the double Masters winner – who lifted his first title at the Wembley Conference Centre in 1998, two years before his opponent was born – eccentrically eyed his task with just cue resting on cushion and left arm holding sway.
'You're kidding me!' - Williams produces fantastic one-handed escape
In picking his spot like he was reading the line on Celtic Manor's greens with a putter, Williams delivered a quite magnificent effort that saw white clip pink at the perfect angle on the baulk line before pointing to the yellow bag as the object ball duly glided into the pocket.
2,000 fans inside London's packed Ally Pally roared their approval as Williams progressed to win the next three frames with breaks of 62, 67, 64 and 104 carrying him 5-3 clear.
A 122 from Yan halted the surge, but a timely 85 from the three-time world champion saw him through in a taut 6-4 triumph that was arguably altered by one piece of inspirational shot-making.
It probably also helped Willo's sense of self-belief when he overturned a 10-8 deficit to usurp Yan 13-11 in the quarter-finals of the World Championship in April.
"If the crowd, the buzz and the atmosphere can't inspire you to play well in a venue like that, there is no point in playing," he said.
A New Year, but same old vintage Mark Williams.
'Ridiculous... and brilliant!' - WIlliams plays unusual under-the-body shot
- Top 10 shots of 2021/22: No. 8 – Williams in the pink with masterful one-handed escape
- Top 10 shots of 2021/22: No. 9 – Allen's 'toughest' yellow in iconic Belfast 147
- Top 10 shots of 2021/22: No. 10 – O'Sullivan's magical 'cocked hat double'
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