Mark Williams’s career at the top level has been defined by his long, consistent runs to latter stages of tournaments.
He was in four of the last seven finals of the 1998/99 season, winning three titles, and five of the last eight of the following season, winning three.
Williams was also in three of the last six finals of the 2002/03 season and has now appeared in the last two played in this campaign.
The twice world champion hasn’t won two ranking titles in the same season for eight years but was superb at the German Masters in Berlin and clearly a great favourite on home turf.
The Welsh Open provided him with his first ranking title in 1996. He edged a great final against Stephen Hendry in 1999 but like his fellow Welshmen has not enjoyed much success there since.
And Williams has a tough first round assignment in the shape of Marco Fu, who reached the semis in Berlin.
Fu will doubtless be aware of the top 16 calculations. He will be safe unless Stuart Bingham reaches the quarter-finals or there are a series of strange results.
Bingham has his own tough starter against Mark Selby, who will be looking to bounce back from his defeat to Williams in their Germany final.
Selby has a chance to be seeded in the top four for the World Championship. With the quality of the players at the top of the game this is not necessarily a big advantage but still an achievement.
There were five deciders on day one with all the seeds winning with the exception of Ricky Walden, beaten 4-3 by Dave Harold.
Walden needed only the green from the third last red to leave Harold needing a snooker but made the decision to play it with power to get on a red and duly missed. This gave Harold a chance to clear, which he took.
Matthew Stevens stopped playing on the other table to allow Harold to do this. With no partition, he didn’t want to put him off.
A lack of a dividing wall gives the audience a chance to watch both tables but not all the players will be for it.
In Germany, the arena was much bigger and the tables were not parallel to each other as in Newport.
For such an issue as this, the players really need to be listened to. If enough of them are uncomfortable with it then the partition should return. If most are fine with the open plan feel then there’s no problem.
In the past, players have had too much say in administrative matters but they should still be consulted on playing matters.