The Class of '92 - The year that just keeps on giving

The Class of '92 - The year that just keeps on giving

Mark Williams and John Higgins first turned professional 26 years ago but are set to compete in another World Championship final.

chris-lincoln
Chris Lincoln

When you hear the phrase 'Class of '92', the most common association is the famous Manchester United team of the 1990s and 2000s that dominated English football.

Those players have long since hung up their boots but several members of that side have gone on to become 50% stakeholders in Salford City, transforming the Lancashire club into a professional establishment who have just been promoted from the Football League North into the National Conference. Meanwhile, arguably the most famous member of that Class of '92, has just established his own soccer franchise in the USA.

The 'other one'

Yet there is another Class of '92 that continue to dominate their sport who are still playing at the top of their game.

Ronnie O'Sullivan, John Higgins and Mark Williams all graduated as snooker professionals in 1992 and have become household names over the last two decades. A trio blessed with talent, mental strength and commitment to the game, the three snooker greats are not only regular members of the world top 16 but continue to impress on the main stage.

42-year old Higgins and 43-year old Williams will meet in the World Championship final this year after incredible all-round performances in the semi-finals by both players. It will be the 14th time in the last 20 years that at least one of the Class of '92 has been in the final, with 11 titles going to the trio (Ronnie O'Sullivan five, John Higgins four and Mark Williams two).

Yet this is certainly no Crucible fluke. The three veterans are all in the top five most decorated players across all ranking competitions in the modern era. Ronnie O'Sullivan sits second with 33 ranking titles, Higgins third with 30 and Williams fifth with 20, challenged only by Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis.

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Continuing to roll back the years

Their experience certainly gives them an edge over their rivals but their sustainability is a testament to their dedication to training that they are still competitive forces in the snooker world. Williams has endured personal challenges and very nearly retired last year but has come back as one of the form players this season, making the Crucible final for the first time in 15 years. Yet it won't be an easy task seeing off Higgins who has beaten the Welshman 15 times in 21 meetings between the pair.

Whilst Williams has been a bridesmaid to the likes of O'Sullivan, Higgins and Mark Selby, his 2018 final opponent has continued to linger around the trophy since becoming the first player of the Class of '92 to win the trophy in 1998. This will be Higgins' seventh Sheffield final after finishing runner-up to Selby last year but the first time he has met Williams in the last match of the competition.

One thing is for certain in the 2018 final, all elements of the game will be showcased by both Higgins and Williams in front of the Crucible crowd. Numerous players have wilted under the pressure but both will keep the fans on the edge of their seats with high-scoring breaks, accurate safety play and an element of showboating, a feature synonymous with the Williams game in particular.

Who will win? Your guess is as good as mine. Yet the winner is guaranteed to serve up more history with one of the 40-year olds set to become the oldest World Champion since Ray Reardon in 1978.
 

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