John Higgins completed the set of Class of ’92 players to attempt a controversial and cautious break-off at the World Championship.
Mark Williams has made the shot famous at the Crucible, with the Welshman’s tactic of rolling the cue ball down the baize so it bounces off the bottom cushion to nestle in the pack of reds causing a stir.
Ronnie O’Sullivan also played it during his match with Anthony McGill on Friday, while Higgins did the same during his second-round clash with Williams.
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A ripple of laughter went around the Crucible when Higgins opened the third frame with a cagey break-off, with the players exchanging a joke before Williams theatrically shrugged.
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"And now Higgins is at it as well," said Phil Studd on Eurosport commentary. "What’s going on, Dom?"
"Mind games," said co-commentator Dominic Dale.
"If these two continue breaking off in that fashion then I think there’ll be other players following suit fairly shortly."
The shot has gathered momentum in Sheffield as the world’s top players seek to nullify the risk of leaving on a long red, something that often happens via a conventional break.
Judd Trump has branded the shot “negative” and urged his fellow professionals to make the sport more entertaining, but Williams had dismissed the criticism.
“How can they ban a perfectly legal shot?” he said after his first-round win over Sam Craigie.
Are they going to start banning rolling up to the baulk colours or when the white goes behind the black?
“They’ve sent an email asking players what they think about it. Get on with it. There are a lot of worse things happening than worrying about my poxy break-off.”
Interestingly, Studd noted that Higgins’ antics was the sixth such break-off on Friday – and four of them had left a loose red for their opponent.
“I think if this is the way forward, there needs to be a bit more practice,” Studd concluded.
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