The American, who won the event last year and is ranked 3rd in the AFP World Tour rankings, posted a score of 92:00.
Swiss rider Andri Ragettli posted the exact same score in his heat and Frenchman Jeremy Pancras finished in third, but Williams will be the man to drop last in tomorrow morning’s semi-finals.
Australian Russ Henshaw matched Pancras’ score of 87.75 in what was a very tight contest on a perfect slopestyle course in Vars.
But there was huge disappointment for the current World Champion, Fabian Boesch, who picked up an injury and won’t get a chance to go one better than his second place at the SFR Tour in Val Thoren’s last month.
Williams produced a near-perfect run, which included a Switch Double Bio 1260, to lay down the gauntlet ahead of tomorrow’s finals.
But he’ll have to make it through the semi-finals first and there will be a stacked field lining up tomorrow including X Games Big Air bronze medalist Elias Ambuhl, Jonas Hunziker and Antti Ollila.
There are also plenty of local riders for the French fans to get behind in Vars with Hugo Laugier, Antoine Adelisse, Jules Bonnaire and Quentin Ladame all hoping to impress the home crowd, along with Pancras.
Don’t forget to watch the finals LIVE on Extreme.com at 1:15pm CET on Thursday 19th February.