Anton Kazakov from Ukraine has won the 2022 World Snooker Federation Junior Championship and will get a professional tour card, starting next season, provided he accepts the challenge.
Congratulations Anton Kazakov!
A few months ago, Ben Mertens, from Belgium, won the under-18 European Championship in Portugal. His opponent in the final was Julien Leclercq, also from Belgium. Julien’s opponent in the semi-final was from Hungary.
Ben and Julien also went on to win the team event featuring players from all age groups.
In this event, the runner-up, Jake Crofts also faced a young Belgian in his semi-final.
I’m not writing this because of some kind od “national pride” but because I feel that at junior level, players from mainland Europe, particularly from Eastern Europe and from Belgium, are getting at the same level as the UK/Irish lads or maybe even better. Whether this will translate into success on the main Tour remains to be seen because as it is, the UK centric nature of the main Tour means that it’s not a level playing field.
Kazakov Claims Junior Title in Sheffield
Anton Kazakov has won the 2022 World Snooker Federation Junior Championship following a 5-3 defeat of Jake Crofts at the Ding Junhui Snooker Academy in Sheffield, England.
Held for the second time following the inaugural staging of the tournament won by China’s Gao Yang in 2020, the tournament saw over 60 of the world’s most promising junior talents battle it out for the title, with the promise of a two-year professional tour card on offer to the eventual champion.
Having eased through his group match for the loss of just one frame, 17-year-old Kazakov claimed an impressive run of victories that included the scalps of Liam Pullen, Liam Graham and Liam Davies to reach the final.
Awaiting the former Ukrainian national champion was an opponent competing far closer to home in Jake Crofts, who from Sheffield was competing in his first international competition, having previously competed in national events on the English junior tours.
The final itself would prove to be a hard fought affair, which saw the opening four frames shared as Kazakov top scored with a run of 56 in frame three, before Crofts claimed the next on the black to head into the interval all-square.
The match statistics favoured Kazakov however, who having enjoyed a significantly higher pot success rate and having potted a greater number of balls than his young opponent, would ultimately make the advantage tell by claiming three of the following four frames to secure the title and a place on the professional circuit from the start of the following season.
Kazakov was presented with both the trophy – and the formal offer of his World Snooker Tour card – by WSF President Jason Ferguson following the final, with former WSF Open finalist and countryman Iulian Boiko among those in attendance to celebrate a landmark victory.