In a stunning display of youthful talent, Liam Graham from Scotland emerged victorious in the 2023 EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championship. Held at the Dolmen Hotel in Qawra, Malta. It was hosted by the Malta Billiards and Snooker Association, this year’s event attracted a total of 96 players from 30 different countries, all vying for the coveted title.
Graham, an 18-year-old prodigy from Glasgow, dominated his round-robin group, winning all three matches without dropping a single frame. However, he faced tougher competition in the knockout phase, overcoming some serious obstacles to reach the final.
In the last 32, he had to dig deep to defeat 12-year-old Matvei Lagodzinschii from Ukraine, winning the match 4-3. Graham then rallied back from a 3-1 deficit to take down Riley Powell from Wales in the last 16, securing his place in the quarter-finals.
In the quarters, Graham overcame Artemijs Žižins from Latvia 4-2, and in the semi-finals, he faced off against Ryan Davies from England, whom he defeated 4-1 with the help of a superb 78 break.
On the other side of the draw, former professional player Iulian Boiko from Ukraine was making waves of his own. Boiko became the first Ukrainian player to reach the final of this prestigious championship, breezing through his group without losing a frame. He then recovered from behind in his opening three knockout matches before dispatching Robbie McGuigan from Northern Ireland 4-0 in the semi-finals, thanks to some impressive runs of 79 and 75.
In the final, Graham and Boiko put on a fantastic display of snooker, thrilling the spectators with their skill and precision. After dropping the opening frame, Graham stormed ahead, winning frames three and four to take a commanding 3-1 lead. Boiko fought back with a fantastic break of 101, but it wasn’t enough as Graham won frame six and then sealed the championship with a stunning long pink followed by a tricky black in frame seven.
Graham’s victory earned him a promotion to the World Snooker Tour for the first time in his career, a remarkable achievement for such a young player. He is now set to compete with the sport’s elite, armed with a World Snooker Tour card for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 seasons.
With this win, Graham becomes the third Scottish player to win Europe’s premier junior snooker competition, following in the footsteps of Mark Allen, Michael White, and Luca Brecel, all of whom have gone on to become professional ranking event winners. With his raw talent and remarkable skills, Graham looks set to follow in their footsteps and make his mark on the world of snooker.