Former world champion giving guidance to amateur snooker star Iulian Boiko in Q School bid

Credit: Andy Chubb/WPBSACredit: Andy Chubb/WPBSA
Credit: Andy Chubb/WPBSA
Ukrainian teenager Iulian Boiko began his latest Q School campaign with victory on Wednesday, and revealed after the match that he is currently working alongside a former world champion in order to improve his game.

Boiko reached the final of the 2020 World Snooker Federation Open in Malta and earned a World Snooker Tour card off the back of his impressive run. Aged just 14 at the time, he became the youngest ever professional player.

The exciting talent was relegated from the top tier after his two-year stint, although he started to pick up results towards the end of that spell. Since then, he has returned to competing on the secondary circuit, being very active in a plethora of series and events.

At last year’s Q School, Bokio made the final round of both events, narrowly missing out on promotion. He did however finish number one on the order of merit, meaning he played in several professional events throughout the 2023/24 season as a top-up player where he won several matches, including a run to the last 16 of the Shoot Out.

Still aged only 18, Boiko is back in Leicester trying to reclaim his full-time professional status by graduating from the 2024 UK Q School. In his opening match, he crafted breaks of 113 and 66 in a 4-1 victory against Jamie Burrett.

Following the win, Boiko spoke with World Snooker Tour and explained he is taking advice from 1997 World Champion Ken Doherty having reached out to the experienced Irishman asking him for help on his game. He said: “We started working with Ken pretty recently before the world championship. The first tournament wasn’t great but still I’ve learned a lot in the last month or so. Ken is a legend, he’s given me loads of advice and I feel like my brain has changed a little bit in a way I see the game and what shots I take on, so I’m happy with that.

“Unfortunately Ken might not be able to be here all the time this week because he’s busy doing the exhibitions and stuff but in general I’m still happy he’s there to give me a good piece of advice.”

Asked about how his new mentoring relationship with the six-time ranking event winner came about, Boiko said: “I did get in touch with Ken because I felt like I was struggling a bit. I was playing really well but couldn’t get the results and I was just looking for some reasons behind that and I was just searching for something new, a way to improve my game.

That’s what I always do even when I play well, I still try to look for something to improve and to get better because in this game you just can’t say ‘OK, I’m good enough’ and you know it’s a constant process of improving.”

Boiko kept his cards close to his chest when discussing what he and Doherty had been working on, but the teenager did provide a small insight into their work together: “It’s probably the risk management. I won’t go into details about that but it’s basically the shot I’m taking on in different moments at different times, whether it’s a right ball, it’s the wrong ball, so that’s the main difference and also in terms of splits and cannons and my position in the balls like around the black area; that’s sort of been the main difference.

“I feel more confident now and we’ll see how it impacts my game in the next rounds but Q School is difficult anyway, doesn’t matter how hard you’re working it’s still such a big challenge to come through this event so we’ll see.”

Boiko’s next match at Q School is on Friday morning against Estonia’s Andres Petrov.

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