Who is Artemijs Zizins? The teenage snooker star making history for Latvia

Q School graduate and new professional snooker player, Artemijs Zizins. Credit: World Snooker FederationQ School graduate and new professional snooker player, Artemijs Zizins. Credit: World Snooker Federation
Q School graduate and new professional snooker player, Artemijs Zizins. Credit: World Snooker Federation | World Snooker Federation
The biggest story of 2024 Q School was the emergence and qualification of 17-year-old Latvian Artemijs Zizins.

This year’s youngest and most unexpected graduate, Zizins created history by becoming the first player from his country to reach snooker’s professional circuit.

To make the feat even more remarkable, it was Zizins’ Q School debut; his first event in the system. Having never been invited to a professional event before as an amateur wildcard, he was also completely new to the conditions of a World Snooker Tour organised event.

In a sport that would dearly love exceptional young talent to break through on the top tier, Zizins - who turned 18 on June 2 - was one of several players under 30 who qualified from either the UK or Asia based Q Schools over the past fortnight.

Zizins was first attracted to snooker when he was five-years-old after watching it on Eurosport. Since aged 10 he regularly competed in multi-national and international amateur events, such as the Baltic Snooker League.

At the 2022 European Amateur Snooker Championships in Albania, Zizins won the under-16 championship title after defeating Moldova’s Vladislav Gradinari in the final to become a continental champion.

A year later - in Malta - the teenager reached the semi-finals of the under-18s and quarter-finals of the under-21s.

Also in 2023, Zizins claimed his maiden Latvian National Snooker Championship title following victory against five-time winner Rodion Judin in the final. Only a few days before travelling to England for Q School, Zizins successfully defended the national crown when he denied 16-year-old Andrei Pripjok in the title contest.

During the 2023/24 amateur season, Zizins made his bow on the UK/Europe Q Tour, playing in three events where he registered several match wins, including a run to the last 16 in his debut outing.

At the 2024 European Amateur Snooker Championships in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zizins got to the last four of both the under-18 and 21 categories.

Whilst all the above was promising progress, few would have tipped Zizins to go all the way in Leicester and secure a tour card, but the youngster defied the odds and did just that. Zizins coasted through his opening three matches without dropping a frame - including a whitewash win over recent professional Victor Sarkis - before breaks of 128 and 86 helped him see off another former pro in Iulian Boiko, 4-2.

He then produced a bigger upset as he eliminated former ranking event finalist Mark Joyce 4-2 in the penultimate round and then compiled breaks of 120, 51 and 88 during a 4-2 triumph over Kayden Brierley at the last hurdle to earn promotion to snooker’s premier scene.

It will be interesting to see whether Riga cueist Zizins bases himself in the UK this season or if he travels back and forth to events from the continent. Being so young and having limited English may complicate this issue.

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