I know the importance of determination and hard work, having put in countless hours at the pool table to sharpen my skills and become a champion. Part of this comes from my love of the game while the other half comes from sheer necessity. As a result, I have quickly risen to become one of the top players in the world – with a World Championship and an appearance in the Mosconi Cup already on my resume.
Born in Moscow, Russia in May of 2000 and raised in the city’s countryside, I first tried alpine skiing, soccer, taekwondo and canoeing as a young child but was drawn to the Russian Pyramid table – a form of billiards played on a six-by-12-foot table – in our family home. My father invited a Russian Pyramid coach to the house to provide lessons when I was six years old and I was soon enrolled in the instructor’s billiard school. Although I enjoyed the game, I also struggled to find success due to having a small body and attempting to compete on such a large table. When I was 10 years old, another coach asked if I would like to switch to a different discipline called pool, the American game played on a nine-foot table. I was immediately hooked on the competitive side of the game and quickly began playing in amateur tournaments in Moscow as well as a couple of official junior events, winning my first junior competition at age 12 and becoming a Russian National team member just two years later.
After the sudden and unexpected death of my father when I was a teenager, I began treating pocket billiards not so much as a game but as a means to support my family, spending hours after school training each day. My first big win on the European scene was in 2015 when I won the pupil’s division in straight pool at the European Championship and the first major professional victory came when I earned first place honors at the EuroTour’s Treviso Open three years later. The pinnacle of my burgeoning career came in December of 2019 when I defeated Chinese Taipei’s Jun-Ling Chang to win my first World 9-Ball Championship at the age of 19, making me the second-youngest competitor in history to win the world title. Since this victory, I have snapped off back-to-back Arcadia Arizona Open championships, competed on the winning European Mosconi Cup team in 2020 and was named Master of the Table for my performance at the 2022 Derby City Classic, a 10-day competition which tests a player’s ability to compete at multiple disciplines such as 9-ball, 10-ball, one-pocket and bank pool.
Although I remain one of the hardest working players in the game, my career and the success I’ve achieved would not have been possible without my vast support system which includes family, very good friends and sponsors such as Mike and Vladimir Nikolaev in Russia as well as Jason and Alan Sword in the United States, my coaches, the Russian federation and sponsors such as Cuetec and Diamond Billiard Products.