by Ben Hudd • February 2, 2023
Wiktor Zielinski is the leading light on a conveyor belt of prodigiously-talented youngsters emerging from Poland. Already a multiple-time Euro Tour champion and ranked number seven in the world, the 22-year-old is perhaps the most promising prospect in nineball pool.
Despite his most prosperous achievements coming in the 10-ball discipline and him being so far unable to transform that into the major tournaments, many pool aficionados are convinced that it’s only a matter of time until Zielinski lives up to exceptions in the glittering nineball arena.
For an extremely encouraging career which was set into motion by watching the likes of reigning world champion Shane van Boening on television and receiving a present from his grandparents, Poznan’s Zielinski is well on course to measure up to the anticipation and apprehension surrounding him.
“Fourteen years ago I saw snooker and pool on TV and I wanted to try those games,” explained Zielinski, in conversation with absolute-pool.com. “My parents figured out that we have a club 100 metres away from home so they went with me there and I really liked this.
“So they kept going there with me and finally they signed me up for some kind of billiards school. Also my grandma bought that time a super mini pool table, something like a three-foot table, and I was playing on it almost everyday.”
Having etched his name into the history books at the tender age of 16 when becoming the youngest ever Euro Tour champion, Zielinski has come on leaps and bounds over the last 18 months. He has developed a reputation and become a contest for anybody.
Zielinski snapped off two Euro Tour tournaments at the beginning of last season, before reaching the final of the renowned International Open in Virginia, defeating the likes of Joshua Filler, Fedor Gorst, Ko Pin-Yi and Carlo Biado during that incredible campaign.
His most noteworthy achievement has come on the 10-ball scene nonetheless, with the Polish youngster defeating Aloysius Yapp to win the Las Vegas Open last March during the Predator Pro Billiard Series. That accomplishment pocketed him $30,000 and proved his undeniable strength.
“It’s definitely the best period in my career,” Zielinski expressed. “Overall I changed my practice system. I started practicing more alone when the Covid pandemic started. I think that helped me a lot because before I was mostly just playing some sets with my friends while now I am trying to play alone almost every time.
“I also got some lessons from Alex Lely which really helped me a lot. I believe all these things turned my game into a better one. I’ve become a more complete player. My results were consistent and my mental strength was way better than ever.”
Perhaps that invaluable coaching from the former European Mosconi Cup captain has been the impetus behind Zielinski’s growth. His unequivocal mental strength and confidence in his own ability has also proved an instrumental aspect of his game.
“Whenever I start doing something I always believe that I can be successful in it. My dream was to win the World Championship title since I was ten, and I won’t stop playing pool for sure until I’ve done it,” the talented Zielinski added.
“I just always want to be the best, especially in all types of games. Recently I really got into darts and who knows, maybe one day I will play in world championships there as well!”
Zielinski now has an opportunity to fulfil his lifelong aspiration on home soil. The 22-year-old will receive the support of a home audience in Kielce, with the prestigious World Pool Championship visiting his native Poland for the first time in its history.
“I don’t know what to expect to be honest. I hope that this will be an unforgettable event for me,” said the Pole. “I have never played such a big event in Poland. Hopefully many people will also come to support me and not only me but the whole Polish team.
“It seems that a lot of people are involved in it, and are trying to their best to make this event a good one. I hope that this event will be a big success and I would love to see more Matchroom events in future in Poland as we have really big billiards community.”
Zielinski has achieved all those aforementioned feats despite still studying in his home country and working towards his degree, with the world number seven opting against travelling to the recent Derby City Classic in order to make amends for his previous trips.
“I am still a student and still need to make up all things from October and November while I was in the US,” Zielinski explained, having spent seven weeks across the pond competing in tournaments such as the International Open, Puerto Rico Open and World 8-Ball Championship.
“Also right now I am in the middle of examination season, which means I am really busy and don’t have much time to play pool. One year left to finish it so I think it’s worth to not give up now. That doesn’t mean that I am not training at all. Whenever I have at least two or three hours free I am going to practise.”
A sought after spot on the famous Mosconi Cup team is the holy grail of nineball pool for European players. Zielinski was undoubtedly involved in that conversation following his exploits last season, and the Pole has intentions of qualifying via the rankings this term.
“Before tournaments you always think about things like that,” an honest Zielinski revealed. “But during the tournament and playing matches, you can’t think about this as it can distract you really easy.
“I am trying to focus to play my best and see what will happen. But of course playing Mosconi Cup is still one of my dreams and I believe my time will come there.”