22 November 2006
Ralf Souquet talks to Pro9.co.uk about the WPC and the Mosconi Cup
Ralf Souquet started playing pool at the age of six and won his first German Championship at the age of fourteen. In 1997 he received the 'Silberne Lorbeerblatt' (the "Silver Laurel Leaf"), the highest distinction for sportsmen in Germany, presented by the German President, Roman Herzog.
Now he is known as the "Emperor", the "Master", the "Kaiser" of pool... He's been there and done it. World Championships, EuroTours, Mosconi Cups, US Opens, World Pool Masters... He's played in them all, and won most.
How does he feel about his recent performance at the World Pool Championships? Did he win the Silver Medal? Or LOSE the Gold? How is he preparing for the Mosconi Cup? What can Europe do differently to improve their chances of winning?
Pro9.co.uk asked him all this and more... "Read More" for the details.
www.Pro9.co.uk Congratulations on your terrific result at the World Pool Championships in Manila, I understand you were in two minds about it... On the one hand, it was a great result, but at the same time you feel you've missed a chance. Why is that and how do you feel now?
Ralf Souquet: Thank you very much. Immediately after the finals I felt like I had lost a Gold medal. Not because I had played better than Alcano, just that I had a big opportunity to win the biggest title in the sport and I didn’t perform well enough. I just was frustrated about how I had given this chance away so easily. On the other hand and now, about a week afterwards, the situation is different. With that Silver Medal I have jumped in the WPA world rankings back to number 1 in the overall rankings and that makes me feel a lot better again. And of course, there was only 1 man better than me in the hardest event of the year and all others were behind me. Therefore I am happy now which doesn’t mean that I am satisfied with it.
www.Pro9.co.uk You won the World Pool Championship in 1996, do you really think you can win it again?
Ralf Souquet: Yes absolutely yes. For me there is no doubt that I will win this title again before the end of my career.
www.Pro9.co.uk Why is it so important or special to win the WPC in the Philippines?
Ralf Souquet: It is not very important for me to win the title in the Philippines, but it would be nice to win it there. It would be an honour to win the title in a country where pool is the biggest sport and a player (Efren Reyes) is a national hero. I wouldn’t mind winning the World Championships anywhere else, but in the motherland of pool would be just different.
www.Pro9.co.uk What was it like to be Ralf Souquet when the crowd chanted your name at the presentation of the medals at the WPC?
Ralf Souquet: It felt weird for a moment because I didn’t expect the crowd to shout my name. On the other hand I was in tears and couldn’t really talk clearly for a moment and therefore it made me feel better and gave me the power to overcome that moment. It showed me that the Filipino people respect me and my game and I am happy for that. I always like to go back there because the atmosphere is amazing in the Philippines.
www.Pro9.co.uk The Mosconi Cup is coming next month, what do you think Europe's chances are like this year?
Ralf Souquet: I think that the chances to win the Mosconi Cup are the same than in all the previous years. Team Europe has, when you just see the results in the international events, an edge over Team USA. But the past has shown that the spirit in the American Team seemed to work better than in our team. I hope and believe that this will be different this year. With our non playing captain, Johan Ruijsink, we will have a powerhouse that could make the difference.
www.Pro9.co.ukLately it seems that mathematically, Europe should win... Why do you think we still struggle to beat the Americans?
Ralf Souquet: I keep thinking about this for more then a decade I haven’t found an answer yet. Is it that most of us don’t speak the mother language and cannot build up the team spirit therefore? I wish I had an answer to it. Maybe we stress ourselves too much about winning so badly. I guess when we go into the event, thinking it would be a regular tournament, we may destroy Team USA in a way that nobody can imagine. But it probably will be another tough fight until the end, with hopefully Team Europe at the better end.
www.Pro9.co.uk If you were Captain again, with full control, who would you pick to represent Europe?
Ralf Souquet: This is a question that I cannot answer. First of all, it maybe unfair to some players and secondly, all the players on the team deserve to be there in one or another way. Of course we could have 4 Germans on the team but maybe we can save that for a new team competition in the future.
www.Pro9.co.uk Which do you prefer, the singles matches or the doubles?
Ralf Souquet: I haven’t played in the doubles since Matchroom has changed the format to alternate shots. In the singles you get a better rhythm than in the doubles but I like to play doubles as well because you can talk to your partner and that builds up the team spirit.
www.Pro9.co.uk Well, good luck to Team Europe.
Moving on... Ralf, sponsorship is a bit of a mystery to many players here. You seem to have more sponsors that all the other pool player's added together... Can you please give us some ideas? How are you so successful at getting sponsors? What do you say and how do you get them?
Ralf Souquet: Well I don’t know if it is like that. I believe you have to be a good representative for the sport as well as a role model for up and coming players. If you are successful in tournaments as well, then you have the perfect combination to attract sponsors. You don’t need to be a Champion to get sponsorships, but if you act like a true sportsman and you know how to behave on and off the table, the chances are pretty big.
www.Pro9.co.uk I don't want to be rude, but we all want to know what sort of deals your sponsors provide, can you tell us?
Ralf Souquet: This is another important part. Never talk about money and try to be a smartass. People need to trust you as their representative and therefore it should be in common not to talk about it. It’s not always the money that counts. It’s more the loyalty to a company that makes the difference. If you change sponsors (products) too often, then you lose in value to the market and the start of a sinking ship.
www.Pro9.co.uk What would be your advice to someone who is just starting a professional career in pool now?
Ralf Souquet: When does a professional pool career start? You can’t just start playing events and then say “I am a pro player from now on”. A professional career usually just happens by itself. Many players make the mistake of trying to be a pro player. Just try to be a player and keep working hard on the game. If you are successful then people will recognize you and the chance of getting a sponsor is bigger then. You have to go step by step and build up your name. This doesn’t work as a backroom player that gambles and hustles all the time. You need to make yourself a name by winning tournaments and show that you are on the right path to be a sportsman in the future. It won’t happen overnight, it may take years and years…
www.Pro9.co.uk Ralf, thank you very much for you time, congratulations again on a terrific result at the World Pool Championships, and good luck in the Mosconi Cup.
Ralf Souquet: Thanks a lot and hope to see you guys in Rotterdam.
Name: Ralf Souquet
Born: November 29, 1968, Eschweiler, county Aachen, Germany
Marital Status: Divorced
Children: Daughter Celine, born on February 1st, 1997
Education and professional training: High school, studies of small and medium size trade organizations in the automotive segment
Profession: Professional Pool-Billiard player since 1991
"Experience shows that, provided one recognizes at an early stage the future patterns, one can act rapidly when the moment of execution has come."
"The love for my billiard sport is my motivation for success."
"Nothing great has ever been achieved without enthusiasm."
"I want to stay connected to this sport for the rest of my life."
"I would love to see the billiard sport to gain the recognition (Olympic games, media) it deserves for a long time already."