Interview with Germany’s best – Lasse Münstermann

21:30:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

Extremely passionate about snooker, with a great desire to give something back to the sport he describes openly as his “life”, talented, ambitious, not afraid to speak his mind about what’s right and wrong and with an incredible beautiful smile – that’s Germany’s Lasse Münstermann.

When I decided to interview him I didn’t think I would get such straight answers and such clear opinions about what snooker means to him and how much a player has to endure in his way of becoming a pro.

So if you are in search of a soap-opera snooker story then I advise you to stop reading this. On the other hand, if you are looking for a reality check, then keep on scrolling down.
Turning the dream into reality

Lasse, has been committed to snooker since we was just an 11-year-old lad, the age when most boys take more interest on playing video games, rather than spend hours of practice on a snooker table.

Back then, everything seemed so simple, “Finish school, then go and play snooker! All day long...”, says Lasse recalling his first moments of “intimacy” with the green baize.

“I felt like being 13 years old for about five consecutive years. For me snooker meant doing something really interesting apart from going to school and learning things that didn’t really help me.”

But time has passed and the youngster turned into a proper snooker player, tasting both the fame and bitterness of what means to take this road.

In 1999 he won the EuroTour and got to play where every player dreams – on the magical MainTour, while in 2000 he kicked arse by beating big names like Rod Lawler, Matthew Stevens and Mark Williams in “Paul Hunter Classic” tournament from Germany.

He continued to rock around the snooker tables from the UK, but also the continent during the 2010/2011 season as well, when he enrolled in no less than 10 out of a total of 12 PTC events. And this time his “victim list” featured names like Adrian Gunnell, and legend Jimmy White.

In 2011 World Snooker Ltd. Chairman Barry Hearn announced a new way of getting yourself a spot next to the stars and that meant “going back to school”. The Q School, to be more precise. And as a very studious and hardworking player, Lasse was sure to take part on this new project.
Last year you enrolled into Q School for all three events. How was that experience like?

Do you think it’s a more transparent way for player to get a spot on the Main Tour? Have you registered for this year’s Q School also?

“It was the first time the Q School was held so everybody was very excited to be a part of it.”

“I practiced for the three weeks, but unfortunately I didn’t qualify for the Main Tour, nor played well. It happens. The standard was so high and the contestants were playing very good, in a very attacking manner. “

“Sure that the Q School is a transparent way of qualifying for the Main Tour. But you still need to win. You can call it PIOS, PTC or Q School … it doesn’t really matter.

“What’s really great about the Q School is the amount of money you save due to less travelling.”

“This year I didn’t enter the Q School, because my priorities have changed over the last months. I used to fight every day for getting on the Main Tour.

“After giving up my Snooker-Club near Düsseldorf with five snooker tables and moving to Munich I have other plans - a public club with Pool and Snooker tables and proper coaching possibilities – “

Let’s talk a bit about your snooker club then. I noticed on your website that you had an event called “Berlin Snooker Days” and that it was one of the kind (I detected the world “erste” there which I know means “first” – that’s as far as I can go with my rusty German ).

Could you tell us more about this event and others you run there?

“It’s been years since I no longer just play snooker, but also coach other who take interest in this sport. I’ve already coached more than 500 different people.

“This is done in either groups up to nine people or in single or double coaching.

“All that I’ve learnt in 22 years of playing snooker and well as what I was taught by my coaches is mixed into these coaching lessons. The lessons fit each player’s needs, if he’s a beginner of an advance one, and it can be done in private single sessions, double or in groups of up to nine people. Here you have the type of people who get coached twice”.

“Together with a very good friend of mine, whose also a great coach, I created a new coaching system. So for a full weekend 14 players can come to visit us in Berlin.”

“We cover from the basis of a simple straight shot up to playing angles, the physics of the white ball but also some funny games with learning aspects integrated.”

“All the participants were very happy at the end of our first (“erste“) coaching weekend and they’ve already asked for an advanced course. Each year we will hold these courses for beginners as well as for intermediates.”

What it really takes to become a pro

Germany loves snooker, there’s no doubt about that. And it seemed that the snooker promoters have acknowledged that fact and decided to bring more and more snooker events into the country. After the PTCs came a revived German Masters, a tournament that has reached its second edition already and it’s very popular there.

Have these events had an impact on raising the number of people interested in following a career as snooker players?

“With more than 14,000 tickets sold for the German Masters (which is a world record) Germany has definitely shown its snooker potential. But that’s only the spectator and business potential.

“With snooker existing and being played in Germany for about 30 years we still can’t provide the Main Tour with German top pros. I am sure that our youngsters, being able to see the professional game will, at a certain point, think of becoming Main Tour players as well, but there’s a big issue with that.

“The problem lies in aspects like school, family, money, the missing managers with money and the structures in Germany for becoming a professional player.”

“Your parents must be rich enough to pay for everything. They need to accept you quitting school. You have to go to the UK to practice. “

“I really don’t want to go too far with this, but yes, many more people came to see how snooker really works. And although they have the motivation, none have the proper surrounding yet!”

So basically it is hard for a German player to make a living out of playing snooker? 

“I would change the question. Is it hard for any player in the world to make a living out of snooker?”

“The answer is definitely YES!”

“This is a fulfilling fulltime job if you are lucky with to have money left to go out and have a great meal.”

“When you start to play snooker it’s a hobby. You have a job because you need to pay the rent, the car, the insurance, phone, food etc. But when you change that status to professional or self-employed things tend get worse. You’ll have more expenses.”

“Travelling for taking part in tournaments, paying for hotels, paying the entry fees … all that adds to your common expenses and not to forget taxes.

“Let’s just imagine a scenario: when you earn, let’s say 4.000€ (net) per month because you have a job, then you are a very lucky person because you can play snooker as a professional by living abroad.”

“The tricky part is that you can’t put too much practice into it because, having a job means not enough time. You need to practice, so you have to earn that money without a job! It’s a vicious circle.”

“This is the main problem for us all trying to enter the Main Tour. And that’s why I decided not to play in national or international events next season.”

Still, how do you see snooker evolving, both nationally and globally?

“This is a really difficult question.“

“Changes had to be made for the global snooker circuit and I think it was for the best.. There are a lot of tournaments now. Maybe a bit too many, but time will tell.”

“For Germany I can only say one thing: things are brilliant for the spectators of this sport. There are so many events where the pros can be watched and approached. This is what we need.”

“The only thing missing would be a German player in the Top 32 being seen on television winning some matches here and there. I am sure then the Tennis Boris Becker effect will take place. From that point on, it will be just a matter of time before snooker starts growing.”

Keep calm and … play snooker

And yet, with all those ups and downs, Lasse hasn’t given up on the sport that has made him known all across the planet. Germany’s snooker ambassador looks at snooker as an endless way of improving yourself, as a player as well as a person.

“Snooker is quiet and colourful and intends to be a gentleman sport. For me is not just a sport. It brings me to the edge of my knowledge every way.

“It will never ever become boring. Every time when you think you understand a certain fact, snooker shows you the merciless reality. This pushes me back to the table day in and day out to play and practice.”, says a very determined Lasse.

Lasse, do you have any favourite snooker players that you would like to face in a match? Or maybe you’ve even faced them already?

“Throughout my career I’ve nearly played against all of them, but I’ve never faced Ronnie O’Sullivan in a match.”

“For me one thing is highly important. When I play snooker with someone I can’t stand it when he doesn’t respect the game. Smashing the cue on the table, playing each shot at maximum speed, being angry on a bad shot or my lucky shot, trying all the little stupid tricks to break the concentration level and so on. He just needs to enjoy the game and have a good time with me.”

For more information about Lasse and his future plans, please visit his official website.