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Man of the World

Ralf Souquet's quest for perfection has taken him to all corners of the globe - and into the BCA Hall of Fame.

Story by Ted Lerner

The first European pool player in the Hall of Fame, Souquet's got the world at his fingertips. (Photo by Carina Altomonte)

RALF SOUQUET says he has logged nearly 3 million miles in his 20-plus years as a professional pool player. Over the long travels, taking his unique craft to all corners of the globe, collecting more than 250 titles, Souquet has always chased after one thing on the pool table: absolute perfection.

"Yes, I enjoy the competition," Souquet said, while in Manila for a series of tournaments in September. "But what really is my goal, I want to be 100% perfect. I know that this is just impossible in pool. Even though I know that, I want to get as close as possible to the 100%. Wherever that is. Maybe it's at 98.5% or 99. But I want to be as close as possible. Always."

It's this singular driving force in his famously steely makeup that has led the 42-year-old to never get overly satisfied, to always be looking to improve, whether it be on the table or off. His unrelenting drive for flawlessness in all aspects of his life is the main reason why he has become one of the greatest players ever, winning nearly every title there is to win, and why he has become known as perhaps the sport's classiest act.

Ultimately, it's this total package that has delivered Souquet into the BCA Hall of Fame.

Wherever on the globe he has played, Souquet has stared down pressure on the pool table, converted in impossible situations, outlasted greats, all the while leaving a trail of awe and admiration. He has also been on the receiving end of plenty of heartbreaking defeats in titanic matches that will long be remembered for their incredible drama. Perhaps even more important than all the hardware and checks he has taken home, though, is how Souquet has conducted himself, especially during those crushing defeats.

"His level of dedication and professionalism are key ingredients that stand out in my mind," said longtime pool commentator Jim Wych, who will introduce Souquet at the Hall of Fame Banquet, held Oct 22 alongside the U.S. Open in Chesapeake, Va. "His conduct at venues, dealing with fellow players and fans or even in the heat of battle has never been anything short of exemplary. He always carries himself with class and with distinction. He is a player that other players measure themselves by."

Although clearly overjoyed at the announcement of his election to the Hall of Fame in early August, Souquet admits that he has yet to experience that one special moment when the full meaning of his enshrinement has hit him.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," he said. Perfectly characteristic of Souquet, as he spoke, he was focused on taking care of the business of the moment at the World Cup of Pool (the scotch-doubles event in Manila he and his partner, Thorsten Hohmann, eventually won) just days after winning his sixth World Pool Masters (see story, pg. 54).

That Souquet has been elected to the Hall of Fame, and has simultaneously stepped up his game to another level should serve as notice to the rest of the pool playing world that, indeed, the best may be yet to come from the German. For any other 40-something sportsman, this may seem a bold statement. But look back at Souquet's approach to the sport and it's clear he could just be getting going. From the time he started playing in his parents' pub in the small village of Hoengen at the age of 6, Souquet has never been one to settle. He conquered Germany in his early teens, Europe as a young adult, and the world in the ensuing two decades.

All the while, his love for the game has remained.

"Every time, every rack is different and something new," Souquet said. "It's a constant challenge, a puzzle that you have to solve as quickly as possible. The older you get, you actually forget some things about the game. But you never get bored with the game."

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