If you are a cue sport enthusiast, you must have heard of Gareth Potts. The ‘Golden Boy’ used to be an English 8-Ball professional before he made the smooth transition to Chinese Pool, after crowning the inaugural World Chinese Pool Masters in 2013. Adored by tons of diehard fans, his career in China has been nothing short of remarkable. This week, we had an interview with the 3-time Chinese Pool Masters winner.
Q1: Congrats Gareth, what a performance in your Duel King debut. It just reminds us the first time you played the World Chinese Pool Masters Grand Finals in 2013. Tell us more about your journey with Chinese Pool.
A: When I played Chinese Pool for the first time in 2013, I had never played before, never seen the table before, never played any American pool before, so the balls, the equipment, everything was completely different for me. What happened in 2013 was amazing. I have never played a 9-Ball competition before, so the Chinese 9-Ball was completely new but it couldn’t be any further away from traditional 9-Ball.
I played probably the number 1 and 2 ranked players in China, my first 2 matches so obviously it was a tough start for me, so I’m happy to get those wins. It’s always a great challenge for me whenever I play Yang Fan or Zhang Kunpeng.
It’s so different to 8-Ball and it’s definitely tougher because you only play position on one ball, while 8-Ball you have the option of playing position on 5 or 6 balls sometimes. The cue ball control is the key. Because it’s so difficult I found it is a new challenge, its so different to 8-Ball which I played all my life, and because of the challenge, I am enjoying it, so it was a good start for me, but obviously, there is a long way to go.
Q2: The first time you played Chinese 8-Ball, you won the world champion, the first time you played Chinese 9-Ball you beat your opponent. People say you are talented, do you agree?
A: I don’t really want to say that I am talented or I am not talented, I will leave that down to the fans and people to decide. Yes, I won the first Masters but that is very different to only winning my first 2 matches of the duel king. I still have a long way to go, I am not getting excited about that yet. I won 2 matches and I played good, but we’ll see what happens. There are 7 other great champions in this event. I always want to win in anything that I do, I don’t want to finish 2nd, or 3rd. That is the way I have always been. I’m ultra competitive, whatever I do I always want to win. I am looking forward to the rest of the tournament, I just carry on the way I am and come to the end of the tournament in September, hopefully I can be playing in the final.
Q3: In former interviews, you mentioned that Chinese players improved fast. While in China, Chinese Pool players and fans believe that your appearance jump-started the growth of Chinese Pool. How much do you think Chinese Pool changed your life? And how much have you changed Chinese Pool?
A: In interviews people always say to me that I changed the way of Chinese Pool, I take this as a huge compliment, if I can change the way of something as big as Chinese Pool, this is like something that is hugely satisfying and humbling. But this is not me saying this, if people want to say that about me, that is great, I really appreciate when people say it, but I just try to concentrate on what I do.
As for the Chinese players, when I first came to China in 2013 to the standard they are playing now they definitely did improve a lot. The break is a big thing, no one breaking in my way before, but all of the Chinese players have got that break now, I think the general standard of Chinese players have been improved, whether that’s down to me, whether that down to more tournaments from JOY, I think that’s down to a combination of a lot of things, not just me.
As Chinese Pool changed my life, yes, I played English 8-Ball for a long time, that was my life from I was 7 years old, I haven’t play any English 8-Ball for 6 or 7 years, I only play Chinese Pool, if I have any impact on the players’ and fans’ life from Chinese Pool, this is incredible. And something you know I take pleasure of knowing and if I inspired only one person to start playing Chinese Pool this is enough for me.
Q4: What kind of characteristics do you think a professional Chinese Pool player should have？
A: I think Chinese Pool is a hybrid cue sport, a combination of Snooker, American Pool and English 8-Ball. So I think the characteristics that the perfect Chinese Pool player should have is a little bit of everything. You have to be very good at 8-Ball and know the patterns, you need to have a good technique and good fundamentals. You also have to be very smart and clever at times and ultimately very good under pressure because there’s no where to hide on a Chinese Pool table.
Q5: Use 3 words to describe yourself as a pool player.
A: Ambitious, confident, motivated.
Q6: Do you have any goals in future Chinese Pool tournaments?
A: Try to keep on improving. Trying to keep on achieving as much as I can. I work hard on the table and I believe you can always improve and learn no matter what’s your level. I like to win and the feeling of winning is like no other so to win as many tournaments as I can before I hang my cue up, whenever that is. Now I am playing at the Duel King, and the World Chinese Pool Masters Grand Finals in January I want to get my title back so I am working towards that.
In China especially the fans have been incredible to me and make me feel like one of their own. sometimes I play matches in China against Chinese players and feel like the home player which is amazing. Without the fans and their support none of players would have anything. I have made some great friends in China and it’s almost like my second home now.