With the lack of events to report on at the moment, we are teaming with the Supr Charged Agency to feature interviews with various European and American players. Hopefully this will give all of the readers a chance to get to know these players better. 
 
First off, we have Mario “Panda” He from Austria.
 
Mario He was born August 3rd, 1993 in Rankweil, Austria. He is a former winner of the European Pool Championships, and winner of both the 2017 and 2019 World Cup of Pool events alongside Albin Ouschan. He has also won five Euro Tour events between 2016 and 2019, an accomplishment shared with only six other players in history.
 
Read more about his fifth Euro Tour win here.
 
Q. First off, can you tell us about the Panda nickname? How and when did that get started?
 
A. Well, Albin called me that once, and I guess it fits me.
 
Q. When did you get started with the game?
 
A. I started playing in 2004 at the age of 11 years old at a pool hall called "Patrick´s” in Ranweil.
 
My idol when growing up and still to this very day, is Wu Jiaqing. I am impressed by the Chinese players and I can see that China produces a lot of great young players.
 
Q. What first got you interested in playing pool?
 
A. A friend in my school took me to the pool club and when I started playing, I immediately loved it. i just love the way the game is set up, always different layouts, and limitless ways to  improve your game.
 
Q. What are your greatest accomplishments so far in your career? 
 
A. 2 x World Cup of Pool Champion
5 x Eurotour Winner
European Champion
 
Q. Can you tell us a little about those wins?
 
A. Both WCOP wins were amazing, especially the 2nd one after a very bad time in my career (4 months ban). I can still feel the consequences and it‘s more than 1 year ago.
 
All the Eurotour wins were great, because I guess it‘s one of the toughest tournaments to win since there are so many great players from Europe competing and many unknown, but fantastic players participating.
 
Q. How often did you practice when you were getting started? 
 
A. When I was younger I practiced 5-7 days a week and 3-6 hours each session. I felt addicted to pool and I got so excited just to enter the pool club.  
 
Q. How about now? Do you still practice that much?
 
A. Today I‘m playing so many events that I don‘t have so much time to get to practice, but when I have a week off, I go 4-5 times a week and the session is 2-4 hours. I use some drills, but mostly I replay difficult situations from previous matches and standard shots.
 
Q. What should newcomers to the game focus on the most?
 
A. The most important thing is to get a good straight stroke. It‘s also important to be able to play all shots both without and with english. Having those basics makes the more difficult steps much easier.
 
Q. What do you consider the strongest part of your own game?
 
A. I am getting stronger in critical situations and have a good shot selection. 
 
Q. What is your favorite game and why?
 
A. 9-ball and straight pool. 9-ball is a very dynamic and offensive game, but also a little defense is needed to be successful. There are many 2-way shots and in 9-ball the craziest best shots are made.
 
Straight pool was one of the first disciplines which I was practicing every day until today. It‘s a great game to improve your own game, seeing different ways to run out a rack and get to know a lot about splitting balls.
 
Q. Is fitness important for pool players?
 
A. Yes, fitness is important for pool players, especially for tournament players who need to stay focused in tournaments over a period of time. It’s also smart to have good fitness for your overall health.
 
Q. What are the 3 most important factors in terms of technique?
 
A. 1. Having a straight stroke 
2. Having good cue action 
3. Stay down during the shot
 
Q. Which players do you think are the tops in those aspects of the game today?
 
A. It‘s difficult to say who has the best stroke today. I think Joshua Filler and Fedor Gorst are the straightest shooters and Jayson Shaw and Jeffrey De Luna might have the best cue action. As far as what I would call a smooth stroke, I really like Ruslan Chinakhov’s stroke.  
 
Q. How is your own mental strength and do you have any advice for players who need to work on that part of their game?
 
A. I think my own mental strength is at a top level. I love to get into pressure situations and I can handle it. I have never felt the Mosconi Cup situation, but I‘m looking forward to getting to know the feeling of this event one day.
 
In terms of advice, I can say that you need to be self-critical and work on your weaknesses. Take advice from the right people and play with stronger opponents. Play big events to get stronger.
 
Q. How important is the equipment you play with?
 
A. Nowadays there are so many different products on the market that the importance of having the right equipment is very important. 
 
For example, the chalk. I actually think this might be one of the most important factors when it comes to the equipment.
 
Even before I got sponsored by them, I used the TAOM chalk. I think it‘s the best chalk at the market right now. Since I started using TAOM chalk about a year and half ago, I have gotten maybe 2-3 skids total. The chalk just feels good, not too creamy and it has a good grip on the tip.
 
Q. In your opinion, what is required to be a good ambassador/sponsored player?
 
A. It‘s important to represent the sponsor on the events the sponsored player plays. Also social media is a good way to announce your sponsors after a post. The communication has to be good between player and sponsor, also everyone has to treat each other very well and represent each other the best way they can. The most important thing is that both parts are satisfied with what they get from each other. Different sponsors may want different things. A local company from Austria, for example, wants to see the player on national TV and not just in a stream of some event. 
 
Q. What's the main differences between events in Europe and the US?
 
A. Usually in the US there is more prize money because there is also a higher entry fee, which I think is good. In Europe I think we have very well organized tournaments. It‘s a different feeling when you play an event in Europe, like the Eurotour. You feel straight from the 1st round that it‘s a tournament and not a gambling game. In the US you might have some side action going on, which is not bad, but I think it‘s always important to concentrate on one thing.
 
Q. What are your goals for 2020?
 
A. At the moment it‘s difficult to tell my goals for this year because of the situation right now. I cancelled the US Open because I‘m not allowed to fly to the US. (Ed. Note: This interview took place before the US Open’s Postponement)
 
I‘m always trying to play my best game and to win as much as possible. This year I am not sure what‘s going to be played and which tournaments are going to be postponed or even cancelled.
 
Q. Who do you think will win the big events this year? 
 
A. - World Cup of Pool
I hope Austria ;)
 
- US Open
SVB or Filler
 
- 9-ball WC
I hope ME, but many players can win this event.
 
- 2020 Mosconi Cup 
EUROPE!
 
This interview was conducted in partnership with Supr Charged Agency, specializing in exposure for billiard players and brands.