All eyes on the future: fan profile: Lewis Pirnie

Mar 7 / Snooker System

In the first of a new series of fan interviews, Snooker System catches up with a baize enthusiast just before his trip to Yushan.

Let us introduce you to a fan who isn’t afraid to go on a globetrotting expedition when it comes to following the game he loves.

Already this campaign, Lewis Pirnie has clocked up the airmiles by heading to Macuo and Berlin to watch snooker’s top stars and he’s about to board another flight as he heads out for this month’s World Open in Yushan and the World Women’s Snooker Championship in Dongguan.

“The flights are booked,” he told Snooker System. “It just felt like too good of an opportunity to let it pass me by and it’s a chance to see two important tournaments for the development of the sport globally.

“The game has always totally fascinated me and there’s no sign of that changing.”

Lewis’ snooker love affair runs deep. Like many, his passion for the sport began during the snooker boom back in the 1980s when not only he became a big fan but a handy amateur player too.

Lewis started playing in 1986 and competed at club level for several years. His ability to play at a high level unfortunately ended in the early 2000s when he suffered from an eye condition called retinopathy meaning he required several operations to save his eyesight.

But this setback hasn’t spoiled his love of the game. In fact, he’s a regular at many of the events on the calendar.

Unlike many who grew up on a snooker diet of Steve Davis, Jimmy White and Alex Higgins, Lewis does not yearn for yesteryear. Instead, he wants future expansion and is intrigued by how big this game can really get, which of course explains his commitment in following the potters to new corners of the globe.

“I still have great memories of those matches (in the 1980s), which I remember vividly – it was a fantastic time.

“I just feel like they do it to death in commentary – with regular mentions of players from the 1980s. I don’t think it’s good for getting young people watching. I worry that it sounds a bit like an echo chamber and doesn’t allow the game to develop properly.

“The game has moved on – the standard these days is incredible; it’s unbelievably high and competitive and we should embrace that.

“To think there are probably 200 or 300 players in the world who can make a fist of being a professional; that’s amazing.”

“The game has grown enormously (in the time I’ve been following it) but there’s still some way to go. Snooker needs to become truly global and we’re waiting to see whether it’ll make it.”

Banging the Berlin drum

China has of course been a big part of snooker’s global growth in the past two decades but a recent visit to the Tempodrom for the German Masters at a time when snooker’s world champion is also from mainland Europe was a reminder of just how much potential sits on the continent too.

Lewis first visited the iconic snooker venue back in 2017 and has been pretty much a regular ever since. It’s now become a bit of a bucket list item for snooker fans across the UK.

“If you haven’t (been there), you absolutely must visit,” said Lewis.

“I’d been watching the event for a long time on TV and just decided I’d go. I’d seen the pictures and just decided it had to be done.

“It’s such a great venue. The local fans are so enthusiastic; they’re real snooker fans. They really know all the players; it’s loud but super polite.” Quite the endorsement.

Admiration for all the players

What seems to particularly appeal to Lewis about Berlin is the ease in which you can see so many players up and down the rankings with the opening rounds of the tournament being played in the arena with a five-table setup.

“I’ve always been quite happy attending events and watching the outside tables,” he said. “You realise there are so many players who can put on a great show.

“When you’re up close, you realise the skill levels down the rankings are excellent and you quickly gain quite a lot of respect for those players.

“For a lot of the players they’re just not able to perform to the same levels on the main tables.”

Thoughts on the future

With the 1980s a long-distant memory for Lewis, it’s all eyes on the future.

Not only does he love to watch the game but he has ideas of his own on how to improve the game. These include a global ranking system, software for ball replacement and an improved format for Q School.

A forum for innovation is something he thinks is important. “I feel like there’s nowhere to have a real debate about the future of snooker and a debate is really healthy,” said Lewis.

“I’ve got lots of ideas about how it might change and I feel like snooker needs that debate desperately.”

When it comes to his opinion on the table, Lewis has plenty of thoughts too and we pushed him hard to give us the name of a future star to keep an eye on.

“There are so many,” he said with a pain in his voice. “If we can count Si Jiahui, he is certainly one and everyone is looking at Stan Moody too. I like the two Belgian Ben Mertens and Julien Leclercq, but Wu Yize is probably the one I’d pick out.

“He’s a great potter and he scores so quickly and heavily. I think he can beat anybody to nil if he plays his game. He is incredibly dangerous. He reminds me a bit of Thepchaiya.”
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