Mosconi Cup Preview and Tips – Who Wins?
We’re getting to a really busy period for sporting events overthe next few weeks as we head towards the run in to Christmas. Not only do we have plenty of crucial Premier League and Champions League action to enjoy, the NFL season reaches its crescendo with the race for the playoffs, while other big events include the PDC World Darts Championship, starting on December 13th and the forthcoming Heavyweight boxing title bout between Doentay Wilder and Tyson Fury.
As a result, we are having to preview events a little further ahead in time to cram them all into the busy schedule and we begin this week with an event that is not scheduled to get underway until early December, but which for is a great starting point for the festive sports season. That tournament is the 9-ball Pool Mosconi Cup, an annual tournament played every year by two teams representing the United States and Europe.
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Let’s now take a closer look at what the Mosconi Cup is, it’s history, some of its key players and which out of the two teams competing has enjoyed the most success.
The Mosconi Cup – A History
The first Mosconi Cup was played back in 1994 and originally designed by Matchroom as a way to increase the exposure and popularity of 9-ball pool within the UK and Europe. The early games were almost exhibition matches, but as the rivalry grew over the years, so the competition became tougher and the rivalry became more competitive than friendly.
The tournament was always designed to be a similar contest to golf’s Ryder Cup, with teams from Europe and the United States competing against each other. Initially, the event was held for many years in London, before it became an event that switched venues each year, held one year in Europe, the following year in the United States, ostensibly in Las Vegas.
After moving out of London and across Europe for a number of Mosconi Cup tournaments in the mid 2000s, the event moved back to London in recent times and has been held at the Alexandra Palace since 2016, with the 2018 event the second time the tournament has taken place at the venue.
The tournament was named after the famous American pool legend Willie Mosconi, and has featured a number of big named players from the world of pool and snooker, with the likes of Earl “The Pearl” Strickland, “Machine Gun” Lou Butera and Johnny “The Scorpion” Archer representing the US, while for Europe, Steve Davis, Niels Feijen, Ralf Souquet, Jimmy White and even Alex Higgins have represented the team.
Mosconi Cup Winners
The tournament has been contested 23 times with this year being the 24th tournament. Europe lead the number of wins with 12, just one ahead of the United States who have eleven wins with just one tournament between the teams drawn.
However, there has been a marked shift in power in the event over the years. The early years were dominated by the United States team, but in recent times Europe have dominated, winning all of the last eight tournaments over their rivals.
- European Wins (12) – 1995, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
- United States Wins (11) – 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009
- Draws (1) – 2006
Most Mosconi Cup Appearances for Each Team
No player on either team has appeared in all 23 Mosconi Cup tournaments played so far, but there are a number of players who have made numerous appearances for their respective teams:
- Ralf Souquet (Germany) – 17 (player)
- Mika Immonen (Finland) – 15 (player)
- Niels Feijen (Netherlands) – 12 (player)
- Steve Davis (England) – 11 (player)
- Oliver Ortmann (Germany) – 8 (player) + 1 (manager)
- Johnny Archer (Georgia) – 17 (player)
- Earl Strickland (North Carolina) – 14 (player)
- Shane Van Boening (South Dakota) 11 (player)
- Rodney Morris (California) – 10 (player)
- Corey Deuel (California) – 9 (player)
2018 Team Line-Ups
Both the European and the United States teams for this even were finalised at the start of November and have been confirmed as follows:
- Eklent Kaci (Albania – Rookie)
- Mario He (Austria – Rookie)
- Niels Feijen (Netherlands – 13th Appearance)
- Albin Ouschan (Austria – 3rd Appearance)
- Jayson Shaw (Scotland – 3rd Appearance)
- Manager – Marcus Chamat (Sweden) – 6 appearances as a player, 4 as manager
- Skyler Woodward (Kentusky – 4th Appearance)
- Shane Van Boening (South Dakota – 12th Appearance)
- Billy Thorpe (Ohio – 2nd Appearance)
- Tyler Styler (Wisconsin – Rookie)
- Corey Deuel (California – 10th Appearance)
- Manager – Johan Ruijsink (Netherlands) 2nd USA team manager appearance, has also been Team Europe manager on 7 occasions.
What to look out for at the Mosconi Cup 2018
The format of the tournament is simple, players will play a series of singles and doubles matches across two sessions each day, over four days to decide which team will be the winning team. The first team to reach 11 wins in matches will be declared the winner and take home the lion’s share of the $150,000 prize.
Although most tournaments have been contested in good spirits there have been some notable flashpoints and controversy over the years, many of them involving Earl Strickland of the American team, a notoriously brilliant, eccentric and spiky character who frequently upset fans and opponents with his comments and behaviour at the table.
Last year, Scotland’s Jayson Shaw was also involved in controversy when beating Shane Van Boening 5-4 to give Europe a 10-4 lead. Shaw’s extravagant celebrations were aimed at American player Dennis Hatch, who had commented sarcastically “Great Shot” when Shaw had gone in off from the break earlier in the match.
Some of those fiery personalities may be missing from this years event, but it does not take much of a spark to ignite the competition and get the partisan home crowd going.
Who is our tip to win the Mosconi Cup 2018?
Europe have won all of the last eight tournaments in the Mosconi Cup and ten of the last eleven tournaments, but this year’s United States team is packed with more experience than the European side, although they do welcome back a four time Mosconi Cup MVP in Dutchman Niels Feijen.
The last two tournaments have been very one-sided with Europe winning extremely comfortably, but I feel this time around things will be much closer and while Europe remain favourites at 4/9, the United States at 7/4 should not be discounted.
However, home advantage is crucial in these events and as such, I am backing the European team to grind out a narrow win and they are my tip for this year’s event.