This December sees the 20th anniversary of the PartyPoker.net MOSCONI CUP,

2013 PartyPoker.net Mosconi Cup

This December sees the 20th anniversary of the PartyPoker.net MOSCONI CUP, unarguably the biggest event now on the billiards calendar. Named after American legend Willie Mosconi, the competition is an annual Ryder Cup-style event featuring two teams representing the USA and Europe.

Played out over four days, the Mosconi Cup consists of a series of singles and doubles matches. There are potentially 21 matches in total and the first team to 11 points carries off the famous trophy.

Taking place at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas from 2-5 December, this year will be the biggest Mosconi Cup yet with more spectators than ever in the arena, as well as millions more watching live on TV around the world.

 

And to celebrate the twenty years, promoters Matchroom Sport of the UK, have brought together some of the legends of 9 ball who have helped make the Mosconi Cup the great event it is.

Back in 1994, Barry Hearn, Chairman of Matchroom Sport had an idea, and two teams were assembled representing the United States and Europe to contest the inaugural Mosconi Cup.

At the time, 9-ball pool was an almost unknown sport in the UK and the event did a great job of promoting the sport to a new, wider audience with live coverage throughout on Sky Sports.

The European team was stacked with snooker players; all household names in the UK, while the American side contained several veteran stars of the game like Lou Butera and Dallas West.

Both sides also had two female players in their respective line-ups, including Jeanette Lee and Alison Fisher, – which was the one and only time ladies played in the event. Taking place just outside of London, the end result was a win for the USA.

The following year, saw the Europeans gain their first victory, before 1996 saw some of the current younger American stars of the game compete and trigger off an unbroken run of USA wins stretching out for six years.

Following a link up with the Pro Billiard Tour in the US, the American team went from strength to strength as players like Earl Strickland, Johnny Archer, Jim Rempe, Nick Varner and the like cut a swathe through successive European teams.

The rot was stopped in 2002 at the historic York Hall in Bethnal Green, London as the Europeans finally claimed victory – their second in the nine year history of the event. Snooker star Steve Davis, a six-time World Champion in that particular sport was the man who slotted home the final 9 ball to spark wild scenes of celebration.

The following year, the principle of home and away was established as the Mosconi Cup moved to the USA for the first time. The MGM Grand in Las Vegas was the venue, as America regained the coveted trophy after coming back from a seemingly impossible position.

2004 and ’05 saw the event in Holland and Vegas respectively as the USA resumed their previous dominance of the event with solid wins in both years. With just two European victories in 12 attempts, something drastic was needed and it came in the shape of Johan Ruijsink, chief coach of the Dutch National Pool Federation, and a specialist in motivational psychology as well as all the angles of a billiards table.

His first year in charge saw the match end at 12-12 with the USA retaining the trophy, but in 2007 the European team travelled to Las Vegas as heavy underdogs but won for the first time in five years as Maltese shooter Tony Drago grabbed MVP honors.

The following year the event was played out in Drago’s home town of Valetta in Malta and it resulted in a one-sided win for Europe. It also marked the final Mosconi Cup appearance of US legend Earl ‘the Pearl’ Strickland. With nine wins in 13 Mosconi Cups, Strickland was one of the players who helped make the event successful over the years but a fiery temperament and ailing form meant that qualification for the Mosconi Cup was beyond his reach.

In 2009, a fans’ poll was held to select the final member of the USA side. With tens of thousands of votes cast, it was tough New Yorker Dennis Hatch who made his debut. The big man proved that sometimes fans do know what they’re talking about as he stormed the event, winning the MVP trophy as the USA snatched back the Cup.

That was America’s last success in the Mosconi Cup as 2010, ’11 and ’12 saw good wins for a rampant European side with the likes of England’s World No.1 Darren Appleton, Niels Feijen (Holland) and Germany’s veteran World Champion Ralf Souquet took center stage.

On Monday December 2nd at the Mirage in Las Vegas, ten men will gather who between them have competed in 88 Mosconi Cups. Never before has there been so much hype and anticipation about the event and many believe that it is the USA’s best chance to win back pool’s most coveted trophy.

The Teams

Europe

1. Ralf Souquet (Germany) 15 appearances, 75 matches, 45 wins.Age: 45-Nickname: The Kaiser

2. Mika Immonen (Finland) 14 appearances, 70 matches, 37 wins. Age: 40-Nickname: The Iceman

3. Niels Feijen (Holland) 8 appearances, 37 matches, 22 wins. Age: 36-Nickname: Terminator

4. Darren Appleton (England) 4 appearances, 20 matches, 9 wins. Age: 35-Nickname: Dynamite

5. Karl Boyes (England) 1appearance, 5 matches, 4 wins. Age: 31Nickname: Guapo

 

USA

1. Johnny Archer (Georgia) 16 appearances, 79 matches, 44 wins. Age: 45-Nickname: The Scorpion

2. Earl Strickland (North Carolina) 13 appearances, 60 matches, 39 wins. Age: 52-Nickname: The Pearl

3. Rodney Morris (Hawaii) 8 appearances, 40 matches, 21 wins. Age: 43-Nickname: Rocket

4. Shane Van Boening (South Dakota) 6 appearances, 31 matches, 15 wins. Age: 30-Nickname: South Dakota Kid

5. Dennis Hatch (New York) 3 appearances, 15 matches, 9 wins. Age: 42-Nickname: The Hatchetman