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Mosconi Cup 2019 In Review ~ by Patrick Sampey

Mosconi Cup 2019 In Review

(King Woodward Rising)

Mosconi Cup 2019 In Review (King Woodward Rising)

The Mosconi Cup — the legendary 9 ball team event between team Europe, and team USA, much like the Ryder Cup of golf, highlights some of the best players in the world, and is an electric billiards atmosphere to say the least.

These past two years, 2018 & 2019, USA has won it 11-9 and 11-8. This is a testament to the tenacity of team USA to compete in the event again after over a decade of European dominance. The Mosconi Cup began in 1994 to highlight some of the best 9 ball players from Europe and the USA. So many worldwide legends of both snooker and pocket billiards have played in the event since its inception.

Some names returned from Europe that have represented their respective countries in the cup: Ralf Souquet, Darren Appleton, Niels Feijen, Steve Davis, Oliver Ortmann, Darren Appleton, Thorsten Hohmann, Albin Ouschan, Jayson Shaw, Tony Drago, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Allison Fisher, Joshua Filler, Eklent Kaçi, Alexander Kazakis, and Johan Ruijsink just to highlight a few; on the converse side, some players from the USA are as follows: Johnny Archer, Earl Strickland, Shane Van Boening, Rodney Morris, Corey Deuel, Dennis Hatch, Nick Varner, Mark Wilson, Mike Massey, John Schmidt, Billy Thorpe, Mike Davis, Jeanette Lee, Tyler Styer, Buddy Hall, and Johan Ruijsink.

Johan Ruijsink has played both sides of the field, representing both team Europe, and team USA in recent years — leading both teams to victorious outcomes — a true champion among champions, and top Mosconi Cup strategist. Ruijsink is the only non-playing captain to win the Mosconi Cup as a part of both the European and United States teams; his only loss came in 2017, as American captain to his European replacement, Marcus Chamat. Both Chamat and Ruijsink have participated as players in the Mosconi Cup as well.

Jeremy Jones is the current vice-captain of Team USA, an old pro player himself. Just this past 2019, November 25th through the 28th, Ruijsink and Jones led team USA to their second victory in a row after an extended drought, and litany of losses for team USA in recent years. Their strategy, matchups played, the way they selected the lineup each day, was spot on — showing the key to having good leadership in these type of team events. Some may believe that Ruijsink shouldn’t be allowed to represent team USA, having been captain of team Europe; I believe it highlights the fact that the USA is the melting pot of the world, we accept all, and anyone can be a part of what we represent. It is perhaps debatable.

Let’s take a look at the players for both team USA vs team Europe 2019: Team USA: Skyler Woodward (MVP 2018, 2019), Shane Van Boening, Billy Thorpe, Tyler Styer, and Justin Bergman. Team Europe: Joshua Filler, Eklent Kaçi, Alexander Kazakis, Jayson Shaw, and Niels Feijen.

Amazing, world-class players on both sides, yet some would rise to the occasion, while others would falter a bit — which always seems to be the way with the Mosconi Cup — these past 25 years or so it’s been running. Always such a heated, full-tilt atmosphere, but it had become a very lopsided event in recent times, as a result of European dominance in pocket billiards. However, team USA has shown a resurgence in pool, and captured the last two events in top form, and against some of the most formidable 9 ball players ever assembled by the European contingency.

Ultimately the Cup would be the Filler-Woodward show, but the cast of supporting players on both sides would also have their moments of glory upon the battlefield of green, the felt these players wage billiards war upon. Filler would rise as the MVP for team Europe, besting SVB. However, Woodward would have something to say in the end ultimately, winning the final point for team USA, and defeating the newly self proclaimed “king” of pool, Filler.

That is not to say that Filler went down easily. Filler — the world’s number one ranked player at the time of the event — opened up with a resounding 5-0 beat down on Billy Thorpe, a seasoned Mosconi Cup player, and top touring professional. Then, Filler did it again, thumping SVB in a 5-1 in the 6th match of the cup, putting team Europe in a commanding team lead at 4-2 at that point. However, Europe would lose to USA 3-2 on day two, leaving it tied at 5-5 leading into day 3 — a dead heat.

But it would be the end of the King’s short lived reign as he came up against a stone wall that would not break named Skylar Woodward in match 19. The heated battle went, 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, then Woodward rising to the occasion, taking full advantage of every opportunity presented at the table, and finally clinching the win and match point, 5-3 — Filler making his presence known every step of the way, not going down quietly, grappling for every rack. Ultimately however, a new king would arise: King Woodward. The rest is Mosconi Cup history and legend.

Having just watched the entire Mosconi Cup 2019 again in review, I must say that I believe Filler, Kaci, and Feijen rose to the occasion for team Europe, while Woodward, Van Boening, and

Thorpe rose to the task for team USA. On the converse side, from my perspective, having just watched it all again for the first time, I believe Shaw and Kazakis came up short for team Europe. While on the other side of the proverbial coin, Styer and Bergman both faltered for the US contingency. Perhaps these players will rise to the task next year, or be replaced with new blood.

At this time, I believe Ruijsink has said he will step down as coach after this final event, and be in no more Mosconi Cup events, so that leaves the future of the Cup uncertain if true. In a team interview after the event, he indicated he may not return I believe. Will team USA win it again in 2020? I think we should consider Mark Wilson, Nick Varner, Buddy Hall, Earl Strickland, Johnny Archer, or some Veteran pro for next year’s Mosconi Cup Captain, or vice captain, and keep Jeremy Jones, if he wishes to return as captain or vice captain — should Ruijsink retire from the event. Additionally, Tyler Styer, and Justin Bergman are top players, however, their weak performance must be considered, and new blood perhaps given a chance.

For team Europe, I know it may sound crazy, but I’d say replace Alexander Kazakis and Jayson Shaw. Shaw and Kazakis are both top players, however, Europe has many great champions to choose from, and both have performed weaker than the rest of their European comrades these past two years. This should be accounted for, and the adjustments made for next year.

Should any of the players I would exclude have stellar years in 2020, then forget my assessment, and add them back in the lineup. However, the players I’ve mentioned for both team Europe and team USA have shown to be the weakest links. This is my assessment of the cup, ideas for the future, and picks for stand out players that rose to the occasion this past Mosconi Cup 2019, history made.

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