Ally Pally was packed again and louder than ever. The USA hadn’t had much to cheer about so far, and in a show of support for their team, the US fans held up signs that read ‘BELIEVE.’ Well, the saying goes that to achieve, you first must believe, and to be totally honest, the first two days didn’t look like the players themselves believed.
Social media was busy as usual with Mosconi madness, a mix of posts including hating on Shaw, Europe got all the lucky rolls and others calling for Shaw to represent the USA next year. I think that kind of shows desperation and a lack of belief in your own country's ability. The captain already picked Fedor to boost USA’s chances, and here we are at 9-2. I suppose you could argue that Fedor was a part of winning both America’s points.
I truly believe the real reason the states are lagging behind Europe so much is the lack of infrastructure in the states for pool. For years, it was treated as a game you played in your local bar and pool room for a bit of fun, a night out playing league and driving around hustling and gambling. The internet ruined that, but what the internet did do was make learning the game easier. Lots of instructional videos about not just technique but lifestyle, diet, and fitness, not just fitness in the body but in the mind also. Europeans took this very seriously. They introduced the Eurotour, not huge prize money but it taught players valuable lessons and gave them a wealth of experience in playing against good quality players. Compared to Europe, the US has many more players that play 8 ball, 9 ball, and 10 ball on 9-foot tables than Europe does. American pool isn’t that big in Europe; it’s mainly snooker, English 8 ball on small tables, and carom. I just think there are so many other sports for people to play, and cue sports maybe don’t look as attractive to youngsters today.
Just my 2 cents worth, but I ‘Believe’ the US really needs to take a look at getting federations involved and getting juniors involved through a school programme too.
So day 3 got underway with a scotch double match left over from day 2, which saw David Alcaide and Jayson Shaw take on Sky Woodward and rookie Shane Wolford. Who won the lag and broke but no shot on the 2, a great pot on the 2 by David followed by a brilliant bank on the 3 by the Scot, and Europe ran the rack to lead 1-0.
Good break, David making 2 balls and a nice layout, and the first break and run of the match was 2-0. 500 Miles by the Proclaimers has everyone, including Team Europe, dancing around the arena. Jayson has so much energy, and he waves his arms around like a swordsman to the annoyance of the American fans; he just loves this event. What amazes me is how he keeps in stroke, he is using so much energy but seems to have plenty in reserve. I wonder what Ralph really thinks about Jayson’s antics?
When the music died down, it was Skyler’s turn to break, and it was a good one. The table seemed to break a lot better than it did on day 2. Sky made 2 balls, and they had a shot on the 1 they looked as if they were going to run out, then Woodward miscued on the 4, Alcadie made a good 4 and got Jayson perfect on the 5 and 5 shots later, it’s 3-0.
I do like hearing the players talking to each other. I do sometimes get the feeling that players occasionally ask their teammates to play a shot they are not necessarily comfortable playing, and rarely do we hear a bit of colorful language. Karl Boyes apologises to viewers after Wolford uses the F word, but I think it all adds to the passion of the situation.
A good break from Shaw in rack four and makes two balls and Alcaide misses a tight 3, and USA runs out to make the score 3-1. Shane Wolfords turns to join in the singing as he mouths the words to The Gambler by Kenny Rogers. I bet he can sing a bit. Unfortunately, no dice on the break as it was dry, good safety from Alcaide, but Team USA won the safety battle and ran out to pull it back to 3-2. Just when the USA thought they were coming back into the match, a couple of real wobbly balls from Alcaide on the 3 and the 4 ball from Shaw. I honestly don’t know how either of those went in, and neither did Sky and Shane, as they were out of their seats expecting them to hang on both occasions. Europe survived the near misses and reached the hill at 4-2
Sky breaks with USA’s backs against the wall, and he makes a ball. One of those player discussions comes up again. It seems Sky wanted Shane to play the two a certain way, but Shane wants to do his own thing and misses the 2, concentrating so much on position for the 3. I felt that was one instance where maybe Wolford could have listened to the voice of experience, but Sky is such a nice, easy-going guy that he bowed to Shane and just said, “Shoot what shot you wanna shoot.” Europe went on to clear to win 5-2 and increase their lead to 8-1 overall, needing just 3 more points.
Jayson and Sky would stay on the table for the second match. Filler and Fedor had their 3 matches in a row on day 2, but it was the turn of Shaw and Woodward being given their chance to get their stroke going.
Interesting right from the start, as Sky scratches on the lag, Sky says it rolled off, referee Desi orders them to lag again, Jayson goes over to tournament director and head official Brendan Moore who agrees and they lag again, this time the perfect lag from Sky, he breaks dry, some safety exchanges on the 3 but Shaw makes a 3/9 combo and the flying Scotsman is building up speed yet again, and it’s 1-0 Shaw.
Shaw breaks and makes 2 balls and runs to make it 2-0. Sky makes a ball but finishes jacked up over the 9 in the next rack, misses the one, and Shaw clears up to make it 3-0. Shaw should be working on a dairy farm he is milking so good. Another great rack from Shaw as he plays some good safety, then gets the chance at a cross-side bank on 3, almost makes the 9, too, and runs out to get to the hill at 4-0
YESSSSSSSSS, a GOLDEN break for Sky and the Spandau Ballet 1983 classic fills the arena, and it’s Sky’s first opportunity to celebrate. 4-1
The celebration was short-lived, though, as Shaw breaks and runs geeing up the crowd on every single ball, and it’s all over 5-2 & 9-1 Overall.
Just 3 matches were played on day 3 to ensure day 4 ticket holders would get to see at least one match to enjoy. The final match for the 2,500 Ally Pally crowd on day 3 saw Fedor Gorst return after taking America’s only point yesterday to partner with the bluegrass Badass from Kentucky against Shaw and Ruiz.
Fedor wins the lag and breaks, but it’s dry. Europe is running out, but again, an uncharacteristic positional error from FSR hooks Shaw on the 5. I must say, though, I honestly think Ruiz was playing a shot Jayson wanted him to play that he wasn’t really comfortable with; I’m not even sure FSR understood what Shaw meant.
Team USA ran out and led 1-0 I think it was the first time USA had led a match. They take the next also to lead 2-0 after a few safeties but a good run out. Sky missed a 3 in rack 3, and Europe ran out 2-1 USA.
FSR’s dry break leaves the 1 in jaws, and Team USA runs out, and the score is 3-1. Scratch on the break from Gorst in rack 5, and with all the balls in the open, Europe clear to pull back to 3-2, and the comeback was complete in the next rack. Shaw broke and made a ball, a great bank on the 2 by Ruiz, and a 2/9 combo from Shaw made it 3-3.
Sky breaks, and again, it’s time for some more ballet. No Sky and Fedor aren’t dancing like Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, and it’s Spandau Ballet again for the second time tonight. It’s Golden and puts Team USA on the hill at 4-3. A dry break from Europe leaves a nice roadmap for the USA to follow.
It’s Sky’s turn to do a bit of milking, but it’s beer he wants. Getting down to make the final 9, you hear him shouting, “Two cold ones, two cold beers, Now.” He makes the 9 to take a desperately needed point for the American’s but it’s still another day won by team Europe, and they need just two more on the final day.The final word of the night was left to Fedor, who shouted over the mic, “Let’s make America great again.”
The final day's play starts at 6.30 PM London time on DAZN, Sky Sports, and Matchroom.live