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Who Doesn’t Like a Donut For Breakfast?

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Waking up on day 2 of the Mosconi Cup in London, Team USA faced the reality that they were outplayed on day 1, and they needed to get off to a better start when play resumed at 6.30 local time. Team captain Jeremy Jones said his team had all sat down to discuss their plan of attack to claw back and repair the damage from a disappointing start to the 30th-anniversary meeting between the two giants of pool. I think what was surprising for some was the line-up. Fedor Gorst to play the first three matches? 2 singles and a doubles. Was this a roll of the dice? It could be a smart move if Fedor gets off to a flyer, or it could be a move more suited to the roulette wheel at The Mandalay Bay.

Day Two Order of Play Mosconi Cup 2023
JJ’s Russian Roulette

His first opponent would be Joshua Filler, twice MVP against the ‘Rookie,’ For’s only other appearance was behind closed doors in the Coventry Covid Cup played behind closed doors in 2022, a far cry from a loud and rowdy Ally Pally, chants of ‘Born in the USA’, screams of extension and booing to contend with, add to that you are playing with new equipment that you’ve barely had a chance to familiarize yourself with and that’s a recipe for disaster right there. But I must admit, thinking at the time, if Fedor gets off to a good start, the score could go 4-3, and all of a sudden, it’s game on.

The teams are introduced, and as team Europe makes their way down the stairs, it appears Fedor has defected again back to the Europeans, Oh, hang on, it’s ‘Joker Jayson Shaw’ wearing a mask. He does love a wind-up, doesn’t he?

Jayson Shaw wearing Mask
Is it an eagle, is it a plane? No it’s Fedor Shawst

Fedor wins the lag but breaks dry, a few attempts on the one ball each, finally, Josh goes in for the kill, running three balls and a nice early 4-9 combo, first blood Filler. The German runs rack two and doubles his lead The USA gets a little impatient and petulant as chants of USA. A great bank on the 6, a trademark Filler full length of the table straight in 6, a little bit of an exhibition shot from Filler on the brown 7 trying to nudge the 8 off the rail, went a little wrong but makes a fabulous 8 down the rail, USA breaks out on Fillers backswing, and although the 9 wobbled, Josh didn’t and extends his lead to 4-0. Rack 5 was Fedors, and he has a little fun with the European fans gesticulating in Filler Fashion, but with an alternate break, Europe will get their chance to extend their overall lead to 5-0

The DJ whacks on Apache by the Sugarhill gang; who remembers them? Who hasn’t heard ‘Rappers Delight,’ the arena is rocking as SVB walks in to have a few words, and it works as Fedor takes rack 6 to trail by just 2, but Fedor breaks dry again, the table breaking tough on day 2, great hook from Filler and the 2/9 combo is on and seals a 5-2 victory, Team Europe rush in to congratulate Filler and Europe increase their lead to 5-0 in the race to 11.

No Speak Americano blasts out over the speakers by Yolanda Be Cool. Team Europe is feeling cool as the Americans feel the heat. The daughter of David Alcaide is enjoying the music bopping away with a group of fans who made the journey from Espangna, and FSR’s Dad braved another flight to come and watch his son play—had never been on a flight until he made the flight across the Atlantic to watch on proudly as Francisco won his first major title, the US Open last year and Fran would be up next, hoping to keep Fedor at bay. This was the battle of the new equipment as FSR waved adios to Predator and said Ola to Cuetech. Fedor fled Cuetech around the same time to join Whyte Carbon. Both seemed to struggle at times on certain shots, and FSR seemed very twitchy at times. That amazing break he mastered in that glorious season had deserted him, and a man who had mastered the Air Rush jump cue hadn’t quite propelled himself to the heights after switching manufacturers but an incredible attempt at a jump on a long straight 1 ball and drew back for the 2, somehow the yellow stayed out. A mistake by Fran over running position on the 4 ball let Fedor back to the table, and for the first time since the very first team match, the US led 2-1 in a race to 5.

David Alcaide hugging Daughter at Mosconi
David and daughter enjoying Ally Pally, not sure she enjoys Dad’s dancing as much as his pool, though

This one, though, had hill-hill written all over it. The run of the balls was definitely with team Europe; this match is huge; an attempt at a straight-back double on the 9 goes short for Fedor and leaves an easy 9 for the Spaniard, 2-2. Fedor returns to his chair, wipes his cue down, and dusts a bit of Talc on his chin. There was a rumor I heard that if you put talcum powder on a carbon shaft, that nullifies the guarantee. Is that a thing, or did I dream it?

We expected this match to go hill hill. This time, it’s Fedor that overruns position again on the 7 and misses it. Francisco pots it but leaves a tricky 8 into the side and an even trickier 9 into the same pocket, but he makes it, and after a really hard-fought battle where neither player showed the form we know they are capable of and, Europe leads by 6. Fedor is having a tough night and has to stay out for one more match in the Scotch doubles with partner SVB up against FSR and Joshua Filler.

The Dad dancers are in as the MC gets a dance competition going on during the break, and Jayson Shaw and David Alcaide doing the Do ci Do to the horror of their kids, no doubt, but back to the action and Gorst plays an amazing long two off the rail and gets perfect on the red 3, shot of the night so far. Shane Van Boening had mentioned in a conversation that he thought there should be a 60-second shot clock for Scotch doubles, I’m not sure Shaun Murphy would agree. He just made a 147 at the snooker shootout with a 20-second shot clock, which goes down to a 10-second shot clock with 5 minutes remaining. So after that great shot on the two from Fedor, Team USA ran the rack and lead 3-2.

Rack 6 and Fedor misses a cross-side bank on the 3 after SVB fell short on his positional shot, and Filler steps up and absolutely crashes in a long 3. Although the earlier two from Fedor was outstanding, Fillers 3 was just breathtaking. Josh strolls around the arena, mimicking one of his hero's celebrations. He said in an interview how he admired Christiano Ronaldo and described him as the ultimate professional and his hero.

Teams are level at 3-3, and the Ally Pally pool party continues; Freed from Desire, Song by Gala Rizzatto has got team Europe and the whole of the crowd bouncing around, Shaw and Alcaide back in the arena again, busting a few moves.

Rack 6 and a safety shot and attempted hook by Fran is applauded by Filler, and you hear over his mic the word ‘Perfect.’ The camera shows it’s anything but perfect as the camera shows a full look at the ball. Scott Frost remarks, “Josh is doing our job for us, Phil,” I think your commentary job is safe, Scott. Josh, drop the mic; just let your cue do the talking.

Two very poor shots in a row, first from SVB catching the 6, leaving no shot for Fedor, then he does the same thing and catches the 6, trying to play a safe.

Filler makes a nice 3-4 combo. Phil Yates comes out with another classic, “There are 3 certainties in life: Taxes, death, and Filler potting balls.” Europe ran the rack and got to the hill first 4-3. Chris Melling was spotted in the crowd by roving reporter Ashley, a very nice addition to the team, attractive, lovely personality, and asks all the right questions; Ashley, not Melling, great job Matchroom.

Break off from Filler, made the 1 in the side but also the cue ball. The camera pans over to Sky Woodward, who looks very unhappy, and after not getting a singles match, he won’t get to play the last doubles match of the night either, as Matchroom has announced they will hold that match over until tomorrow. Fans have bought tickets for four days and they want to try and make sure that they get to see some pool on the last day. Well, even that isn’t guaranteed even after Team USA won the doubles against Europe to claim their first point in this year's Mosconi Cup to make the score Europe 6-1 USA, SVB missed his first nine ball on day one in match one but makes no mistake with the final 9 tonight, Tyler Styer really needs to come out firing on all cylinders otherwise Europe will be just 4 points away from retaining the Mosconi cup and taking the flirt prize of $40,000 a man. And those who have bought those tickets for the final day might not get to see a ball potted.

So, the last match will be Albin Ouschan against Tyler, and the worst start from Tyler as he scratches off the break and Albin takes the first rack, more screams from American supporters of USA USA again on the player's backswing, and the referee tells the crowd to keep silent when the player is shooting. I think it could be better if they let the crowd carry on and keep the music playing. It could actually be more off-putting when the noise goes from deafening to deathly quiet. No other sport asks for silence during a shot other than cue sports, interesting, right?

Albin isn’t put off by the loud crowd. He is the coolest guy in the building right now; Tyler steps up to break and makes 5 balls. Unfortunately, one of them is white in colour, and with just five balls to run out, Albin will serve up a donut to the man from Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

I was keeping an eye on social media, and there were a few calls for the ‘Return of Ruysink. He himself joined in the discussion, commenting, “Matchroom might be happy with the show side of it, but us from the sports side are not happy with what is going on so far.”

Dennis Hatch added, “Johan Ruysink Coaching, I’ve been at a training seminar and haven’t been able to watch. I do believe they just arrived in Europe on Saturday, and I do not believe that is enough time to recoup from jet lag and then get prepared for the cup. I believe it’s 1 day recovery time for every hour of time change.”

Fan Brian Dietzenbach added, “Johan Ruysink Coaching JJ is a great player…great analyst…probably a great trainer. But JJ is lacking in strategy. I feel like his matchup decisions are costing them.”

What are your thoughts? Is it time for a change? Is the problem deeper routed in the development of the game in America? Is it just a bad couple of days at the office?

Day 3 could be the last day; Europe needs just 4 more points to retain the Willie Mosconi trophy.

Tune in on DAZN, Sky Sports Arena, and from 6.30 PM London time

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