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Team USA Captures Sixth Sraight Mosconi Cup

85aAfter Team Europe drew first blood in the 2001 Mosconi Cup, Team USA won the next 12 matches to claim its sixth straight Mosconi Cup title at York Hall in Bethnal Green, England, Dec. 20-23. The 12-1 victory for Team USA is the most decisive win in the eight-year history of the annual Ryder Cup-style event, which Team USA has now won seven times.

Only the pairing of Niels Feijen and Mika Immonen was able to scratch the scoreboard with a 5-3 triumph over veteran U.S. duo Johnny Archer and Nick Varner. But from then on, Team USA dominated play. The young American pair of Charlie Williams and Cory Deuel built Team USA’s lead with two convincing victories over Steve Knight and Marcus Chamat by a combined score of 10-3. Archer and Varner then closed out the event by redeeming themselves from the Day 1 loss with a 5-1 win over Immonen and Team Europe captain Ralf Souquet.

Mosconi Cup Lineup Set

57aMatchroom Sport released its Team USA and Team Europe rosters for the popular Mosconi Cup, held at York Hall in Bethnal Green, England, Dec. 20-23. The two six-man rosters were respectively selected in consultation with the Billiard Congress of America and European Pocket Billiard Federation.

Five-time Player of the Year Earl Strickland will return as captain of the American squad, which is rounded out by Corey Deuel, Johnny Archer, Jeremy Jones, Nick Varner and Charlie Williams. All but Varner and Williams were members of last year’s Cup-winning team.

Team Europe is comprised of captain Ralf Souquet (Germany), Marcus Chamat (Sweden), Steve Davis (England), Niels Feijen (Holland), Mika Immonen (Finland) and Steve Knight (England).

Snippets… Euro stars in nookie ban

In a desperate attempt to regain the Mosconi Cup, European Team Captain Ralf Souquet has slapped a sex ban on his team for the duration of the Mosconi Cup which starts on Thursday.

In a strongly worded letter, hard-line Souquet, dubbed ‘The Kaiser’, warned his teams against the perils of carnality.

Order for all members of the European Mosconi Cup Team: “There is a strict prohibition for having sex and/or sexual activities with effect from December 11th 2000. This rule applies particularly to the German player Thomas Engert, who is bringing his wife with him. There have even been some thoughts, whether to book two single rooms for him and his wife!”

“As captain of the European Team, it is my first and utmost priority to take care of the players and prepare them for optimal performance at the tournament. Not only from my own experience I know that having sex at an inappropriate moment can paralyse body and soul of a player. Concentration, mental force and attitude towards the game could be weakened and negatively influenced.”

“Remember there is only one goal – to win the Mosconi Cup!”

Finnish ace Mika Immonen learned of the ban on arriving in London this morning and was reported to be “gobsmacked”.

ESPN Delays Mosconi Cup Airing

Pool fans who tuned in to ESPN2 Sunday afternoon, Dec. 28, expecting to see six consecutive hours of the 2003 Mosconi Cup instead found a string of Trick Shot Magic reruns.

Blame it on Eminem.

ESPN public relations spokesman Nate Smeltz said that the 2003 Mosconi Cup, staged Dec. 18-21 at the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas, had “production problems” that prevented it from airing in its assigned time slot. Smeltz went on to say that the Mosconi Cup would, indeed, air on ESPN2 in the near future, but that definitive dates have not been established.

According to Matchroom Sports, producers of the Mosconi Cup, the crux of the problem was music (including rapper Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”) that Matchroom’s United Kingdom television partner Sky Sport uses during player introductions and taped promotional segments.

“Sky Sports has copyright to run whatever music they want in the U.K.,” said Matchroom’s Luke Riches. “In the U.S., ESPN has to clear the rights to the music, or edit songs out of the program and replace them with music that they hold rights to.”

According to Riches, Sky Sport edited and produced four hours of programming from the 2002 Mosconi Cup, which aired on ESPN2 Dec. 29, 2002. In 2003, however, ESPN assumed the task of editing the footage into six one-hour shows. (All 20 matches of Team USA’s 11-9 win over Team Europe were aired live in the U.K. on Sky Sport.)

“Apparently,” said Riches, “ESPN couldn’t clear the music or re-edit the tapes in time.

“I guess this kind of thing can happen,” Riches added. “But it’s something of a disaster for our sponsors who bought commercial time and expected the commercials to air on Dec. 28.”

U.S. Surge, Regain Mosconi Cup

Unleashing its arsenal of high-powered talend, Team USA rebounded from an 8-6 deficit to win four of five matches on Sunday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to win the 2003 Mosconi Cup over Team Europe, 11-9. Cup-clinching 9 ball honors went to U.S. Open winner Jeremy Jones, whose 5-3 win over Sweden’s Marcus Chamat allowed the U.S. squad to recapture the Cup it had lost to the Euros in London last December.

After suffering through a five-match drought on Saturday, Team USA opened the final day’s action with four consecutive match wins. Cup debutante Rodney Morris opened the floodgates with a energizing 5-3 win over reigning world 9-ball champion Thorsten Hohmann of Germany. Johnny Archer then tied the contest with a 5-2 thumping of Steve Davis, and Earl Strickland gave the U.S. a lead it would never relinquish with a thrilling, 5-4, win over 23-year-old Dutchman Nick Van den Berg.

The U.S. squad got perhaps its biggest boost in the next match, when Mosconi rookie Tony Robles, who had not played well through the four-day event, put together a near-perfect performance against Europe’s top player, Mika Immonen of Finland. Immonen had been unbeaten in three matches going into Sunday, and earned the MVP award as the player who scored the most match points. But Robles scored a 5-2 win to put the Americans on the hill, 10-8.

Germany’s Ralf Souquet kept Europe’s hopes alive with a 5-3 win over Charlie Williams, but Jones closed the door on Europe’s hopes against Chamat. It marks the eighth time in the 10-year history of the event that the U.S. squad came out on top.

For more Mosconi Cup highlights and photos, log on to www.mosconicup.com.

Team Europe Blitzes to Mosconi Lead

In a stunning turnaround that had members of the U.S. squad befuddled and bitter, Team Europe rolled through five straight match wins Saturday afternoon to take an 8-6 lead in the 2004 Mosconi Cup at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Trailing, 6-3, as the third day of the Ryder Cup-styled team 9-ball tournament kicked off, the Euros earned a much-needed boost when 23-year-old Nick Van den Berg scored a 5-3 win over mistake-prone Mosconi rookie Tony Robles. Then, in what may be looked back on as the event’s critical match, Germans Ralf Souquet and Thorsten Hohmann edged the U.S. duo of Johnny Archer and Rodney Morris, 5-4, to trim the overall score to 6-5 in the race-to-11.

With European fans becoming more boisterous by the game, snooker legend Steve Davis pitched an unlikely 5-0 shutout against Earl Strickland. Strickland was livid before and after the match, as Mosconi producers Sky Sports aired a pre-match promo that centered on the volatile Strickland’s actions during a match against Davis at the World Pool Championships in Cardiff in July. At that event, Strickland battled the pro-Davis crowd, the match referee, and Davis himself.

Scandanavians Mika Immonen and Marcus Chamat then topped Charlie Williams and Jeremy Jones, 5-3, in the final doubles match to give Europe its first lead of the event at 7-6. The day finished with Souquet pocketing a table-length kick at the 8 ball in the case game for a 5-4 triumph over Jones.

For more match highlights and photos from the 2004 Mosconi Cup, log on to www.mosconicup.com.

U.S. Assumes Command

On the heels of spirited and nearly flawless play from Mosconi Cup debutante Rodney Morris, Team USA won three of four matches Friday afternoon at the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas to take a 6-3 lead over Team Europe in the annual Matchroom Sport-promoted team tournament.

Morris, unbeaten in his two matches thus far (one doubles win and one singles victory), made the most of every shooting opportunity and worked the capacity crowd into near hysteria while teamming with Johnny Archer in a 5-1 stomping of the German duo of Ralf Souquet and Thorsten Hohmann. Morris continually urged the pro-U..S. crowd for support during the match.

Day Two of the Ryder Cup-style event began with Jeremy Jones, who learned he would be leading off in singles competition just 20 minutes prior to the opening lag, beating Sweden’s Marcus Chamat, 5-3. Earl Strickland and Tony Robles then paired to topple Steve Davis and Nick Van den Berg by the same score. The only thing that kept Europe from squandering all four opportunities on Friday was Mika Immonen’s thrilling 5-4 win over Charlie Williams. Williams had fought back from a 4-1 deficit to tie the match, and had the break in the case game. Not only did Williams fail to make a ball on the break, but he left Immonen a 1-9 combination that sealed his doom. Because of the U.S.’s three-game lead, the promoters decided not to stage a fifth match on Friday, for fear that another U.S. win might lead to an early end to the race-to-11 tournament. In 2001, the U.S. ended the event on Saturday with a 12-1 thrashing, leaving Matchroom and TV partner Sky Sports with no Sunday programming.

For more information on the 2004 Mosconi Cup, log onto www.mosconicup.com.

U.S. Takes Early Mosconi Cup Lead

A surprisingly large and boisterous turn-out greeted Team USA and Team Europe on Thursday when the Mosconi Cup team tournament made its U.S. debut at the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas, and the players didn’t disappoint. In a five-match mix of singles and doubles play, the U.S. squad closed out the opening day with a 3-2 advantage in the race-to-11 tournament.

Uncertain of how the Mosconi Cup, wildly successful for nine years in London, would fare in America, promoter Barry Hearn of Matchroom Sport was overwhelmed by the 300-plus fans that filled the arena for the 11 a.m. opening lag. “This is absolutely fantastic,” said Hearn, who hopes to switch the Cup to a home-and-home series from this point on. Bouyed by nearly 100 Euros who made the pre-Christmas trek to Las Vegas, the first day featured raucous cheering for the two sides.

The opening match featured Johnny Archer, pool’s hotest player, against reigning World Pool Champion Thorsten Hohmann of Germany. Archer jumped to an early lead, and held on for a nerve-wracking 5-4 win in a match that lasted some 90 minutes.

Europe tied the match when the Scandanavian duo of Marcus Chamat and Mika Immonen rolled to a 5-1 win over Tony Robles and Charlie Williams.

The U.S. took a 3-1 lead after Rodney Morris made an impressive Mosconi Cup debut with a 5-3 pasting of Ralf Souquet, and the team of Earl Strickland and Jeremy Jones squandered a 4-0 lead, but outlasted Steve Davis and Nick Van den Berg, 5-4.

Europe stayed within striking distance of the Americans when Immonen topped Archer, 5-3, in the day’s final match.

For more information and photos from the 2004 Mosconi Cup, and match-by-match updates, go to www.mosconicup.com.

MGM Grand To Host Mosconi Cup

As promised by Brit pool promoter Barry Hearn after Europe upset the mighty U.S. squad in the 2002 Mosconi Cup last December, pool fans in America will get their chance to play the boisterous hosts when the 2003 version of the raucous Europe vs the U.S. team event comes to the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Dec. 18-21.

“The Mosconi Cup in Las Vegas is something that the world of pool has been collectively dreaming about for a long time,” said Hearn, the former snooker promoter, whose Matchroom Sport sports promotion company launched the Ryder Cup-style 9-ball tournament in 1994. “I’m delighted to say that it is now a reality.”

Hoping to create the type of interest that Americans developed for the America’s Cup sailing race after the U.S.’s years of dominance was ended, shockingly, in the early ’80s, Hearn plans to hype the 2003 Mosconi Cup to pool fans and general sports fans in the U.S. According to Matchroom publicist Luke Riches, a 30-second commercial promoting the Mosconi Cup will air some 100 times on Fox Sports World during broadcasts of the World Matchplay Darts tournament (a Matchroom promotion) in September.

Additionally, said Hearn, Matchroom will be offering special fan packages to pool followers in both Europe and the U.S., in an attempt to recreate the wildly enthusiastic soccer-style fan atmosphere that has rattled the rafters of York Hall for the past five years.

“We want as many fans as possible to come and join in this celebration of the great game,” Hearn commented. “We’ll be announcing some very affordable travel packages very shortly.”

Matchroom also announced that, for the first time in the event’s history, the teams will be led by non-playing captains, similar to the Ryder Cup golf format. While teams have yet to be confirmed, it is expected that Team Europe will return almost intact, with Germany’s Ralf Souquet, Sweden’s Marcus Chamat, Nick Van den Berg of the Netherlands, England’s Steve Davis and Finland’s Mika Immonen defending their crown. It is anticipated that newly crowned world champion Thorsten Hohmann, of Germany, will be added to the squad, replacing countryman Oliver Ortmann. Ortmann, captain and emotional leader of the 2002 champions, may be tabbed as the team’s non-playing captain in 2003.

According to Riches, the American squad is still taking shape, and a final announcement of the six-man team is not likely before the United States Professional Poolplayers Association (UPA) Atlanta Open in mid-October.

Mosconi Cup First Day: Europe Sweeps America!

The Mosconi Cup matches held in London today had a surprising outcome: Europe, which suffered a crushing 12-1 defeat last year, has leapt to a 3-0 lead on the first day of this year’s competition.

In the first matchup, Team Europe team captain Oliver Ortmann and fellow German Ralf Souquet took on American team captain Johnny Archer and veteran pro Nick Varner. Team Europe took first blood with a 5-2 victory.

In the second match of the opening session, Scandinavians Mika Immonen and Marcus Chamat faced American young guns Cory Deuel and Charlie Williams. Immonen won the lag and ran out to take a 1-0 lead, and that set the tone for the match. Europe picked up another point with a 5-1 victory.

In the final matchup of the evening, American spirits were flagging, and the European support was growing stronger by the minute as home-team favorite Steve Davis and fresh-faced rookie Nick van den Berg faced Americans Earl Strickland and Jeremy Jones. This match was closer, 5-4, but with the same outcome: Europe took another point.

The Mosconi Cup will head into its second day with Europe holding an unprecedented shutout advantage. Check our live-coverage link at the top of the page for on-site coverage, or visit www.mosconicup.com.