After a decade of dominating the Mosconi Cup, Team Europe bring USA into their backyard with the sole aim of regaining the title at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
The two teams will face off in the most anticipated tournament in pool with a grand total of $225,000 up for grabs, but this is all about pride and passion than 50 dollar bills.
Last year, Team USA beat the men in blue 11-8 to seal their second straight Mosconi Cup. That victory helped put them pull ahead in the overall series, 13-12, with one tie. It couldn’t be closer with this year’s event moving inside the bubble at the Ricoh Arena due to the coronavirus pandemic.
There was an early blow to USA’s chances of retaining their title when Justin Bergman was ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19. He has been replaced by former US Open Champion Corey Deuel.
We delve deeper by analysing both teams thanks to a little help from Europe’s Jayson Shaw and Skyler Woodward of the USA.
- Mosconi Cup moved to Coventry’s Ricoh Arena
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“As a team, last year hurt. I’m not going to lie. We’re pool players, we win and lose all the time. It’s how you bounce back and this year I think we have a very strong team. Not that we didn’t have one the last two years but I think they performed a little bit better than they have done over the last 10 years and you’ve got to give them respect for that,” said the Scot. “They changed their coach up and we’ve changed our coach up and we’re coming in fresh. It’s going to be fun and we’re definitely going to be stronger this time around. We’re going to be looking to win that cup back.”
Will home advantage count for nothing this year?
“The crowd are a massive thing for the Mosconi Cup, but with no crowd there I think the players will be more focused,” said Shaw. “When you’re coming out and there are 3,000 people screaming in your ear and shouting your name, you get pumped up so by the time you get to the table you’re not really 100 per cent settled. You can still be nervous the first rack. I think when we come out there we will be 100 per cent focused and it’s going to be all about the pool playing instead of interacting with the fans.
“We’re so used to playing in quiet environments. We play a lot of big events and it’s always quiet. It might affect them a little bit more but we’ll see what goes down when it starts.”
“When you’re the champions it’s kind of strange. You’re going in there and you don’t want to lose so there’s a little bit of added pressure on it. It just feels a little different when you keep winning or you’re trying to defend it. When someone comes in and tries to take it away from you they don’t have as much pressure on them. I think all the pressure is on them and we’re going to go out there and be nice, cool and play our game.”
Jayson Shaw: The pressure is on Team USA
Shaw on Team Europe
Captain, Alex Lely (Netherlands)
He’s a great guy. He’s been around for a long time. He’s been a player, he knows the game well, he knows the players well. He does a lot of coaching with players so I’ve got a lot of confidence in him. It’s easy to get along with him so if there are any issues or anything he’s easy to speak to. I’m happy that we changed it up and we got something new to work with. I think it’s a good thing.
Vice-captain, Karl Boyes (England)
I’ve known Karl since I was young. We used to travel and play tournaments together. He knows the game inside out. He knows the players inside out and he knows the Mosconi Cup very well. He’s got one of the best winning percentages so he knows how to win. I’m happy he’s in and it’s going to be fun because he’s a fun guy to be around.
Eklent Kaci (Albania)
Kaci is solid, he’s young, he’s got a lot of potential and he’s showed it over the past few years by winning some big tournaments and I think he’s going to come of age at this tournament. He’s learned from some mistakes over the last couple of years and taken the positives coming into this event. He’s going to show everybody just what he’s got.
Albin Ouschan (Austria)
I’m glad Albin is back on the team. He’s been very solid and he’s been one player who’s been underlooked over the last few years considering some of the performances he’s shown out there. He’s an incredible player with a lot of talent. He’s one of the guys who are made for the Mosconi Cup.
Joshua Filler (Germany)
There’s not much I can say about Josh. He’s just a phenomenal player who thrives off that pressure no matter if there’s a crowd or not. I think he’s going to perform like he always does. He’s got plenty to show and when he’s there he shows what he’s got and leaves it all on the table.
Fedor Gorst (Russia)
He’s only 19 and he’s the reigning world 9-ball champion so that kind of tells you what we’re going to see. He’s a great kid with a big future ahead of him. He’s already accomplished so many things at such a young age so this is just something else to tick off in the book for him.
“We always look forward to the Mosconi Cup because it’s the greatest event in pool and it’s the greatest event we can play,” said the two-time MVP. “We were looking forward to the team we had but we knew there was always a chance somebody could get Covid and get pulled out. Yeah, it does suck and we feel sorry for Justin (Bergman) missing out but we’ve still got Corey (Deuel) to play.
“Justin is upset, of course. Especially this close to the tournament.”
Three in a row for USA?
“It could be tougher on us, because like you said, we could be a little more relaxed but we know what we’re up against. I don’t see anybody being too relaxed because we know who we’re playing so it will be a tough match but we will go out there and do what we can to keep the cup in the USA,” he said.
“I believe having no crowd will have an impact. Some of us feed off the crowd and some of us don’t like the crowd. But having the crowd puts more pressure on you because you make a ball or you miss a ball they just go nuts. Playing pool is an amazing feeling because you don’t have that in any other event so when you do something it really gets your blood flowing. We’ve just got to try and keep each other pumped up.”
Woodward on Team USA
Captain Jeremy Jones
What can you say? Who knows more about pool than that guy. It’s crazy the knowledge he’s got and I really wouldn’t want anybody else leading us into battle. He’s as American as it gets. I could go on and on about Jeremy. We have two great coaches and it’s going to show.
Vice-captain Joey Gray
Joey’s in top shape. He’s always pushing us to be better mentally and to be stronger. He’s been great for us so far this season. He’s been doing great for us.
Shane van Boening
Who do you want by your side playing pool? You really want Shane. You want the best player on your side. Having Shane on your side pumps you up, knowing he’s got your back. He’s not going to play bad very often, he’s going to go out there and fight for it.
Corey is a good replacement or a good pick for the team? He’s been there and he’s a veteran. He’s got the experience and he’s won plenty of titles. I see nothing but a good choice.
The aggression that he’s got, he’s always just so ramped up. He’s really like our rowdy guy. He’s always pumping up the crowd, screaming, pumping up the team. He’s the guy you want if you get down.
The rookie. You never know what you’re going to get the first year at the Mosconi Cup but this is the right year for Chris to play. I think he’s going to play good. He’s been training hard and he has a good work ethic so we’ll see what happens.
We will have the 2020 Mosconi Cup covered via our website skysports.com/more-sports, our app for mobile devices, and our Twitter account @skysportspool for latest news and reports from Tuesday, December 1 until Friday, December 4.
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