Nine-ball pool’s transatlantic rivalry is renewed as Team Europe meet the United States in the 19th staging of the PartyPoker.com Mosconi Cup, with all four days live on Sky Sports.
Staged at the legendary York Hall in Bethnal Green, London, five of the best professional players from Europe take on their American counterparts over four exciting days in a Ryder Cup-style series of matches.
Europe are the defending champions, having triumphed last year in Las Vegas, and the last time the event was played out at the fabled London venue in 2010, the Europeans enjoyed a triumphant four days in front of packed, vociferous audience.
From its origins in 1994 as an exhibition event for the fledging sport of 9-Ball pool, the Mosconi Cup has grown to be the biggest international team event in cue sports.
Team Europe successfully retained the title last year after an 11-7 triumph in Las Vegas last year.
Headed by non-playing captain Johan Ruijsink, the continent profited from strong showings on days one and three to secure the trophy with two games to spare.
Ruijsink will lead the team once more as they aim to defend the trophy for a third year, a personal best for Europe.
The Dutchman has an impressive array of talent at his disposal coming into the celebrated competition.
With just five places available within team Europe, he has the luxury of selecting players who all reside within the world’s top 20.
These include England’s Darren Appleton (above), the reigning nine-ball pool world champion, Chris Melling, Niels Feijen, Nick van den Berg and debutant Nick Ekonomopoulos, but he will be without the experienced veteran Ralf Souquet.
After dominating the Mosconi Cup from its beginnings in 1994 up until the mid-2000s, Team America has been on the receiving end of some heavy defeats in recent years and has recorded just one victory in their last six outings.
US captain CJ Wiley and his team, which includes Mosconi Cup veteran Johnny Archer, as well as Shane Van Boening, Mike Dechaine, debutant Brandon Shuff and Dennis Hatch, will be facing stiff competition from a European side that is now used to winning this event.
In addition, the Americans will be up against the fired-up York Hall crowd, where the first team to reach eleven points becomes Mosconi Cup champions.Mosconi Cup 2011 – Europe triumphs 11-7 Pictures: Sky Sports
Named after pool hall-of-famer and arguably the greatest name in the sport’s history, Willie Mosconi, this is the 19th time the annual competition has been held.
Sky Sports and Matchroom Sport created the event in 1994 in an effort to increase public awareness of pool.
It has gone on to become one of the sport’s most eagerly-anticipated events, even attracting many of English snooker’s legendary figures including Ronnie O’Sullivan, Alex Higgins and Steve Davis.
The tournament took place at the York Hall from 1997 to 2002, before the event moved further afield, initially to Las Vegas and then other parts of Europe.
The dates for the 2012 switch from its traditional weekend finish to mid-week as play commences on Monday, December 10, and continues through Tuesday and Wednesday before concluding on the evening of Thursday, December 13.
Commenting on the return to Bethnal Green for the 2012 tournament, Matchroom Sport chairman Barry Hearn said, “After the rip-roaring success at Bethnal Green in 2010, it was a very easy decision to bring the Mosconi Cup back to the York Hall once again.
“In previous years, we have always run the competition from Thursday to Sunday.
“But there is a huge amount of top class televised sport on the weekend, including the UK Snooker Championship, PDC Darts, Premiership football and all the rest.
“On that basis, it makes perfect sense to move the event to a mid-week slot to allow an increasing number of viewers the opportunity to watch the greatest event in pool.”
The Mosconi Cup is sanctioned by the World Pool Association, the world governing body for pool which administers the game at many levels across the globe.
Each match is a race to five racks with alternate breaks. All scotch doubles matches involve alternate shots rather than alternate visits.
The only place to follow every ball of every rack during the 2012 Mosconi Cup is on Sky Sports HD.
Live coverage will be hosted for all four days by Andy Goldstein, who will also be in the commentary box alongside Jim Wych, Jerry Forsyth and Jay Helfert.
Monday 10th December Day 1 – EUR 2-3 USA Match 1: Team – Europe 3-5 United States Match 2: Doubles – Melling/Van Der Berg 4-5 Archer/Shuff
Match 3: Singles – Niels Feijen 5-0 Mike Dechaine
Match 4: Doubles – Appleton/E’poulos 4-5 Hatch/Van Boening
Match 5: Singles – Darren Appleton 5-2 Brandon Shuff LIVE: 7.00pm-11.00pm – Sky Sports 2 Tuesday 11th December Day 2 – EUR 5-5 USA Match 6: Doubles – Appleton/Melling 4-5 Archer/Dechaine
Match 7: Singles – Nikos Ekonomopoulos 5-3 Shane Van Boening
Match 8: Doubles – Feijen/Van Den Berg 5-2 Hatch/Shuff
Match 9: Singles – Chris Melling 5-3 Dennis Hatch
Match 10: Doubles – Appleton/Feijen 4-5 Van Boening/Archer LIVE: 7.00pm-11.00pm – Sky Sports 2 Wednesday 12th December Day 3 – EUR 9-6 USA Match 11: Doubles – Van Den Berg/E’poulos 5-4 Dechaine/Shuff
Match 12: Singles – Nick Van Den Berg 4-5 Johnny Archer
Match 13: Doubles – E’poulos/Feijen 5-4 Hatch/Dechaine
Match 14: Singles – Chris Melling 5-2 Brandon Shuff
Match 15: Singles – Darren Appleton 5-0 Shane Van Boening LIVE: 7.00pm-11.00pm – Sky Sports 2 Thursday 13th December Day 4 – EUR – USA Match 16: Singles – Nikos Ekonomopoulos v Dennis Hatch Match 17: Singles – Niels Feijen v Johnny Archer Match 18: Singles – Darren Appleton v Shane Van Boening Match 19: Singles – Chris Melling v Brandon Shuff Match 20: Singles – Nick Van Den Berg v Mike Dechaine Match 21: Singles (Captain’s pick) LIVE: 7.00pm-11.00pm – Sky Sports 3