The Mosconi Cup is the one of the highlights of the year in the pool calendar, pitting the best players of the United States against Europe. The States were dominant in the early stages of the competition, winning 10 out of the opening 12 tournaments.
However, Europe fought back by producing a run of eight crowns on the bounce. The USA still hold the advantage in their head-to-head duels after winning in 2018 and once again in 2019 by a slim margin in the Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, where it was previously held in 2017.
We can only hope that the 2020 version lives up to past great Mosconi Cups. We’ll now look back at three of the best tournaments in the history of the competition.
1995 Mosconi Cup – Europe 16-15 United States
The United States came out on top in the inaugural Mosconi Cup in London, leaving Team Europe with a point to prove when the competition returned in the following year. Bobby Hunter gave the United States the early edge on day one with two victories over Daryl Peach and Lee Kendall. However, Peach, Kendall and the doubles team of Oliver Ortmann and Tom Storm led the fightback on day two, leaving the scores all square at 7-7.
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Nothing could separate the sides on day three before Europe made a charge on day four, winning all four games in the singles in the morning session. The States were never going to relinquish their title without a fight. Lou Butera, Dallas West and Hunter were inspirational in levelling the scores, forcing the contest in a playoff for the cup. Jimmy White faced off against Butera and proved to have just enough quality to edge out the American to win the tournament for Europe for the first time.
2002 Mosconi Cup – Europe 12-9 United States
The USA were at the peak of their powers entering the 2002 competition after winning the last six cups in a row, including the 2001 event by a dominant 12-1 margin. The States are on a similar trajectory at the moment, having won the last two tournaments, and although early betting odds for the 2020 competition favour Europe to get back on top, there will be value to be found on the best betting websites to back the States to extend their winning run to three cups in a row.
Europe will need to channel the spirit of 2002 when they responded with a strong start after their humbling defeat in 2001, powering into a 5-1 lead after the first two sessions. Nick van den Berg, Steve Davis, Mika Immonen, Ralf Souquet, Marcus Chamat and Ortmann performed to a high standard to hand the team initiative.
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Corey Deuel and Earl Strickland led the charge to level the scores for the States with emphatic victories. In the past Europe may have collapsed under the strain, but they held their nerve in the singles, edging their way towards the 12-point mark. Davis had the challenge of ending Europe’s seven-year wait for the Mosconi Cup in one of the duels of tournament history. His contest with Strickland went down to the wire into a ninth rack. Strickland made an uncharacteristic error to pave the way for Davis to pot the final three balls to claim the crown for the Europeans.
2006 Mosconi Cup – Europe 12-12 United States
The Netherlands hosted the tournament for the second time as the States looked to retain the crown won in 2005 in Las Vegas. Team USA got the early lead in the teams and trebles matches on day one as Deuel, Strickland and Rodney Morris were on form. The Europeans levelled the scores in a sign of things to come in the doubles before David Alcaide, Imran Majid and Souquet completed a sweep of their opponents in the singles to hand their side the lead.
Europe’s lead held through two further sessions before trebles and teams left the scores tied at 9-9 heading into the final round of singles. Thomas Engert, Van den Berg and Souquet recorded wins to leave Europe one point away from victory. Mike Davis saved the States with a last-gasp win over Immonen, while Deuel held his nerve under pressure to complete the comeback to defeat Alcaide. It was the first and only tie in the tournament to date.
2020 Mosconi Cup?
The States have been on a roll of late, but the competition has been anything other than predictable. We can only hope it lives up to these past great Mosconi Cups at Alexandra Palace in December.