Matchroom Sport Addresses Mosconi Cup Questions

2011 Mosconi Cup – some event information from Matchroom Sport
In the lead up to the 2011 Mosconi Cup as well as the post-event analysis, much was written about the structure of the American team and the selection of the captain. A fair amount of this has been unsubstantiated speculation with little or no factual accuracy.
The Mosconi Cup was devised in 1994 by Matchroom Sport as a live TV event to be screened on Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland. Over the years, the event has grown and now it stands as one of the sport’s premier brands and the only pool event live on TV in Europe.
Many efforts have been made by Matchroom Sport over the years to get some television foothold in the USA, leading to a live telecast, but the current reality is that US TV is not overly interested in pool.
How were the players picked?
Matchroom Sport has no agreements with any bodies as to how the players are picked for the Mosconi Cup. It is our event and the selection procedure changes from year to year which rather reflects the fragmented nature of the pool calendar.
Our aim for all of our pool events is to try and have the best possible players competing and with that in mind, this year, for the first time, Matchroom produced our own rankings for the event. These were administered for both teams by Mike Howerton, and updated after each event and published on as well as and various sites.
The US roster of events was subject to change (we dropped some ‘world’ events when it became apparent that an insufficient numbers of American players would be participating, thus rendering them ineffective for the purpose). In the end, the calendar comprised ten events that were all BCA ‘points’ events, ie they fitted the criteria for added money. This gave all interested players every opportunity to make their mark.
At the outset we stated that the top three at the end of the ‘season’ would make the Mosconi Cup team with the other two being wild cards.
At the end of the final event – the US Open - we selected the top three as stated, and then the players ranked #4 & #5. That was our choice and seemed fair at the time.
How will they be picked for 2012?
Matchroom has not yet announced the selection criteria for 2012 for either of the two sides. This is primarily because the two sides’ respective calendars of events are not yet set. It appears that there will be substantially less events in the USA next year, so we will wait and see what the calendar looks like before making any firm decision as to how many spots will be attributed to the rankings.
Why was Charlie Williams chosen as captain?
America had previously had non-playing captains at the Mosconi Cup on six occasions; 2003, Nick Varner (won 11-9); 2007, Kim Davenport (lost 11-8); 2008, Nick Varner (lost 11-5); 2009, Nick Varner (won 11-7); 2010 Nick Varner (lost 11-8).
So with that mixed bag of results we felt that a change of captain was required - something different. In our eyes as promoters of the event, this is a real job, that requires real work and effort and not a grace and favour role and there were certain criteria.
One such factor was an experience of the event – Charlie Williams had played five times in the Mosconi Cup, winning four times with a playing record of 12 wins and 9 defeats. Furthermore he had won three tough singles matches in an intimidating York Hall and knew what the event was about.  
With that in mind, we then put it to the players on the team. This is not a formality as I don’t believe that the players would approve a captain that they didn’t want to work with in such a pressurised atmosphere and with so much money on the line.
In previous years, a captain was rejected after a couple of players on one of the sides expressed reservations about having him on board. Once the players had approved it and been happy with the choice, we then offered the job to Charlie Williams who accepted it.
Different captains have different styles and Charlie Williams’ style was similar to Johan Ruijsink’s; thorough and industrious.
Matchroom Sport has absolutely no business relationship with Dragon Promotions; we have never worked with them and have no plans to do so. Furthermore, we have never had any contact whatsoever with the ABP, official or otherwise as our particular areas do not coincide.
The captains are paid a fee at the Mosconi Cup, with the winning captain receiving twice what the defeated captain receives. This remuneration is substantially less than the prize money received by the two sets of players.
In the end in a two horse race, one wins and one comes second, and I don’t believe the American team’s defeat was through lack of cohesion and effort. The first day deficit of 1-4 could easily have been a 3-2 lead and when the USA levelled the score at 4-4 on day two, no one would have predicted that Johnny Archer would have lost the next game 6-1 to Nick Van den Berg, but that’s sport.
From the perspective of Matchroom Sport, we really don’t mind which of the two sides wins the Mosconi Cup, as long it is an exciting event, satisfies our broadcasters and sponsors and neither of the sides begins to emerge as dominating the competition.
With four wins in five years, it could be argued that Europe is becoming the force in the event, rather like the USA was in the 1990s when they won six consecutive Mosconi Cups.

There is an argument that the American team don’t need a captain. They successfully came to the hostile atmosphere of the York Hall, year in, year out and won without a non-playing skipper. Maybe that suits their style better?
Or maybe the event has moved on and it is an essential requirement. It seems clear that the addition of a captain to the European team post-2006 has been a fundamental factor in their reversal of fortunes.
With 11 months to go until the 2012 event in London, we won’t be making a decision yet but look forward to some spirited debate as to who should assume the captain’s role, if anyone, and why.
Luke Riches
Matchroom Sport