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Mark Wilson: “It’s going to be a much younger team”

Mark Wilson, the 2014 Mosconi Cup Team USA Captain

One of 2014’s biggest question is: how is the Mosconi Cup USA Team ever going to come back from the depths it fell into last december.
Surprising many observers and insiders, Matchroom nominated a captain for Team USA only three weeks into the new year, with what seems to be a plan in mind and a new approach to the event for the Americans. Mosconi Cup veteran and professional coach Mark Wilson has been one of many centers of attraction during the recent Derby City Classic where everybody had something to say about his nomination.
We decided the best thing to do was to talk to the man himself, and he literally answered all our questions.
AZB: Mark, congratulations on being nominated Mosconi Cup 2014 Captain. We’ll start by talking about you. Europeans need to know you better and maybe a lot of our countrymen don’t know you enough.
Mark Wilson: Thank you. Let’s do this!
AZB: Which of your personal jobs or experiences you think will help you the most in your mission as the 2014 USA Team Captain?
MW: Well, I actually think my school background will probably help me the most. Because learning leadership, and the value of hard work… And maybe even going back to my parents you know. I think that would possibly be better.
My job is fun, because I play pool. And I love pool. But that part of my life will probably not help as much, although I had good coaching. My commentary job in pool will help. Because I feel like it helps me get to know the players better, their strengths and their weaknesses.
AZB:You have played the Mosconi Cup twice, the two first years (1994 & 1995). Do you think it will help you in your approach towards the job you've been assigned?
MW: It will, because I understand and appreciate the magnitude of the event. The first time we went there – this was twenty years ago – never before there had been this degree of professionalism and organization surrounding an event.
…And then, Live TV! If you’re not ready, it will cause you to blink. And if you blink, Europeans’ve got you, you know. So… We’ve got to prepare for that. So I do think it will help a lot. Even since its inception, that was year one, there had been nothing like it, and now it’s grown exponentially since then.
And then the second year, as a most interesting side note, Alex Higgins played in the event. His health was in deep decline at that time, as well as his stardom, and so in the practice room I was thinking:  "oh well, Alex Higgins, this shouldn’t be too bad". He didn’t know 9-Ball, he was such a happy-go-lucky kind of a guy that nothing necessarily applied to him other than having a good time. But when he got there on TV… While having played mediocre in the practice room, he would go out there in front of the cameras and just flourish, you know… Even his own teammates were stunned. He really bounded them with that experience.
Then Sky Sports played that biography, when we were in the practice room. And we’d been with Alex all day, and with Jimmy (White) too. Him and Jimmy were like arm and arm, you know. Jimmy brought out the best in him. And the is biography was absolutely tear-evoking. And then you’re with him! And I just remember… We lost that particular time, but… If we were gonna lose, and Alex Higgins won, it was OK. You know, I mean… Because he needed it so bad!
AZB: Johan Ruijsink has changed Europe's fate since 2006. In the 6 cups he has played, he's undefeated. Have you had a look at his successes, studied his choices and his approach of the event?
MW: Good point. Well, I’ve certainly noticed the fact that he is the bonding agent for his entire team. And you have a team that’s pretty moldable, but he’s still getting everybody on the same page.
The story was related to me that, he came into the practice room an hour and a half before the Mosconi Cup was to kick off, when there’s wives, girlfriends, hangers, watching the players… Then he claps his hands, and he says "Thank you everybody for being here, but now we need some solitude", and he runs them all out of there, and they’re all together. There’s nothing like that on the American side. He has a degree of discipline, he makes the calls, they’re all on board. They trust him, respect him, and he kind of commands authority. So in that regard, I’m looking at what he does.
As far as players selection, you really can’t go wrong with what they have, so… I think anyone could coach that!
AZB: Is Johan an example to follow for you or do you plan to do your own thing?
MW: Yes, very much an example to follow. As well as many of the European players are. One of the components in every process, would be to say "tell me something about Niels Feijen", or "tell me something about Ralf Souquet", because I want to engage my potential players as "well, this guy’s really good, he trains like an athlete. Oh, he’s got a coach with him. He works hard every day… He’s the most improved guy at the Derby City for the last five years".
I want them to say that so then we can ask ourselves "OK, then what’s the next step for us to beat him?", you know… Because they’re such good examples and good role models…
Hey, listen to this. This is the essence of it. I’m in the hallway (of the Derby City Classic) with one of my older best friends, and he says "you know, these American guys… I don’t know about them. If my daughter came to me with one of the Mosconi Cup players from Team Europe and said they were gonna get married, I’d be OK with it. With the American guys, no way!"
It was such a telling statement (laughs). But it is true, we have to be better individuals if we want to be better players. We’re going to have to learn some character, some integrity, professionalism…
AZB: Let’s talk about the players now. The first question is one everyone’s minds. How will you handle the pressure from all these pros all of whom will be telling you that they deserve to be on the Mosconi Cup team?
MW: Sure. I was actually aware that I was going to have this job two weeks before it was announced. So I was naturally thrilled, excited, and yet a little bit tacked with the responsibility that comes with it. Because you can’t critize any of the previous coaches: they didn’t really have a chance. They didn’t have some preparation time. And in many cases,  when you find out you’re coach, you wonder "I’m the coach, what does that mean?" because these guys have great talent, huge egos… how are you gonna do it?
So, with that position, also comes public scrutiny. Or questions: "why did he do this?"… I was thinking about that and I thought, I’m just gonna have to man up and make my decisions based on my heart, because I’ve always loved pool, so… You know, if somebody criticizes me: "why did you select him over the other", or "what are you going to do?", "do you feel the pressure?"… Of course I do. I’m going to make these decisions well thought-out, and it’s not MY team. It’s not OUR team – meaning me and the players – but it’s everybody in the US’ team. Let’s get some of them engaged.
I will have a very transparent process, so at least people understand where everything comes from.
AZB: What methods and criteria will you use to pick team members that you can discuss publicly?
MW: Well, I don’t have anything to hide. It’s not about me. And I think, when there’s mystery, particularly when it’s something that has always been semi-unscrupulous, or people didn’t know… When there’s mystery people tend to always say "that’s his friend, that’s why he’s doing this", or "I don’t like this one", "what he’s doing here is wrong"… There’s always going to be some of that.
So, I’d rather just have openness, because that’s far more engaging and people feel better about it. Now, undoubtedly over the next year I’ll make some mistakes. But they will be mistakes that are well thought out, and well intended. They won’t be mistakes of under headedness, or smacks of favoritism.
For me, there’s a couple of ways to win here. We can win the Mosconi Cup. And I really want to. But we can also help American pool, and that’s the big picture.
AZB: When will you start making a list of names who you think will make the team? Will it be made public? official?
MW: Oh, it will definitely  made public. It’s just that right now, I don’t want to disclose that for a couple of reasons. One, it’s not fair to Accu-Stats video to stir up any controversy here. It’s not fair to the Derby City Classic promoters that there’s negativism surrounding their biggest event of the year. It will definitely be disclosed within a couple of weeks.
Off camera, I’m getting organized, doing some interviews with the players, and I’m watching them more keenly than I might have. And really, the criteria for the team has very much nothing to do with your playing. It’s got to do with your character and your image. We’ve got to get back to discipline, we’ve got to get back to dedication. I want athletes, I want people who want to work. And I want the youth element.
So, if you have so many questions, it’s gotta be in there. So I’m going to tell you right now: it’s going to be a much younger team. One thing you can never guarantee is the win, that would be silly. But I will guarantee you, you’ll be proud of the team. They will behave. That, we’ll have together, we’ll have unity for sure.
AZB: How often do you plan to get in touch with your players before the event, and at which occasions will you meet?
MW: Well, it’s always budgetary. If it was up to me, we’d live together for 10 months (smiles). But I have other jobs, and duties. So, that said… We’re going to stay in touch either on Facebook, emails, at tournaments. We will see each other. I have a training facility at Lindenwood University that the school has agreed that I can use, it’s state-of-the-art and including brand new Diamond tables that the Mosconi Cup is played on. So, I have many progressive training ideas.
AZB: That all sounds very good! Now, the Blackpool Tower Circus is a very rowdy place. The fans will be screaming oaths at the Americans. Is this any place to break in newbies to the Mosconi Cup or would that just be sending them to slaughter?
MW: That’s a good question. Because it is threatening if you’re a veteran player, to go here. Because we’ve never played in such a place, something as fancy, and in front of the fans. Now they’re also throwing some kind of a soccer-hooligans sort of background.
So if you’re a not a pro, not used to be intimidated at all, this would do it. This could break you. Great lights, Live TV… You could flinch.
That said, what we’ve done in the past, hasn’t worked. So the risk is nil. We’re getting worse, we’re not getting better – and we’re getting much older. Now if we take some new faces, some younger guys, then there’ll be some other younger guys saying "hey, there is a chance, maybe I should clean my act, maybe I should try working really hard". This is such a cool program. The idea is that I would like to have this as a model in the United States for people to aspire to. In the past, we’ve never had anything really to work for.
Now, if you were to ask a European player – whether they’re on the Mosconi Cup or not – "Tell me a little something about you’re training, how’s that going?", they would tell you "well, you know, I have a nutritionist, I’ve been planning and playing in all the events, and I’ve been practicing almost 10 hours a day".
And then you go to an American pro, pick any one… He would tell you "well, I haven’t been playing much. But the last two weeks I’ve been trying to hit them a little bit better"…
I mean, how are you going to beat those guys that way?
That’s the difference. We’re going to bring in this level of professionalism and polish. So the preparation is going to be very, very important.
AZB: So that’s what you mean by helping American pool?
MW: Exactly. Having something up there, because right now American pool public is not proud. They’re really offended. Because they spent money to go watch. And that’s one thing in sports, to lose. It happens. But it’s another thing to not represent and actually to repulse your own family. People were saying "well, I did see some good pool, at least I got that"… But they were talking about the other team! It’s depressing. And it’s disrespectful to the sport. That’s something I will not tolerate and if you don’t have an understanding of honesty, integrity, respect, you’re out. I don’t care if you can run 500 balls. I’ll just go with where fire’s at.
AZB: More questions about the team. Team USA's personal relationships on the inside have always caused trouble with members not getting along, no real team unity. European members come from different countries but their bonding seem to be far stronger. Do you think this is something you can make work for Team USA?
MW: 100%. This is part of the interviewing process. I’m not interviewing anyone that I think can’t put up with that. Don’t tell me you’ve won the "Ocean State Open" or something. I don’t care, it doesn’t matter. It’s about what we do in the next ten month, and so we need to be starting off with good material. So there won’t be any personality complex allowed on the team. Way more so, we have to become a family. You have to have my back, I have to have yours. There’s trust and respect. I would do anything to help you. You’ve got to have that brotherhood instilled in this thing, and I think it’s the only chance we have to go over there and win.
We’re not playing for America. I’m playing for you. I don’t want to let you down, partner. You know… That’s going to be far more propelling. Europeans aren’t playing for their country, it’s not even a country! They’re from different countries, you know… And then there’s Team USA who comes with good intentions, you screw your cues together and put them in the center of the table and "hey, we’re a team, we’re going to do it for the USA!"… But you didn’t prepare. There’s no way you could win.
When you go to a place and you don’t feel like you’ve worked hard, prepared hard, you’ve earned the right to win, you deserve to win… Then you look over at the other team and you see what they have and there’s that little thing in the back of your mind that says "my god, I hope I get lucky. If I play well, maybe I’ll get a couple of rolls here and there. I think I could do it."
But you don’t have that drive, you feel beat.
AZB: Look at the European team from last year: all of them World Champions, three US Open winners, a BCA Hall of Famer, and so many major titles it’s hard to even list them. Now, can you possibly put someone on the team who has never won a major event up against guys like that? 
MW: Yes. I mean, it only makes sense. We put the other guys out there, and what happened? It wasn’t even close. In seven years, we’re a hundred racks behind! So it’s not bad rolls we’re getting.
Naturally, it’s dangerous, but really, what’s the risk? I think we’re going to have to go with this (a younger team). And let’s suppose that people will say "hey Mark, you’re not taking the very best five players. But maybe you’ve got good character there, I’ll give you that.". Then what, we would take the others? The ones that have won the titles? But in five years, what are we going to do? Where are they going to be?
I mean, look at Europe. How much longer do you think you’ll have to fight Niels Feijen, Thorsten Hohmann, Darren Appleton. A long time yet! So, we’ve got to start laying the ground for the future. It’s not a "I want it done" type of thing. Plus, we possibly don’t have the horsepower to think like that anyway.
AZB: So, back to the problem: We think you need seasoned players who have won big ones. But those Americans are not known for their ability to be coached or be part of a true team. What is your solution to that problem?
MW: Well it’s the same question. That’s why I’m going with character. Because I try to have some open-ended questions to the interview when I talk to the players. For example: "if you’re selected, how will we be a better team?" Because you know, I want to mandate to them. I want to engage them and I want them to want it. Sometimes, you rephrase the question and you’ll get answers that they think you will like to hear. But I’m trying to get the baseline, to understand better where you’re coming from. So I can get a feeling for the sincerity, or if they’re trying to tell me what they think I want to hear.
Plus, we have ten months to prepare. You might say "hey, I’m going to train real hard, I’m going to practice". But you’re in a larger group, you’re in a competition now. To be one of the five. You’re in a select group, but you’ll be firing for five spots. I don’t know yet if there will be 12, or 10, or 8. But in the amount of time that we have, I will find out who really wants it. I will find out who really has good character.
In a couple of months, I might hear "well, I really haven’t started yet, you know…". But there’s no time for procrastination. I want the five other people to feel that way too.
AZB: One last question about the event. America went from losing 11-9 in 2012 to losing 11-2 in 2013. Does this show that short-race 9-Ball is a coin flip situation where anyone can win? If so, how come the coin always lands Euro-side up? If not, are the Americans getting that much worse or the Euros that much better?
MW: The Americans are what they’ve always been. It’s just that the Europeans are coming every year with a higher standard, and totally unified. And now, it’s starting to really get worse for us. So given what we had, we would seldom lose 11-2, but we were going to lose if we didn’t change something, you know. So it’s not going to be like we were ever again going to be a threat if we continued on that road. We might accidentally win a match, but it’s not going to be… You know, the 11-8 overall record is still in USA’s favor. But it will diminish, if we don’t do something different.
Thanks to Mark Wilson for taking the time to answer our questions and good luck to him and team USA in the 2014 Partypoker Mosconi Cup.

It’s Europe in a landslide

USA 2 – 11 Europe

Strickland / Hatch 3 – 6 Appleton / Souquet

Earl Strickland 4 – 6 Karl Boyes
Hatch / Morris 4 – 6 Immonen / Feijen

Team Europe completed their finest ever Mosconi Cup win, as they beat the Americans 11-2, the second biggest winning margin in the 20 year history of the event. Needing three more points going into the third day, they reeled off the first three matches to hand out a humiliating defeat to the USA.

It was Europe’s fourth win on the trot and their sixth in seven years. With a star-packed team, many felt that this was the Americans best chance in a while but after losing the first day 5-0, the writing was on the wall. America won two points on Tuesday but all in all it was a lame performance that will leave many questions.

It was Niels Feijen, partnered by Mika Immonen, who downed the winning 9 ball and the final point of this year’s event gave the Dutchman his second Most Valuable Player trophy in three years.

European captain, Johan Ruijsink was thrilled with his fifth victory at the helm; “I am very, very proud of my team. They played like lions all week, they came out of the starting blocks really heavy on the Americans and I don’t think they recovered. I am really sorry for my buddy Johnny Archer because it is his first time as a captain in the modern age and I think he deserved better than that. He is a great captain, a great motivator, and I feel sorry for him because 11-2 doesn’t reflect the difference in quality.”

Despite his obvious standing as a captain and motivator, Ruijsink was quick to put the credit where it was due; “I have a great team, world class players, and the only thing I need to do is channel their energy and quality into the right direction.

“The other wins have been more tense but I think the quality we put up every year is a guarantee for us to have a certain level of play.

“This is a game of details and as soon as the Americans don’t have their details in order you can get beaten by this. I don’t think the score is a reflection of the quality because they are much better than 11-2. “

For Johnny Archer it was a bitter pill to swallow; “Everything went wrong. We didn’t break the balls as well as they did, they played better, they were more of a team.

“The first day just killed us. We got behind really badly the first day and we were really search from there and it was very hard. They kept coming out and they won a couple of close matches.

“It is very disappointing and the whole team is really disappointed right now. All we can do is take a year to try and figure it out. It might be different players, all kinds of different things.

“I definitely think we need to improve on being more of a team like the European team. That is the number one thing right now and that is what we have to do.”

Going into the third day, with three points required, the European pair of Darren Appleton and Ralf Souquet got the best possible start as they beat a talkative Earl Strickland and Dennis Hatch to get within two points of victory. The start looked so promising for the Americans especially when Dennis Hatch’s golden break put them into a 2-0 lead but after the European pair reeled off the next four, it was the beginning of the end.

The end came via a 3/9 combination as Appleton took his time using the rest and clipped it home for victory.

Strickland was back in the fray in the next as came up against Karl Boyes in a singles match and was soon 2-0 down, and complaining about pretty much everything. Boyes took the next but a well executed run out from Strickland reduced the deficit.

Boyes took the next after mistakes from both players and when Strickland failed to make contact with the 1 ball the Englishman took full advantage to clear the table for 5-1. Strickland received a warning from referee Ken Schuman for his incessant talking but held himself together to take the next.

Some more fluid play from Strickland saw him move the score to 3-5. The verbose legend seemed to be hitting his stride as he made another superb clearance to get within one of Boyes. The Englishman though got back to the table and made a great shot pocketing the 2 ball and holding position. From there he composed himself together to make a great out and put Team Europe on the hill.
Rodney Morris and Dennis Hatch had the job of keeping America in the Mosconi Cup, while in the other corner, Niels Feijen and Mika Immonen were looking to become only the second doubles pair to bring home the Mosconi Cup.
Hatch and Morris gave it a go and got the score to 4-4 but the Europeans took the ninth game and then picked their way through the final rack to spark scenes of celebration in the arena.
A delighted Feijen, “I was on the team when we lost 12-1 and when it went to 5-0 on day one, that was already a record. On day two it was 8-2 and could have been 9-1 or 10-0 and from there on it was like, ‘what is going on’?
“The first day we walked in and there was 650 people going nuts for the USA and we thought it would be intense. All of a sudden it was 5-0, 8-2, so we said today we just wanted to win the session again – that is all you can do.
“Karl played a great match against Earl, and then we finished it off. It was unbelievable. I won the MVP but it is such a team thing this. I think Europe in the last few years has been  so good at having a team spirit, sticking together, supporting each other and that is all because of Johan. I want to thank him for all the effort he has put in over the years and I hope he will be back.”
Ralf Souquet’s Mosconi Cup has come full circle. He was in the losing side in the inaugural event in 1994, and 20 years on he played a full part in a great victory.
“It feels great, a little unexpected score-wise because nobody ever dreamed of beating such a great American team 11-2. On the other hand we played great, took advantage of their mistakes and didn’t make too many mistakes ourselves.
“I think if somebody had bet money on that score line he would have made a lot of money. I was on the 12-1 losing team several years ago so at least I got a little payback time on this year. I am happy for us, for the team. We have a great team spirit and it was a great team effort. Now it is time to celebrate.”

Europe within three after another great day

USA 2-8 Europe


Archer & Morris 4-6 Boyes & Feijen

Dennis Hatch 5-6 Ralf Souquet

Strickland & Van Boening 6-5 Appleton & Immonen

Johnny Archer 0-6 Niels Feijen

Morris & Van Boening 6-5 Immonen & Boyes



ONLY A MIRACLE now will prevent Europe winning their fourth consecutive Mosconi Cup as they once again got the better of their American opponents, winning three out of the five matches on Tuesday and now need just three points for victory.


For the Americans at least they can take heart from the fact that they opened their account and are still alive in the event, but otherwise it was another disappointing day for the legion of American fans at the Mirage in Las Vegas. The USA will need to win at least three out of tomorrow’s five matches to take the 20th Mosconi Cup into a final day.


“We won another session and that is the most important thing,” said European captain JohA. Ruijsink.


“The Americans came out a little bit better than yesterday and I think that we didn’t really step up. Niels played a perfect game, Ralf had a nice comeback and in the end we won the session and that is the most important thing for us.


“If we win another session, we are home. I will be looking to get it done after three matches tomorrow – we are not here to stay longer than we need to. But they are a formidable side; they can play very well so we still need to be aware that it is not going to be easy,” he added.


After presumably spending a sleepless night sitting on 0-5 deficit, the USA got off to the worst possible start as Karl Boyes, partnered by Niels Feijen, grabbed a golden break in the opening rack of the day to leave the Archer and Morris axis reeling. That rather set the tone as the Europeans took that match after it looked close at 3-3.


With still nothing on the board, things were looking grim for Team USA. Dennis Hatch, an MVP here in 2009, seemed to have the beating of an out-of-sorts Ralf Souquet leading 4-1 before the German recovered to take four consecutive racks to take the lead at 5-4.


A pumped up Hatch though fired in the 9 ball off the break to take to the match to hill-hill but the tactical decider was finally won by Souquet to pile on the misery for Team USA.


The Americans finally got their first point on the board in the third game as Strickland and Van Boening squeaked past Immonen and Appleton in the most thrilling match of the series so far.


Leading 5-3, Strickland missed an easy 1 ball into the corner pocket to give the Europeans a lifeline and when the American escaped a snooker but left the 1 ball on, the Europeans ran out to take the match to 5-5.


Breaking in the final rack Appleton dropped three balls, and left a shot on the one, but Immonen overcut it and left it hanging. Van Boening swerved superbly to make it but Strickland missed a tough shot on the 4 ball.


It looked to be Europe’s match but Immonen missed the 7, to leave Van Boening a bank shot which he made. Strickland seemed to have made a mess of the final 9 but somehow it fell in for the USA’s first point.


Strickland said, “We started out getting a few bad rolls here and there and they got a lead on us. They broke dry a couple of times and made some good outs but we played real strong to get back in the match at 3-3. When we took the lead 5-3 I thought we were going to win.


On the winning 9 ball: “I usually shoot that with another bridge but I decided to use a different bridge because I wanted to just slow roll it so it would take the pocket. I nearly overcut it and I don’t know how it went in really, we got a break finally! They are getting every break in this event. I know a lot about pool and they are getting a lot of good breaks.


“We are still in jeopardy no matter what, 7-1 doesn’t sound much better than 7-0 to me. We are not going to get skunked and I came through and scored a point and that is important for me. I might be one of the strongest players on the team and I came here ready to play, my team wasn’t quite ready I think.”


Any brief momentum the Americans may have had evaporated under the TV lights as Niels Feijen looked superb as he made easy work of American captain Johnny Archer, running out a 6-0 winner to return the European lead to seven points.


Feijen said, “I felt really relaxed all of a sudden. In the doubles matches I was really nervous and wasn’t executing as well as I can and in this match it came together. My safeties were spot on, my cueing was good, I was jumping well and the break was good. It was nice play.


“You could say at least 30 or 40 percent of the pressure is diminished. If it was 6-6 or 8-8 it is a different thing but when you are 7-1 up it makes a big difference,” he added.


The final match was another 6-5 affair as the American pair of Rodney Morris and Shane Van Boening came from 5-3 down to win the final three racks for victory against Mika Immonen and Karl Boyes.


With Boyes breaking in the ninth game, he nearly made the 9 ball but left it hanging and that allowed the Americans get back into it. In the end it was Rodney Morris who downed the winning 9 ball to keep USA hope alive.


“I didn’t make a ball on the break in two days but we were fortunate that the 9 didn’t go in when Boyes broke,” said Morris.

“Everybody is great so it is a long road to get stuck like this. We are not looking at the 8-2 score, we’re looking at 0-0 in every match we get into, that is how we are seeing it. We have to win a race to six and if we keep winning the race to six the next thing you know we will creep up.” 


The 2013 Mosconi Cup is delighted to work with our valued sponsors –Diamond Billiards: Tables; Iwan Simonis: Official Cloth; Aramith: Official Balls and Predator: Official Cue.

Europe rampant after day one white-wash

USA 0-5 Europe


USA 3-6 Europe                                                     

Morris/ Strickland 3-6 Appleton /Boyes

Shane Van Boening 5-6 Mika Immonen

Archer /Hatch 3-6 Feijen/ Souquet

Rodney Morris 4-6 Darren Appleton



Team EUROPE created the biggest first day lead in Mosconi Cup history as they won all five matches at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas to establish a 5-0 lead and give the USA a huge mountain to climb.


A win in the team game got things underway, before two doubles victories and singles wins for Mika Immonen and Darren Appleton piled on the misery for the Americans. The much-vaunted change in the break rules saw an inordinate number of dry breaks and it was the Europeans who played the better pool and made the least number of mistakes to build up a mammoth lead.


Commented European captain JohA. Ruijsink, “It has never happened before and it is such a huge lead that you cannot be anything other than delighted. I expect the Americans will bounce back but 5-0 is great.


“We prepared well, we were ready to fight, ready for battle, ready for war. I think that showed immediately in the team match where we showed dominance and we kept that going for the whole session. I am really delighted.”


For American captain Johnny Archer, there were few rays of hope, ““We got out broke, they made balls, we didn’t get chances. It seemed like in every match we were behind early and it was hard to keep going. We showed a lot of fight, you saw with Rodney Morris fighting there towards the end. All we can do is sleep on it tonight and come out tomorrow and fight again.


“We have to start all out tomorrow, no matter what. We have to get behind every player, really fight hard and we can have the same day that they had today. We will try and relax tonight and work a little more on our break. We will try to get a good night’s rest and come out tomorrow fired up.”


Europe won the first point of the 2013 PartyPoker Mosconi Cup as they took the team match with Mika Immonen dropping the winning 9 ball. With a capacity crowd on full tilt, the atmosphere was electrifying as the ten players entered the arena. With all players completing a rack at a time it was the Europeans who held it together better to win.


The second match was a doubles affair, and a missed 1 ball from Karl Boyes, partnered by Darren Appleton, allowed the American pair of Strickland and Morris to take the opener. Boyes broke dry in the next and a missed bank shot from Appleton allowed the Americans to make it 2-0. The large American crowd was up for it but they were increasingly quietened as Appleton and Boyes clawed back the racks and then moved into the lead.


They reached the hill at 5-2 as Strickland ranted at the crowd but the fiery American pulled the eighth game out the bag as a jump shot on the 2 ball and then an excellent bank on the pink 4 won them the rack. That was to be it though as the English pair took the ninth rack to establish a 2-0 overall lead.


“We got off to great start in the team match and we wanted to follow that up. We were very nervous from 0-2 down we played perfect’” said Appleton.


“I’ve played before in 2010 and had a good Cup. I was a bit on edge in the team match and cleared the table and that settled me down. I was slightly over-confident but to win from 2-0 down against Earl and Rodney was good,” added Boyes.


“This is the best crowd the US has ever had; it’s an amazing atmosphere and they really want it back. We’ve got our own fans here though who’ve travelled a long way and we won’t let them down,” added Appleton.


The USA was now up against it and they suffered more heartbreak in the next as Shane Van Boening lost to Mika Immonen from a winning position. To compound the misery, victory came from a golden break as the 9 was kicked in by the 2 ball and that made the overall score 3-0 in favour of the Europeans. It was perhaps the most critical point of the day.


“It was pretty sweet. I was breaking well earlier but wasn’t getting results and my team mates gave me some advice to move the cue ball a little bit towards the centre. I moved it, hit it square and I got rewarded.


“Johan has been good at getting us prepared for the pressure and the overwhelming support of the American camp. I tried to stay cool, calm and collected and not expect anything – just take the table as it comes.


In the next game, Archer and Hatch, now under extreme pressure, shared the opening four racks with Niels Feijen and Ralf Souquet before a nice run out resulted in a 3-2 lead. Archer missed the brown 7 trying to force a difficult positional shot and to make matters worse, the cue ball rolled into the corner pocket.


With ball in hand the Europeans made it 4-2 and it soon became 5-2 as Souquet dropped the 9 ball.

Feijen though scratched in the middle pocket of his break shot in the next. Hatch though missed the 2 ball but it rolled out of danger and with so much at stake a safety battle ensued. It was one that the Europeans won and it was Feijen who let out a ‘Come on!’ when he pocketed the 9 for victory.


Feijen said, “Ralf said to me, the match Mika won with the 9 on the break was the biggest momentum killer. The Americans have a big task ahead.“


Souquet added, “We won most of the matches dominantly, except Mika’s match which could have gone the other way. We are playing okay, not making many silly mistakes but the Americans are missing balls. We got some good rolls here and there but that is what you need.


“Nobody expected this score but we take it and now there is a lot of pressure on the Americans because they need to come back as soon as possible in order to have a chance otherwise it could be a disaster for them.”


In the final match of the afternoon Rodney Morris recovered from a poor start to get to 4-5 against Darren Appleton but the Englishman composed himself to take the final rack and leave the USA in a seemingly impossible position.



The 2013 Mosconi Cup is delighted to work with our valued sponsors –Diamond Billiards: Tables; Iwan Simonis: Official Cloth; Aramith: Official Balls and Predator: Official Cue.

Boyes Buzzing for Mosconi Cup

ENGLAND’S Karl Boyes will make his second appearance in the Mosconi Cup as he takes his place on Team EUROPE for the annual transatlantic pool battle at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas from 2nd to 5th December.

The 29 year-old former World 8 Ball champion becomes the fourth member of Team Europe and joins Ralf Souquet, Darren Appleton and Niels Feijen in the side, with one more player to be announced.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be picked to represent Europe in this year’s Mosconi Cup. To represent Team Europe any year is very special but to be picked for the 20th anniversary is surreal,” said Boyes.

“After the last Cup I had my first child so life changed a lot, but this year I have got back on track and had a good season so this caps it off splendidly. My little girl was just a bump in 2010 so to take her this year so she can scream the place down will be amazing!”

Boyes one previous appearance in pool’s Europe v USA showdown was in 2010 in London when he was one of the standouts in a European side that won 11-8. The 29 year-old man from Blackpool was happy to mix it up with his opponents, particularly Dennis Hatch.

“The 2010 Mosconi Cup was unbelievable and a few things stand out. My first memory was when Dennis Hatch kept shouting out to me that I was the weakest link, which, of course got me fired up and I ended up winning five out of six points.

“As the event unfolded it turned out Mr. Hatch was the weakest link and that was a sweet moment. I’ve been waiting a long time for our paths to cross again in the Cup and Team Europe will be ready for him…. especially me!”

Boyes was one of a band of English 8 ball players who switched over to the big table game with the advent of the short-lived IPT in the mid-2000’s. In that time he has established himself as one of Europe’s premier players with victory at the WPA World 8 Ball in 2010, and a brace of bronze medals in the World 9 Ball in 2007 and earlier this year.

“We will be favourites for the Mosconi Cup this year and in recent years we have owned the Cup and made it all about Europe. Our team spirit is unbeatable and our work ethic is second to none and that is thanks to Johan Ruijsink,” added Boyes.

The Mosconi Cup takes place at the Mirage Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas from Monday 2nd to Thursday 5th December and features two five-man teams representing the USA and Europe.

The Europeans are the defending champions, having won 11-9 in London last December, their fifth win in six years.

 Tickets are available from (Search ‘Mosconi Cup’) or directly from the Mirage on (+1) 702 792 7777 or 1-800-963-9634.


*This is the ninth of 11 announcements naming the two 2013 PartyPoker.netMosconi Cup teams.

The 2013 Mosconi Cup is delighted to work with our valued suppliers –Diamond Billiards: Tables; Iwan Simonis: Official Cloth; Aramith: Official Balls and Predator: Official Cue.


Feijen in for 9th Mosconi outing

‘The Terminator’ Niels Feijen is headed to Vegas again this year


Niels Feijen is today named as the third member of Team EUROPE and will make his ninth appearance in the Mosconi Cup when the 20th anniversary event takes place at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas from 2nd to 5th December.

Dutchman Feijen, who sports a highly impressive 59% win record over the years, made his debut in the Mosconi Cup in the crushing 1-12 defeat of 2001 but has since gone on to be an integral part of the winning sides of 2007, ’08, ’11 and ’12, including MVP honours in 2011.

The Dutchman, who came so close to winning the World Cup of Pool last week, will move to fourth on the all-time European Mosconi Cup appearances list, and joint fifth with Rodney Morris on the overall roll call.

“This is the most prestigious event of the year to play in and since this year is a very special edition, I'm honoured to make the team,” said Feijen.

“This will be my ninth Mosconi and its something special. If you start out as a pro, which for me was around 14 years ago, you dream of making the team one day so No. 9 is the bomb!”

Feijen has seen some ups and downs since he made his debut 12 years ago; “My worst memory was that 1-12 defeat in 2001. It was my first time in the Mosconi Cup and it was like we didn't even show up! Mika and me won the first match and then we lost 12 in a row. It was like a bad dream, three days in a row.

“2011 was the best moment for me though, winning the MVP in Vegas, but also to win the Mosconi in 2007 for the first time after three defeats was fantastic!”

Despite great recollections, Feijen realises that memories won’t win it at the Mirage in December.

“Our chances are great again this year. I'm joining two machine-like players in Darren and Ralf and we know how to win.

“The remaining two players will be amazing players without a doubt so the five of us will be one tough cookie. Then we have the best man to bring it all together, undefeated JohA. Ruijsink, who does amazing work with creating spirit, focus and sharpness. You can't ask for a better Mosconi Cup coach,” he added.

The Mosconi Cup takes place at the Mirage Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas from Monday 2nd to Thursday 5th December and features two five-man teams representing the USA and Europe.

The Europeans are the defending champions, having won 11-9 in London last December, their fifth win in six years.

Tickets are available from (Search ‘Mosconi Cup’) or directly from the Mirage on (+1) 702 792 7777 or 1-800-963-9634.

*This is the seventh of 11 announcements naming the two 2013 PartyPoker.netMosconi Cup teams.

The 2013 Mosconi Cup is delighted to work with our valued suppliers –Diamond Billiards: Tables; Iwan Simonis: Official Cloth; Aramith: Official Balls and Predator: Official Cue

Souquet named as first European Mosconi Cup Player

Ralf Souquet with the Mosconi Cup

Ralf Souquet will break yet another record this December when he dons the blue European shirt to do battle in the 20th annual Mosconi Cup at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.


It will be the German’s 16th time as a member of Team EUROPE and cements his existing record for the leading number of appearances by a European player in pool’s No.1 event.


And when the tournament gets underway on Monday 2nd December, Souquet will be looking to improve upon two other Mosconi records he currently holds – all-time number of wins (45), and more matches played by any European player (75).


“The Mosconi Cup is by far the best event out there in the world of billiards and there are hardly any words to explain how big and important this tournament is,” said a delighted Souquet.


“I don't know my team mates yet but no matter who will join our team, captain JohA. Ruijsink will make us work hard and fight for our lives to keep the Cup in Europe, and win this prestigious event for the 4th time in a row.”


In total, Souquet has been on the winning side five times in his 15 Mosconi Cup outings and it will be his fifth visit to Las Vegas to represent his continent.


“Playing in the Mirage in Las Vegas will be special as well because that's the place where I won the Challenge of Champions back in 1996. It won't be an easy task though because the American team will fight their hearts out as well, especially on home soil.


“Having played already 15 times for team Europe, it brings back a lot of memories. Some are better than others but when I sealed the deal for our team in Las Vegas in 2007, it was definitely one of the best moments.


“I was only scared for a moment when team mate Tony Drago stormed into the arena and wrestled me to the floor to celebrate the victory!” he added.


Souquet will be in action at his old stomping ground of the York Hall in London from 17-22 September when along with Dominic Jentsch, he competes for Germany in the World Cup of Pool.  The scotch doubles format will prove ideal as they attempt to regain the trophy they last won in 2011.


The Mosconi Cup takes place at the Mirage Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas from Monday 2nd to Thursday 5th December and features two five-man teams representing the USA and Europe.


The Europeans are the defending champions, having won 11-9 in London last December, their fifth win in six years.


 Tickets are available from (Search ‘Mosconi Cup’) or directly from the Mirage on (+1) 702 792 7777 or 1-800-963-9634.


*This is the third of 11 announcements naming the two 2013 Mosconi Cup teams.


The 2013 Mosconi Cup is delighted to work with our valued suppliers –Diamond – Official Table; Iwan Simonis: Official Cloth; Aramith: Official Balls and Predator: Official Cue.

Mosconi Cup – Ruijsink is back to steer Europeans

Johan Ruijsink

UNDEFEATED EUROPEAN captain Johan Ruijsink returns to the fray for one last time as he assumes captaincy duties for Team EUROPE when the 20th annual Mosconi Cup takes place at the Mirage, Las Vegas from 2nd to 5th December.
The 47 year-old Dutchman will be making his sixth appearance at the annual Europe v USA team event and so far a team in his charge has yet to be beaten. Ruijsink first took charge in 2006 when he stopped the rot with a draw in Rotterdam following three successive American victories.
He followed that up with an epic, if heated, victory on American soil in 2007; the first by a European team in the US. The Dutchman then skipped the next two as Alex Lely took charge, but returned in 2010 at the York Hall as he masterminded the first of a run of three consecutive victories.
“I’m particularly looking forward to this one as it is the 20th anniversary of the Mosconi Cup, it is in the US and next to that it will be my last captaincy, so three very good reasons to be highly motivated to win this one,” said Ruijsink.
“My mind is already working out the right direction for the European team, because I know the Americans and their fans will do all they can to prevent us from winning.
“As usual it will be a huge challenge to beat the top Americans, but I am very confident we can bring the right players from Europe to do the job. We have put ourselves in the driver’s seat the last couple of years and we are not going to give this advantage away.
“We fully respect the American players and their game, but I feel we have the better players, the better attitude and nowadays we have bigger hearts. I can't wait though, so bring it on!”
Tickets are available from (Search ‘Mosconi Cup’) or directly from the Mirage on (+1) 702 792 7777 or 1-800-963-9634.