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Top 5 Mosconi Cup Moments: Jimmy White shines in Basildon

On Wednesday 6th December 2023, the 30th Mosconi Cup nine-ball pool tournament will take place between Europe and the USA at Alexandra Palace in London.

Europe won last year’s competition in Las Vegas 11-7 and are 3/10 to win again with the Americans 12/5 to gain their revenge over four days of competition.

There have been some epic battles since the first competition in 1994, the pool equivalent for the Ryder Cup, and here are our top five moments.

1995 - A first European victory

After the USA won the inaugural tournament, Europe tasted their first victory in Basildon the following year.

Organisers Matchroom turned to some of the biggest names in snooker to help raise the competition’s profile and while Steve Davis and Alex Higgins were in the European team, it was another big name, Jimmy White, who was on hand to bring the trophy home.

The tournament was played in a jovial spirit and it went to sudden death with White facing Lou Butera in a winner-takes-all clash.

The American looked set to make the first-to-five decider 3-3 but then missed a tough eight ball and White was on hand to clear up.

2002 - Davis stops the rot

White’s winning shot was just a brief respite though as the Americans went on to win the next six renewals, and there was a serious worry that fans would lose interest in the event if it was uncompetitive.

Those fears were at a height in 2001 when the USA won 12-1, but fortunately for the Mosconi Cup’s future, Europe bounced back the following year at the York Hall, Bethnal Green.

Hopes were high when they won the first three doubles matches and claimed a 5-1 lead at the end of the second session.

However, it turned into a real epic as the USA fought back and tied the score at 6-6 at the end of session four.

Europe edged in front and it came down to Steve Davis and US legend Earl Strickland in the final singles match.

Strickland got on the wrong side of the seven ball and could not cut it into the top-right pocket, so Davis took advantage, clearing up and provoking scenes of delirium in east London.

2006 - It all gets too much for Strickland

Strickland has become the figure who is most associated with the biggest team even in pool and he played a pivotal role in events in Rotterdam in 2006, the first and only time that the tournament ended in a draw, something which can never happen again.

He caught the crowd's attention when he missed a straightforward seven ball against Germany's Thomas Engert and then smashed his cue on the floor, shattering it in the process.

It looked as if Europe were destined to take the trophy after taking a 9-6 lead at the end of session five, but they were unable to get over the line as the Americans clawed their way back into contention and claimed the cup as defending champions.

2012 - Van den Berg is jumping for joy

While the debate will rage about the best games in the history of the Mosconi Cup, one shot stands out and it was produced by Dutchman Nick van den Berg in 2012.

The Dutchman found himself trapped behind the eight ball by his partner Niels Feijen as he looked to pot the five ball, and he pulled off an audacious jump shot with a rest he had never used before which one of his European colleagues had bought as not much more than a novelty accessory.

It looked a tough task for Van den Berg to hit the orange ball, let alone pot it, but the jump shot was perfect and the object ball ran down the cushion and into the bottom-left pocket.

The same player was then on hand to complete the 11-9 victory by beating Mike Dechaine in the singles to win the cup.

2018 - Van Boening sees America home

The balance had swung completely the other way by 2018 with the USA being on the receiving end of defeats on eight straight occasions, and they were left licking their wounds after a 11-4 loss in Las Vegas the previous year.

But rookie Tyler Styer stepped up to the plate by beating Feijen in the singles and the Americans gained some momentum before an epic final singles session.

The Americans appeared on the cusp of victory when Skyler Woodward gave them a 10-6 lead with four matches to go after he beat Albin Ouschan.

However, Europe provided a storming finish with wins for Jayson Shaw, Feijen and Eklent Kaci leaving the Americans grasping for the line.

However, Shane van Boening saw them home to give them a much needed success.

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