Bless you for that... GuyCoach Johan Ruysink, who coached Team Europe and was called in to coach Team USA a couple years for the Mosconi Cup, has been sharing his words of wisdom based on his observations of Days 1 and 2. This is very enlightening and hit the nail on the head for me.
Today, let's talk about line-ups, the fan’s choice and the interaction between audience and players.
One of the more complicated tasks of a captain on the Mosconi Cup is to make the line up. I am sorry to bother you with that, but it is important. The system for that has changed during the years. In 2007 I still had a free choice on who to play in doubles and who to play in singles. As long as every player played the same amount of matches. That ended up in me putting Tony Drago only in singles matches (because he is not a very good doubles partner, lol) and that brought him the MVP title.
Nowadays the days are divided in blocks. Most consist of 2 doubles and one single, but also 1 double and 3 singles or just singles. In these blocks every player needs to have played and the singles divided evenly amongst the players. And you can’t play the same double partner twice. So every decision, from the first day on, has implications for the next day. This means that captains basically need to make the full line up for the first 3 days before the start of the event. The last day is only singles and then it is all about the order that the captain thinks is the best.
Quite complicated and important to get it right. From as soon as this system was implemented, we found out that one way or another. The fifth match on day 1 (which is a singles match), is like an extra match. When it goes to hill-hill, every player had the same amount of matches, but the guy that had played the 5th match on day 1, had 1 match extra. Captains know this and it is one of the tactical tools, you can use as a captain, next to the captains pick on the very last match, when it come to that.
On top of that, Matchroom decided to get the crowd more involved and they came up with the fan’s choice. This is a monster for any captain. Because it hands over the tactical decision of the line up to the audience. And yesterday, the audience decided that they wanted to see Earl play, for old time reasons, and in spite the fact that he obviously had performed very poorly on the first day. The European choice was Jayson, as is the case most of the years. Earl came out quite strong on the open chances he got by some poor shots of Jayson, but when it got to the flic-flac pool of pushing out, safeties and kicks, he made critical mistakes.
For what I have seen team USA did a very decent job, both in team spirit, coaching and preparedness and they grabbed momentum on day 1. Obviously, as a coach you want to prolongue that momentum, but the fan’s choice didn’t leave Jeremy any choice.
Since only 4 matches were played on day 1, the last single (the “free choice”) shifted to day 2 and was now the match after the fan’s choice. It seems every year that for team USA it is hard to go around SVB. He is every year the one that plays this match for team USA. I understand that in a way, but on day 1 both Tyler and Skyler showed so much speed in their game, that I would have loved to see one of them being placed on that spot. For team Europe the choice of Joshua seemed logical.
So, here and now, I plead to get rid of this fan’s choice. The crowd is involved enough nowadays anyways, it hampers the tactical decisions of the captains and it gives us, as an audience, too often the same line ups and matches each year. In 2018 both the 5th match as the fan’s choice turned out to be Jason against SVB, so we had the same match twice in a row. Moreover: it interferes with an honest calculation for the MVP, because for example last year, Jason had played 7 matches in the MC, where his team mates ended up with 4 or 5 matches and since you earn points per match, it is close to impossible to win the MVP by only playing 4 matches in a winning team. I am a fan of the MC being a team effort, instead of it being the SVB/Skyler against Jason/Joshua show.
So in my opinion team USA lost momentum because of its line up in the first 2 matches on day 2. And of course because team Europe performed much better then on day 1, let’s not forget about that.
Then I need to address the reaction of Jason and Joshua to the audience. Like I said after day 1, I think the audience in America is pretty knowledgeable and respectful to the players. There are always some people that go too far in their excitement, but the mass intimidation that team USA encounters in Europe, is not even comparable. That’s why I don’t really understand the reasons for Jason and Joshua to react so heavily on the crowd after their wins. It seemed very disrespectful and probably Matchroom likes the show element of it, but as far as sportsmanship goes, it was ugly and unnecessary. For us, players and coaches, it is the biggest SPORT event in pool, the whole world is watching. Some sort of realization from the players of their ambassadorship for the sport would be nice.
All in all a good comeback from team Europe, this year they had an early “correction day’ and it was only Skyler who stopped this come back by putting so much pressure on a really strong FSR, that it forced the odd mistake of the rookie and Sky capitalized on that brilliantly.
Most of the times team Europe gets better during the MC, so team USA has its work cut out for them. Let’s hope they can keep the fight going, so we can enjoy more exciting, high level and close games.
Opinions don't change reality. Until both teams adhere to a common and hard set of guidelines as to how each team is formed. The Mosconi will always be just an exhibition. That doesn't mean the respective parties don't want to win. Just that the show is more about marketing then competition.
Thank you Jam for that... GuySince the Mosconi Cup is supposed to be a fun event for pool, having a legend like Earl in the house is pretty cool, pool cool, aside from wanting Team USA to win. It would be like having, say, Steve Davis in the house representing Team Europe.
The way the win went down between Earl and Jayson, I can't help but be reminded of the fact that Earl is 61 years old. For a player in their prime to beat their chest like a gorilla and roar about defeating a 61-year-old, well, it kind of broke my heart for Earl. But I consider him a friend, so that's probably why.
I know when my other half used to compete in pool tournaments in his late 50s and early 60s, people would brag how they beat him, like it was an incredible feat. Well, let those same braggarts play Keith McCready or Earl Strickland when Keith and Earl were in their prime on the same equipment and see how well they do.
So far, the Mosconi Cup has left a bad taste in my mouth. I hope today is different.