USA Downs Europe in the World Cup of Trick Shots
The World Cup of Trick Shots was held October 30 at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. Team U.S.A. claimed the title over Team Europe in the Third Annual international team competition in the sport of Trick Shots. The prize purse was $40,000 for the event, with $30,000 and Gold Medals to the winning team.
Captain Andy Segal led Team U.S.A. to victory and the Gold Medal. Other Team U.S.A. members who were awarded the Gold Medal were Tom Rossman, Bruce Barthelette, and Mike Massey. Silver Medalists from Team Europe included Captain Stefano Pelinga, Luke Szywala, Nick Nikolaidis, and Ralph Eckert. Their team also won $10,000.
The format for World Cup consisted of eight artistic show shots by both teams in a match. Team members executed a challenge shot of their choice, and their opponents were required to duplicate the shot or lose a point. In the semifinals, with two members from each team, the players alternated shots in four player head-to-head matches, performing intricate trick shots meant to stymie their opponents. A sudden death tiebreaker to decide a match required an eight rail bank shot onto the face of a $100 bill positioned on the foot rail, near the corner pocket. The Championship Finals match pitted all eight members of Team U.S.A. and Team Europe in the wildest shootout of the year.
The players on Team U.S.A. displayed their brilliance to emerge as the top trick shot artists in the world. The Championship match was poetry on green felt, with Team U.S.A. defeating Team Europe by a score of 8-5 to take the Gold Medals and $30,000. Team Europe, whose members were otherwise on their game, claimed Silver Medals and $10,000 second prize. In the first semifinal, Team U.S.A. players Rossman and Massey prevailed 9-8 in a closely fought match over Team Europe members Nikolaidis and Eckert . The other semifinal saw Team U.S.A. artists Segal and Barthelette stage a remarkable comeback against Team Europe players Pelinga and Szywala. Down by a deficit of 1-5, Segal and Barthelette roared back to tie the score at 8-8.
The Team captains, Segal and Pelinga, elected to play the one-shot sudden death tiebreaker. Their first attempt at the eight rail bank shot marked an unusual record in the history of the World Cup. Pelinga fired the cue ball eight rails, only to have it slip past the $100 bill and scratch in the corner pocket. Segal then rocketed the cue ball four rails only to have it catch the lip of a side pocket and roll to a stop at center table. On the second attempt, Pelinga played an extraordinary shot, with the cue ball slightly over one inch off the $100 bill. Equal to the challenge, Segal played a perfect eight rail bank, placing the cue ball directly on the face of the bill and winning the match.
The winning team in each semifinal carried a 1 point bonus forward into the final match. Having won both semifinals, Team U.S.A. thus entered the finals with a 2 point advantage. Team Europe, down 1-4 halfway through the match, rallied to bring the score to 5-5. But Team U.S.A. was not to be denied and surged ahead to win the Championship by 8-5. In the three year history of the event, Team Europe won in 2007 and Team U.S.A. was victorious in 2006 and 2008. Team Europe, gracious in defeat this year, vowed they will return to the winner’s circle in 2009.
The standing-room-only crowd gave Team U.S.A. a rousing ovation at the conclusion of the Championship match. The Gold Medals and the team check were presented by Mohegan Sun and Connelly Billiards. The presentations brought another round of cheers from the audience.
In addition to the fine tournament site at Mohegan Sun, the event was sponsored by Connelly Billiards Tables, Aramith Super Pro Balls, Simonis Cloth, L.E.A.N.I. Italian Slate, AcCue Shot Training Device, Executive Billiards Delta-13 Rack and Silver Cup Chalk. The WPA sanctioned event was produced by Billiards International, Ltd.