Team USA Dominates Europe at Mosconi Cup
Newcomers Hatch and Dominguez Help USA Gain a 4-1 Lead
PartyPoker.net Mosconi Cup / Las Vegas, NV
by Sally P. Timko
Two international teams collided at the first day of the 2009 PartyPoker.net Mosconi Cup, hosted by the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. Team USA demonstrated such dominance over Team Europe that they will be boasting a daunting 4-1 lead going into Friday’s matches.
Team USA comprises Johnny Archer, Corey Deuel, Shane Van Boening, Oscar Dominguez, and Dennis Hatch, while Team Europe is composed of Ralf Souquet, Niels Feijen, Thorsten Hohmann, Mika Immonen, and Darren Appleton. Three of the players are rookies—Dominguez, Hatch, and Appleton. The teams are captained by Nick Varner for the U.S. and Alex Lely for Europe.
The format has changed a bit, with the race extended to 6. But it is still alternating break, and the first time to win 11 points takes home the cup. In the fifteen previous years of this most prestigious event, Europe has won the last two in a row and have only won the cup four times total, while the U.S. has won ten times and tied with Europe once.
In the first match, it was Team Europe versus Team USA. Team Europe won the lag but 2008 Player of the Year Mika Immonen scratched on the 1 ball. Team USA took control and ran the first rack out, with rookie Dennis Hatch sinking the first game-winning 9 ball. But Hatch gave control back in the next after a flubbed carom attempt off the 9, and Europe tied at 1-all. Former world 10-ball champion and first-time Mosconi competitor Darren Appleton shot too hard at the 8 ball and was rejected, but Corey Deuel rattled the same ball, so it was left to Europe’s Ralf Souquet to calmly pocket it, and Europe took the lead 2-1. Europe consolidated their lead with a break and run-out in the next after Hatch scratched on the break, but Souquet left an open shot on the 2 ball in the next rack, and Team USA drew within one at 3-2. A foul by Appleton gave the U.S. ball in hand, and Shane Van Boening pocketed the 9 ball to draw even at 3-all. Europe got another game after rookie Oscar Dominguez left an open shot after a safety attempt, but they were stopped in their tracks. A scrappy safety battle led to Team USA taking the hill. The last rack saw Souquet missing a very thin slice on the 7 ball, leading to Johnny Archer sinking the final 9 ball for the win 6-4.
The second match saw the pairings of Appleton and Feijen versus Archer and Hatch. Hatch is on Team USA by virtue of winning an online poll and is quite fired up emotionally about the experience. Archer won the lag but scratched on the break, and Europe cleared the table to take the first rack. But Appleton missed a 3-9 carom and handed the U.S. the next rack to tie the score, and then USA won a safety battle to go up a rack. Appleton scratched on the next break, leaving an easy 3-9 combo for Hatch to go up 3-1. A golden break by Archer put Team USA that much closer, and though Europe took the next, the U.S. broke and ran out to reach the hill 5-2. The future looked bleak for Feijen and Appleton, but they managed to claw their way back to make it hill-hill. However, Appleton was snookered for the 2 ball in the final rack and kicked it but left USA an open shot, and they dished up for the 6-5 win.
Two of InsidePOOL’s Players of the Year matched up in the first singles bout of the event—Shane Van Boening won that honor in 2007, while Mika Immonen was awarded it in 2008. This match was a dogfight, as the score first seesawed to 2-all and then Van Boening grabbed the next two for a 4-2 lead. A break and run-out by Immonen put him within a rack, but he couldn’t capitalize when Van Boening scratched off a jump shot attempt on the 2 ball in the next game, and he hung the 6 ball to give Van Boening the hill. The final straw came when Immonen performed an illegal break and had to give Van Boening ball in hand. “The South Dakota Kid” cleared the table to win 6-3, putting the U.S. up 3-0.
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The team of Oscar “The Big O” Dominguez and Corey Deuel was an unstoppable force against the German pairing of Ralf Souquet and Thorsten Hohmann in the fourth set. Though Europe stayed even with the U.S. at the beginning, Dominguez and Deuel consistently came out ahead of safety battles and were able to sweep the next three racks in a row to reach the hill 5-2. A break and run in the final game exhibited Team USA’s dominance as they won the fourth match 6-2.
The final match of the day featured a new rule instituted by Matchroom Sport that allowed the opposing team’s captain to choose the player. Team Europe’s captain, Alex Lely, chose Oscar Dominguez, while Team USA’s captain, Nick Varner, elected Ralf Souquet. Dominguez won the lag and pocketed three balls on the break but scratched as well. Souquet cleared that rack and then broke and ran the next one to take an immediate 2-0 lead. An illegal break by Dominguez then gave control back to Souquet again, and again Souquet cleared the table. But Souquet fouled on the 5 ball in the next, and Dominguez cleared to get on the board. He also took the next two after errors by the German, knotting the score at 3-all. A missed opportunity on the 3 ball by Dominguez gave another rack to Souquet, who then took the hill with the help of a table-length bank shot on the 3 ball in the following game. Dominguez had the break advantage then, but he came up empty, and Souquet had an open table. However, he hooked himself for the 4 ball and ducked. Dominguez kicked the 4 ball the length of the table and played safe on the 5. Souquet hit it but left a shot, and Dominguez pocketed it but left himself too straight on the 8 ball and missed the corner pocket. Left with a thin cut, Souquet also missed the 8, and Dominguez put another rack under his belt 5-4. Another gritty safety battle saw Dominguez get the right rolls to make it a hill-hill affair. In the final rack, Dominguez had the break and was on his way to a sweep for the U.S. but missed a routine cut on the 4 ball. That was all the opening Souquet needed to close out the match and put Team Europe on the board.
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