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From the Publisher
By Mike Panozzo
Mike became editor of Billiards Digest in 1980 and liked it so much that he bought the company. He has served on the Billiard Congress of America board of directors and as president of the Billiard & Bowling Institute of America.


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July: My Two Pence Worth
July 2017

Spent many early morning hours watching the recent World Cup of Pool from East Londonís musty old York Hall. The Matchroom Sport-produced Scotch doubles event featured teams from around the globe. Given the level of talent and the broad spectrum of countries represented (31, with host England fielding two teams in the 32-team format), the tournament was combination World Pool Championship and Mosconi Cup.

As is the case with all Matchroom events, the World Cup of Pool was entertaining, well-produced, made for good television and featured a slew of amazing shots and performances that a pool fan would expect from the greatest players in the world.

I came away from watching the World Cup with a number of observations: That an event like the World Cup of Pool, promoted by Matchroom and staged in London in an up-close-and-personal venue like York Hall, struggled to fill seats speaks volumes to the magic of the Mosconi Cup. Think about it. The 2016 Mosconi, staged in the same city, packed 2,000 paying fans into Alexandra Palace. And the 2017 edition in Las Vegas is certain to come close to that number. The point is that, in my opinion, all the talk about the Mosconi Cup going away in favor of a Europe vs. Asia team event is far-fetched. Does the U.S. need to step up and win the Cup very soon? I think it does. But is the event in jeopardy of going away? Not a chance. Letís face it, Europeans ó and Brits in particular ó live for sports clashes against the Yanks. Would Europe vs. Asia elicit the same passionate response? Not in a million years. True, there are two disparate entities in play here: Sky Sports, the sports cable network that pays Matchroom to air the Mosconi Cup live and in its entirety, and Matchroom. I have no idea if ratings of the Mosconi Cup are dwindling to the point of pulling the plug, but I doubt it. If the U.S. was winning every year, perhaps. But I do know that Matchroom president Barry Hearn spent 20-plus years building the Mosconi into an event that now produces gobs of ticket revenue, and heís not likely to ditch that for a trip to Shanghai.

Is there any way Sky Woodward doesnít make this yearís Team USA? During the World Cup of Pool, the 23-year-old seemed to come into his own right before my very eyes. Woodward has played in a pair of Mosconi Cups and has performed admirably. And heís won his share of tournaments in the U.S., albeit mostly smaller-field bar table events. But in London, with his new running partner Shane Van Boening at his side, Woodward played with confidence and intelligence ó save for his decision to go for broke halfway through the final against Austria. Van Boening handpicked Woodward for his World Cup partner, which says plenty. And Woodward rewarded Van Boening with solid partners play, which should make his Mosconi Cup teammates more confident as well.

The World Cup of Pool was just plain exciting. It was winner breaks, 1 on the spot, with a referee using a standard rack. Sorry to those who insist on overthinking the Make Pool Tough Again debate. Four packs are fun. Breaking hard is fun. Run outs are fun. You know what isnít fun? Illegal breaks. I understand the Mosconi Cup canít be winner breaks, but I would beg Matchroom to do the following (and, no, I am not a player, but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night): Standard rack, 1 on the spot. You want to make the game tougher? Stop reinventing the rules. (And stop listening to the oh-so-smart European Pocket Billiard Federation, for Peteís sake!) Make the pockets tight and the slate shelf deep. Tight pockets are worthless if the pocket shelf is so shallow that anything close still drops. Make the shelf deep enough that a ball that wobbles doesnít drop. Donít keep trying to make it tougher to get a shot. Make it tougher to run out.


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