About six months ago I decided that I was absolutely going to attend the Mosconi Cup in Las Vegas this year.  I talked with some friends and we all decided to go together.  In a nutshell, I am beyond thrilled that I went!  There are plenty of other articles about the results of the event but if you want to read through a rack-by-rack update, StlPool live-tweeted the entire event. 

Instead of another recap, I’m going to tell you why you should make every attempt to attend this event whenever you can. 

In the months leading up to this event I found myself a little burnt out on the game – despite my previous post.  I generally just felt completely apathetic about pool.  I quit following threads on AZB, I quit watching matches – even those I had bought.  I have about 40 hours of pool from the US Open I haven’t even watched yet. I showed up to my required league matches only minutes before I was supposed to play, played then left immediately after.  I didn’t go play for fun, I didn’t gamble, I didn’t enter tournaments.  I barely kept the www.stlpool.net site updated.  There are a bunch of reasons why I ended up in that space, but suffice it to say that I was not active in the pool world. But, I had already bought my tickets, paid for the hotel room and had a flight purchased, so I had to go.

After landing in Vegas and checking into the hotel I went to Will-Call to pick up my tickets and discovered that this year they were handing out assigned seats – and that I had obtained amazing seats – 2nd row!  I walked from the ticket counter back to the arena and found where my seats were.  

Empty Arena

Standing there, just seeing the table and all the empty seats and remembering what it looks like when I watched the stream I found myself getting more and more excited for the next day. I was instantly in a better mood and was almost skipping out of the arena to head back to the hotel.

The next morning I was up early and even though I only had a single small cup of coffee (compared to my normal 3 cups before speaking) I was near giddy with anticipation.  The closer we got to the hotel, then walking to the arena the more and more excited I became.  Once I sat down and looked around at the 1,000 other people from all over the world I knew this was a great decision.  The energy of the crowd was intoxicating; it was cheerful, yet highly competitive.  The chants of the Europeans had already began which met smatterings of “U! S! A!” from various places around the room.

The match began and Skyler Woodward won the lag and I heard the actual roar of the crowd – for just the lag – I was uncontrollably glued to the edge of my seat with my eyes on the table. For the next 6 hours I only got up during commercial breaks to get more coffee or to buy some merchandise.

When Corey Deuel hit that incredible jump shot I was standing and shouting before I even knew what I was doing.  I have never been so wrapped in a crowd mentality before.  I’ve been to plenty of major sporting events, but never have I been so closely entwined with the crowd as I was throughout the entire week.

At the end of the day I had witness some amazing pool.  It would be impossible to NOT see amazing things with the players in the room.  Even though the US team lost the day 2-3, I didn’t feet like we lost.  I was still excited and immediately began recounting shots with my friends as we paced out of the arena and through the hotel.

Each day it was more of the same thing: wake up excited, feeling that “rush” to get there and for the action to start.  To see what would happen next.  Wishing that finally this year USA would take the title back, and especially because of the team this year.  Living in St. Louis, with frequent contact with both Justin Bergman and Mark Wilson, hearing them talk about this for so long and wanting it even more – combined with this being my first attendance I was really wanting this to that extra little bit of special USA needed.

The second day things were looking a little rough when we found ourselves down 1-3 going into the final match.  Then, out of nowhere, Shane hits this amazing 2-9 carom at what seemed like 120mph!  Again, pure exhilaration! (as noted by the reaction of Shane and Mike). That shot ended Day 2 and even though USA were down for the day again, we felt like winners walking out of the room.  And once again, everyone was rehashing what they had just witnessed, making predictions and giving their opinions.  

Days 3 and 4 blended together due to the sheer overwhelming amount of energy both spent and absorbed participating in the crowd. Plenty of highs coupled a few more lows for Team USA.  I won’t bother recapping all of it as it’s now all available online for you to watch and enjoy.

Each day I would talk to some friends and each day, somewhere in the conversation, there would come the line “Man! I really wanna go play right now!”.  And each day that desire to play grew and grew.  It didn’t matter where, it didn’t matter on what, just that basic need to play the game. To feel the cue, to hear it *ping* with the cueball with that warming wood tone that informs you it was a good stroke, to watch the cueball dance around the table and hear the *kerplunk* of the object ball dropping into the pocket.

It’s that level of drive and admiration for the game I had been sorely missing.  The Mosconi Cup gave that back to me. The drive to improve, the inspiration to succeed, and the desire to own the table – all of it – now back in the forefront of my pool mind thanks to participating in this event.

I’ve attended the Derby City Classic a few times and while that same drive perks up from that event, it just can’t compare or compete with the energy of the Mosconi Cup.  There’s more to see at the DCC, but there’s less energy to help fuel you through the event. I get table time at the DCC so I’m going to get into stroke, but the Mosconi Cup gets my mind in stroke. I am mentally prepared to play, mentally making better decisions while looking over a table without ever hitting a ball.  

Now, because I haven’t been playing a lot (barely at all) my body needs to catch up. I need to my arm in line with my mind, and if last Monday’s final league match is any indicator – there’s a large distance between where my mind is and what my arm is willing to do.  Thankfully, I am welcoming the hard work in my future because I know what the rewards are. Even though I will never play in the real Mosconi Cup, I can treat each future tournament with the same level of attention and preparation required so that I can, hopefully, enjoy the same level of exuberation as each winner of each match of the Mosconi Cup.