The Mosconi Cup and How to Play 9 Ball

The Mosconi Cup is an annual 9-Ball tournament, pitting Europe vs the USA. How much do you know about the Mosconi Cup, and the rules of 9-Ball?

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwain

Last Updated: 2023-12-05

Louis Hobbs

The Mosconi Cup and How to Play 9 Ball


History of the Mosconi Cup

As we head into the chills of December, don’t forget that there is an exciting 9-Ball Pool Tournament heading into its 30th year, it’s the Mosconi Cup!
Named after the legendary player Willie Mosconi, this annual tournament pits Europe versus the USA in an epic showdown of balls and mental toughness. 

Established in 1994, the Mosconi Cup pits two teams against each other: Team Europe and Team USA, for a marquee pool event that has been described as the ‘Ryder Cup’ of pool. The event showcases the world's top players competing fiercely over several days, drawing immense attention and excitement from fans globally.

The tournament's format intensifies the drama, employing doubles, singles, and team matches, with the first team to reach a specific point threshold crowned as the champion. The Mosconi Cup has witnessed remarkable displays of skill, nerve-wracking comebacks, and unforgettable moments that have etched their names in the annals of cue sports history.
Let’s not forget a ruckus audience that is cheering on their teams, and elevating the event with incredible energy. 
Team Europe currently holds the advantage in the Mosconi Cup, having won the past three, and boasting a record of 15-13 over America.

2023 Mosconi Cup

The 2023 Moscow Cup is being held at London’s Alexandra Palace, and promises several days of exciting 9-Ball action, as the best in the world represent their regions. 
Let’s meet the teams, the players, and of course some of the rivalries to look forward to at this edition of the Mosconi Cup.

Team Europe
Ralph Eckert (captain); Jayson Shaw; Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz; David Alcaide; Albin Ouschan; Joshua Filler.

Players to Watch

Veteran German trick-shot artist, and 9-Ball player extraordinaire Ralph Eckert leads the European team this year, which is stacked with international talent. 
Scottish player Jayson Shaw is not only a world class 9-Ball and billiards player, but also an entrepreneur in the sport, even boasting his own branded pool hall in Dubai. 

It doesn’t more clutch than ‘El Ferrari’, as Spaniard Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz is currently world-ranked number one, and a clutch competitor at the Mosconi Cup. 

Joshua ‘The Killer’ Filler might be one of the youngest player at the Cup, but this German has already been here twice before, as well as winning the MVP award twice. 

Team USA
Jeremy Jones (captain); Skyler Woodward; Shane Van Boening; Tyler Styer; Fedor Gorst; Shane Wolford. 

Players to Watch

Self confessed ‘country-boy’ Skyler Woodward is also the only ‘dad’ on Team USA, and leads by example with his incredible play, and contentious musical playlists.

Another rural rockstar for Team USA is Tyler Styer from Wisconsin. An unabashed carnivore, Tyler plays with a killer instinct when he smells blood in the water. 

Shane Wolford is the youngest player at the Mosconi Cup, and one of the few players without a nickname. At 22 years old, Shane might seem like a soft-spoken giant, but just wait til he gets the cue in his hand. 

Matches we Would Love to See

Jayson Shaw vs Fedor Gorst
There is no love lost between these former teammates, who have not shied away from taking shots at each other on social media.  With Fedor moving to Team USA after helping Europe win in 2022, there is definitely going to be some tension and table chat between these two. 

Joshua Filler vs Shane Wolford
Let the kids beat each other up, as this match would feature the two youngest players at the Mosconi Cup.  It might be Shane’s first Mosconi, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t use to high stakes games. 

Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz & David Alcaide vs Tyler Styer and Shane van Boeing

The two Spaniards are often teamed together, as they have an indelible connection to find winning ways. Francisco is playing at the top of his game, and it’s going to take some big time confidence to knock them off their perch.  Big confidence is something Tyler exudes, and partnering that with the steady hand of the world number two ranked van Boening could put together a winning combination. 

Get Your 9-Ball On

9 ball is more than just a game; it's a strategic battle that demands skill, precision, and mental fortitude. Mastering its rules and implementing effective strategies can elevate a player's game to new heights. And the Mosconi Cup stands as a testament to the electrifying thrill and global appeal of this captivating cue sport.
Whether you're a novice learning the ropes or a seasoned pro, 9 ball continues to captivate, ensuring that the thrill of cue sports remains alive and vibrant for players and enthusiasts worldwide.
And who knows, if you get good enough, you might find yourself representing your nation in a Mosconi Cup. Dare to dream!

Introduction to 9 Ball

Now that you know about the Mosconi Cup, how much do you actually know about the sport of 9-Ball?
One of the most thrilling and fast-paced cue sports, 9 ball, has captivated players and audiences worldwide with its strategic gameplay and rapid-fire action. Governed by a specific set of rules, mastering this game requires a blend of skill, precision, and tactical thinking. Let's dive into the rules and strategies that make 9 ball a thrilling experience for players and spectators alike.

9-ball pool table layout

The Basics of 9 Ball

9 ball is played with nine numbered balls, labeled 1 through 9, and a cue ball. The objective? Pot the 9 ball before your opponent. Sounds simple, but the intricacies lie within the rules, and of course knowing how to beat your opponent. 

Rules of Play

Opening Break: The game starts with the cue ball in hand behind the head string. The player strikes the 1 ball to start the game. If the 9 ball is potted during the break, the player instantly wins.

Legal Shots: Players must hit the lowest-numbered ball on the table first and continue hitting the balls in ascending numerical order. Failure to do so results in a foul.

Fouls: Fouls can occur by not hitting the lowest-numbered ball first, not contacting any ball, not hitting a rail after contact, or pocketing the cue ball. Fouls result in the incoming player getting ball-in-hand, allowing them to place the cue ball anywhere on the table.

Winning the Game: The game is won by legally pocketing the 9 ball after hitting the lowest-numbered ball on the table. The game also ends if the opponent commits a foul while shooting the 9 ball.

Learn how to play 9-Ball PoolStrategies in 9-Ball

Pattern Play: Advanced players plan multiple shots ahead, ensuring that each ball they pocket sets them up for the next.
Safety Shots: Sometimes, opting for a safety shot, where you intentionally leave your opponent in a tough position, can be as effective as potting a ball.

Break Shot Mastery: The opening break is crucial. Masters of 9 ball have honed their break to control the cue ball and potentially pocket balls.

Now that you know the rules of 9-Ball, and all the thrilling excitement to come in the 2023 edition of the Mosconi Cup, it’s time to hit the tables. Just watch out for those hustlers!

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwainSenior Sports Writer

Wade McElwain is our Mr. NFL, a bona fide North American sports nut who knows about NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA plus MMA boxing and more. Originally from Canada, Wade is also an international award-winning stand-up comedian; host of numerous TV game shows; and a TV producer & writer. He also runs NFL in London-the largest NFL fan group in Europe, and has hosted NFL events at Wembley and around the world. Yes, he lives alone and does nothing but watch sports.