The World Team Cup was first held in 1979 and was an innovation of Mike Watterson, the Barry Hearn of his day, who introduced several tournaments to the circuit before being kicked out by the players for that well known business crime of ‘making money.’

In its original form, it was a three man event, although the first staging every so slightly misjudged the schedule as the tournament finished a day earlier than planned.

The World Cup became part of the BBC’s portfolio of snooker events, usually running for four days a few weeks before the World Championship.

In the mid 1980s, its dominant team was the all-Ireland side of Dennis Taylor, Alex Higgins and Eugene Hughes, who won the title three years running.

Alex and Dennis were two of the game’s top players and Eugene was both a good player and, more importantly, a team man.

The format in those days was best of nine frame matches. Player A would play two frames, player B two and so on until a result was found.

In 1988, England (Steve Davis, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds) won the final 9-8 on a re-spotted black against the rather patronisingly titled ‘Rest of the World’ team of Dene O’Kane (New Zealand), Silvino Francisco (South Africa) and Tony Drago (Malta).

In those days Scotland struggled badly. They had Stephen Hendry and, er, well that was it really in terms of world beaters. This would, of course, change.

Other countries could rely on holy trinities such as Terry Griffiths, Ray Reardon and Doug Mountjoy (Wales) and Cliff Thorburn, Bill Werbeniuk and Kirk Stevens (Canada).

The last World Team Cup under this format was held in 1990 when the Canadian team (by now Thorburn, Alain Robidoux and Bob Chaperon) beat Northern Ireland, represented by Taylor, Higgins and Tommy Murphy.

All anyone remembers now about that year’s event was the row between Higgins and his captain, Taylor, in which Higgins let rip with a stream of nasty verbal abuse as he attempted to tell his skipper who he should be putting out when.

For this and many other transgressions, Higgins was banned for a season.

The World Cup resurfaced on a much grander scale in Bangkok in 1996 for a truly international version featuring all manner of countries.

In the final, the Scottish ‘dream team’ of Hendry, John Higgins and Alan McManus beat the Republic of Ireland side represented by Ken Doherty, Fergal O’Brien and Stephen Murphy.

Team spirit was an important factor in Ireland reaching the final. They had it in spades whereas the England team of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Peter Ebdon and Nigel Bond had very little.

The 1996 World Cup was a great event but very costly to stage and quickly disappeared by the schedule.

In 1999, ITV came back into the snooker fold with the Nations Cup, held first in a freezing cold Newcastle in January.

Wales – Mark Williams, Matthew Stevens, Dominic Dale and Darren Morgan – won the title.

The Nations Cup moved to Reading the following season, where England triumphed and in 2001 Scotland beat Ireland in the final.

This was the infamous occasion where O’Brien was told to hurry up by a referee at a vital moment as ‘the TV coverage goes off in 15 minutes.’

Now, the World Cup is back with 19 nations and 20 teams (hosts Thailand have two).

Matches in the group stage have a Davis Cup feel with two singles frames, doubles and then reverse singles.

Interestingly, the doubles is alternate shot, which is surely going to act against the less fancied teams.

Take Australia: you could back Neil Robertson to crack in a long red and make a frame winning break but, under this format, the second shot will go to Steve Mifsud, a good player but not a professional.

In truth it is hard to look beyond the British home nations, Ireland and China as the most likely winners.

The good news is that the leading teams all get on: Williams and Stevens for Wales, Higgins and Stephen Maguire for Scotland, Selby and Carter for England, Doherty and O’Brien for Ireland and Mark Allen and Gerard Greene for Northern Ireland.

The lesser lights have an opportunity to show the world what they can do. Belgium, whose team is Bjorn Haneveer and Luca Brecel, could be dark horses.

I notice that the bookies don’t much rate the chances of Afghanistan but, in fact, Saleh Mohammad once reached the world amateur final for Pakistan, who he represented before returning to Afghanistan to help build up snooker in that country.

Thailand has an outside chance through both of their teams, not just because they are on home soil but because all four players – James Wattana, Passakorn Suwannawat, Thepchaiya Un Nooh and Dechawat Poomjaeng – are capable of doing the business under this format.

By the way, if you’re wondering how all these teams ended up in the event when, for instance, Canada did not, then here are the reasons:

The eight seeded teams are decided by the world rankings (based on the highest ranked player). Wildcards were awarded to Brazil and Germany as they are hosting tournaments later in the season.

The remaining places were in the gift of the European, Asian and African associations, who nominated the teams. Poland and Malta won qualifying events to take their places.

It promises to be an interesting week on the baize with a parade of many faces, some well known, others completely unknown and players for once playing as part of a team for national pride rather than purely for themselves.

It’s a departure from the standard snooker format and marks a return to Thailand, which was for so many years a popular destination for the circuit.

It starts live on Eurosport at 7am UK time tomorrow morning.


Anonymous said...

Am I right in remembering Murdo Mcleod played for Scotland? Must have been pretty embarassing for any Scots having to play with Hendry in his prime. And I find it hard to believe Ebdon and ROS teamed up - very uncomfortable for poor Bond I should imagine!

kildare cueman said...

Good to see a team competition back. Its something different and provides an opportunity to bring a host of new fans on board.

I know you have to start somewhere but this seems to be loosely based on Hearn's pool world cup, with 2 man teams and scotch doubles.

Like many people I would like to see this event comprising 3 man teams and allow any country with a national association to field a team. The teams would be selected using the pro rankings first, and then the amateur rankings for the country if there are not enough pros.

That would be costly though, so as I say, you have to start somewhere. I think tension, or the lack thereof, will determine whether this event will be a success or not.

With online gambling companies pricing matches, and national pride, the crowd will hopefully get into the swing, and theres nothing like a vociferous croud to add that little bit of pressure that makes an event compulsive viewing

Dave H said...

From memory it was Murdo and Jim Donnelly who partnered Hendry

kildare cueman said...

The scots werent that bad. Hendry only beat McLeod on the odd frame in his last Scottish professional, and McLeod also won a match at the Crucible.

Anonymous said...

Matt Gibson was also in the Scotland line up on occassions- the pressure on Hendry was immense.
The best format I have seen was the nations cup approach down in Reading- made for a great atmosphere - I remember the night the Scots were thrashed 8-1 by the Irish.

Dave H said...

Good player Murdo but not a world beater, which was my point

Andrew B. said...

Scotland (Hendry, Macleod and John Rea) did manage to beat Wales in 1987 despite Hendry only winning 1 frame out of 4.

Trevor said...

Will eurosport show this final, or half of it perhaps ?.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Dave. Don't drink too much, unless its bought for you.

Chris Turner said...

I remember one of the early State Express World Team events at the Hexagon I think or maybe the New London Theatre.

Each match was played over 15 frames. There were three man teams and each player played five frames, three against his opposite number and one each against the other two

There was just one match per day and the event lasted for 9 days even though there were only six teams!

IAN1959 said...

Even less coverage of the Sunday sf and final day on Eurosport uk. Only 55mins of highlights at 22.50 of the lot.

See http://tv.eurosport.co.uk/

Very poor after showing 8hrs and multi-channel somedays.

Anonymous said...

i am baffled by alternate shots being played in doubles - it is the opposite of a shot clock when efforts are being made to speed up play

jamie brannon said...

Judging from this history we are looking to end 23 years of World Cup hurt. At least it can't be decided by penalties so we should be ok!

This has to be the only time you would see me getting behind Mark Selby and Ali Carter.

Anonymous said...

This world cup is a joke. There's players in it that wouldn't even get into a pub team in the UK. It would have been better to revive the Nations Cup with just the home nations and to host it in the UK

Anonymous said...

6.35am what a great point. Eurosport's coverage is shoddy, why show all that and not show the final. What a joke.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Eurosport's coverage is rubbish. Dave is a good commentator and I know it's putting him in a difficult position but the station itself is pants, the camera angles are rubbish, there's noise in the background over the commentary, the colour's off, and the whole thing is just amateurish.

Anonymous said...

Harsh Taio but sad to say true, particularly the noise in the background, I mean what's that all about?


Armbrust said...

Dave, I have a question. Is the World Cup and the Nations Cup the same tournament under a different name or the Nations Cup is just the other team snooker tournament?


Dave H said...

I would say the Nations Cup is a different event

jamie brannon said...

If you want poor snooker coverage look no further than how ITV covered the Nations Cup and Champions Cup.

Anonymous said...

if we want poor snooker comments we read jamies.

the nations cup was a very good event.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I agree Itv's coverage was pretty shoddy but it looks great in comparisson with Eurosport's.

jamie brannon said...

Wasn't knocking the event although World Cup is a better concept but the coverage was laughable. They actually went off air one year during the final.

Anonymous said...

Nations Cup was better than the World Cup by far, better broadcaster, no laughable teams or players