On December 20, 2022, Shane Van Boening made history by becoming the world champion of pool at the World Pool Championship final held at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, England. The South Dakota native defeated Albin Ouschan in an intense and highly competitive match that kept fans on the edge of their seats until the very end.
Van Boening, commonly known as the “South Dakota Kid,” has been a force to be reckoned with on the pool circuit for years. He has dominated the American pool scene, winning multiple U.S. Open Nine-ball Championship titles and representing the United States in international competitions such as the Mosconi Cup. However, despite his numerous accomplishments, Van Boening had never been able to claim the ultimate prize: the title of world champion.
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The match between Van Boening and Ouschan was a showdown between two modern greats of the game, with both players known for their precise cue work and expert safety play. The American got off to a strong start, winning the lag and taking the opening rack in comfortable fashion. But Ouschan, a former world champion himself, quickly found his groove and put daylight between the two players at 3-1 after four racks.
It was at this point that Van Boening began to make his move. He twisted the screw with a pinpoint jump shot on the 3, followed by a raking effort to pot the 4, and closed the gap to make it 3-2. Ouschan reasserted a two-rack difference in the sixth rack, but it was short-lived after scratching on the break in the resulting rack. Van Boening then turned the contest on its head to take the eighth rack and level the match at 4-4 before a simple 1-9 combo put him in front for the first time since 1-0.
The match was back-and-forth from there, with both players putting on a clinic in safety play and leaving the crowd entertained throughout. A standout moment came in the 12th rack, when Ouschan found himself with no eye on the pocket on the 1. He played a sweet safety shot to tuck the cueball behind the 4 and 6 balls while leaving the 1 ball near the bottom pocket, but Van Boening kicked out to make the 1 ball and level the match again at 6-6.
From there, it was all Van Boening. He kept the cue ball on a piece of string, running home with an expert performance and delivering his first-ever world title, leaving Ouschan with very few opportunities at the table as he wrapped up an emotional 13-6 win.
The victory was especially sweet for Van Boening, who had come close to winning the world championship twice before but had fallen short. “I have been trying for years. Two times I’ve been in the final and two times in the final. I just knew I was going to win the World Pool Championship. I dreamed I would be World Champion. It teaches you to work hard, follow your dreams and never give up,” Van Boening said in an emotional post-match interview.
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