Shane Van Boening and Han Yu Wins 2018 AzB Player of the Year Awards

By it’s very nature, the AzBilliards Player of the Year awards are meant to acknowledge the best male and female players from the preceding year. On the men’s side though, the 2018 Player of the Year race seemed to be much more of a comment on parity in the game instead of one player’s dominance.
2018 didn’t see any real dominance from one player as it seemed we had as many different winners as we did marquee events. Joshua Filler’s World 9-Ball Championship win made him a candidate, and we expect to see him dominate the game in coming years. Jung-Lin Chang’s win at the International 9-Ball Open, teamed with a 5th at World 9-Ball, certainly put his name in the equation, and Niels Feijen’s World Pool Masters win put his name in contention. In the eyes of AzBilliards though, it was “The South Dakota Kid”, Shane Van Boening, who earned the Player of the Year recognition.
Shane’s back to back US Open 10-Ball and US Open 8-Ball wins back in July were certainly impressive. Prior to that, Shane had wins at the US Open One Pocket and Bank Pool Championships. Add on his August win at Turning Stone and there was also that 3-9 combination with the weight of his country on his shoulders in London. When you expand the scope to top 4 finishes, you have to count his runner-up finish at the World Pool Masters, his 3rd place finish at the World 9-Ball Championship and his 4th place finish at the International 9-Ball Open.
Van Boening’s total tracked prize money in 2018 was just over $110,000, a full $40,000 more than his closest competition, Dennis Orcollo. With the majority of Van Boening’s wins coming in the states, his end of year WPA ranking sits at 8th place. That is with him only competing in five of the eight ranked WPA events.
The race for 2018 Female Player of the Year came down to a three way Chinese photo finish with, Han Yu, Siming Chen and Xiao-Fang Fu all making a case for the honor. While the future of the ladies game still firmly resides in China, we here at AzBilliards really only had the China Open, Women’s World 9-Ball Championship and Amway Cup to figure into our final decision.
Based on her World Title win at the Women’s World 9-Ball Championship, her third place finish at the Amway Cup and her 9th place finish at the China Open, AzBilliards has chosen Han Yu as the Ladies Player of the Year.
Yu just edged past Chen in AzBilliards tracked prize money at $52,700 and sits atop the WPA Women’s rankings.
Van Boening’s win was his third career AzBilliards Player of the Year award, and his first since 2014. Yu’s win was her second and will join the 2016 trophy in her trophy case.
As always, AzBilliards thanks Aramith and Simonis for their invaluable support with this award. Both players will be presented with a trophy created by Aramith and Simonis.