The Striking Viking Back in the Winners Circle After 14 Years

Ewa Laurance (Photo courtesy of WPBA)

I was ecstatic when I found out that Ewa Mataya Laurance (The Striking Viking) had won the prestigious WPBA Masters event at the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mt. Pleasant, MI, beating Allison Fisher 7-5 in the final. I contacted Ewa immediately to find out if she would let me know just how she felt to be back in the winners circle after what has been 14 years, and how this win will effect her busy schedule in the future. I was also interested in how her husband Mitch coped with the pressure of doing the commentary of the final match (covered by ESPN), and at the same time trying to show complete impartiality.
“I had attained a lot of success since I moved here to the US in both the eighties and nineties. I took some time away from the game to raise my daughter and to make a living. I still played in tournaments and practiced some, but most of my energy and time was spent doing exhibitions and appearances, public speaking and media. I also spent a lot of time trying to promote the game by serving as the president of the WPBA, which is incredibly time consuming and mentally exhausting. I would spend 30-50 hours plus per week and when I was done at the end of the day, I really didn't feel like playing pool. The past two and a half years I have been running an APA franchise that has also taken a lot of my time.

Brunswick has been incredibly supportive throughout my career and never pressured me to win. However, it did bother me after a while that I wasn't able to compete at the level I used to. I really wanted to win for them. I also wanted to win for my family. This past year is the first time in a long time, I've wanted to win for me. 

I had a really good year in 2011, finishing ranked 11th on Tour, and all I needed to do was figure out a way to feel like I deserved to win. The fact that I won with one of Brunswick's cues that I had just started playing with, felt extra amazing.

I played great in the finals against Allison Fisher, and had a chance to go ahead 6-1. I'm still not sure why I missed the six ball. I should have gotten up and started my approach again, as I didn't feel quite comfortable over the shot. It could have been that I'm not used to being on the clock. It could have been that the shot was so easy that I didn't think I could miss it. More than likely, it was because it was such a key mental moment in the match.

I felt okay after missing it and I forgave myself quickly. Even after Allison ran out that rack, then broke and ran out, I was still ahead 5-3. However, I made a mistake in the next game that let her get to 4, and that's when I started feeling it a bit. At 5-5, Allison said after the match, that she looked over at me and she saw that I was visibly shaken. 

At that point I was really just trying to pull myself together, just waiting and being ready in case she would make a mistake. When she did, I was ready to run out, and when I had a chance to run out again after my break, I just stayed in the moment and played one ball at a time.

I am planning on being more of a player this year, to see where it takes me. I am considering some invites that I have got from different countries. I'm having fun playing again, so why not!?

I've always known in my heart that I could win another tournament. My problem has been that I haven't been willing to spend the time it takes between tournaments to get my game right. That's what so fun now. I'm loving playing again!

Mitch was overwhelmed. We are incredibly close and no one knows more than he, what this meant to me and what it takes to be out there under pressure. He made it through the entire telecast, but lost it once it was over. 

I did cry a bit the next morning, as I giggled when I woke up. It was great to prove to myself again, that I can do it. I am really looking forward to the rest of the year on the WPBA tour!
Thank you Ewa for your inner thoughts after your fantastic WPBA win, and I would like to wish you every success in the coming year, and look forward to writing another story on your next win. (But, don't wait 14 years)

Ewa Mataya Laurance has fashioned one of the great careers in the history of pocket billiards. The first truly international superstar in the sport, The Striking Viking brought media attention and focus to the game in a way no one before ever had, and continues to this day to embody the best competitive and entertainment aspects of the sport she loves. 

Ewa started playing pocket billiards in her native town of Gavle, Sweden at the age of 14, after following her older brother Mats into the local billiard room. She fell instantly in love with the game and practiced six to ten hours per day, doing her school homework between shots. Excelling at a rapid pace, Ewa went on to compete in her first major tournament that same year, where she finished in fourth place. The following year she captured her first Swedish 9-ball title, and two years later, after having qualified to play in the European Championship by winning the Swedish 14.1 Championship, she was crowned European Champion in Bern, Switzerland. As a result Ewa was asked to represent Europe at the World Championships in New York City.

With a dream of becoming a professional pool player, the 17-year old made the decision to stay and make the United States her home. Since then, she has not only been successfully competing on the Women's Professional Tour, with consecutive years as the #1-ranked player in the world, but has also become widely recognized as one of the great international ambassadors for the sport, promoting pocket billiards worldwide. 

Ewa's 1992 appearance in a cover article in the New York Times Magazine brought an onslaught of media attention that catapulted her, along with women's billiards in general, into the national spotlight. 

Ewa is a two time Player- of- the- Year, a recipient of the “WPBA Sportsperson of the Year Award,” “The WPBA PR Award” and the “Billiard and Bowling Institute of America Industry Service Award.” She was instrumental in launching the WPBA Classic Tour, and has spent numerous terms as a member of the Women's Professional Billiard Association Board of Directors, including three terms as President, working to organize and promote women's pocket billiards. 

Besides playing on the WPBA 9-Ball Tour, Ewa is the current International Trick Shot Champion, a member of the championship World Cup of Trick Shots team, and is known as the world's premier female trick shot artist. She spends a great deal of the year performing trick shot exhibitions across the U.S. and around the world. An avid golfer, Ewa can also be seen at numerous celebrity golf charity events around the country.

Ewa currently resides in Myrtle Beach, SC with her husband Mitch, daughter Nikki and their menagerie of dogs, cats and horses
For a more detailed Biography go to: “