Van Boening Wins Challenge of Champion

Shane Van Boening (Photo courtesy of Dave Thomson -
The Challenge of Champions, in its 24th year on ESPN, pitted Shane Van Boening against Holland’s 2014 World 9-Ball Champion Niels Feijen. With the Dutchman taking the first set 5-4, and having opportunity to take the 2nd at 4-4, Niels fell to the comeback power of SVB. The Sudden Death, race to one, formula proved fatal for Feijen as Shane’s nerves never faltered and he was into the finals.
Austrian, 2015 China Open Champion Albin Ouschan now faced 2014 Challenge winner Germany’s Thorsten Hohmann. Albin, stoic, never strayed from the task in hand. His calm composure assisted as he took the first set 5-4.
Thorsten, with huge wins this year as he capture his 4th World Cup if 14.1 and CSI’s US Open 10-Ball Championship at the Rio, was at a loss and, uncharacteristically, began to err.
At 5-2, Albin sealed the deal and was off to the finals and a face-off with Shane.
Still in stroke, Ouschan shook Shane as he snared the first set, handily, at 5-3.
In an earlier conversation with Paul Smith, Diamond’s table set-up maestro, Shane confided, ”The Challenge of Champions is the tournament that I saw on ESPN that motivated me to become a pro. I really want to win this one.”
It didn’t look like it was going to happen this year either. 
In the 2nd set, Albin took an early lead. It wasn’t until the 2nd game that nerves reared heir ugly head.  Retired WPBA pro Mary Kenniston, cheerleading from the bleachers, chimed her support. “Come on Shane, let’s go!”
Solid as a rock, punishing Albin for every minor error, Van Boening sped up the hill, and at 5-1, we were at Sudden Death: One game for the title–and the $25,000 first place prize money. Bupkis for second.
Ouschan was shaking now, not visibly, but on the inside he later shared. Shane didn’t look too comfortable either as makable balls were missed by both players. But, it was Albin’s scratch, with only 2 balls on the table, that added another notch to Shane’s accomplishments while eliminating a lifetime goal on his bucket list.
Albin was devastated. “I’ve never felt nerves like that before. Even when I was in the finals playing for $40,000. Maybe, it was the thought of not winning anything that scared me. At least in the China Open, I knew that i had 20,000 coming.”
Billiards International promotor, Gregg Hovey, added, “These tournaments are the most brutal out there. It takes great courage to maintain championship composure.”
Being a four week old dad can do that: Our congratulations to Albin on the birth of his daughter, Lene Sophie.
Although the order of airing has not been determined, scheduled ESPN dates for all of the Billiards International events are December 13, 20, and 27. Mark your calendars, set your smart phones, these shows offer some of the closest, drama-filled footage captured to date.
Billiards International thanks its sponsors: Diamond Billiard Products, Simonis Cloth and Aramith Balls, Cue Mate, Mueller, Pool Dawg, and Seminole Casino  Hotel.