Ouschan fends off Van Boening in dramatic final to become inaugural European Open champion

by Matt Lynch • August 14, 2022

Albin Ouschan has won the inaugural European Open Pool Championship at Hotel Esperanto, Fulda in Germany beating Shane Van Boening in the final 13-11.

It was a cagey early affair as Ouschan won the lag only to miss a cut on the two ball to put Van Boening at the table to take a 1-0 lead. Van Boening is usually on form with his break but the new break rule seems to be impacting him more than most and it showed in the next rack as he scratched to give Ouschan ball in hand who duly levelled at 1-1. In the third, it was Ouschan’s turn to scratch, and Van Boening lead again at 2-1.

Ouschan was quick to turn it around at the break to soon lead at 3-2 taking advantage of Van Boening’s clear misfortune and disbelief. Much like the World Pool Championship final in April, it was nip and tuck as Van Boening leveled. Van Boening then scratched again in the seventh off the break meaning of his last ten breaks in the tournament he’d either broken dry or scratched. Ouschan looked like he was due to lead at 4-3 but lost position forcing him to go airborne on the three and scratch in the middle pocket to give his American counterpart the lead once again.

Van Boening had a wry smile for the first time in the match at 4-3 as he kept the cue ball on the table after the break and made two balls much to the satisfaction of the Fulda crowd. The South Dakota kid was finding his mojo with effortless cue ball control for the first time in the match to lead by two at 5-3 with a break and run. The mojo mentioned was continued as one break and runs turned into two for a three-rack advantage in the favour of Van Boening at 6-3.

A cagey following rack saw Van Boening lose ground on the eight to leave an awkward angle, Ouschan gratefully cleared up to cut the deficit to 6-4. A few exchanges later saw Van Boening establish a three rack buffer again only for Ouschan to bite back. Two mistakes from Van Boening on postional movement saw Ouschan get back in after 13 racks at 7-6. It was far from over.

Ouschan is used to being behind in big moments and he was soon turning the contest on its head to lead for the at 8-7 after Van Boening failed to make the two when airborne. The Austrian was looking imperious and back to his best as he won his fifth rack in a row to lead at 9-7. With momentum gathering in Ouschan’s favour, he broke dry at 9-7 for Van Boening to get back to the table and cut the lead to one. Van Boening broke and run in the next rack and it was 9-9. Ouschan soon had the lead for a fourth time in the match at 10-9 after a dry break from Van Boening.

The woe of the break was the downfall of Van Boening truly, another dry break in the 21st rack lead to Ouschan putting away the table to be two away from victory and history. Ouschan chose to break down the middle in the 22nd rack but it was another dry one and Van Boening swept in to level again.

The best was being saved until last between Van Boening and Ouschan as they went at each other in a deep safety battle which saw Ouschan leave the two hanging over the pocket. Van Boening made it before a 3-6 combo and a safety on the three. Eventually, it was left open by Ouschan but Van Boening’s safety lead to him scratching to give Ouschan ball in hand but perhaps key, the 4-9 were locked together. Ouschan had disrupted the four but he was glued behind it, a neat safety later and Van Boening was in a heap of trouble behind the seven. Van Boening hit the four full contact to open the table up and put Ouschan on the hill at 12-11.

Into the final rack of the match and Ouschan looked to have sacrificed his time at the table after the 3-8 were locked up. Van Boening made an excellent bank to make the three but a costly error on the five gave Ouschan his chance to seal victory at 13-11.

Ouschan said: “I am done after the match with Mario and Shane. You couldn’t tell who was going to win it. I think overall it was a good and exciting match to watch. I am so glad it’s over and I had some sweet revenge over Shane. Of course, it goes through your mind that you are playing against Shane in a final again. THe last one you played and he smashed you. It gets in your head. When the match went tight at 10-10, I thought please dear lord give me a break and I finally had one. Then I screwed up on the three ball. Then I am glad he felt some pressure on the five ball, and now it’s over and I can go home with another title.”

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