Guzman goes undefeated to take his first Predator Pro Am title in three years

(l to r): Ramilo Tanglao, Juan Guzman, Esteban Morell and Eli Trajceski
In 2016, Juan Guzman chalked up four event titles, two each on the Predator Pro Am and Tri-State Tours and was runner-up to Tony Liang in an event co-sponsored by the two tours, the 6th Annual George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial. The year was, not surprisingly, his best earnings year since he began appearing in the AZBilliards database back in 2009. His participation has lagged a bit in the past couple of years, although there’s no real way to distinguish between a drop in participation or just a drop in his advancement to cash winnings. Either way, on the weekend of April 13-14, at a $1,000-added stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, Guzman went undefeated to capture his first event title since he won a stop on the Tri-State Tour last June. The event drew 81 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
Guzman faced separate opponents in the hot seat and finals of this event, although he did meet and defeat Eli Trajceski twice. The first time was in a winners’ side semifinal. Guzman sent Trajceski to the loss side 8-6 and in the hot seat match, faced Esteban Morell, who’d sent Corey Avallone to the loss side 7-4.
Guzman and Morell battled to double hill in the struggle for the hot seat, but Guzman claimed it.
Over on the loss side, Trajceski picked up Shawn Sookhai, who’d defeated Eugene Ok 7-1 and Duc Lam 7-2 to reach him. Avallone drew Ramilo Tanglao, who’d recently picked up a forfeit win over Paul Lyons and then, ended a seven-match, loss-side winning streak by Debra Pritchett 7-4.
Tanglao and Avallone locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Tanglao to the quarterfinals. He was joined by Trajceski, who’d eliminated Sookhai 7-2.
Tanglao ended up on the wrong side of his second straight double hill match, which sent Trajceski to the semifinals. There, a 7-3 win over Morell gave Trajceski a second shot at Guzman.
As it had in their previous matchup in the winners’ side semifinal, the final came within a game of double hill, but Guzman prevailed a second time to claim the event title.
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards’ staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards,, The DeVito Team,, Cappelle (Billiards Press), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiards Magazine, and Billiards Digest. Robles also thanked his always-supportive cast of assistants, to include his lovely wife, Gail.
Although it did so this weekend, the Predator Pro Am Tour will not be returning to Steinway Billiards for its next stop (#8), scheduled for the weekend of May 18-19. That event will be the first in the tour’s history to be restricted to C/D players. According to Robles, participation has been on the rise at stops on the Predator Pro Am Tour and while room owners are generally encouraged by large numbers of participants at events, there have recently been a few stops that have featured too much of a good thing; player numbers exceeding a room’s general capacity and its ability to complete a given event within a limited time frame. The restriction to C/D players is designed to address that issue when the C/D players gather at Gotham City Billiards on the weekend of May 18-19.