Watanabe comes back from semifinals to down Torres in finals of Predator Pro Am stop
Skip Maloney
Aug. 13, 2019
(l to r): Hector Torres, Max Watanabe, Kanami Chau & Abel Rosario
(l to r): Hector Torres, Max Watanabe, Kanami Chau & Abel Rosario
Max Watanabe had his best earnings year to date in 2018 and though he has a way to go to catch up and make 2019 an even better year, he’s doing what he needs to do to make that happen. Last week (August 4), he went undefeated at a stop on the Tri-State Tour, downing Dave Shlemperis twice. This week, on Sunday, August 11 at a $1,000-added Predator Pro Am Tour stop at Steinway Billiards that drew 64 entrants, he got sent to the loss side by Hector Torres in the battle for the hot seat and came back to defeat Torres in the finals. If you’re making a move to improve the second half of any given year, there’s nothing like back-to-back tour victories to signal that you’re on the right track.
 
Watanabe’s trip was almost derailed at the outset, as he opened his campaign with two double hill wins; one against Vinko Rumora and a second against Jose Estevez. He got a little traction with a 7-2 win over Miguel Laboy and a 7-4 victory over Elvis Rodriguez, which set him up in a winners’ side semifinal match against Abel Rosario. Hector Torres, in the meantime, got by Ron Bernardo, Paul Lyons, and Brandonne Alli before having to survive a double hill win over Mike Callaghan, which set him (Torres) up to face Ray Lee in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Torres downed Lee 7-1, while Watanabe locked up in his third double hill battle of the weekend against Rosario and won it. He survived three double hill matches out of five he played to get to the hot seat match, but Watanabe didn’t have an ‘answer’ for Torres, who defeated him 8-1 to claim the hot seat.
 
Over on the loss side, Ray Lee ran into an immediate rematch against Kanami Chau, who’d been defeated by him in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then chalked up two straight double hill wins, over Ryan Dayrit and Joe Morace, to face him a second time. Rosario picked up Luis Jimenez, who was working on a four-match, loss-side winning streak that had most recently included a 7-3 win over Chris Kelly and a double hill victory over Jaydev Zaveri.
 
Chau chalked up her third straight double hill win and advanced to the quarterfinals over Lee. She was joined by Rosario, who’d ended Jimenez’ loss-side run, double hill, as well. Seven of the tour stop’s final 14 matches required a single deciding game.
 
The quarterfinal match between Rosario and Chau came within a game of double hill, but Rosario edged out in front to take it 9-7. Watanabe, though, anxious apparently for a second shot at Torres in the hot seat, gave up only a single rack to Rosario in the semifinals that followed.
 
Watanabe took full advantage of that second shot. He downEd Torres 10-7 in the final to claim his second straight event title in as many weeks.
 
A Second Chance event drew 14 entrants. Elvis Rodriguez and Irene Kim advanced through the single elimination bracket to meet each other in the finals. Rodriguez had defeated Duc Lam to play in the finals. Kim had eliminated Akiko Taniyama to join him. Rodriguez took home the top $140 prize, after downing Kim 11-6 in the finals. Kim took home the $100 second prize, while Lam and Taniyama pocketed $20 each.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolontheNet.com, Cappelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiards Magazine and Billiards Digest. The Predator Pro Am Tour will return to Steinway Billiards on Labor Day weekend (Aug. 31 – Sept. 2) for the $3,000-added ($1,500 Amateur, $1,500 Pro) Eastern States Championships.