Sossei goes undefeated, downing Korsiak twice to claim Eastern States Championships
Sep. 3, 2019
Sep. 3, 2019
(l to r): Jeremy Sossei, Joey Korsiak, Tony Robles and Jonathan Smith
They’re familiar rivals, Jeremy Sossei and Joey Korsiak. Joey’s been around a little longer; his recorded exploits dating back 20 years. Jeremy’s on record (here) back to 2007. They’re both veterans of the Joss Northeast 9-Ball and Predator Pro Am Tours and have met on numerous (sometimes unrecorded) occasions. When Jeremy arrived at the 2019 Eastern States Championships at Steinway Billiards this past Labor Day Weekend (August 31-Sept. 2), he’d already chalked up five wins on the 2019 Joss Tour, four of them in a row from April to June. Joey entered the tournament with only two ‘cash’ appearances on his 2019 resume. He finished 28th at the Derby City Classic 9-Ball event and was runner-up to Frankie Hernandez at a Predator stop in March. He was among the top five finishers in six events last year and downed Zion Zvi in the finals of a Predator stop last June.
As far as we know, the only time they met in a final before this past weekend was in February 2011, when Joey defeated Jeremy in the finals of a Predator Pro Am event. Joey finished as runner-up in another Predator event in April of that year, with Sossei finishing in fourth place.
They met twice in this year’s $1,500-added, 10-Ball Open/Pro division of the Eastern States Championships, which, held under the auspices of the Predator Pro Am Tour, drew 19 entrants to Steinway Billiards over the weekend. There was, arguably, a lot more at stake for Korsiak than there was for Sossei as they squared off in the finals of this one. For Sossei, it was going to be just a 6th notch on his 2019 victory belt. For Korsiak, on the other hand, a victory over Sossei would have been his first major victory since last June and only his third since he defeated Sossei eight years ago. It made for some high drama in the finals on Monday night.
A concurrent, $1,500-added Amateur event (separate story) drew 83 entrants to Steinway. Gary Bozigian went undefeated to claim that title, downing Matt Klein in the finals.
Sossei and Korsiak met first in the winners’ side semifinals of the Open/Pro event. Jonathan Smith and Michael Yednak squared off in the other one. Sossei sent Korsiak to the loss side 9-4 and advanced to the hot seat match against Smith, who’d defeated Yednak 9-6. Sossei claimed the hot seat and waited for Korsiak to finish his three-match march back to the finals.
On the loss side, Korsiak picked up Del Sim, who’d eliminated Duc Lam 9-6 and Zion Zvi, double hill, to reach him. Yednak drew Predator Pro Am Tour director Tony Robles. Yednak had sent him to the loss side in an earlier round and Robles had recently defeated Vinko Rumora 9-1 and survived a double hill match versus Jorge Rodriguez to earn the re-match.
Robles won the rematch against Yednak and Korsiak downed Sim by the same 9-5 score. Korsiak then eliminated Robles 9-5 in the quarterfinals.
Korsiak’s interest in a rematch against Sossei in the hot seat was evident in the gritty double hill victory he chalked up against Smith in the semifinals. As Labor Day drew to a close, Korsiak and Sossei went to work.
Sossei opened things with a break and run that was followed immediately by a tight safety match in which they both took about a half dozen shots at the 1-ball before Sossei broke out of it and went up 2-0. Sossei broke dry on the third rack and though Korsiak ran to the 6-ball, he got a little out of position shooting at the 7-ball, missed it and watched Sossei make it 3-0.
Korsiak got on the board with rack #4 and drew within one by winning rack #5, as well. They traded racks to 5-4, when Sossei jumped out by two to regain the three-rack lead he owned at the start. Korsiak reduced it back down to two (7-5) with a rack #12 win.
Rack #13 proved to be about as unlucky as it gets. Korsiak played a terrific safe shot that forced Sossei to make a soft-shot, multi-rail kick at the 3-ball. He touched it successfully, but it barely moved in the jaws of a corner pocket and Korsiak made the assumption that nothing had hit the rail after contact. Sossei tried to tell him that he’d made a good hit, but Korsiak reached out and touched the cue ball, committing a foul that in essence, took the wind out of his sails.
Sossei took the ball in hand and closed out the rack to reach the hill first; 8-5 in the extended-race-to-11 format (if Korsiak reached 9 first, the race would extend to 11). Rack #14 featured a couple of unforced errors by both of them; Sossei dropped a ball that he had called safe, Korsiak missed a relatively easy shot that was a gateway to the 14th rack finish line, and Sossei scratched shooting at the 8-ball. Korsiak made another unforced error but managed to leave Sossei a difficult shot. Sossei made the shot he had to make and closed it out 9-5 to capture the 2019 Championship title.
Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, Poolonthenet.com, Capelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine, Billiards Digest and his entire Predator Pro Am staff, to include his lovely wife, Gail. Robles also acknowledged the efforts of UpstateAl and his AZBTv staff for their streaming of selected matches throughout the weekend.