Shaw gets by The Pearl twice to win Empire State (Open) Championship


Jayson Shaw chalked up his fourth straight win on the Predator Tour with an undefeated run through a field of 25, on hand for the $1,000-added, 10-ball Empire State Open Championships, held on Sunday, February 17 at Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY. The victory marked the third straight time that Shaw's road to victory went through Earl "The Pearl" Strickland; twice in the finals, and once (at this most recent meeting) in the hot seat and a nail-biting, double hill final match.

 They got into the hot seat match after Strickland had downed Karen Corr 7-1 in a winners' side semifinal, and Shaw had sent Holden Chin west 7-2 in the other. In their first of two meetings, Shaw sent Strickland to the semifinals 7-4 and waited in the hot seat for his return.

Waiting for Corr on the loss side was Sean Morgan (aka Alaska), who'd defeated Jerry Tarantola 7-2 and Jennifer Baretta 7-5. Chin picked up Jeremy Sossei, who'd gotten by Daniel Dagotdot 7-5 and downed tour director Tony Robles 7-4. Alaska gave up only a single rack against Corr and moved into the quarterfinals against Sossei, who'd eliminated Chin 7-5.

Sossei and Alaska locked up in a double hill battle, eventually won by Sossei, who turned to face The Pearl. No doubt determined to reverse a disturbing trend in his meetings against Shaw, Strickland stopped Sossei's loss-side streak 7-2 and got his chance.

Strickland and Shaw battled to double hill in the single, race-to-11 finals. In the deciding game, Shaw gave Strickland a ball-in-hand opportunity with five balls left on the table. To the surprise of onlookers, Strickland opted to attempt a difficult combination to sink the 10-ball and finish things immediately, rather than take what appeared to be a clean table run of the five balls. Strickland missed the combination and turned the table and, as it turned out, the Empire State Championship title over to Shaw.

Tour director Tony Robles thanked Raxx Pool Room Bar & Grill owner Holden Chin and his staff, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13 racks, NYCGrind, and The next stop on the Predator Tour, scheduled for March 2-3, is a $1,000-added, A-D (Saturday)/Open (Sunday) event, to be hosted by the Cue Bar in Bayside, NY.