Strickland makes it two in a row with victory at 5th Annual Empire State Championship

Earl Strickland (File photo courtesy of Justin Collett)


Earl "The Pearl" Strickland followed up his victory at the 2nd Annual George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial Tournament on Labor Day weekend with a undefeated win on the Predator Tour's 5th Annual Empire State Championships, held on the weekend of September 8-9. The $3,000-added event, # 11 on the 2012 Predator Pro-Am Tour, drew 47 entrants to Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY.

The back-to-back events had many players in common; Strickland, only one of many. Warren Kiamco, who'd finished third in the Ginky Memorial when defeated by Strickland, was on hand, and battled Strickland twice. Jeremy Sossei, who finished fifth on Labor Day, and Tony Robles, who was initially downed by Strickland, and later finished out of the money, was on hand, as well. Robles and Sossei met in the quarterfinals of the Empire State tourney. Missing because he was scheduled to board a plane on Monday, September 10, bound for the China Open, was Mike Dechaine

From among the winners' side final four, Strickland and Kiamco were on a collision course to the hot seat match and finals that for Strickland, went through Adam Kielar, and for Kiamco, Yesid Garibello. Strickland prevailed 8-2 over Kielar, and met up with Kiamco, who'd been the beneficiary of a family emergency forfeit by Garibello. Strickland took the first of two against Kiamco 8-5 and waited in the hot seat for his return. 

On the loss side, Robles and Sossei were on their way to the quarterfinals. Robles downed Mike Wong 8-2 and Mhet Vergara 8-4 to hook up with Kielar. Sossei got by Joey Landi 8-2 and Mike Davis 8-5 to draw the absent Garibello. Robles moved into the quarterfinals against Sossei with an 8-6 win over Kielar. Sossei took the quarterfinal match 8-2.

Kiamco, no doubt anxious for what amounted to a third shot at Strickland, after losing once in the Ginky Memorial Tournament and again, in the hot seat in this event, dropped Sossei into third place 8-3, and got his chance. For naught, as it turned out. Strickland downed the Filipino for the third time in a week, 9-5, to capture the Empire State Championship title.