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Gomez gets by LaPuente twice to win Tri-State Tour stop

(l to r): Manny Gomez & Luis LaPuente

With the end of the 2018/2019 Tri-State Tour season approaching, there is, as there always is, something of a quiet scramble as players attempt to establish their performance credentials in the hope of being invited to the annual Tri-State Invitational tournament, scheduled for the final weekend in June at Steinway Billiards. There are four events left in the 2018/2019 schedule for players to become one of the 16 competitors in each class division to receive an invitation. The two finalists of the Tri-State Tour stop held on Sunday, May 19, Manuel Gomez and Luis LaPuente are, in competition parlance, ‘in the hunt’ for slots in their respective class divisions; Gomez, a D player, currently at #15 in that class and La Puente, a C player, currently at #32 in his class. Gomez got by La Puente twice in the event to go undefeated and claim the event title, thereby improving his chances in the D class, while having a negative impact on LaPuente’s fortunes in the C class. The $1,000-added event drew 34 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.
They met first in a winners’ side semifinal, as Pashk Gjini (B, #18) and Eugene Ok (B+, #8) squared off in the other one. Gomez took his first of two over LaPuente 6-4, as Ok downed Gjini 7-2. Gomez claimed the hot seat 8-5 over Ok and waited on what turned out to be the return of LaPuente.
On the loss side, Gjini picked up Luis Jimenez, who’d survived a double hill battle versus Tri V Chau and eliminated Jimmy Acosta 8-5. LaPuente drew Mike Strassberg, who’d defeated Brad McDuffie 6-3 and Bianca Martinez 7-5 to reach him.
Jimenez (B, #6) downed Gjini 7-5, as LaPuente shut out Strassberg. LaPuente then did his campaign for climbing the C ladder some good by first defeating Jimenez 7-1 in the quarterfinals, and then, because Eugene Ok forfeited out of the semifinals, leapfrogging into the finals and a re-match against Gomez.
Gomez, though, completed his undefeated run with an 8-6 victory in the finals to claim the event title. He will likely move a few rungs up his D ladder to stay well within the top 16 in that division, with, as noted, four events to go to improve even further.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, DIGICUE OB and Hustlin USA. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour will be the 9th Annual George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial Tournament, scheduled for May 25-26 and conducted under the combined auspices of the Tri-State, Predator Pro Am and Mezz Tours. The $4,000-added event, featuring both amateur and Open/Pro fields will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Osipov wins record-breaking season opener on the Predator Tour

Ross Lacy, Erick Carrasco, Rene Villalobos and Alex Osipov

Ko-Pin Chung and Jorge Rodriguez share Open/Pro title
For the second year in a row, the New York-based Predator Tour set a season-opening debut, playing host this year to 118 amateur competitors on the weekend of January 16-17. The $1,000-added Amateur event, along with an Open/Pro event that drew 16 entrants was hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. Alex Osipov went undefeated through the Amateur field to claim that title, while Jorge Rodriguez and Ko-Pin Chung shared the Open/Pro title.
The Open/Pro event featured World Champion Ko-Pin Yi and his brother, Ko-Pin Chung, who battled against each other in a winners' side semifinal while Jorge Rodriguez and Max Dudanets squared off in the other one. Yi defeated his brother, 7-3 to face Rodriguez, who'd sent Dudanets to the loss side 7-2. Rodriguez claimed the hot seat 7-5 over Yi.
Chung and Dudanets moved to the loss side to encounter what was left of a more familiar crowd of Predator competitors. Chung drew Zion Zvi, who'd eliminated Andrew Seroshean 7-3 and Sean "Alaska" Morgan 7-4. Dudanets picked up Nelson Oliveira, who'd gotten by Mike Yednak 7-5 and Fedor Gorst, double hill. Oliviera advanced with a 7-2 win over Dudanets to meet Chung, who'd defeated Zvi 7-4. Chung eliminated Oliveira in the quarterfinal match 7-2, and locked up in a double hill fight with his brother in the semifinals, which proved to be the final match of the night. Chung prevailed to claim/share the Open/Pro title with Rodriguez.
In the Amateur event, after five matches, Alex Osipov and Eric Carrasco proved to be the last two winners standing among the field of 118. In the winners' side semifinal, Osipov defeated Ross Lacy 7-4, as Carrasco was busy sending Rene Villalobos to the losers' bracket 7-5. Osipov claimed the hot seat 9-6 over Carrasco and waited on what turned out to be the return of Lacy.
Moving to the loss side, Villalobos and Lacy found themselves embroiled in two tough battles immediately; Villalobos against Emit Yulco, who'd defeated Brad McDuffie and Lucas Fracasso, both 7-5, and Lacy against Riyadh Benghalem, who'd gotten by Rhys Chen 7-3 and Manny Stamatakis (owner of Steinway Billiards) 7-4. Villalobos survived a double hill match against Yulco, as Lacy came within a game of double hill before prevailing 7-5 against Benghalem. Lacy took the quarterfinal match 8-5 over Villalobos, and then downed Carrasco in the semifinals 10-6. 
Lacy proved to be a little more resilient in his rematch against Osipov. He forced a case game, which was won by Osipov to claim the Amateur title.
Miguel Laboy picked up a win in a Second Chance tournament, defeating Abel Rosario in the finals. Lucas Fracasso (who finished 7/8 in the main event Amateur tournament) won a third chance tournament, defeating Gene Hunt
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his staff at Steinway Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, National Amateur Pool League, Ozone Billiards, Delta-13 racks, Gotham City Technologies,, The DeVito Team, Billiards Press, AZ Billiards, Billiards Digest, and Pool & Billiard Magazine. He also thanked William Finnegan, Mandy Wu, and Irene Kim for their assistance with the tournament, as well as his wife, Gail Robles.

Shaw goes undefeated to successfully defend NYC 8-Ball Championship

Jorge Rodriguez, John Leyman and Jayson Shaw

Davladze, Sookhai, Schreiber, Kwak and Emil chalk up separate event victories


The 2nd Annual NYC 8-Ball Championships, held on the weekend of November 7-8, under the auspices of Tony Robles' Silent Assassin Productions, and functioning as the BCAPL's regional tour championships, experienced a modest increase in attendance over its debut last June. With the addition of a sixth event – a Mixed Masters tournament – the championships averaged 18 entrants, an increase of just over two entrants per event. The Mixed Advanced event saw the largest increase (13 to 23), with the Mixed Open event close on its heels (23 to 32). The Women's Leisure event saw a decrease from 16 to 10 entrants, while the Men's Leisure event added one entrant to last year's total of 15. The $3,500-added (total) championships drew 108 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Shaw goes undefeated a second time
The fixed-entrant, signature event – The Men's Grandmasters – with its full field of 16 saw Jayson Shaw successfully defend the title he'd won last year, going undefeated for a second time. Though Sean Morgan, last year's runner-up, was among the event's final eight, he ended up in the tie for 5th/6th, which left the door open for Jorge Rodriguez to battle Shaw twice; in the hot seat match and finals. Shaw defeated Nick Ekonomopoulos 8-7 to get into the hot seat match, while Rodriguez sent Mike Wong to the loss side 8-5. Shaw claimed the hot seat 8-5 and waited for Rodriguez to get back from the semifinals.
Those semifinals were set up when Morgan and Jeremy Sossei emerged from the 7th/8th matches over Frankie Hernandez and Hunter Lombardo. Morgan drew Ekonomopoulos, and Sossei picked up Wong. Ekonomopoulos ended Morgan's bid to be in the title match 8-4, while Sossei eliminated Wong by the same score. Sossei dropped Ekonomopoulos into fourth place 8-5, before having his bid ended by Rodriguez in the semifinals. Shaw punctuated his title defense with a commanding 8-2 victory over Rodriguez in the finals.
Emil and Kwak go undefeated to capture Men's/Women's Leisure titles
Andrew Emil and Carolina Kwak emerged from the 16- and 10-entrant fields of the Men's and Women's Leisure events and went undefeated to capture their respective titles. Emil shut out Jim Gutierrez to get into the hot seat match of the Men's Leisure tournament. He was joined by Mark Ogawa, who'd sent Rolando Rodriguez west 5-2. Emil claimed the hot seat 5-3 over Ogawa.
On the loss side, Rodriguez won three straight double hill matches for a shot at Emil in the hot seat. He got by Brad McDuffie, then Gutierrez in the quarterfinals, and finally, Ogawa in the semifinals. Emil, though, punctuated his undefeated run with a shutout over Rodriguez in the finals. 
Kwak got into the Women's Leisure hot seat with, first, a double hill win over Bianca Martinez in a winners' side semifinal. Latonia Taylor, in the meantime, sent May Ng to the loss side 5-2. By that same score, Kwak sent Taylor to the semifinals to claim the hot seat. On the loss side, Martinez got into the quarterfinals, following a double hill win over Erika Zan. She was met by the woman she'd sent to the loss side, Deborah Pritchett, who'd eliminated Ng 5-2. Pritchett gave Martinez her come-uppance in a double hill quarterfinal and got a shot at Kwak with a 5-3 win over Taylor in the semifinals. Kwak claimed the Women's Leisure title with a 5-2 victory over Pritchett in the finals.
Schreiber, Davladze, and 'The Warrior' claim Mixed Titles.
Tommy Schreiber, competing in the largest-field (32) Mixed Open event, was the only other competitor to go undefeated in the six-event championships. He got into the hot seat match, following a 6-4 victory over Ambi Estevez, and was met by Cristobal Tiru, who'd defeated Joe Wilson Torres 6-4. Schreiber claimed the hot seat 6-3 over Tiru. 
It was Estevez and Abel Rosario who emerged from the loss-side scuffles to meet in the quarterfinals. Rosario survived a double hill match versus Omar Chavez to face Torres, whom he then defeated 6-2. Estevez defeated John Morrison 6-3 to join him. Estevez won the quarterfinal match, double hill, over Rosario, before Tiru eliminated him 6-2 in the semifinals. Schreiber then defeated Tiru a second time to claim the title, though not before Tiru battled him to to double hill, forcing a case game.
Shawn "The Warrior" Sookhai and Koka Davladze came back from losses in the winners' side semifinals of the Mixed Advanced and Mixed Masters fields to win those events. Sookhai, sent west by Max Watanabe 7-5 in the Mixed Advanced tourney, came back through Noah Vogelman (7-4), Ehmunrao Toocaram (7-5) and successfully wreaked vengeance on Watanabe 7-5, before downing hot seat occupant Matthew Harricharam 9-6 to claim the Mixed Advanced title.
Davladze was sent to the loss side by Raphael Dabreo, 7-4, in a winners' side semifinal of the Mixed Masters event. DaBreo went on to defeat Juan Guzman 7-5 in the hot seat match. Elvis Rodriguez, who'd been sent west in the other winners' side semifinal, 7-4, by Guzman, ran into Davladze in the quarterfinals and was eliminated 7-3. Davladze finished Guzman in the semifinals 7-5 and went on to defeat DaBreo 9-7 in the Mixed Masters finals. 
Tour organizer Tony Robles thanked added-money contributors Manny Stamatakis (owner of Steinway Billiards), and Michael Fedak, as well as tour director John Leyman. He also thanked Stamatakis' staff for their hospitality, and sponsors Marc Griffin and the BCA Pool League, Cue Sports International, Predator Cues,,, NAPL. com, Delta 13, Ozone Billiards, Irene Kin, Ron Mason, Mandy Wu, Dan Faraguna, Allison Fisher, and (his) "amazing wife, Gail."

Chang goes undefeated to win “truly international” 4th Annual Steinway Classic

Drawing on a strong field of players, many of whom had recently competed in the 40th Annual US Open 9-Ball Championships in Virginia, including winner Yu-Hsuan Cheng, and world champion Pin-Yi Ko, the 4th Annual Steinway Classic in New York drew the largest field of competitors, 92, in its history. Yu-Lung Chang defeated Ko Pin Chung twice to go undefeated and claim title to the $7,000-added event, hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY, from November 1-3.
"It was our largest field, and the most competitive," said event director Tony Robles, "because it was truly an international event."
Though Yu-Hsuan Cheng, Pin-Yi Ko and four-time US Open champion Shane Van Boening entered the tournament among the highly favored competitors, all were eliminated early. Cheng went two and out, Ko finished in the tie for 9th place and Van Boening finished out of the money. 
Chang and Ko Pin Chung advanced to the winners' side semifinals; Chang, against Warren Kiamco and Ko, squaring off against Jayson Shaw. Chang and Kiamco battled to double hill before Chang advanced to the hot seat match. He was joined by Ko, who'd sent Shaw to the loss side 9-6. Chang took the first of two against Ko 9-7 and waited in the hot seat for his return.
Awaiting Shaw and Kiamco on the loss side were Nick Van Den Berg and Darren Appleton. Nick Van Den Berg had eliminated world champion Pin-Yi Ko 9-6 and Rodney Morris 9-4 to draw Shaw. Appleton had won two straight double hill matches, against Alex Kazakis and Francisco Felicilda, for the right to face Kiamco. Appleton had been down 2-7 to Felicilda, before rallying to win that match. Appleton and Shaw downed Kiamco and Van Den Berg, both 9-7, and advanced to the quarterfinals.
Shaw opened those quarterfinals with five straight racks, and though Appleton would split the final eight games with Shaw evenly, Shaw won it 9-4. Shaw's loss-side run came to end in the semifinals, with Ko eliminating him 9-5 for a second shot against countryman Chang. Chang punctuated his undefeated run with a 13-11 victory over Ko in the finals.
Predator Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at Steinway Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League (, Ozone Billiards, Delta-13 racks,,, Phil Cappelle of Billiards Press, and Special thanks went out to event photographers Eli Ceballos, Karl Kantrowitz and to Robles' tour staff – William Finnegan, Mandy Wu, Ron Mason, Rob Omen, Irene Kim, Upstate AL of AZBTV (which streamed the event throughout the weekend), Dan Faraguna, Jim Gutierrez, Joe Wilson Torres, and (his) "amazing wife, Gail Robles."

Dechaine goes undefeated to win inaugural Gotham City Billiard Club 9-Ball Pro Classic

Photo courtesy of Eli Ceballos

Mike Dechaine stopped a loss-side bid by Warren Kiamco and went undefeated, to win the inaugural Gotham City Billiard Club's 9-Ball Pro Classic on the weekend of October 17-19. The $11,000-added event, held under the auspices of the Predator Pro-Am Tour, was dedicated to the memory of Gotham City Billiard Club owner Kevin Buckley's sister, Sharon "Sam" Fagnoni, who passed away in May. It drew a star-studded, full field of 64 entrants that, in addition to Dechaine and Kiamco, included Gotham City Billiard Club's house pro, Jorge Rodriguez,  Earl Strickland, Thorsten Hohmann, Jayson Shaw, Darren Appleton, Karl Boyes, Mika Immonen, Dennis Orcollo, Jason Klatt, Mike Davis, Jundel Mazon and Carlo Biado.
Four of those 14 advanced to the winners' side semifinals, which pitted Rodriguez against Dechaine, as Kiamco faced Klatt. Dechaine downed Rodriguez 10-4 and in the battle for the hot seat, faced Klatt, who'd sent Kiamco to the loss side 10-7. Dechaine claimed the hot seat 10-4 over Klatt.
By the time Kiamco and Rodriguez came to the loss side, nine of the 14 mentioned had been eliminated. Kiamco drew Orcollo, who'd just defeated Davis 10-4, and Mazon 10-7; Mazon having previously ended Shaw's weekend 10-4. Rodriguez picked up Francisco Sanchez Ruiz who'd ousted Immonen 10-8 and Biado, double hill; Biado having previously stopped Appleton's bid 10-7. Gone before all of this were Strickland, Hohmann and Boyes, who, along with Alex Kazakis, finished in the last money round, tied for 13th place.
Ruiz defeated Rodriguez 10-6, as Kiamco was busy dropping Orcollo 10-8. Kiamco then took the quarterfinal match versus Ruiz 10-5 to earn himself a re-match versus Klatt in the semifinals. Kiamco successfully wreaked his vengeance on Klatt 10-6 and turned his attention to Dechaine in the hot seat.
In the modified race to 13, Kiamco, coming from the loss side, needed to reach that figure first, to extend the match to 15 games. Though he kept it relatively close, and got to 10, Dechaine got out in front to reach 13 first and claim the event title.
Predator Tour director Tony Robles thanked Gotham City Billiard Club owners, Kevin and Isabel Buckley, for their hospitality and the money added to the tournament. Thanks were also extended to sponsors Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League (, Ozone Billiards, Delta-13 racks,,, Phil Cappelle of Billiards Press, and Special thanks went out to event photographers Eli Ceballos, Laye Kaba, Karl Kantrowitz and to Robles' tour staff – William Finnegan, Mandy Wu, Ron Mason, Rob Omen, Irene Kim, Upstate AL of AZBTV (which streamed the event throughout the weekend), Brad McDuffie, Joe Wilson Torres, and (his) "amazing wife, Gail Robles." 
Next on tap, moving from one Classic to the next, will be the $7,000-added, 4th Annual Steinway Classic, set for November 1-3 at Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. Coming on the heels of the US Open 9-Ball Championships, the Steinway Classic has already signed up many of the players who competed in the Gotham City Billiards Pro 9-Ball Classic, including the Steinway Classic's defending champion, Warren Kiamco. The event's 2013 champion, Shane Van Boening, will be competing as well, along with (among others) Ralf Souquet, Alex Pagulayan, Johnny Archer, Rodney Morris,  Justin Bergman, Dennis Hatch, Jeremy Sossei, and Brandon Shuff. According to contributing AZBilliards writer, Geoff Conway, the field will be the largest turnout for this event in the four years that it has been held.