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Rhys Chen goes undefeated to become 2017 Predator Pro Am Tour champion

Rhys Chen, Brendan Traynor, Xavier Romero and Jerry Almodovar


Rhys Chen and Xavier Romero battled twice in their effort to claim the 2017 Predator Pro Am Championship title. Held on the weekend of December 2-3, the $10,500-added Championship drew 89 entrants to the invitational event, hosted by Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY. Chen won both battles to claim the event title.
Two, $250-added Second Chance events for the lower and upper brackets (higher and lower-ranked players) were added to the proceedings, as well as a Third Chance event. All three entailed a double hill final. Jimmy Acosta took the 10-entrant, upper bracket Second Chance over Gene Hunt, while Danny Recinos downed Erik Carrasco to take the lower bracket prize. Acosta also won the Third Chance event, defeating Stephen Motilal in the finals.
In the main event, Chen (an A player) advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Annie Flores (B+ winner of the tour’s season finale last week), while Romero (B) faced Andrew Cleary, who was one of two C+ players among the event’s final 12. Chen downed Flores 7-2, while Romero sent Cleary to the loss side 7-3 (scores take handicap differentials into account). Chen claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Romero and waited for him to get back from what would prove to be a tricky semifinal against Brendan Traynor (A++).
Traynor was on the loss side, in the midst of a six-match run that began when Duc Lam had defeated him in the third round. He got by Eddie Kunz 8-5 and Mike Panzarella 7-4 (wins #2 and #3) to draw Flores. Cleary picked up Jay Almodovar, who’d gotten by Jose Kuilan 7-3 and Abel Rosario, double hill, to reach him.
Traynor and Almodovar advanced to the quarterfinals; Almodovar 7-3 over Cleary, and Traynor in a double hill win over Flores. Traynor advanced one more step with a 10-7 win over Almodovar, and then locked up in a semifinal, double hill fight against Romero, which eventually ended his loss-side streak.
Romero stepped right into a second, double hill match in the finals against Chen, which opened with Romero taking an early lead. Chen rallied and chalked up the racks he needed to complete his undefeated run and claim the 2017 Predator Pro Am Tour Championship title.
In addition to the crowning of its Tour Champion, tour director Tony Robles announced Player of the Year awards in nine separate divisions, from A++ to D/D+ and a Female class. Amy Yu claimed the Female class award (with Suzzie Wong as runner-up), while Annie Flores took home the B+ Player of the Year Award. At the top of the rankings, Mike Salerno took home the A++ title, with Rob Pole as runner-up. Elvis Rodriguez won the A title, with Lidio Ramirez in second place. Max Watanabe was the A winner ahead of Brooke Meyer, while Dave Shlemperis was runner-up to Flores in the B+ division. Abel Rosario was the tour’s B-class Player of the Year, ahead of Eugene Ok. Ambi Estevez took home the C+ class award, with Tony Ignomirello as runner-up. Dave Callaghan won the C-class award, ahead of Matthias Gutzmann, while Juan Melendez claimed the D/D+ award in front of Carmine Andujar.
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at Raxx Billiards for hosting the final event of the Predator Pro Am Tour’s 2017 season. He extended best holiday wishes to all of the players, room owners, and tour fans, as well as all tour sponsors; Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards,, The DeVito Team,, Capelle Billiards Press, AZBilliards, Billiards Digest and Pool & Billiard Magazine.
The 2018 Predator Pro Am Tour season will open with two events at Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. The first is scheduled for the weekend of January 6-7, while the second will be held on the weekend of January 27-28. A Double Points event at Cue Bar (Feb. 10-11) will be followed by the Empire State Championships, scheduled for the weekend of February 24-25, back at Raxx Billiards.

Ellahi goes undefeated to chalk up his first win on the Tri-State Tour

(l to r) Jim Gutierrez & Zouraiz Ellahi

Until Sunday, July 30, Zouraiz Ellahi had cashed in only two events on the Tri-State Tour, finishing fourth at a stop in early May and 17th at the 7th Annual Ginky Memorial on Memorial Day weekend; both stops in the Tri-State's 2016-2017 season. On Sunday, early in the Tri-State's 2017-2018 season, Ellahi went undefeated to take his first title. Arguably as significant was Jim Gutierrez' seven-match, loss-side winning streak that put him into the finals against Ellahi. The $625-added, Double Points event drew 30 entrants to Cue Bar Lounge and Billiards in Bayside (Queens), NY.
Following victories over Carmine Andujar, Jonathan Castillo and Tony Ignomirello, Ellahi moved into a winners' side semifinal against Mac Jankob, who'd been responsible for sending Gutierrez to the loss side, double hill, in the second round. Jonathan Gavrielof, in the meantime, squared off against Pashk Gjini. Ellahi got locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Jankob to the loss side. Gavrielof downed Gjini 6-2 to join Ellahi in the hot seat match, won by Ellahi 6-4.
Jankob's move to the loss side put him in an immediate re-match against Gutierrez, who, by that time, had downed four of his seven loss-side opponents, including, most recently, Allison LaFleur 5-1, and Juan Melendez 5-3. Gjini drew Tony "Iggie," who, following his defeat at the hands of Ellahi, had downed Esteban Morrell, Jr., double hill, and Kevin Chong 6-3.
Identical 6-3 results sent Gutierrez and Ignomirello to the quarterfinals over Jankob and Gjini. As befitted their respective rankings on the tour, last season's top D/D+ player (Gutierrez) and top C+ player (Ignomirello) battled to double hill in those quarterfinals, with the D/D+ player advancing to the semifinals against Gavrielof.
The D/D+ competitor (Gutierrez) downed the "C" player (Gavrielof) 6-3 in those semifinals for a shot at the "C+" player (Ellahi) in the hot seat. Gutierrez came up just a little short in his quest for the title, chalking up seven racks to nine against Ellahi, who claimed that title.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar for their hospitality. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, August 6, will be hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.

Ok goes undefeated to claim Predator title

Casius Cassie, Eugene Ok, Abel Rosario and Rhys Chen

Eugene Ok (pronounced "Oak") has been climbing the Predator Tour 'win' ladder for three years, finishing, in that time, 9th (2014), 5th, 4th (2016), and 3rd, this past February. On the weekend of May 6-7, he hit the top rung, going undefeated to claim his first Predator title. The $1,000-added event drew 74 entrants to The Stop, in Nanuet, NY.
Ok advanced through the field to a winners' side semifinal match against Paul Carpenter, as Rhys Chen squared off against Elvis Rodriguez in the other one. It was Rodriguez, who'd sent Ok to the loss side in February, defeating him in the hot seat match, after which Dave Shlemperis, the eventual winner, spoiled Ok's bid with a win in the semifinals. Perhaps looking forward to a re-match against Rodriguez, Ok defeated Carpenter 7-2. Chen spoiled any hopes Ok may have been entertaining for that hot seat re-match by downing Rodriguez 7-2. In his first hot seat match, Ok downed Chen 7-1.
Moving to the loss side, Rodriguez picked up Casius Cassie, who'd defeated Shlemperis and Miguel Laboy, both 7-5, to reach him. Carpenter drew Abel Rosario, who entered the tournament as the #3-ranked, B class player on the tour, and following a defeat at the hands of Tony Ignomirello, was in the midst of a 10-match, loss-side run which would take him as far as the semifinals. In wins #7 & #8, Rosario had eliminated Carmine Andujar 8-6, and Alex Kent 7-4.
Rodriguez and Cassie locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Cassie to the quarterfinals. He was joined by Rosario, who'd defeated Carpenter 7-4. Rosario chalked up his final, loss-side win 7-5 over Cassie, before Chen stopped his loss-side run 7-3 in the semifinals.
Ok, who entered the tournament two spots below Rosario in the tour's B Class rankings (#5), climbed that rankings ladder, too, with a victory in the finals. He defeated Chen 7-3 to claim his first Predator title.
Tim Wotherspoon defeated Dave Callaghan 9-5 in the finals of a 13-entrant Second Chance Tournament, while Jerry Almodovar and Corey Avallone shared a third place finish. A Third Chance event that drew eight entrants saw Jaydev Zaveri take the top spot with a win over Sarah Preston in the finals. 
Tour director Tony Robles offered special thanks to the ownership and staff of The Spot, the newest tour venue, for their continuing hospitality and professionalism in hosting the tour. He also thanked sponsors Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Poison Billiards,, The Devito Team,, Capelle (, AZBilliards, Billiards Digest and Pool & Billiard Magazine.
The next stop on the Predator Tour, scheduled for the weekend of May 27-29, will be the 7th Annual George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial Tournament. Held under the combined auspices of the Predator Tour, the Tri-State Tour, and the Mezz Tour, the event will feature both an Amateur and Pro event. Robles reminded prospective competitors that the "Ginky" Memorial is a pre-paid event, which has regularly drawn large fields, including last year's, which drew a combined total of 244 entrants. Entry fees for the event must be paid by May 21. Contact Tony Robles at 917-202-2750 or via e-mail at

Bozigian dedicates undefeated win on the Predator Tour to his Dad

Matthew Harricharran, Gary Bozigian, Dan Faraguna and Troy Deocharran

It had been a month or so since Gary Bozigian's father passed away, when he signed on to the March 4-5 stop on the Predator Tour; a $1,000-added event that drew 51 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY. He'd competed in events since his father had died, and before this particular stop on the tour, but it wasn't until he got into the hot seat of this one that the possibility of winning it led him to speak to Tour Director Tony Robles. Bozigian asked that in the event of his completing an undefeated run through the field of entrants, that his victory be dedicated to the memory of his father.
Bozigian chalked up two, back-to-back double hill victories (hot seat and finals) over Matthew Harricharan to claim the event title. The memory of his father will now live on in his memories of a first tour victory.
Bozigian got into the hot seat match, following a 7-2 victory over Troy Deocharran in a winners' side semifinal, as Harricharran was downing Dan Faraguna 7-3. Bozigian claimed the hot seat over Harricharan in their first of two straight double hill battles.
Deocharran moved over and picked up Kevin Shin on the loss side. Shin had defeated Irene Kim 8-6 and Carmine Andujar 8-3 to reach him. Faraguna drew Miguel Laboy, who'd eliminated Lidio Ramirez 7-3, and Max Watanabe 7-2. 
Two 7-4 wins sent Deocharran and Faraguna to the quarterfinals. Two 7-5 wins sent Faraguna (over Deocharran) to the semifinals, and Harricharan (over Faraguna) to a re-match against Bozigian in the hot seat. For the second time, Bozigian and Harricharran locked up in a double hill fight, with the same result. Bozigian won it to claim his first Predator title, and an ever-lasting tribute to his Dad.

Robles wins Open/Pro, Salerno wins Mixed Masters at 3rd Annual NYC 8-Ball Championships

Mike Salerno and Emily Duddy

In what had to have been a masterpiece of logistical engineering, Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY, in two days (Nov. 5-6), hosted the $7,000-added, 3rd Annual NYC 8-Ball Championships presented by Predator Cues and sponsored by Dr. Michael Fedak. The event entailed the coordination of 132 competitors across six divisions of play – an Open/Pro event (Grand Masters), an A/A+/A++ event (Mixed Masters), a B/B+ event (Mixed Advanced), a C/C+ event (Mixed Open), and separate Men's and Women's D/D+ events (Men's and Women's Leisure). The $1,500-added Mixed Open drew the largest crowd of competitors (48), with the $1,500-added Mixed Advanced event drawing the second highest number (32). The $1,000-added Mixed Masters and the $1,000-added Women's Leisure event each drew 15 entrants, while the $1,000-added Men's Leisure event drew 16. The $1,000-added Grand Masters event, with a number of eligible Open/Pro players (Jayson Shaw among them) competing in events elsewhere, drew only six.
It took tour director Tony Robles only three matches to claim the Open/Pro title. He received a first round bye and then defeated Michael Yednak 7-1 to reach the hot seat match. Jonathan Smith, in the meantime, had survived an opening round, double hill battle against Zion Zvi, and then defeated Jorge Rodriguez 7-4 to join Robles in the struggle for the hot seat. Robles won it 7-3 and waited on Smith's return. On the loss side, Rodriguez and Yednak got by Jimmy Rivera and Zvi, respectively, to face each other in the quarterfinals. Yednak won that battle 7-2, only to have his run ended by Smith in the semifinals 7-3. Smith got his second shot at Robles, but the result duplicated the 7-3 hot seat match and Robles, undefeated, claimed the title.
The 48-entrant Mixed Open (C/C+ players) event was won by Tommy Schreiber, who won seven on the loss side to meet and defeat Steven Tillman in the finals. Gary Bozigian finished in third place, with Greg Matos in fourth. 
In the 32-entrant Mixed Advanced event (B/B+ players), Rick Miller went undefeated. He downed Adrian Daniel in the hot seat match 6-4, and in the finals, faced Shawn Sookhai, who'd been sent to the loss side by Miller in a winners' side semifinal and won three on the loss side, including a victory over Amir Uddin in the quarterfinals, and Daniels, double hill, in the semifinals. His rematch against Miller in the finals went Miller's way 7-3.
In the upper echelon of the handicapped player's system – the A/A+ and A++ players (Mixed Masters) – Mike Salerno took home the top prize, undefeated, but not before Emily Duddy flexed a few muscles in two battles against him. Both of the winners' side semifinals (Duddy versus Duc Lam and Salerno versus Koka Davladze) went double hill, as did the hot seat battle. The finals were a different story, as Salerno shut Duddy out to claim the event title.
As had happened in the Mixed Masters event, the last three winners' side matches in the Women's Leisure event (D/D+) went double hill. Diane Tse and Sarah Morcos got by Suzzie Wong and Jessica Gonzalez, double hill, and then, Morcos sent Tse to the semifinals, double hill. Tse, though, after defeating Latonia Taylor, double hill, in the semifinals, came back to give up only a single rack and claim that title. Wong finished fourth.
In the Men's Leisure event, Rolando Rodriguez and Carmine Andujar battled it out to take home the title. They met twice in the more or less traditional slots for double meetings; once in the hot seat match, won 5-3 by Andujar, and again, in the finals, won 7-4 by Rodriguez to claim the event title. Juan Melendez finished third in this one, after a 4-2 win by Rodriguez in the semifinals. Carlo James Barroso, after a squeaker versus Melendez in the quarterfinals, finished fourth.
Tour director Tony Robles was effusive in his thanks and recognition of the large group of individuals and entities which contributed either financially, or in other ways (live streaming by AZBTv, for example) to the success of this 3rd Annual event. As he has done so often in the past, he thanked Manny Stamatakis and his staff at Steinway Billiards for their hospitality and all that they do to help the event(s) run smoothly. He was also particularly thankful for the tremendous support of Dr. Michael Fedak, who contributed $5,000 of the $7,000-added to the six events of the 3rd Annual NYC 8-Ball Championships, presented by Predator Cues and sponsored by Fedak. He also acknowledged the support of sponsors like the National Pool League (NAPL),, the BCAPL and Cue Sports International.
"I can't thank these people enough for sponsoring this event," said Robles. "They all do so many different things in making a huge contribution to these annual NYC 8-Ball Championships."

Shaw goes undefeated, Astashian comes from the loss side to win Predator Open/Pro & Amateur

Hunter Lombardo, Jayson Shaw, Mike Wong & Gotham City Billiards Room Owner Kevin Buckley

Jayson Shaw picked up his third 2016 title on the weekend of March 19-20. Following his wins at the Derby City 10-Ball Challenge and the New England Pool and Billiard Hall of Fame 9-Ball Open, he went undefeated in the Open/Pro event on the Predator Tour. In the Amateur event on the same weekend, Steve Astashian came from the loss side to defeat Nayan Roy and pick up his first win on the Predator Tour. The amateur event drew 84 entrants to Gotham City Billiards in Brooklyn, NY. The Open/Pro event drew 13.
Shaw's undefeated path to the winners' circle in the Open/Pro event went through Mike Wong twice. Fresh off a double hill win over Hunter Lombardo in a winners' side semifinal, Shaw faced Wong, who'd sent Frankie Hernandez to the loss side 7-5. Shaw shut Wong out and waited in the hot seat for Round Two.
On the loss side, Hernandez picked up Gotham City House Pro Jorge Rodriguez, who'd gotten by Brandon Hernandez 7-1 and Mike Dechaine 7-3. Lombardo drew Tony Robles, who'd defeated Koka Davladze 7-5 and Brooke Meyer 7-1. Two 7-4 wins over Robles and Hernandez put Lombardo and Rodriguez in the quarterfinals, won by Lombardo 7-1. 
Two straight double hill battles followed, with Wong downing Lombardo in the semifinals, and Shaw, completing his undefeated run and claiming the title in the finals.
Astashian's path to victory in the Amateur event went through Nayan Roy twice. He'd sent Riyadh Benghalem to the loss side 7-3 in a winners' side semifinal to face Roy in the hot seat match. Roy had sent Dan Faraguna west 7-5. Roy claimed the hot seat in a double hill win over Astashian and waited for him to get back.
On the loss side, Faraguna picked up Javier Romero, who'd picked up a forfeit win over Carmine Andujar and defeated Edwin Gutkin 7-3. Benghalem got Willie Santiago, who'd downed "Devil" Dave Ascolese 7-4 and Arturo Reyes, double hill. Faraguna and Benghalem advanced to the quarterfinals; Faraguna, 7-4 over Romero and Benghalem, double hill over Santiago.
Benghalem chalked up a second straight double hill win with a victory over Faraguna in those quarterfinals, and was then eliminated by Astashian 7-2 in the semifinals. The second meeting between Astashian and Roy, in the finals, was another double hill battle, but this one went to Astashian to complete his first Predator Tour win.