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Mike “Bads” wins Iwan Simonis Ride The 9 Tour entry in the ‘ghost’ tournament phenomenon

Mike Badsteubner (Erwin Dionisio)

Mike Badstuebner won the four matches he needed to win to emerge as the Iwan Simonis Ride the 9 Tour’s fourth champion in the first ‘virtual’ 9-ball ghost challenge that the opted to call The Hunger Games. Alex Bausch was the event’s runner-up.

A total of 21 players played in qualifiers, which began on June 7, to get down to a final 16-players. Larry Steele and Francisco Cifuentes III finished (June 13) as the top two players to advance to the 16-player, single elimination field that eventually crowned Badstuebner. Badstuebner and Bausch both qualified with 110 points.

The qualifying rounds (for entrants with Fargo ratings of 710 or below) featured four sets of five games for each player. The lowest score of the four sets was dropped and a qualification score was derived from the sum of the other three sets. Each pocketed ball in a given rack was worth a single point and the 9-ball was worth two points; points could be deducted for a variety of ‘foul’ reasons. Steele entered the final stage having chalked up 128 points (a little less than 43 points for each of his best three-of-four sets). Cifuentes qualified with a score of 121 (40 +/ points).

The final 16-entrant event, which began on June 14 and finished on Monday, June 22, featured single races to increasing numbers (5, 8, 11 & 13). Steele, in the opening round’s race to 5, fell to Euryel Castillo 25-22 (one of three matches in the opening eight with a score differential of three or less points). Castillo advanced to face Vinny Crescimanno in one of the quarterfinal matches. Badstuebner, in the meantime, fell three balls short of reaching the five-rack potential of 50 points in the opening round by defeating Kevin Burris 47-20. He advanced to face Casey Olivieri in another of the event’s quarterfinal matches.

Second-highest qualifier Francisco Cifuentes III defeated Steve Sutton 43-24 in the opening round, which set him up against Douglas Arcadi in a third quarterfinal. Eventual runner-up Alex Bausch got by Bob Dargis 47-40 in the opening round, which put him against Frank Porto in the remaining quarterfinal.

“Bads” and Castillo advanced to the semifinals; “Bads,” with an 53-0 victory over Olivieri and Castillo downing Crescimanno 53-40 in their races to 8. Bausch and Cifuentes III became the other semifinal ‘team,’ as “Bads” eliminated Castillo 83-56 and Bausch disposed of Cifuentes 96-70.

“Bads” and Bausch finished this event on Gloria Jean’s Iwan Simonis Ride the 9 Tour with a nail biting race to 13. “Bads” claimed the event title and its $600 first prize with a single-point victory over Bausch 104-103.

Tour director Gloria Jean thanked all of the players who participated in this event, as well as feature commentators Melissa Little, Mike Badstuebner, Upstate Al, Mary Avina and Ivan Lee, President & CEO of Iwan Simonis. She thanked all of her sponsors to include title sponsor Simonis Billiard Cloth. Jean is planning more virtual events and is running a “virtual break and run pot.” Further information is available on the Iwan Simonis Ride the 9 Tour page on Facebook.

Castillo goes undefeated, downs Laboy twice to win 1st Predator Pro Am Tour title

(l to r): Euryel Castillo, Mike Callaghan & Miguel Laboy

The nature of pool lends itself to showdowns between long-time veterans and so-called ‘young guns,’ although not all of them are necessarily young. The finals of this past weekend’s (Feb. 15-16) stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour was a case in point, when newcomer Euryel Castillo, with only six cash finishes and one event victory (*) on his ‘resume,’ all recorded within the past year, faced off against Miguel Laboy, with cash finishes and multiple event victories, dating back 15 years, to his first appearance at the 2005 US Open 9-Ball Championships, at which he finished 33rd (along with Tony Robles, by the way). The ‘young gun’ Castillo came out on top in this one, going undefeated and taking Laboy down twice at the $1,000-added event that drew 84 entrants to Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY.

Their first get-together was in the battle for the hot seat. Castillo had defeated Monika Callaghan (whose husband was already toiling away on the loss side) 7-3, while Laboy was involved dispatching George Poltorak to the loss side 9-5. In their first of two, they battled to double hill before Castillo prevailed to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, George Poltorak picked up Eli Trajceski, who’d recently defeated Jaydev Zaveri 7-3 and survived a double hill battle against Troy Deocharran. Monika Callaghan drew her husband, Michael, which is always the kind of match that draws speculation about how their relationship will proceed immediately after one of them wins; the standard speculation which follows a husband victory is usually about the husband spending at least one night sleeping on a couch. Michael had defeated Katie Baker 6-3 and Mikhail Kim 7-3 to reach his wife.

Poltorak and Trajceski locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Poltorak to the quarterfinals. He was joined by Michael Callaghan, who’d sent his wife home (figuratively) 6-3, his assumed night on the couch possibly avoided by the eventual $1,000 in cash they managed to bring home as a team.

Michael advanced a step further, downing Poltorak in the quarterfinals 7-4. His loss-side run was stopped by Laboy who downed him 11-9 in the semifinals, to earn a second shot at Castillo in the hot seat.

The odds in the final match were likely on Laboy’s side. Castillo, though, did not apparently get that memo, as he defeated Laboy 10-4 to capture his first non-asterisk (meaning, played a final match) title.

A Second Chance event which drew 16 entrants was won John Francisco, who pocketed $160 for the win. Sean DaCosta was runner-up ($100), with Debbie Buyukdeniz and Erick Toledo finishing in the tie for 3rd ($30 each).

Tour director Tony Robles thanked Josh and Holden Chin and their Raxx Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolOnTheNet.com, Cappelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine and Billiards Digest. He also thanked his own Predator Pro Am staff to include his lovely wife, Gail. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for March 14-15, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Guzman chalks up second Predator, fourth overall 2019 win

l to r: Luis Carrasco, Rainer Oraa, Debra Pritchett, Akiko Taniyama, Juan Guzman & Jim Conn

Juan Guzman is, as they say, tearin’ ‘em up at the tables these days. As mentioned in a report on a Tri-State Tour stop he won in November, he’s not likely to catch up to his best earnings year to date (2016), when he won two events on the Tri-State, two on the Predator Pro Am tour, and was runner-up that year in the George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial run by both tours, but he’s making a late year run at getting closer. He won a stop on the Predator in April, seemed to take a mini-break and has since recorded two victories on the Tri-State (Oct. & Nov.) and just this past weekend, Nov.30-Dec. 1, added a Predator Pro Am Tour stop to the 2019 resume. Though he was challenged in the finals by long-time Predator competitor, Jim Conn, who won seven on the loss side to reach him, Guzman prevailed to go undefeated at the $1,000-added event which drew 60 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

With Conn already at work on the loss side, following a defeat at the hands of Abel Barriento, Guzman advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Rainer Oraa. Luis Carrasco and Akiko Taniyama squared off in the other one. Carrasco got into the hot seat match with a 7-4 victory over Taniyama, as Guzman was busy sending Oraa west 8-6. Guzman claimed the hot seat 9-7 over Carrasco and waited for Conn to finish his loss-side run.

It was Oora who drew Conn, four matches into his loss-side streak, which had recently included a successful rematch against Barriento 8-6 and a 7-4 win over the tour’s #1 B+ player Matt Klein. Taniyama, a C player, drew Debra Pritchett (D+), who, going into the event, was 12 rungs above Taniyama on the tour’s top female list (#7 – #19), primarily because Pritchett had competed in about three times as many events on this year’s tour; 11 versus Taniyama’s 4.5 appearances. Pritchett had recently knocked out the tour’s #1 female player, Suzzie Wong (C) 6-4 and Euryel Castillo 7-4.

Taniyama defeated Pritchett 6-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Conn, who’d eliminated Oraa 8-5. Conn ended Taniyama’s bid 10-5 in those quarterfinals.

Conn then defeated Carrasco 9-6 in the semifinals for a shot at Guzman in the hot seat. In the extended-race-to-9 finals, Guzman reached his target 7 racks ahead of Conn to claim the event title.

In a 15-entrant, single elimination Second Chance event, Chulo Castro and Ambi Estevez battled to a deciding 13th game. Castro prevailed to claim the Second Chance title. Julian Tierney and Marisol Palacios tied for third place.

Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPT.com, The DeVito Team, Poolonthenet.com, Capelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine, Billiards Digest and his own Predator Pro Am team, to include his lovely wife, Gail. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of December 13-14, will be the tour’s final event of the year, its 2019 Tour Championships. The $4,000+-added event will, as usual, be hosted by Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY.

Rosario returns from hot seat loss to chalk up third 2019 regional win on the Predator Pro Am

(l to r): Alberto Estevez, JC Iglesias, Abel Rosario & Jason Goberdhan

Abel Rosario, #3 on the Predator Pro Am Tour’s B+ standings list, won his third 2019 regional tour victory on the weekend of November 16-17. Last month, he went undefeated in the Mixed Advanced division of Michael Fedak’s  NYC 8-Ball Championships, while earlier this year (August), he came from the loss side to win a rematch victory over (at the time), relative newcomer Euryel Castillo in a Tri-State Tour stop at Steinway Billiards. As he’d done in August, Rosario gave up the hot seat in this most recent event, this time to another relative newcomer JC Iglesias. Rosario returned from the semifinals to down Iglesias in the finals. The $1,000-added event drew 73 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.
 
Their first meeting followed victories in their respective winners’ side semifinals. Rosario had defeated Russell Masciotti 7-3, as Iglesias was at work on a 7-4 win over Carlos Duque. Iglesias, on the basis of five appearances, is the #30-ranked C+ player on the Predator Pro Am Tour’s standings list. He downed the tour’s #3-ranked B+ player 7-5 and sat in the hot seat awaiting his return.
 
On the loss side, Duque and Masciotti ran right into their second straight loss. The tour’s #2 C+ player, Jason Goberdhan, who’d defeated Zain Sundaram 7-5 and Juan Melendez 7-3, eliminated Duque 7-4. Alberto Estevez, who’d gotten by John Francisco 7-3 and the tour’s #1 A player, Lidio Ramirez, also 7-3, defeated Masciotti 7-5.
 
Goberdhan then eliminated Estevez 7-2 in the quarterfinals, before having his bid for a title ended 7-4 by Rosario in the semifinals.
 
In the extension-to-9 finals, Rosario reached his ‘7-spot’ first. He added two more to defeat Iglesias 9-4 and claim the event title.
 
A 15-entrant, single elimination Second Chance event was won Euryel Castillo with a double hill final victory over Thomas Schreiber. Castillo pocketed $160 for the win, Schreiber took home $100. Shawn Sookhai and Irene Kim each won $20 for their third place tie.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the owner and staff at Cue Bar for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPT.com, The DeVito Team, Poolonthenet.com, Capelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine, Billiards Digest and his own Predator Pro Am team, to include his lovely wife, Gail. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of November 30-Dec. 1 will be the tour’s annual Thanksgiving Classic, hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. Two weeks later, the tour will host its final event of the 2019 season, the Predator Pro Am Tour Championships, scheduled for the weekend of Dec. 14-15, and hosted by Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY.

2019 NYC 8-Ball Championship – Stephen Augustus vs Euryel Castillo

Laboy goes undefeated to chalk up his first 2019 win on the Predator Pro Am Tour

(l to r): Bianca Martinez, Julien Tierney, Miguel Laboy, Amanda Andries (photo by Erwin Dionisio)

Miguel Laboy brought about 14 years of competitive pool experience and a lot of regional tour victories to the September 14-15 stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour. Before he earned the event title, however, he had to get by two particular competitors with a total of about three years of experience, both of them looking for their first regional tour event victory. Laboy would end up going undefeated at the $1,000-added event that drew 68 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY, but not before he’d dispatched one of the relative newcomers (Julien Tierney) twice (winners’ side semifinals and finals) and the other to the loss side (Bianca Martinez) in the battle for the hot seat.
 
As Laboy was busy sending Tierney to the loss side 8-5 in one of the winners’ side semifinals, Martinez was locked up in a double hill fight with Erick Carrasco that she eventually won. Martinez began the hot seat match against Laboy with ‘six beads on the wire’ in a race to 11. She’d fail to add another bead to that wire, as Laboy claimed the hot seat (officially) 11-6.
 
On the loss side, another relative newcomer was making some competitive noise. Amanda Andries had lost her opening match to Marisol Palacio and set out on a nine-match, loss-side winning streak that would take her as far as the quarterfinals where she’d run into Tierney. She chalked up wins #7 and #8 against Corey Avallone 6-3 and shut out Brandonne Alli to draw Carrasco. Tierney, in the meantime, picked up Yomaylin “Smiley” Feliz-Forman, who arrived on the heels of two straight double hill wins, over Chris Kelly and Abel Rosario.
 
Andries advanced to the quarterfinals when job obligations forced Carrasco to forfeit. Tierney joined her after downing “Smiley” 7-3. Tierney ended Andries’ loss-side run 8-5 (Andries started with ‘three on the wire’) and then defeatEd Martinez (who also started with ‘three on the wire’) 8-6 for a shot at Laboy, waiting for him in the hot seat.
 
The relative ‘youngsters’ were edged out of the day, with clear indications that they’ll be back and will need to be reckoned with. Laboy completed his undefeated run with an 8-3 victory over Tierney in the finals.
 
A Second Chance event that drew 16 entrants saw Dave Callaghan take home the $160 first-place prize, with Thomas Schreiber as runner-up ($100). Lidio Ramirez and Euryel Castillo each took home $30 in the tie for third.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, Poolonthenet.com, Capelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine, Billiards Digest and his own Predator Pro Am team, to include his lovely wife, Gail. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for this weekend, Sept. 21-22, will be a $1,000-added event, hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Rosario comes from the loss side for a rematch victory over Castillo to capture Tri-State title

(l to r): Abel Rosario & Euryel Castillo

It’s been two Tri-State seasons, but just a little under a year and half since Abel Rosario chalked up a win on the Tri-State Tour. That victory came in March 2018 during the tour’s 2017-2018 season and was more or less just the beginning of what would prove to be Rosario’s best earnings year on record. A month earlier, he’d finished as runner-up on a Tri-State Tour stop. Before the year was over and after the Tri-State season had changed to 2018-2019, Rosario recorded two victories on the Predator Pro Am Tour, including a win in their tour championships in December, which, due to the lateness of the hour, featured a single-game final that Rosario won over hot seat occupant, Ron Bernardo.
 
On the weekend of August 24-25, Rosario came from the loss side again to snatch victory from the hands of hot seat occupant and relative newcomer, Euryel Castillo, who was looking for his second win on the Tri-State Tour and his first without a no-final-match asterisk, which he’d picked up in March at Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY. The $1,000-added B/C/D event drew 37 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
It was Castillo who, with a double hill win, sent Rosario off to the loss-side races in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Castillo advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Corey Ward, as Harry Guevarez and Luis Lopez met in the other one.
 
Castillo advanced to the hot seat match 7-5 over Ward. Guevarez joined him following a 7-4 win over Lopez. Castillo got into the hot seat (as he had in March) with a 7-4 win over Guevarez (it had been “Smiley” Feliz in March).
 
First up for Rosario on the loss side was Thomas Schreiber, whom he defeated 7-4 to meet and defeat Kirill Safronov 7-5. This set Rosario up to face Luis Lopez, coming over from his winners’ side semifinal loss. Ward drew Mike Strassberg, who’d eliminated Mitra Kanhai 6-4 and Luis Jimenez 7-4.
 
Rosario and Ward advanced to the quarterfinals; Rosario 8-6 over Lopez and Ward, spoiling Strassberg’s bid for a first Tri-State title since the tour’s 2017-2018 season, 6-2. Rosario and Ward battled to double hill in those quarterfinals before Rosario advanced to meet Guevarez in the semifinals.
 
Rosario downed Guevarez 7-5 in those semifinals and advanced to meet the man who’d essentially doubled the number of matches he had to play to claim the event title when they met first in the winners’ side quarterfinal (from three to six). Rosario defeated Castillo 9-4 to claim his first 2019 title and his first on the tour’s 2019-2020 season.
 
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his staff at Steinway Billiards, as well as sponsors John Bender Custom Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Quick Slick, Billiards Digest, Liquid Shaft Cues, Joe Romer Trophies, and Phil Capelle Publications. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for the weekend of September 7-8, will be a $1,000-added event, hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Hulse goes undefeated to win his first Tri-State title

(l to r): Omar Hulse & Euryel Castillo

Omar Hulse navigated his way through a field of C/D competitors on-hand for the August 11 stop on the Tri-State Tour and went undefeated to claim his first Tri-State title. The $1,000-added, C/D event drew 30 entrants to Cue Bar Lounge & Billiards in Bayside (Queens), NY.
 
Following victories over Rick Rodriguez, Mike Strassberg, and Allison LaFleur, Hulse drew Ambi Estevez in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Euryel Castillo, in the meantime, drew Jowen Pichardo in the other one. With a series of 5-3 wins, Hulse claimed the hot seat. He and Pichardo got into the hot seat match on the heels of identical 5-3 victories over Estevez and Castillo, respectively. Hulse then claimed the hot seat by the same score over Pichardo and waited on what turned out to be the return of Castillo.
 
On the loss side, the 5-3 ‘party’ continued. Castillo picked up Suzzie Wong, who’d defeated Jack Zhong and Mitra Kanhai, both 5-3. Allison LaFleur broke things up a little, when she defeated Esteban Morrell, Jr. 5-2 and Jim Gutierrez 5-1, to pick up Estevez, but then righted the 5-3 ship by defeating Estevez 5-3. Castillo downed Wong 5-2 to join LaFleur in the quarterfinals.
 
Castillo and LaFleur battled to double hill in those quarterfinals, before Castillo ended it to earn a rematch against Pichardo in the semifinals. Castillo gave up only a single rack in those semifinals and got a shot at Hulse in the hot seat. He made good use of the chance he’d earned, but fell short. Castillo fought Hulse to a ninth deciding game in the finals, but it was Hulse who claimed the event title.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, Paul Dayton Cues, Bludworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies and Quick Slick. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Saturday, August 17, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. 

Castillo and Melendez split top prizes on second-to-last 2018/2019 Tri-State Tour stop

(l to r): Euryel Castillo & Juan Melendez

When the Tri-State Tour stop held on Sunday, June 9 got down to its last 12 players (from 41 entrants), 10 of them were competitors who will likely be invited to the tour’s annual invitational tournament, restricted to the top 16 players in each of the tour’s six ranking divisions (not including either the Open or Pro class) and scheduled for June 29-30. The player who got into the hot seat and won (*) the tournament, Euryel Castillo (#29 among the tour’s C+ players) is not likely to be among the invitees, unless over a dozen invited players from the C+ division can’t make it. The man he would have played in the final, Juan Melendez, is a likely invitee in the C division, having entered the tournament as #12 on that list. Also likely to be invited will be the 3rd place finisher, Yomaylin Feliz-Forman (#15 on the B List), who gave up only one rack in her first five matches before being sent to the loss side by Castillo in the battle for the hot seat. She was defeated by Melendez in the semifinals (she’d sent him to the loss side originally). The $1,000-added event was hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Following victories over Thomas Schreiber (#7 among B players), Joe Mazzeo, and a double hill win over Tony Kuo, Castillo advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against the tour’s #2-ranked B+ player, Matt Klein. Two of the tour’s top-ranked women squared off against each other in the other winners’ side semifinal; Yomaylin Feliz-Forman (better known as “Smiley”) versus Shweta Zaveri, the tour’s top-ranked female and its #1 competitor in the D+ division.

Castillo sent Klein to the loss side 7-3, as “Smiley” got the best of Zaveri 9-5. Castillo and Feliz locked up in a double hill fight for possession of the hot seat, eventually claimed (7-6) by Castillo.

On the loss side, Klein picked up Thomas Schreiber (#7 among B players), who’d defeated Tony Kuo 7-3 and eliminated Max Watanabe (#2 among the A/A+ players) in a double hill battle. Shweta Zaveri drew Juan Melendez, who’d been sent to the loss side by “Smiley” 7-2 in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then, defeated Bob Toomey (#1 C+) 6-4 and Bianca Martinez (#8 D+), double hill.

Schreiber downed Klein 7-5 to get into the quarterfinals. He was joined by Melendez, who’d defeated Zaveri in his second straight double hill win. Melendez more or less solidified the likelihood of joining the invitational tournament with a 7-5 victory over Schreiber in those quarterfinals.

Melendez turned for a re-match against Feliz and in his third, loss-side double hill match, defeated her 8-7 for a shot at Castillo in the hot seat; a shot not taken, as it were. The two agreed to a split, with Castillo as the undefeated occupant of the hot seat claiming the event title.

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 last regular tour stop of the 2018/2019 Tri-State Tour season, scheduled for Saturday, June 15, will be hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ. Two weeks later, on the weekend of June 29-30, the Annual Tri-State Invitational Tournament will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.