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Zeng goes undefeated to win MVP Raxx 9-Ball Classic (650 Under)

Erwin Jao, Max Watanabe, Mhet Vergara, Holden Chin, Elvis Rodriguez and Sean Zeng

As we noted in a Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour report last July (2021), Sean Zeng had made something of a habit of cashing in at least one stop on that tour per year. In fact, since 2018, he’d cashed in exactly one event per year (that we know about), commencing with his 7th place finish on the Joss NE tour that year and three years later, a tour win on the weekend of June 26-27, 2021. The single cash finish/win made 2021 his best earnings year to date. The cash he brought home after going undefeated this past weekend (Aug. 20-21) to win the Mhet Vergara ProAm (MVP) Tour’s Raxx 9-Ball Classic (for FargoRates of 650 and under) turned this year into his best earnings year. The $1,500-added event drew 63 entrants to Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY.

Runner-up Max Watanabe was looking to make the MVP Tour stop his first and only 2022 cash finish, as well. Though a veteran of both the former Tri-State Tour, the current Predator Tri-State Tour and the former Predator ProAm Tour, at which he has claimed numerous event titles over the years, dating back to 2015, and recording his best earnings year in 2019, he had yet to cash in 2022.

Zeng and Watanabe almost met in the hot seat of this MVP Tour stop. Zeng had gotten by Adrian Daniel, Aman Khan, Ricardo Mejia and Roberto Mendoza, to draw Luis Genao in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Watanabe, in the meantime, had sent Mike Callaghan, Glenn Ramsey and Shawn Sookhai to the loss side, before running into Horelbin Ramos, who put up a double hill fight against him. That double hill struggle may have taken all the ‘starch’ out of Watanabe’s game as he entered the other winners’ side semifinal against Erwin Jao.

Zeng got into the hot seat match with an 8-6 win over Genao. Watanabe fell to Jao 8-5, sending Jao up against Zeng. Zeng and Jao locked up in a double hill fight, as well, with Zeng eventually claiming the hot seat and packing Jao off to the semifinals against Watanabe.

On the loss side, Watanabe opened up against Raymond Paragas, who’d lost a second-round battle against Elvis Rodriguez and then embarked on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently eliminated Sylvester Palacios 7-3 and Pat Fleming 7-5. Genao drew Elvis Rodriguez, who, right after sending Paragas over, lost a third-round match to Roberto Mendoza and went on a five-match, loss-side streak that had just sent John Francisco and Starling Duverge home (7-4, 7-3).

Rodriguez did what he could to secure his place in a rematch quarterfinal against Paragas with a 7-3 win over Genao. Watanabe spoiled the table reunion with a 7-3 win over Paragas. Watanabe stopped Rodriguez’ loss-side run at five, with a 7-3 win in the quarterfinals.

Watanabe then spoiled Erwin Jao’s hopes for a second shot at Zeng, waiting in the hot seat, with a 7-4 semifinal win. In the only set that proved to be necessary, Zeng defeated Watanabe 8-2 to claim the event title.

Tour director Mhet Vergara thanked Holden Chin and his Raxx Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Peri Cues, OB Cues, Queens Bodega and Inthbx apparel. The next stop on the MVP Tour was underway as this report was being filed, the $5k-added, MVP Tour New York State Championships, hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

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Chen comes from the loss side to take Tri-State stop

Mike Figueroa, Rhys Chen and Richard Ng

Rhys Chen, the Amateur division winner of last May's 5th Annual George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial Tournament, chalked up a second 2015 victory on the Tri-State Tour. On Saturday, August 1, he came from the loss side to win the $1,000-added Tri-State 9-Ball tournament that drew 24 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.
Following victories over Alberto Estevez, Glenn Ramsey and Dave Ascolese, Chen ran into Richard Ng in a winners' side semifinal. Ng sent him to the loss side 7-5 and in the hot seat match, faced Mike Figueroa, who has shut out Tony Ignomirello. Figueroa took the hot seat 7-2 over Ng and waited on Chen.
Chen drew Jerry Ritzer on the loss side, recent winner over Steve Kaminow 7-4 and Alberto Estevez 7-5. Ignomirello picked up Diane Policastro, who'd gotten by Jim Gutierrez 7-3 and Bob Toomey 6-2. Chen and Policastro moved on to the quarterfinals; Chen 7-5 over Ritzer, Policastro eliminating Ignomirello 6-2.
Chen ended Policastro's run 9-7 in the quarterfinals, and survived a double hill rematch against Ng in the semifinals. It was Figueroa, though, who took the early momentum in the finals, chalking up three straight at the start. Chen responded with six straight. Not to be outdone, Figueroa came back with three in a row to knot the match at 6. They traded racks before Chen chalked up two to reach the hill first. Figueroa made it to 9-8, but Chen finished it.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Ron Vitello, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, and Bloodworth Ball Cleaners. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, August 9, will be hosted by Rockaway Billiards in Rockaway, NJ. 

Chen becomes fifth player to win Ginky Memorial Amateur event

Rhys Chen, Tony Robles and Open event winner Jayson Shaw

Jamaica's Rhys Chen went undefeated, and became the fifth different player in five years to claim the Amateur title at the George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial Tournament. The $2,000-added, 5th Annual Ginky Memorial Tournament's Amateur event, held Memorial Day weekend, drew a record 176 entrants. Added to the 64 entrants on-hand for the Open/Pro event (won by Jayson Shaw, separate story), this year's Ginky Memorial became the first event to accomplish a goal of Predator Tour Director Tony Robles, set when he launched his tour in 2008; to host a tournament that drew more than 200 entrants. Organized by a cooperative collaboration of the Predator Tour, the Tri-State Tour and the Mezz Tour,  the Ginky Memorial was hosted, once again, by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
Among the reasons that the Amateur event at the Ginky Memorial has yet to crown a repeat champion is the fact that a victory will often move the winner into the Open/Pro category. Michael Yednak, who won the Amateur event in 2013, as an example, competed in the Open/Pro event this year. Meanwhile, Kapriel Delimelkonoglu, 2014's winner, was once again, competing in the Amateur event. Both finished out of the money at this year's event. Given the field size and the general level of competition, it's a tough event to win twice (Mike Dechaine has done it on the Open/Pro side).
In the early stages of the event, there were two brackets, divided by tour rankings – an A++, A+, A, and B+ bracket, and a B through D bracket. The brackets merged toward the end, with the two finalists in the B-D bracket (Joe Torres and Mike Farley) facing each other in the overall event's  winners' side semifinal. Facing each other as the last two left standing in the A++ – B+ bracket were Chen and Tim Fitzsimmons. Chen downed Fitzsimmons 7-4, and in the hot seat match, faced Farley, who'd sent Torres to the loss side 7-2. Chen claimed the hot seat 7-2 over Farley, and waited on what turned out to be the return of Paul Wilkens
Wilkens was in the midst of a loss-side run that went through Glenn Ramsey, double hill, and Lukas Francasso, almost-double hill (7-5), before coming up against the recently-arrived-from the winners'-side Torres. Fitzsimmons drew Carlos Luna, who'd just survived two straight double hill matches, against Dave Shlemperis and Matthew Harricharan. Wilkens and Luna handEd Torres and Fitzsimmons their second straight loss; Wilkens 7-4 over Torres, Luna 7-5 over Fitzsimmons.
Wilkens took the quarterfinal match versus Luna, and the semifinal match against Farley by the same 7-5 score, earning him a shot against Chen in the hot seat. Chen, though, stopped Wilkens' loss-side run with a 7-4 victory to claim the 5th Ginky Memorial title.

Romero, Kwon, Laban and Morrison win four of the five events at NYC 8-Ball Championships

The NYC 8-Ball Championships, sponsored by CSI, and the first event of Tony Robles' Silent Assassin Productions, featured every possible type of individual victory.  Held on the weekend of June 6-8, and hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria, NY, the $2,000-added events featured three undefeated performances, one victor from the loss side who won both sets of a double elimination final, and one hot seat occupant, who was defeated in the opening set of the finals and came back to win the second.
Jayson Shaw went undefeated in the Men's Grand Masters event (see complete story among Headlines), as did Chickie Romero in the most heavily attended event, the Mixed Open, with 23 entrants. July Laban, playing in the Women's Leisure event, with 16 entrants, completed the roster of undefeated titleists. It was Adam Kwon, playing in the 13-entrant Mixed Advanced event, who came back from the loss side to defeat Chumreon Sutcharitakul twice in the finals. John Morrison gave up the opening set in the finals of the 15-entrant Men's Leisure event, but came back to win the second set.
Romero's undefeated performance in the Mixed Open event was almost derailed in his winners' side semifinal, double hill match against Izac Horne. Horne, shooting at the 8-ball in the deciding game, sunk it, only to watch, horrified, as the cue ball caromed off a few rails and dropped into a pocket to advance Romero to the hot seat match. Nick Meyer, who'd defeated Todd Trent 6-4 in the other winners' side semifinal joined Romero in the winners' side final. Romero won it 6-1 and waited for Meyer to return, which he did. Trent and Horne battled it out in the quarterfinals, and when Trent prevailed 6-2, he got a second shot at Meyer in the semifinals. Meyer defeated him a second time, 6-4, only to have Romero defeat him a second time 6-2, to claim the title.
July Laban's undefeated run through the field of 16 in the Women's Leisure event was almost derailed by the six-win, loss-side run of Akiko Taniyama, who'd been defeated by Laban in the opening round. As Taniyama was at work on the loss side, Laban and Inessa Gelman met up in the hot seat match. Laban had defeated Carolina Kwak 5-3, as Gelman was sending May Ng over by the same score. Laban downed Gelman 5-2 and waited on Taniyama. It was Taniyama and Ng who met up in the quarterfinals, and it probably didn't do Laban's waiting experience in the hot seat any good, to see Taniyama advance to the semifinals with a shutout over Ng. Nor, for that matter, did Taniyama's 5-1 victory over Gelman. Laban had given up only a single rack to Taniyama in their first meeting, and while Taniyama came within a game of forcing a double hill deciding match, Laban completed her undefeated run 5-3, and claimed the Women's Leisure title.
Adam Kwon and Chumreon Sutcharitakul ended up playing three matches that eventually decided the 13-entrant Mixed Advanced event. The first of the three came in a winners' side semifinal, when Sutcharitakul  sent Kwon to the losers' bracket 7-5. In the hot seat match, Sutcharitakul faced Glenn Ramsey, who'd defeated Noah Vogelman in the other winners' side semifinal. Sutcharitakul defeated Ramsey in a double hill fight that proved to be his last win. Kwon moved over and took down Dennis Lake 7-2, and both Vogelman in the quarterfinals and Ramsey in the semifinals 7-5. Kwon then won the opening set of the finals 7-3, and followed with a 7-2 win in the second set that gave him the Mixed Advanced title.
Like Kwon and Sutcharitakul, Greg Matos and John Morrison played three times to decide the 15-entrant Men's Leisure event. Their first, following Matos' 5-3 win over Joe DeVito and Morrison's 5-2 win over Jim Gutierrez, came in the hot seat match, won by Morrison, double hill.  DeVito moved to the loss side and after defeating Robert Scarmozzino 5-3 and Gutierrez in the quarterfinals 5-2, was eliminated by Matos 5-2 in the semifinals. Matos took the opening set of the finals, double hill, but Morrison came back to win the second set 5-3 and claim the Mixed Advanced title.
Promising "bigger and better events in the future," Robles and his Silent Assassin Productions team, which included John Leyman as tour director and referee for the event(s), thanked Steinway Billiards' owner, Manny Stamatakis and his staff, as well as sponsors Cue Sports International, Delta-13 Racks, Predator Cues, National Amateur Pool League (, Gotham City Technologies, NYC Grind (Jerry and Alison Fischer), AZBilliards, Upstate AL, Joey Leon, and Bob Cmbwsu.

Dechaine wins his second Open/Pro Ginky Memorial – Delimelkonoglu takes Amateur event

Mike Dechaine

Mike Dechaine has appeared in three out of the four finals of the annual George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial Tournament, and now, after the event's first appearance on Memorial Day weekend, he's won two out of those three; both times, going undefeated and both times, coming from behind in the finals to win it. He won the first Ginky Memorial in 2011, defeating Dennis Hatch 11-9, after being down 8-6. In 2012, Earl Strickland defeated him in the finals. Dechaine did not compete in the 2013 Ginky Memorial; won by Mike Davis, defeating Dennis Hatch in the finals. Dechaine returned this year to claim his second title, this time, defeating The Iceman, Mika Immonen in the finals. The $2,000-added, Open/Pro tournament at this year's event drew 50 entrants to Steinway Billiards, in Astoria, Queens.
Three years after winning his first tournament on the Tri-State Tour, Kapriel Delimelkonoglu went undefeated to capture the $2,000-added, Amateur side of the Ginky Memorial, which drew a full field of 128 entrants. The Amateur event has crowned four separate champions since 2011 – Raj Vannala, Daniel Dagotdot, Mike Yednak and now, Delimelkonoglu.
In the Open/Pro competition, Dechaine moved among the winners' side final four for a match against Danny Mastermaker, currently ranked at # 8 on the Action Pool Tour, as Mhet Vergara faced Adam Smith, winner of last year's Pennsylvania 9-Ball Championships. Dechaine sent Mastermaker to the losers' bracket 8-5 and in the battle for the hot seat, faced Smith, who'd defeated Vergara by the same score. Dechaine defeated Smith 8-4 and found himself in the Ginky Memorial hot seat for the third time. 
On the loss side, The Iceman, after being defeated by Smith in a winners' side quarterfinal defeated Jonathan Smith 8-6 and Hunter Lombardo 8-1 to draw Mastermaker. Vergara, in the meantime, drew Jayson Shaw, who'd lost to Immonen in the opening round, and was on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him to the quarterfinals. Shaw downed Karen Corr (the only woman playing in the Open/Pro event) 8-5 and Frankie Hernandez 8-4 to meet Vergara.
Shaw's final win of the day came against Vergara 8-2 as Immonen was busy eliminating Mastermaker 8-5. Immonen took the quarterfinal match against Shaw in a tight, double hill battle, and then downed Smith in the semifinals 8-6.
The final match – a modified race-to-11 (if Immonen reached 11 games first, match would extend to 13) – was a blend of rack running and safety play that went back and forth through its early and middle stages. The Iceman pulled ahead by two, as he reached the extension 'hill' of 10 games, but Dechaine locked in and took the next three to reach 11 games first and claim the event title. 
In the Amateur event, Delimelkonoglu worked his way through to a winners' side semifinal against Glenn Ramsey, as John Ortiz faced ChristIan Smith in the other. Delimelkonoglu survived a double hill battle against Ramsey, as Ortiz downed Smith 7-4. Delimlekonoglu got into the hot seat 7-4 over Ortiz and awaited his return from the semifinals.
Ramsey and Smith got right back to work on the loss side; Ramsey downing teenager Thomas Rice in a double hill battle, as Smith eliminated Lidio Ramirez 7-5. Smith took the quarterfinal match 7-3, but had his bid for a shot against Delimelkonoglu stopped by Ortiz 7-5 in the semifinals. Delimelkonoglu completed his undefeated run with a 9-7, second win over Ortiz to claim the Ginky Memorial's fourth Amateur title.

Strickland and Delimelkonoglu take Open/Amateur stops on the Predator Tour

Earl Strickland

Earl Strickland, Tony Robles, Mika Immonen, Mike Yednak, Chad Bolling, Brian Singh, William Finnegan, and Anthony Chiappina got together on Sunday, April 13 and played a little pool on the Predator Tour. They signed on to the tour's $500-added Open event, and it was Earl the Pearl winning four in a row who went home with the top prize, defeating Mika Immonen in the finals. In the $500-added Amateur event, which drew exactly eight times as many entrants, it was Kapriel Delimelkonoglu, who went undefeated to capture the Amateur title. Both events were hosted by the Cue Bar in Bayside, Queens.
Strickland took care of Chiappina in the opening round and faced Yednak, who'd downed Singh, in a winners' side semifinal. Tour director Robles defeated his assistant Finnegan and drew Immonen, who'd defeated Bolling, in the other winners' side semifinal. Strickland sent Yednak west 8-4 and in the hot seat match, faced Robles, who'd sent Immonen over 8-6. Strickland defeated Robles 8-4 and waited for the return of Immonen.
On the losers' side, Bolling and Singh downed Finnegan and Chiappina, respectively; Bolling 8-6 over Finnegan and Singh in a forfeit by Chiappina. Immonen and Yednak switched opponents from the opening round and defeated them a second time; Immonen over Singh 8-1 and Yednak over Bolling 8-2. Immonen took the quarterfinal match against Yednak 8-1 and then elminated Robles 8-3 in the semifinals. Strickland completed his four-match, undefeated day with a 9-3 win over the Iceman in the finals.
In the Amateur event, it took Delimelkonoglu four matches just to reach the winners' side semifinal, where he squared off against Chickie Romero. In the meantime, Shawn Sookhai faced Laszlo Kovacs. Delimelkonoglu defeated Romero 7-6 and in the hot seat match, met up with Sookhai, who'd defeated Kovacs 7-4. In their first of two, Delimelkonoglu and Sookhai battled to double hill before Delimelkonoglu prevailed to sit in the hot seat.
On the loss side, Romero and Kovacs met up with Ron Mason and Tommy Hagan. Mason had gotten by Glenn Ramsey 7-5 and Meshak Daniel 7-2. Hagan, who was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the semifinals, defeated Stuart Warnock 7-5 and survived a double hill match versus James Stevens to draw Kovacs. Mason and Hagan handed Romero and Kovacs their second straight loss; Hagan 7-3 over Kovacs, Mason 7-4 over Romero.
A double hill quarterfinal eventually advanced Hagan to the semifinals, where his loss-side streak came to an end at the hands of Sookhai, who defeated him 7-4 for a second shot against Delimelkonoglu. Their second meeting was as hotly contested as the first. They fought to double hill again, and again Delimelkonogluu prevailed to capture the Amateur title.

Lazo takes down Daniels three times to win Tri-State stop

John Lazo, Chumreon Sutcharitakul and Adrian Daniel

John Lazo went undefeated through a field of 27, including a victory over Meshak Daniel and two against Meshak's father, Adrian, to win the November 3 stop on the Tri-State Tour. It was the elder Daniels' second appearance in a 2013 Tri-State final, adding a second runner-up title to the one he'd earned in April. The $1,000-added amateur event was hosted by BQE Billiards in Jackson Heights, NY.
Lazo and Daniels, the father, met first in the hot seat match.  Advancement through the field had brought the father and son within a single match of facing each other in the winners' bracket. Both advanced to the final four, but the father squared off against Jud Parker, while the son met up with Lazo. Lazo sent Meshak west, while Adrian dispatched Parker 6-3. Lazo, having taken care of the kid, took care of his father 7-5, and waited in the hot seat for what could have been the return of either of them.
The son, though, moved to the loss side and met up with Chumreon Sutcharitakul, who'd been sent over by Lazo and then, defeated Lidio Ramirez 7-4, and shut out Glenn Ramsey. Jud Parker ran into Mike Harrington, who'd gotten by Bob Toomey 6-2, and eliminated Pat Mareno 6-4. The two recent arrivals from the winners' bracket were downed by their loss-side challengers; Sutcharitakul spoiled the potential father-son matchup by defeating Meshak 7-3. Harrington gave up only a single rack to Parker and joined Sutcharitakul in the quarterfinal match.
Sutcharitakul stopped Harrington's bid 7-5, and having eliminated the son, he tried to replicate Lazo's winners' side final four feat, in the semifinal matchup against the father. Dad, though, wreaking a sort of familial vengeance, defeated Sutcharitakul 7-5 and got his second shot at Lazo.
Lazo and Daniel  traded racks to open the finals, before Daniel took two in a row. Lazo came back with a six-pack that ended it at 7-3.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at BQE Billiards, as well as sponsors Sterling-Gaming, Ozone Billiards, Qpod, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, and Human Kinetics. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Saturday, November 9, will be hosted by Castle Billiards in East Rutherford, NJ.

Novas double dips Khan to win Memorial Day weekend stop on the Tri-State

Luis Novas

Luis Novas, a C+ player, played strongly all weekend long, until he ran into Atif Khan, a B player, in the battle for the hot seat. Sent to the semifinals, Novas returned and defeated Kahn twice in the finals of the $1,000-added, B-D handicapped event that had drawn 49 entrants to Amsterdam Billiards & Bar on the Lower East Side of Manhattan over the Memorial Day weekend.

Getting into the hot seat match, Novas defeated Annie Flores 7-5, while Khan, by an identical score, sent Juan Guzman west. Khan gained the hot seat with a 7-2 victory over Novas, which proved to be his last.

Flores moved to the loss side and picked up David Davladze, who’d defeated Tony Ignomirello double hill and Carl Yusuf Khan 7-5 to reach her. Guzman squared off against Arturo Reyes, who’d gotten by Gary O’Callaghan double hill and Glenn Ramsey 7-3. Davladze ended Flores’ bid to get back to the finals with a 7-3 victory, and in the quarterfinals, faced Guzman, who’d eliminated Reyes 7-5.

Guzman then defeated Davladze 7-3 for a shot at Novas in the semifinals. Novas, though, determined to earn his own second shot against Khan, took the semifinals 7-4 and got that chance.

He took full advantage. He defeated Khan 7-2 in the opening set of the true double elimination final, and backed that up with a 7-3 win that captured the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Amsterdam Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Sterling-Gaming, Ozone Billiards, Ron Tarr Cues, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, and Human Kinetics.

Mason returns from the loss-side to defeat Delimelkonoglu in Predator Amateur finals

In the Amateur event of the Predator Tour stop on the weekend of March 17-18, Ron Mason chalked up five wins on the loss-side, including  three double hill matches, to eventually wreak vengeance on the man in the hot seat, Kapriel Delimelkonoglu, who sent him there. The $500-added Amateur event, run concurrently with an Open/Pro event, drew 62 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria, NY.

They met first among the winners’ side final eight, when Delimelkonoglu sent Mason west 7-3, and advanced among the final four winners to face Mike Fisher. Joining them were Daniel Dagotdot and Lidio Rasea. Delimelkonoglu got into the hot seat match with a 7-2 victory over Fisher and was joined by Dagotdot, who’d sent Rasea west 7-5. In a double hill hot seat match, Delimelkonoglu prevailed, and waited for Mason’s return.

Mason moved to the loss side and ran right into a double hill battle against Glenn Ramsey. Three of the four matches that decided the four-way tie for ninth place went double hill. Once past Ramsey, Mason picked up a forfeit victory over Ray Feliciano and drew Fisher, coming over from the winners’ side final four. Rasea, coming over as well, drew Jack Smith, who’d gotten by Yusuf Khan, double hill and Victor Nau 7-4. Mason advanced to the quarterfinals on the heels of a second double hill battle, this time against Fisher, and faced Rasea, who’d downed Smith 7-1.

Mason then dropped Rasea into fourth place with an 8-4 victory, turned his attention to a third double hill struggle, this time against Dagotdot in the semifinals. Mason prevailed again, 9-8, to earn a second shot against Delimelkonoglu. In the single, extended race-to-9 finals, Mason reached seven games first to force the extension and finished up ahead by five racks, 9-4, to secure the event title.

Thanks were extended to the ownership and staff of Steinway Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13 racks, Poison Cues,, and NYCGrind.