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The Iceman goes undefeated to win Predator Pro Am Open/Pro Championships

Robles wins 7 on the loss side and is runner-up for second straight year 

(l to r): Mike Salerno, Jorge Rodriguez, Mika Immonen & Tony Roble

Ten years ago, in what was reportedly his best earnings year ever, Finland’s Mika Immonen (aka The Iceman) cashed in a total of 29 events all over the world, 21 of which he finished as either the winner (13), the runner-up (4; to include his appearance on Europe’s Mosconi Cup team) or in third place (4). Six of his 13 victories that year were chalked up in the state of New York; he won a stop on the Tri-State Tour, two on the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour, and three on the Predator Pro Am Tour. Many of the cash winners in those three 2009 Predator events were present for the 2019 Tour Championships held on the weekend of December 14-15 at the event’s traditional location, Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY. They included Jorge Rodriguez, Frankie Hernandez, Mhet Vergara and Tour Director Tony Robles, who, in the 2009 events won by Immonen, finished third in February, 5th in July and 9th in October. Notable, as always, in his absence from this year’s event was George “Ginky” Sansouci, who was 5th in that 2009 February event, 13th in July and tied with Robles for 9th in October.

The Predator Pro Am Tour’s defending Open/Pro Tour Champion and the 2018 runner-up met in this year’s semifinal; Jorge Rodriguez and Tony Robles, respectively. It was, though, Mika Immonen who became the 2019 champion, going undefeated through a field of 24 entrants, on-hand for the $1,000-added, 10-ball event at Raxx Billiards.

A concurrently-run, $9,930-added A/B/C/D Amateur event (separate story), which drew 93 entrants, was won by Pascal Dufresne, one of the tour’s 18 event winners this year. Sent to the loss side early, Dufresne won seven in a row before meeting and defeating hot seat occupant Ryan Dayrit in the finals.

For the second year in a row at the Open/Pro Championships, Rodriguez battled for the hot seat; last year, versus Robles, this year, against The Iceman. This year, Robles was sent to the loss side by Frankie Hernandez and like Dufresne in the Amateur event would win seven on that side of the bracket for the right to face Immonen in the finals.

Immonen advanced through the field to draw Joey Korsiak in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Rodriguez, in the meantime, faced Mike Salerno in the other one. Immonen gave up only a single rack to Korsiak and moved on to the hot seat match. He was joined by Rodriguez, who’d sent Salerono west 7-4. The Iceman and Rodriguez battled to a somewhat predictable double hill battle that eventually sent Rodriguez to the semifinals.

On the loss side, Robles chalked up wins #3 and #4 against John Francisco (7-2) and Mhet Vergara (double hill) to draw Korsiak. Salerno picked up Frankie Hernandez, who’d eliminated Jimmy Conn 7-2 and Jonathan Smith 7-3 to reach him. A potential rematch between Hernandez and Robles loomed in the shortly-distant quarterfinals.

Robles did what he could to affect that rematch with a 7-5 victory over Korsiak in the event’s first money round. Salerno, though, ended Hernandez’ weekend 7-4.

Robles downed Salerno 7-5 in the quarterfinals, setting up a repeat of the 2018 hot seat match and final; Robles versus Rodriguez. They split those two matches last year. Robles, winning the first one and Rodriguez, claiming the title in the finals. Robles earned his shot against The Iceman with a 7-2 win over Rodriguez in that semifinal matchup, guaranteeing himself at least a repeat, runner-up finish and a certainly possible finish as the Open/Pro Champion.

According to Robles, he lost that final matchup, early. He missed an early shot that he says he shouldn’t have missed and The Iceman used the resultant momentum to move on and win the match 7-4.

“I made one mistake in that final match,” said Robles later, “and it cost me.”

Robles thanked Holden Chin, Matthew Harricharan, Troy Deocharran, and Joshua Friedberg’s Raxx staff for their hospitality, his own Predator Pro Am staff (to include his lovely wife, Gail) and title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolOnTheNet.com, Cappelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine and Billiards Digest. The Predator Pro Am Tour will open its 2020 season at Amsterdam BIlliards with an event scheduled for the weekend of January 18-19, 2020

Sossei goes undefeated, downing Korsiak twice to claim Eastern States Championships

(l to r): Jeremy Sossei, Joey Korsiak, Tony Robles and Jonathan Smith

They’re familiar rivals, Jeremy Sossei and Joey Korsiak. Joey’s been around a little longer; his recorded exploits dating back 20 years. Jeremy’s on record (here) back to 2007. They’re both veterans of the Joss Northeast 9-Ball and Predator Pro Am Tours and have met on numerous (sometimes unrecorded) occasions. When Jeremy arrived at the 2019 Eastern States Championships at Steinway Billiards this past Labor Day Weekend (August 31-Sept. 2), he’d already chalked up five wins on the 2019 Joss Tour, four of them in a row from April to June. Joey entered the tournament with only two ‘cash’ appearances on his 2019 resume. He finished 28th at the Derby City Classic 9-Ball event and was runner-up to Frankie Hernandez at a Predator stop in March. He was among the top five finishers in six events last year and downed Zion Zvi in the finals of a Predator stop last June.
 
As far as we know, the only time they met in a final before this past weekend was in February 2011, when Joey defeated Jeremy in the finals of a Predator Pro Am event. Joey finished as runner-up in another Predator event in April of that year, with Sossei finishing in fourth place.
 
They met twice in this year’s $1,500-added, 10-Ball Open/Pro division of the Eastern States Championships, which, held under the auspices of the Predator Pro Am Tour, drew 19 entrants to Steinway Billiards over the weekend. There was, arguably, a lot more at stake for Korsiak than there was for Sossei as they squared off in the finals of this one. For Sossei, it was going to be just a 6th notch on his 2019 victory belt. For Korsiak, on the other hand, a victory over Sossei would have been his first major victory since last June and only his third since he defeated Sossei eight years ago. It made for some high drama in the finals on Monday night.
 
A concurrent, $1,500-added Amateur event (separate story) drew 83 entrants to Steinway. Gary Bozigian went undefeated to claim that title, downing Matt Klein in the finals.
 
Sossei and Korsiak met first in the winners’ side semifinals of the Open/Pro event. Jonathan Smith and Michael Yednak squared off in the other one. Sossei sent Korsiak to the loss side 9-4 and advanced to the hot seat match against Smith, who’d defeated Yednak 9-6. Sossei claimed the hot seat and waited for Korsiak to finish his three-match march back to the finals.
 
On the loss side, Korsiak picked up Del Sim, who’d eliminated Duc Lam 9-6 and Zion Zvi, double hill, to reach him. Yednak drew Predator Pro Am Tour director Tony Robles. Yednak had sent him to the loss side in an earlier round and Robles had recently defeated Vinko Rumora 9-1 and survived a double hill match versus Jorge Rodriguez to earn the re-match.
 
Robles won the rematch against Yednak and Korsiak downed Sim by the same 9-5 score. Korsiak then eliminated Robles 9-5 in the quarterfinals.
 
Korsiak’s interest in a rematch against Sossei in the hot seat was evident in the gritty double hill victory he chalked up against Smith in the semifinals. As Labor Day drew to a close, Korsiak and Sossei went to work.
 
Sossei opened things with a break and run that was followed immediately by a tight safety match in which they both took about a half dozen shots at the 1-ball before Sossei broke out of it and went up 2-0. Sossei broke dry on the third rack and though Korsiak ran to the 6-ball, he got a little out of position shooting at the 7-ball, missed it and watched Sossei make it 3-0.
 
Korsiak got on the board with rack #4 and drew within one by winning rack #5, as well. They traded racks to 5-4, when Sossei jumped out by two to regain the three-rack lead he owned at the start. Korsiak reduced it back down to two (7-5) with a rack #12 win.
 
Rack #13 proved to be about as unlucky as it gets. Korsiak played a terrific safe shot that forced Sossei to make a soft-shot, multi-rail kick at the 3-ball. He touched it successfully, but it barely moved in the jaws of a corner pocket and Korsiak made the assumption that nothing had hit the rail after contact. Sossei tried to tell him that he’d made a good hit, but Korsiak reached out and touched the cue ball, committing a foul that in essence, took the wind out of his sails.
 
Sossei took the ball in hand and closed out the rack to reach the hill first; 8-5 in the extended-race-to-11 format (if Korsiak reached 9 first, the race would extend to 11).  Rack #14 featured a couple of unforced errors by both of them; Sossei dropped a ball that he had called safe, Korsiak missed a relatively easy shot that was a gateway to the 14th rack finish line, and Sossei scratched shooting at the 8-ball. Korsiak made another unforced error but managed to leave Sossei a difficult shot. Sossei made the shot he had to make and closed it out 9-5 to capture the 2019 Championship title.
 
Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, Poolonthenet.com, Capelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine, Billiards Digest and his entire Predator Pro Am staff, to include his lovely wife, Gail. Robles also acknowledged the efforts of UpstateAl and his AZBTv staff for their streaming of selected matches throughout the weekend.

Hernandez and Ok win Open-Pro, Amateur events on Predator Pro Am Tour

(l to r): Omar Soto, Eugene Ok, Ryan Boursse & Mac Jankov

Eugene Ok and Frankie Hernandez both went undefeated to claim respective Amateur and Open/Pro titles in the July 13-14 stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour. Ok worked his way through a field of 83 entrants on-hand for the $1,000-added Amateur event, hosted by Amsterdam Billiards in Manhattan. Hernandez, the tour’s current #1-ranked Open/Pro competitor, went undefeated through the Open/Pro field of 21 entrants in the $500-added event.
 
In the ‘almost’ department with two losses, the second of which occurred in the event final, were Ryan Boursse in the Amateur event and Tour Director Tony Robles in the Open/Pro, who won five on the loss side to get into the final match. Robles couldn’t remember the last time he’d been in an event final, which, according to our records, had been last September, when he downed Max Watanabe twice. Prior to that, it had been five years (2014) since he won two events and was runner-up in three others on the tour. He won four matches to win the 2018 event at Cue Bar in Bayside, Queens. It took nine matches to be the runner-up this past weekend.
 
Jimmy Rivera sent Robles to the loss side in a winners’ side quarterfinal that went double hill before Robles gave him ball-in-hand to close out the 13th rack (7-6). Rivera advanced to meet eventual winner Frankie Hernandez, while Duc Lam and Sean Morgan met in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Lam downed Morgan, double hill, and in the hot seat match, faced Hernandez, who’d sent Rivera to the loss side 7-3. Hernandez claimed the hot seat 7-2 over Lam and waited for The Silent Assassin to come back from his five-match, loss-side trip.
 
Robles would play five matches on the loss side and the one match in the final. Three of those six matches went double hill, including the only one he lost, in the final. He opened his loss-side trip with his first double hill win, over Dominic Gauthier. He then eliminated John Messina 7-2 to draw Morgan, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal. Rivera drew Jonathan Smith, who’d recently eliminated Raphael Dabreo and Pat Fleming, both 7-5.
 
Robles downed Morgan 7-2. Smith spoiled the potential Robles/Rivera rematch by downing Rivera 7-5 to join Robles in the quarterfinals.
 
Robles won the next two matches, double hill, to meet Hernandez in the finals. He downed Smith in the quarterfinals and then, Lam in the semifinals, both 7-6. He ended up on the wrong side of his third straight double hill match and had to settle for runner-up, as Hernandez completed his undefeated run to claim the event title.
 
Ok moves up the tour’s B+ ladder with undefeated victory in the Amateur event
 
Eugene Ok’s trip through the 83-entrant Amateur field ended in his second victory on the Predator Pro Am Tour, his first since May of 2017, a year in which he finished among the top five in five events on the Predator and Tri-State Tours.
 
Ok had to get by Ryan Boursse twice in this event and the first, was in a winners’ side semifinal match. Mac Jankov, in the meantime, squared off against Alfredo Altamirano in the other one. Ok got into the hot seat match, downing Boursse 7-5 and was joined by Jankov, who’d sent Altamirano over 7-4.  Ok claimed the hot seat 8-6 over Jankov and waited for Boursse to get back from the loss side.
 
In his opening loss-side match, Boursse drew Pascal Dufresne, who’d defeated Luis Jimenez and Brooke Meyer, both 7-5, to reach him. Altamirano picked up Omar Soto, who’d gotten by Ada Lio 7-2 and Ryan Dayrit 7-5.
 
Boursse and Soto advanced to the quarterfinals; Boursse 7-5 over Dufresne and Soto 7-3 over Altamirano. Boursse then eliminated Soto 7-4 in the quarterfinals and Mac Jankov 9-5 in the semifinals. Boursse was able to chalk up one more rack in the finals than he had in the winners’ side semifinal, forcing a 13th and deciding game in the final against Ok. Ok, though, closed it out to claim the Amateur event title.
 
A single elimination Second Chance event drew 15 entrants. Ambi Estevez claimed that title, with Jorge Collado as runner-up. Ray Lee and Luis Jimenez tied for third place.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at Amsterdam Billiards, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolontheNet.com, Cappelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiards Magazine and Billiards Digest.
 
On the weekend of August 3-4, Robles’ Silent Assassin Productions will present a non-tour event at Steinway Billiards – The 4th Annual NYC 8-Ball Scotch Doubles Championships. The following weekend, August 10-11, Steinway Billiards will host the next Predator Pro Am Tour stop; a $1,000-added, double points event. 

Shaw comes back from hot seat loss to win 11th Annual Empire State Championships

Pnoto by Erwin Dionisio (l to r): Jorge Rodriguez, Jayson Shaw, Frankie Hernandez, Raphael Dabreo

Fracasso-Verner goes undefeated to capture Amateur title
 
When Frankie Hernandez first appeared in our database, finishing 25th in the US Open 9-Ball Championships, won by Tommy Kennedy in 1992, Jayson Shaw was four years old. A year later, in the same event, Hernandez would share a 17th place finish with such luminaries as Allen Hopkins, Jim Rempe, Richie Richeson and Cliff Joyner. In Frankie’s best earnings year, to date (2001), Shaw had just become a teenager, as Frankie was busy finishing 49th at the US Open, but cashing in 21 events, including eight stops on the Joss Tour, two Turning Stone events (II & III), and geographic victories all over the map; Florida, Las Vegas and New England, et al.
 
At the $1,000-added, 11th Annual Empire State Championships (Open/Pro division), which drew 28 entrants to Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY on the weekend of February 23-24, Hernandez advanced to the hot seat match, where he met and defeated Jayson Shaw in an exciting, back and forth, double hill match. Shaw returned from the semifinals to down Hernandez in the finals.
 
When Shaw first appeared in our database in 2006, Lukas Fracasso-Verner was four years old. They didn’t meet to play in this 11th Annual Empire State Championships, although it would have been fun to watch. Fracasso-Verner went undefeated through the $2,000-added Amateur event’s field of 140 to capture the Amateur title.
 
Both defending champions of this event were on-hand at this year’s championships, but both would end up in the tie for 13th in their respective divisions; Zion Zvi, the two-time defending champion of the Open/Pro division, and Jason Carandang, last year’s amateur winner.
 
Fracasso-Verner is fresh off his best earnings year to date (2018) and recent winner of a stop on the NE 9-Ball Series. He was last year’s winner in the Amateur division of the 8th Annual George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial, at which he lost his opening match and won 11 on the loss side before downing Chuck Allie to claim the title. That said, he’s proved to be a bit of puzzle. Though his various accomplishments on regional tours and national events has been impressive (last year’s Ginky Memorial and this event as just a couple of relevant examples), he has come into this broad field of top-notch competition without benefit of a Junior National Championship under his belt, although he’s competed several times. He is also not on anyone’s short list to become a member of the USA’s junior team at this year’s upcoming Atlantic Cup Challenge. According to Roy Pastor, who’s taught Fracasso-Verner in the Connecticut Youth Billiards program and is a part of the BEF’s junior and world championship programs, Fracasso-Verner’s absence from this year’s Atlantic Cup Challenge team says less about his individual skills and talent, than it does about the overall strength of the youth programs leading up to the BEF Junior Nationals every year.
 
“The field (of junior competitors) is getting stronger every year,” said Pastor, “and there are a lot of Lukas Fracasso-Verners out there.”
 
Joey Tate, the teenager, from Raleigh, NC, for example, is younger than Fracasso-Verner and has already attained a 681 Fargo Rate. By comparison, Fracasso-Verner is currently at 645. And there are others, some of whom, over the years, have defeated Fracasso-Verner in Junior National competition.
 
“Lukas is a terrific player, though,” said Pastor, “and has the potential to be one of the greatest.”  
 
This time around, Fracasso-Verner opted out of the loss side route for this event, going undefeated through the Amateur field. He defeated Chris Ganley in the hot seat match and Matt Klein in the finals.
 
[photo id=50742|align=right]
Fracasso-Verner and Klein met first in a winners’ side semifinal, while Ganley and Paul Carpenter squared off in the other one. Fracasso-Verner got into the hot seat match with an 8-4 victory over Klein and was joined by Ganley, who’d sent Carpenter west 7-5. Fracasso-Verner downed Ganley, who started the match with 5 on the wire, 10-7 to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Klein picked up Xavier Romero and Carpenter drew Jim Gutierrez. Klein and Carpenter got right back to work, downing Romero and Gutierrez, both 7-3, to meet in the quarterfinals. Klein then eliminated Carpenter 7-5 and got a second shot at Fracasso-Verner with a 7-4 victory over Ganley in the semifinals. Fracasso-Verner claimed the Empire State title with an 8-5 victory over Klein.
 
Shaw comes back from hot seat loss to claim 10-Ball Open/Pro title
 
There had to be an inescapable air of inevitability about the 10-Ball Open/Pro event. With Jayson Shaw in the relatively short field, as the winners’ side whittled down further and further, who wouldn’t be bracket watching to see if they were next on the world-class player’s hit list. Frankie Hernandez, though, was one of the 28, who, having competed against his share of top-notch champions, would be unlikely to be intimidated. Cautious, maybe, respectful of Shaw’s obvious talent, but up to the challenge, which reached him in the hot seat match.
 
Shaw had faced and defeated another unlikely-to-be-intimidated competitor, Jorge Rodriguez 7-3 in a winners’ side semifinal (Rodriguez won this event in 2015). Hernandez, in the meantime, squared off against and eventually sent Rob Pole to the loss side 7-2. In a thrilling, double hill hot seat match, Hernandez sent Shaw off to the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, in the first money round, Rodriguez picked up Tenzin Jorden, who’d been the first of two to defeat defending champion, Zion Zvi, and a week earlier, had chalked up his first Predator Pro Am Amateur title. He’d defeated Jimmy Rivera 7-3 and survived a double hill match against Joey Korsiak to reach Rodriguez. Pole drew Raphael Dabreo, who’d most recently eliminated Jonathan Smith 7-4 and Mike Salerno (Smith, in the previous round, had knocked out Zion Zvi).
 
Rodriguez and DaBreo advanced to the quarterfinals, both 7-2, over Jorden and Pole. DaBreo took the quarterfinal 7-5 over Rodriguez. It was getting late, already into early Monday morning, when Shaw, seemingly impatient, gave up only a single rack to DaBreo in those semifinals to earn a second shot against Hernandez in the hot seat.
 
Things broke pretty evenly in the early going of the finals, which didn’t get underway until nearly 2 a.m. Shaw and Hernandez fought back and forth early, with no clear winner in sight. Near the middle of those finals, though, Shaw broke through to claim the title 9-4.
 
A Second Chance event drew a full field of 16 entrants. Julie Ha ($160) won four straight in the single elimination bracket to down Monika Callaghan ($100) 8-6 in the finals. Chulo Castro and Mark Antonetti finished in the tie for 3rd place ($30 each). A Third Chance event drew another full field of 16 and was won by Brian Tierney ($160), who downed Dave Callaghan ($100) 7-5 in the finals. Mike Callaghan and Shashi Hajaree each took home $39 for their third place tie.
 
Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at Raxx Billiards for their continuing support and hospitality at these annual Empire State Championships, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, NAPL, The DeVito Team, PoolontheNet.com, Billiards Digest, AZBilliards, Pool & Billiards Magazine and his entire staff, including his lovely wife, Gail. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of March 2-3 will be an Amateur event, hosted by The Spot in Nanuet, NY.

Osipov finishes 5th in Amateur event, goes undefeated to take Open/Pro division of Predator Pro Am

John Francisco, Ehmunrao Toocaram, Ron Bernardo, and Han Park

Francisco comes from the loss side to win Amateur division event
 
Alex Osipov had quite a weekend on the Predator Pro Am Tour. He made it to a winners’ side semifinal in the $1,000-added, 80-entrant Amateur event of the July 7-8 stop on the tour, before being sent to the loss side. He lost his first match on that side of the bracket and finished in the tie for 5th place. He moved on to compete in the $500-added Open/Pro event, with 18 presumably tougher opponents, and proceeded to go undefeated through the field to claim that event title. Both events were hosted by the Amsterdam Billiard Club in Manhattan.
 
Osipov advanced through the Open/Pro field to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Matthew Harricharan. Raphael Dabreo, in the meantime, squared off against Jonathan Smith in the other winners’ side semifinal. Osipov defeated Harricharan 7-5 and in the hot seat match, faced DaBreo, who’d sent Smith to the loss side 7-2. Osipov claimed the hot seat 7-4 over DaBreo and waited on his return from the semifinals.
On the loss side, Smith picked up one of the New York Tri-State area’s hottest players at the moment, Joey Korsiak, who’d defeated Duc Lam and Michael Yednak, both 7-5 to reach him. Harricharan drew Hunter Lombardo, who’d recently eliminated Troy Deocharran 7-4 and Zion Zvi 7-5.
 
Korsiak and Lombardo advanced to the quarterfinals; Korsiak 7-5 over Smith and Lombardo 7-3 over Harricharan. Lombardo took the quarterfinal fight 7-4, but by the same score, had his loss-side streak ended by DaBreo in the semifinals. In their re-match DaBreo managed one rack more than he scored against Osipov in the hot seat match, but it wasn’t enough. Osipov completed his undefeated run 7-5 to claim the title.
 
Francisco wins five on the loss side to meet and defeat Toocaram in Amateur finals
 
Sent to the loss side by the eventual occupant of the hot seat, Ehmunrao Toocaram, John Francisco defeated five opponents on the loss side, including Alex Osipov, before meeting Toocaram a second time, in the finals. He defeated him to claim the Amateur event title.
 
Toocaram had advanced through the field of 80 to meet up with Osipov in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Ron Bernardo faced Corey Avallone in the other one. Toocaram sent Osipov to the loss side in a double hill battle, and in the hot seat, faced Bernardo, who’d given up only a single rack to Avallone (6-1). Toocaram won his last match, downing Bernardo 8-5 to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Osipov picked up what proved to be his final opponent in the Amateur event; the eventual winner, Francisco, who, following his defeat at the hands of Toocaram, had eliminated Chickie Romero, double hill, and Robert Mendoza 9-5. Avallone drew Han Clark, who’d defeated the recently-crowned Tri-State Tour Invitational Champion, Erick Carrasco 7-5, and Kunami Chau 7-4.
 
The loss-side opponents in the battle for advancement both prevailed. Clark downed Chau 7-4, as Francisco sent Osipov to the Pro event with a 9-5 win. In two straight 7-4 victories, Francisco then eliminated Han Clark in the quarterfinals, and Ron Bernardo in the semifinals.
 
Toocaram had sent Francisco to the loss side 7-4 in a winners’ side quarterfinal. In their battle for the event title, they went double hill before Francisco dropped the final ball to claim it.
 
A Second Chance event that drew 16 entrants saw Greg Myer defeat Rene Villalobos, double hill, to claim the $160 first-place prize. Duc Lam finished in third place, with Jay Choi, in fourth. Ambi Estevez took the 10-entrant Third Chance event, claiming the $130 first-place prize after defeating Chickie Romero 7-2 in the finals.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at the Amsterdam Billiard Club, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolOnTheNet.com, Billiards Press.com, AZBilliards, Pool&Billiards Magazine, and Billiards  Digest. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of August 11-12, will be hosted by Boardwalk Billiards in Brooklyn, NY. Robles also reminded potential players that the 2nd Annual New York City 8-Ball Scotch Doubles Championships, to be held under the auspices of his Silent Assassin Productions company, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY on the weekend of August 4-5.
 

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), PoolOnTheNet.com, 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."

Jonathan Smith Wins Joss NE 9-Ball Tour Stop 5

Jonathan Smith and Nelson Oliveira

Jonathan Smith held off a late charge from Nelson Oliveira to win the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour's stop at Raxx Pool Room Sports Bar & Grill in West Hempstead, NY on October 22nd – 23rd.

 

Smith's path through the brackets saw him defeat Jeff Mosimann, Oliveira and Bruce Nagle for the hot-seat. After the loss to Smith, Oliveira went on a one loss side winning streak that saw him eliminate Holden Chin, Kang Lee and Nagle. 

 

Oliveira kept his strong play going in the first set of the double elimination finals, where he defeated Smith 9-5. The second set of the finals saw Smith bounce back with a one sided 9-2 win for first place.

 

George Florides was the lucky winner of the drawing for the $1,500 custom engraved Joss cue.

 

The Joss NE 9-Ball Tour is back at it on November 5th – 6th, with the Al Conte Memorial at Hippo's House of Billiards in Utica NY. Players who wish to compete in the upcoming Turning Stone Classic XXVII should contact Zuglan at 518-356-7163 to lock up their place in the event. 

Shaw comes back from semis to take Predator Open, Luna goes undefeated in Amateur event

Jonathan Smith, Jorge Rodriguez, Jayson Shaw, Frankie Hernandez & Hunter Lombardo

Jayson Shaw, presumably looking to maintain the pace he set in 2015 (winning 11 events, including two Turning Stones, four Predator stops, the Ginky Memorial, and the NYC 8-Ball Championship Men's Grandmasters), chalked up his second 2016 Predator Tour Open win on the weekend of July 9-10. Shaw had to come back from a defeat in the hot seat match at the hands of Frankie Hernandez to claim the title. The $500-added event drew 19 entrants to Amsterdam Billiards in Queens, NY.
 
In a concurrently-run, $1,000-added Amateur event that drew 72 entrants, Carlos Luna went undefeated through the field to capture his first Predator title. Luna had to get by Akiko Taniyama twice to win it.
 
Shaw's path to the winners' circle went through Jonathan Smith in a winners' side semifinal (7-2), as Hernandez was defeating Tony Robles 7-5 in the other. In a rare stumble, two matches from the title, Shaw fell to Hernandez 7-4 in the hot seat match.
 
On the loss side, Smith picked up Hunter Lombardo, who'd defeated Zion Zvi 7-5 and survived a double hill match against Michael Yednak. Robles drew Jorge Rodriguez, who'd gotten by Sean Morgan, double hill and Del Sim 7-2. Smith and Lombardo battled to double hill before Smith advanced to the quarterfinals, meeting Rodriguez, who'd eliminated Robles 7-2. Rodriguez then downed Smith 7-4, before being knocked out 7-3 by Shaw in the semifinals. Shaw exacted his revenge on Hernandez, defeating him 9-7 in the finals to claim the Open/Pro title.
 
Luna goes undefeated to take Amateur event
 
In the Amateur event Luna and Taniyama met first in the hot seat match. Luna had sent Gail Robles to the loss side in one of the winners' side semifinals, but not before Robles had battled him to double hill, and came within a ball of advancing to her first hot seat match. Taniyama sent Marisol Talacios to the loss side 7-2 in the other winners' side semifinal. Luna claimed the hot seat 9-7 over Taniyama and waited on his return.
 
On the loss side, Robles picked up Kirril Safronov, who'd defeated Jerry Tarantola 7-4 and Dave Shlemperis 7-5. Talacios drew Ehmunrao Toocaram, who'd won two straight double hill matches against Rene Villalobos and Abel Rosario. Robles and Toocaram advanced to the quarterfinals; Toocaram, double hill over Talacios, and Robles, 7-3 over Safronov. 
 
Robles, in the midst of her best showing on the tour, ever, took down Toocaram in those quarterfinals 7-5. She battled Taniyama to a deciding game in the semifinals, which, like her winners' side semifinal match came down to the last ball, sunk by Taniyama. Luna and Taniyama battled to double hill in the finals, as well, with Luna sinking the final ball to claim the event title.

Zvi downs The Iceman twice to go undefeated on 6th Annual Ginky Memorial

Alan Rolon, Zion Zvi and Mika Immonen

In what might be arguably described as his biggest tournament win ever, Zion Zvi worked his way undefeated through a field of 53 Open/Pro competitors, on-hand for the 6th Annual George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial Tournament. Held over Memorial Day weekend, under the combined auspices of the Predator, Tri-State and Mezz Tours, the $2,000-added 10-Ball event, run concurrently with a $2,000-added Amateur event that drew 190 entrants (separate story), was hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
It was the fifth time that Zvi had cashed in this annual memorial event, finishing 5th twice (2013, 2011), 4th once (2012) and last year, finishing in the tie for 13th. He'd won three stops on the Predator tour last year, but this year's Ginky Memorial proved to be his first 2016 victory on the tour. According to tour director Tony Robles, the win should elevate Zvi to an A++ rating, on the tour, which, he said, means that going forward "he'll have to win two more games to beat me."
 
In a post-match interview, Zvi was still a little stunned. Not only that had he won, but had done so by beating The Iceman, Mika Immonen, twice.
 
"I need to adjust to (the win),' he told Upstate Al from AZBTV, minutes after the final. "To beat Mika once is tough.
 
"When I played him in the hot seat match, I felt the heat," he added, "but I just kept grinding."
 
As every winner of this tournament has done since the tradition began in 2011, Zvi acknowledged the tournament's namesake – George "Ginky" Sansouci.
 
"I'd known Ginky since 2006," Zvi said, referring to the year he arrived here from Tel Aviv. "He always treated me like I'd grown up with him. I was blessed to know him and grinded every match because of him. He motivated me to win."
 
By Sunday afternoon, Zvi had advanced to a winners' side semifinal against Jonathan Smith, while Tony Robles squared off against The Iceman. It was already the first time that in six years, Robles was in line for prize money at the tournament he'd helped to create. Zvi downed Smith 9-4, as Immonen was sending Robles to the loss side 9-5. Zvi claimed the hot seat 9-5 over Immonen and waited on his return.
 
On the loss side, Robles and Smith ran into two juggernauts; one, a two-time former Ginky Memorial winner, Mike Dechaine, who'd eliminated Fernando Paulino 9-4 and Bucky Souvanthong 9-5 to draw Robles, and the other, Alan Rolon, from Puerto Rico, who was on a loss-side streak that would take him to the semifinals, who'd downed Sean King and John Morra, both 9-7 to pick up Smith. 
 
Though he'd jump out to an early 4-0 lead in a bid to reach the quarterfinals, Robles eventually succumbed to Dechaine 9-4. Rolon eliminated the veteran Smith 9-7. A thrilling double hill quarterfinal followed, which ended with Dechaine settling for fourth place.
 
Over his last four matches to reach the semifinals against Immonen, opponents had averaged seven racks against him in the races to 9. The Iceman allowed him only two and earned himself a second shot against Zvi, in the modified race to 11, meaning that if Immonen, from the loss side, reached 9 first, the match would extend to 11 games. If Zvi, in the hot seat, reached 9 first, it would be over.
 
The final match was delayed in order to have it play out on the AZBTV table, which, at the end of the Open/Pro semifinals, was featuring the Amateur finals between Tony Liang and Juan Guzman. Though hard to measure, the short delay seemed to benefit Immonen, who opened the finals with two straight racks. Zvi caught up quickly to create the first of five tie scores in the match.
 
Mika took game #5, but Zvi came back with two, the second of which entailed a 1-10 combination that Immonen had literally handed to Zvi by attempting the combination himself and missing it. Immonen, known to have a bit of a temper, was visibly unhappy. Over the course of games #8 and #9, they both started missing relatively easy shots, and at the end of game #10, Zvi was ahead by two (6-4).
 
Immonen used a 2-10 combo to pull within one, and then used a 6-10 combo that Zvi had given him to knot things at 6-6. They traded racks to 7-7, Zvi reached the hill first and The Iceman followed suit. Zvi completed his undefeated run in the case game to claim his first 2016 title, at the 6th Annual George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial.
 
In addition to thanking everyone who came down to Steinway Billiards to honor George "Ginky" Sansouci, Tony Robles thanked both the Tri-State and Mezz Tours for their cooperation and assistance, along with Steinway Billiards' owner, Manny Stamatakis, and his staff. He also extended his thanks to sponsors Predator Cues, National Amateur Pool League, Ozone Billiards, Delta-13 racks, Gotham City Technologies, PoolOnTheNet.com, 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.

Group Draw & Schedule of TV Matches at Andy Cloth World 14.1

Huge match-ups kickoff Day 1 of the historic Andy Cloth World Tournament of 14.1 . Some of the big marquee line-ups include a savory Van Boening vs Harriman at 6:30pm and a finale feature with defending champion Appleton vs Strickland! A who's who of world class players will be in attendance to etch their name into history's elite of the father of all pool games. Darren Appleton, Thorsten Hohmann, Stephan Cohen, Shane Van Boening, Johnny Archer, Earl Strickland, Mika Immonen, Tony Robles and many, many more. The main event will take place once more in New York City. As usual, a star studded field is expected this year at Steinway Billiards Cafe, who is once more hosting this world class event. The World Tournament Official Equipment include Viking Cue with all matches played on Andy Cloth. Event partners include Mr.Tom Gleich, Dr. Gregory Diehl, Mr. Greg Hunt of Amsterdam Billiards, & Mr. Jim Gottier of Greenleaf's Pool Room. Patron sponsors include Mr. Harold Siegel of Excelsior Graphics, Dr. James Heller, Mr. Charles Eames of Charles Eames Photography, Frank Scharbach of Frank's Billard Cafe, Focused Apparel and the National Amateur Pool League. 
 
The World Tournament will be live streamed on AZBTV , order by going to www.worldstraightpool.com . Official media partners are www.NYCGrind.com , Pool & Billiard Magazine, & tech support by Gotham City Technologies. 
 
Complete group schedule at www.worldstraightpool.com for all matches. Tickets to watch live in person sold on site.
 
Monday Day 1 July 13 *matches subject to change
 
10:30 AM Max Eberle USA vs Kevin Clark USA
12:00 PM Roberto Gomez PHL vs Wi Nei CHN
1:30 PM Jayson Shaw SCO vs Ronald Dobosenski USA
3:00 PM Mika Immonen FIN vs Roberto Gomez PHL
5:00 PM Stephan Cohen FRA vs Danny Barouty
6:30 PM Shane Van Boening USA vs Danny Harriman USA
8:00 PM Darren Appleton ENG vs Earl Strickland USA
 
Tues Day 2 July 14
 
10:30 AM  Joshua Filler GER vs Tony Robles USA
12:00 PM Corey Deuel USA vs Jim Gottier USA
1:30 PM Mika Immonen FIN vs Dieter Johns GER 
3:00 PM Shane Van Boening USA vs Tom Karabotsos USA
5:00 PM Tony Robles USA vs Jayson Shaw SCO
6:30 PM Thorsten Hohmann GER vs Warren Kiamco PHL
8:00 PM Johnny Archer USA vs Danny Barouty USA 
 
Wed Day 3 July 15
 
10:30 AM Johnny Archer USA vs Jude Rosenstock USA
12:00 PM Warren Kiamco PHL vs Ivica Putnik CRO
1:30 PM Darren Appleton ENG vs James Landrum USA
3:00 PM Dennis Orcullo PHL vs Corey Deuel USA
8pm Hall of Fame Banquet Live Streamed for FREE at www.Ustream.tv/channel/azbtv
 
Group 1
Darren Appleton ENG
Earl Strickland  USA
Steve Lipsky USA 
Tom Gleich  NC
James Landrum IA
James Heller   USA
Bob Cozzolino  IL
 
 
Group 2
Shane Van Boening USA
Jonni Fulcher  SCO
Danny Harriman USA
Frankie Hernandez USA 
Eugene Ok  NY
Jim Colling USA
Tom Karabotsos IL
 
Group 3
Max Eberle  USA
Reiner Wirsbitzki GER
Kevin Clark USA
Jonathan Smith NY
Alex Masucci NY
Sean Morgan NY
Eddie Kwok NY
 
 
 Group 4
Dennis Orcullo PHL
Corey Deuel  USA
Mike Davis USA
Hunter Lombardo FL
Jim Gottier VA
Frank Scharbach GER
Bob Jewett CA
 
 Group 5
Thorsten Hohmann   
Warren Kiamco PHL
Shaun Wilkie   USA
Bob Madenjian  USA
Ivica Putnik CRO
Charles Eames NY
Randy Hanson IA
 
Group 6
Stephan Cohen
Johnny Archer USA
Danny Barouty   USA 
Michael Yednak USA
Rhys Chen NY
Peter Hull IL
Holden Chin NY
 
 
 Group 7
Mika Immonen FIN
Dieter Johns GER
Roberto Gomez PHL 
Mark Finkelstein NY
Ed Culhane
Elliott Eisenberg CA
Wei Ni CHN
 
 
Group 8
Tony Robles USA
Jason Shaw  SCO
Joshua Filler  GER
Mark Kulungian USA 
Jeff Mohl IL 
Somphet Thongsouk IA
Ron Dobosenski  WI
 
 
Each of the three players will have to play 6 matches each in the first stage of the championship. If they qualify in their respective groups, they advance to a double elimination knockout stage. If they advance again, they qualify for the final stage of 16 players in a single knockout stage, but with longer match races. The finals will be a race to 300 balls made first, which could take as long as 6 hours.
 
In addition to the World Tournament will be the 5th Annual Straight Pool Hall of Fame. A gourmet banquet dinner along with speeches from celebrity guests will take place July 15th at 8pm at Steinway Billiards. A special video presentation of each inductee will be produced and presented by www.NYCGrind.com's Jerry Tarantola.  The HOF Live Streamed for FREE at www.Ustream.tv/channel/azbtv
 
 
Support straight pool and the 14.1 Hall of Fame by joining the World 141 Club & for a very inexpensive sponsorship, become one of the 141 special people joining the 141 Club which will fund this year's events. The list of benefits & gifts are huge. Goto http://worldstraightpool.com/tickets.html . Tickets will be sold at the door during the event. Sponsors and private contributors can still join this year's event. Final added money and fundraising for the 5th Annual Straight Pool Hall of Fame are still being generated. To help be a part of this treasured event, please contact Dragon Promotions and join the World 141 Club.
 
Get the latest news and complete results of all years at www.worldstraightpool.com and daily year round updates on  www.facebook.com/Worldstraightpool  . Follow Dragon Promotions news at  www.twitter.com/Dragonpromoter
 
Vendor spaces are also available, for more information on player registration, sponsorship, or if you would like to submit a comment, please email worldstraightpoolchampionships@gmail.com or contact Dragon Promotions at 1-407-782-4978. Full event info is atwww.dragonpromotions.com