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Guzman wins five on the loss side to take Tri-State stop at Steinway

(l to r): Juan Guzman & Omar Hulse

Three years ago, Juan Guzman, who competes these days as an A+/A player, had what was, according to our records, his best earnings year to date. He won two events each on the Predator Pro Am and Tri-State Tours that year (2016) and was runner-up in the Ginky Memorial that’s run by both tours. He had a couple of slim years after that, but he appears to be returning to form. He’s unlikely to match his 2016 earnings before this year ends, but he has already this year, won a stop on the Predator Pro Am and on Sunday, November 10, he won his second stop on the 2019-2020 Tri-State Tour. He won five on the loss side and in the finals, downed hot seat occupant Omar Hulse to claim the event title. The $1,000-added event drew 48 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
Alberto Estevez sent Guzman to the loss side 7-4 in a winners’ side quarterfinal and advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against the tour’s #1 A/A+ player, Max Watanabe. Hulse, in the meantime, squared off against Raul Calderon in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Watanabe sent Estevez over to what proved to be an immediate rematch against Guzman, while Hulse was busy surviving a double hill match versus Calderon. Hulse, a C+ player, downed Watanabe 8-6 and waited in the hot seat for Guzman to finish his loss-side run.
Guzman launched his loss-side run with a 7-5 victory over Shawn Basdeo Sookhai, and followed it with a 7-5 win over Jose Estevez, to draw a rematch against Alberto Estevez. Calderon picked up Bianca Martinez, who’s the tour’s #2 female and #2 C player (behind Michelle Brotons, who’s the tour’s #1 female and #1 C player). Bianca Martinez had defeated Luis Lopez 6-2 and Jonathan Martinez to pick up Calderon.
Guzman didn’t get to play the rematch against Estevez. Instead, he leapfrogged right into the quarterfinals, when Estevez forfeited. He was joined by Bianca Martinez, who’d ended Calderon’s day 6-4.
Guzman, in turn, ended Bianca’s day 10-5 in those quarterfinals, and then, from his position as the tour’s #7 A+/A player met up with the tour’s #1 A+/A player, Watanabe in the semifinals. Guzman sent Watanabe to the showers (so to speak) 7-4 and advanced to the finals against Hulse.
Coming from the loss side, Guzman had to reach 9 ahead of Hulse in the finals for the opportunity to extend the match to 11 games. Otherwise, it would end if Hulse reached 9 games first. They battled back and forth to an 8-8 tie before Guzman won his 9th to extend the race. He never looked back and finished things at 11-8 to earn his second win on the Tri-State’s 2019-2020 tour.
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui, Phil Capelle, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Billiard Engineering, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, and Pool & Billiards. The next Tri-State event, scheduled for Sunday, November 17, will be hosted by Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.

Watanabe comes back from semifinals to down Torres in finals of Predator Pro Am stop

(l to r): Hector Torres, Max Watanabe, Kanami Chau & Abel Rosario

Max Watanabe had his best earnings year to date in 2018 and though he has a way to go to catch up and make 2019 an even better year, he’s doing what he needs to do to make that happen. Last week (August 4), he went undefeated at a stop on the Tri-State Tour, downing Dave Shlemperis twice. This week, on Sunday, August 11 at a $1,000-added Predator Pro Am Tour stop at Steinway Billiards that drew 64 entrants, he got sent to the loss side by Hector Torres in the battle for the hot seat and came back to defeat Torres in the finals. If you’re making a move to improve the second half of any given year, there’s nothing like back-to-back tour victories to signal that you’re on the right track.
Watanabe’s trip was almost derailed at the outset, as he opened his campaign with two double hill wins; one against Vinko Rumora and a second against Jose Estevez. He got a little traction with a 7-2 win over Miguel Laboy and a 7-4 victory over Elvis Rodriguez, which set him up in a winners’ side semifinal match against Abel Rosario. Hector Torres, in the meantime, got by Ron Bernardo, Paul Lyons, and Brandonne Alli before having to survive a double hill win over Mike Callaghan, which set him (Torres) up to face Ray Lee in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Torres downed Lee 7-1, while Watanabe locked up in his third double hill battle of the weekend against Rosario and won it. He survived three double hill matches out of five he played to get to the hot seat match, but Watanabe didn’t have an ‘answer’ for Torres, who defeated him 8-1 to claim the hot seat.
Over on the loss side, Ray Lee ran into an immediate rematch against Kanami Chau, who’d been defeated by him in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then chalked up two straight double hill wins, over Ryan Dayrit and Joe Morace, to face him a second time. Rosario picked up Luis Jimenez, who was working on a four-match, loss-side winning streak that had most recently included a 7-3 win over Chris Kelly and a double hill victory over Jaydev Zaveri.
Chau chalked up her third straight double hill win and advanced to the quarterfinals over Lee. She was joined by Rosario, who’d ended Jimenez’ loss-side run, double hill, as well. Seven of the tour stop’s final 14 matches required a single deciding game.
The quarterfinal match between Rosario and Chau came within a game of double hill, but Rosario edged out in front to take it 9-7. Watanabe, though, anxious apparently for a second shot at Torres in the hot seat, gave up only a single rack to Rosario in the semifinals that followed.
Watanabe took full advantage of that second shot. He downEd Torres 10-7 in the final to claim his second straight event title in as many weeks.
A Second Chance event drew 14 entrants. Elvis Rodriguez and Irene Kim advanced through the single elimination bracket to meet each other in the finals. Rodriguez had defeated Duc Lam to play in the finals. Kim had eliminated Akiko Taniyama to join him. Rodriguez took home the top $140 prize, after downing Kim 11-6 in the finals. Kim took home the $100 second prize, while Lam and Taniyama pocketed $20 each.
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards,, The DeVito Team,, Cappelle (, AZBilliards, Pool & Billiards Magazine and Billiards Digest. The Predator Pro Am Tour will return to Steinway Billiards on Labor Day weekend (Aug. 31 – Sept. 2) for the $3,000-added ($1,500 Amateur, $1,500 Pro) Eastern States Championships.

Klein goes undefeated to chalk up his third 2018-2019 Tri-State Tour title

(l to r): Matt Klein & Pashk Gjini

One of the trickier concepts of most regional tour ranking systems is the balance between actual accomplishments and participation. Winning the most event titles does not necessarily guarantee that you’ll be ranked as the tour’s top player in any given division. While your victories might put you ahead in cash, if a fellow competitor has appeared in three times as many events as you, he/she could well be ahead of you in tour ranking points, because he/she was collecting points, sometimes for less notable finishes, when you weren’t competing.
Case in point: Matt Klein, who, two weeks ago, entered a tournament as the Tri-State Tour’s #4-ranked B player. He won that tournament, his second of the tour’s 2018-2019 season, and this past weekend (Sunday, April 28), he added a third Tri-State title with an undefeated run at a $1,000-added event that drew 49 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. Going into this past weekend’s tournament, Klein had not moved up in the B-player rankings, because while the three players ahead of him on the list didn’t compete, they’d participated in more tournaments, overall, and retained their lead in the B rankings. That might change this week, as Klein’s 14th appearance on the 2018-2019 Tri-State season likely edged him closer to or possibly above Tri Chau in third place. Nathaniel Raimondo and B leader, Mike Mele are somewhat out of reach (points-wise) to allow Klein to take the top spot, this week. But stay tuned, as the Tri-State season edges toward its mid-summer conclusion. With three wins to his credit, he could finish the season as its top ranked B player.
Klein faced separate opponents in the hot seat and finals of this most recent event. He sent Tony Kuo to the loss side 7-3 in one winners’ side semifinal, as Bryan Jeziorski (the tour’s #4-ranked B+ player and winner of the previous week’s Tri-State event) downed Pashk Gjini (#27 on the B list) 7-2 in the other one. Klein claimed the hot seat with a 7-3 win over Jeziorski.
It was Gjini who would face Klein in the finals and he began his loss-side trip back to that match, against Jose Estevez, who’d defeated Nick Limbertos 7-4 and shut out Ryan Dayrit to reach him. Kuo picked up John Durr, who’d most recently eliminated “Smiley” Feliz 7-4 and Bianca Martinez 8-3.
Gjini moved into the quarterfinals with a 7-4 victory over Estevez and was joined by Durr, who’d defeated Kuo 7-1. Gjini then defeated Durr in those quarterfinals 7-1 to draw a rematch against Jeziorski in the semifinals.
A somewhat predictable double hill match ensued, with odds in favor of the higher-ranked player, Jeziorski. Gjini, though, prevailed to earn his slot in the finals. There, Klein put an end to his loss-side run 7-1 to claim the event title.
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, DIGICUE OB and Hustlin’ USA. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for this weekend (Sunday, May 5) will be hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.

Watanabe, DaBreo come from the loss side to win Predator Pro Am Amateur, Pro events

(l to r): Raphael Dabreo & Joey Korsiak (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

Three days after downing their share of Thanksgiving cheer in whatever form it took for them, Max Watanabe and Raphael Dabreo had cause to give further thanks for their respective victories on the Predator Pro Am Tour. During the tour’s annual Thanksgiving Day weekend get-together, Watanabe navigated his way through a 76-entrant field, in the $750-added Amateur event, winning five on the loss side to meet and defeat Jose Estevez in the finals. Raphael DaBreo in the 14-entrant, $250-added Open/Pro event, recovered from a double hill loss in the hot seat match and returned to defeat Joey Korsiak. Both events, as well as a Second and a Third Chance event were hosted, as they are every year, by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
In the Amateur division, Watanabe, who pretty much evenly splits his time between the Predator and Tri-State Tours, was looking for his first victory in five attempts on the 2018 Predator Pro Am Tour. He’d been defeated in the finals of an Open/Pro event by Tour Director Tony Robles in September and had chalked up a win on the Tri-State Tour back in June. In this event, he worked his way through to a winners’ side quarterfinal before running into Eddie Kunz, who sent him to the loss side 7-5. Kunz advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Estevez. Jonathan Martinez, in the meantime, squared off against Joe Morace. Estevez sent Kunz to an immediate re-match against Watanabe with a 7-4 win, as Martinez downed Morace 7-4. Estevez claimed the hot seat 8-5 and waited on Watanabe’s return.
On the loss side, Watanabe had survived a double hill match against Marco Dy and one game shy of double hill, defeated Jaydev Zaveri 7-5 to earn his re-match against Kunz. Morace picked up Erick Carrasco, who’d eliminated Nick Croce 7-5 and Debra Pritchett, double hill, to reach him.
Carrasco got through a second straight double hill match, downing Morace, and advanced to the quarterfinals. Watanabe joined him after giving up only a single rack to Kunz in their re-match. Watanabe then leap-frogged over the quarterfinals when work-related commitments forced Carrasco to forfeit.
Watanabe had his hands full in the semifinals, as Martinez put up a double hill fight for a second shot against Estevez. Watanabe prevailed, and then, in the finals, won the extended race to 9 to claim the event title.
DaBreo and Korsiak replay March matchup with the same result
Squaring off in the finals of the Open/Pro event, Raphael DaBreo and Joey Korsiak replayed a scene that had played out for the both of them in March. In that event, DaBreo had to win three on the loss side, two of which went double hill, to face Korsiak in the finals. He did so to chalk up his first Open/Pro victory on the tour. This time, they battled in the hot seat and finals.
Korsiak had downed Tony Robles 7-4 to get in to the hot seat match, while DaBreo had sent Alfredo Albay over 7-3. They battled to double hill in the hot seat match, until Korsiak prevailed.
On the loss side, Robles picked up Gary O’Callaghan, who’d defeated Jud Parker 7-2 and benefited from a double hill, deciding-game miss at the 10-ball by Joe Torres to advance. Albay drew Frankie Hernandez, who’d eliminated Zion Zvi 7-3 and Stephen Motilal 7-4.
Robles had sent O’Callaghan to the loss side in an earlier double hill match, but it was O’Callaghan who came out on top 7-4 in their re-match. Hernandez shut Albay out to advance to the quarterfinals against O’Callaghan. Hernandez then eliminated O’Callaghan 7-4.
In the semifinals, Hernandez and DaBreo battled to double hill before DaBreo three-fouled Hernandez to earn his second shot against Korsiak. In another modified race-to-9 final, DaBreo claimed the event title over Korsiak 9-3.
A 15-entrant Second Chance event was won Abel Rosario, with Jose Kuilan as runner-up. Duc Lam and Nick Croce finished in the tie for 3rd place. An 8-entrant Third Chance event, saw Miguel Laboy take home the top prize with Julia Ha in second place.
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway staff for their Thanksgiving Day weekend hospitality, as well as his own Predator Pro Am staff and sponsors Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards,, The DeVito Team,, Cappelle (Billiards Press), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine and Billiards Digest. The final stop of the Predator Pro Am Tour’s 2018 season will be its annual Tour Championships. Open to players who’ve participated in a minimum of five events during the year, the potentially $11,000-added, 2018 Predator Tour Championships will be hosted by Raxx Sports Bar & Grille in West Hempstead, NY. 

Gupta and Crescimanno split top prizes on the Tri-State Tour

(l to r): Vinnie Crescimanno & Shivam Gupta

It was Shivam Gupta’s second victory on the Tri-State Tour, although both of them have gone into the record books with an asterisk, labeled “No final match played.” In November of 2013, Gupta went undefeated through a field of 37, but he played his last match, against Chris Derewonski, battling for the hot seat. When Derewonski returned from the semifinals, they opted out of a final match, leaving the undefeated Gupta as the event’s official winner. On Sunday, February 18, at a $1,000-added, 10-ball event on the Tri-State Tour, which drew 54 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY, Gupta came back from a loss to Vinnie Crescimanno in the hot seat match and by mutual agreement, they split the top two prizes. Though Gupta was willing to play the final match, issues related to employment led to Crescimanno’s decision to opt out of that match. Also by mutual agreement, they split the cash, with Gupta receiving the larger share (and related tour ranking points) as the official winner.
Following victories over Duc Lam, Jose Estevez, Brian Cap and Mio Celaj, Gupta moved into a winners’ side semifinal match against John Francisco. Crescimanno, in the meantime, squared off against Ralph Ramos, Jr. Gupta advanced to the hot seat match 6-4 over Francisco, while Crescimanno was surviving a double hill match against Ramos. Crescimanno claimed the hot seat 6-2.
On the loss side, Dave Callaghan, who’d been defeated by Francisco in a winners’ side quarterfinal, downed Jaydev Zaveri 6-2 and Dave Shlemperis 6-4 to earn himself a re-match versus Francisco. Ramos, Jr. picked up his father, Ralph Ramos, Sr., who’d defeated Kevin Chong and Jose Baez, both 5-1, to reach him.
Callaghan wreaked re-match vengeance on Francisco 6-1 to advance to the quarterfinals, as Ramos, Sr. downed Ramos, Jr. 5-3 to join him. Callaghan then allowed father and son to go home at more or less the same time with a 5-2 win over Ramos, Sr. in the quarterfinals.
Gupta played what proved to be the final match of the event, the semifinals, defeating Callaghan 6-3. The mutual agreement to split the top prizes, and award Gupta the official event title was reached, and it was over.
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, and DIGICUE OB. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, February 25, will be a C/D 9-Ball event, hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.