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Watanabe goes undefeated to chalk up his first win in a year on Predator Tri-State

Max Watanabe and Jay Chiu

About three weeks shy of a year ago, Max Watanabe went undefeated to claim a Predator Tri-State Tour title, competing in Clifton, NJ. About two weeks ago, he was runner-up to Sean Zeng in Mhet Vergara’s Pro Am (MVP) Tour’s Raxx Classic out on Long Island. This past weekend (Saturday, Sept. 10), he went undefeated to chalk up his first 2022 title at a Predator Tri-State stop at Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY. He has a ways to go before he can match his best recorded earnings year (2019), but he’s more than halfway there now and working on it. The $1,000-added event drew 28 entrants to Cue Bar.

Watanabe got by Mikhail Kim, Lidio Ramirez and survived a double hill battle against Julian Tierney to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Jose Estevez. Bob Toomey, in the meantime, worked his way through Brandonne Alli, Bianca Martinez and Pat Meyers to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match versus the eventual runner-up Jay Chiu.

Watanabe and Estevez locked up in a double hill fight that did eventually send Watanabe to the hot seat match, where he was joined by Toomey, who’d sent Chiu to the loss side 6-4. Toomey came within a game of forcing a single, deciding match, but Watanabe edged out in front toward the end and claimed the hot seat.

Chiu moved over and picked up Alli, who’d followed his opening round loss to Toomey with five straight loss-side wins which had recently eliminated Pat Myers, double hill, and Paul Lyons 6-1. Estevez drew Julian Tierney, who’d followed his winners’ side quarterfinal loss to Watanabe with wins over Basdeo Sookhai 7-5 and Lidio Ramirez 7-4.

Chiu and Tierney advanced to the quarterfinals; Chiu, 6-1 over Alli and Tierney, 7-1 over Estevez. Chiu eliminated Tierney 7-3 in those quarterfinals to earn his rematch against Toomey in the semifinals.

Chiu got his shot at Watanabe, waiting for him in the hot seat, with a 6-3 win over Toomey in those semifinals. Chiu and Watanabe battled to double hill in the finals that followed, before Watanabe completed his undefeated run to claim the event title.

Tournament director Dan Cintron and tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar for their hospitality, along with title sponsor Predator Cues, Poison Cues, Arcos 2 Balls, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Hustlin’ USA Clothing, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Billiard Engineering, Joe Romer Trophies, Phil Cappelle Publications, Pool & Billiards and Billiards Digest. The next Predator Tri-State event, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 5, will be hosted by Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.

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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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Watanabe goes undefeated to win Predator Tri-State at Clifton Billiards

Max Watanabe and Nishant Narang

Max Watanabe has joined a thankfully growing list of New York City’s tri-state competitors in returning to area tables, unofficially announcing that return with an undefeated run on the Predator Tri-State Tour this past weekend (Sat., Oct. 3). He stretched the geographic definition of New York’s “tri state area” a couple of weeks ago when he competed in the US Open Pool  Championships in Atlantic City, finishing out of the money. This most recent win was his first cash finish on the tour since February, 2020. The $500-added event drew 26 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.

Watanabe advanced through the field to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Julian Tierney, as the eventual runner-up, Nishant Narang, squared off against another recently-back-at-the-tables, Mike Strassberg. Watanabe and Tierney battled to double hill before Watanabe advanced to the hot seat match. Narang joined him for their first of two, after downing Strassberg 6-3. Watanabe claimed the hot seat 8-4.

On the loss side, in the first money round, Tierney and Strassberg ran right into their second straight loss. Tierney was defeated 7-2 by Joann Mason Parker, who’d eliminated Pashk Gjini 7-2 and Hoa Vu 7-1 to reach him. Strassberg fell to K.C. Clayton, who’d previously gotten by David Fitzpatrick 6-3 and survived a double hill fight against Steve Root.

Parker took the quarterfinal match 9-4 over Clayton but had her loss-side run ended by Narang in the semifinals. An 8-6 win sent Narang to the finals for Round Two of his bout with Watanabe.

The second round played out in much the same way as the first. Watanabe defeated Narang a second time 8-4 to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Cappelle, Blue Book Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Romer Trophies and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 23-24, will be hosted by New City in Woodside, NY.

Watanabe goes undefeated, downs Martinez twice to claim Tri-State Tour title

Max Watanabe & Bianca Martinez

The headline story is about the Tri-State’s top-rated, #1 A player, Max Watanabe, doing battle twice with one of the tour’s top-rated females, Bianca Martinez, who’s currently at #3 in the women’s point standings and #4 in the tour’s overall C standings. The top three in both cases (women and C players) would have been the same (Allison LaFleur, Michelle Brotons and Martinez), had Juan Melendez not slipped into second place among the C players. Watanabe and Martinez battled twice during the $1,000-added, 10-ball event that drew 38 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY on Sunday, Feb. 16. Watanabe won both encounters to claim the event title, but not before Martinez battled him twice to the necessity of a single, deciding game.

Watanabe’s trip to the winners’ circle went through Pascal Dufresne, Russell Masciotti and Steve Kalloo to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Julian Tierney. Martinez, in the meantime, sent Andre Holder, Naoko Saiki, and Juan Melendez to the loss side before coming up against Jason Goberdhan in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Watanabe downed Tierney 6-4. Martinez joined him in the hot seat match after surviving a double hill fight versus Goberdhan. In their first of two, they fought to double hill before Watanabe prevailed to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Tierney picked up Kevin Shin, who’d recently defeated Steve Kalloo, double hill and Sherwin Robinson 6-2. Goberdhan drew Qian Chen, who’d eliminated the aforementioned C player, Juan Melendez 5-1 and survived a double hill fight against Shweta Zaveri (#4 among the tour’s ladies) to reach him.

Tierney shut Kevin Shin out and was met in the quarterfinals by Chen, who’d survived Shweta Zaveri’s second straight double hill match. Tierney won the quarterfinal match 6-4 before having his short loss-side trip ended by Martinez 7-4 in the semifinals.

Second verse, same as the first, as they say. Watanabe and Martinez fought to a second, double hill deciding game. Watanabe prevailed a second time to claim 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 Sunday, Feb. 23, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Klein wins 10 on the loss side to meet and spoil Dayrit bid for two in a row on Tri-State Tour

(l to r): Matt Klein & Ryan Dayrit

In looking to win two Tri-State Tour stops in a row in as many weeks, C+ competitor Ryan Dayrit (#4 on the C+ list) did pretty much everything right. Except win the second event. He came within a single match of pulling it off, making it all the way to the hot seat before being challenged in the finals by the tour’s second-highest rated A/A+ competitor, Matt Klein, who lost his opening match, won 10 on the loss side and defeated Dayrit in the finals of the Saturday, Feb. 1 tour stop. The $1,000-added event drew 55 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
After defeating Klein 7-4 in the opening round of play, Shivam Gupta (#3 on that A+/A list) advanced through the field to eventually shut out Max Watanabe (the tour’s #1-rated A+/A competitor) in a winners’ side quarterfinal and face Emit Yolcu (B) in a winners’ side semifinal. Dayrit, in the meantime, advanced through the field to down Debra Pritchett 7-3 in another of the winners’ side quarterfinals and face Dementhris Hudson in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Dayrit got into the hot seat match with a 6-2 victory over Hudson. He was joined by Gupta, who’d defeated Yolcu 7-3. Dayrit claimed the hot seat with an 8-2 win over Gupta, more than likely feeling pretty good about his chances of chalking up that second straight win.
 
Meantime, on the loss side, Klein was at work. Half of his 10 loss-side matches went double hill, including the last three he played before his rematch against Gupta in the semifinals. By the time he got into the money rounds (9th-12th) to create the battle between the tour’s top two A+/A players (Klein and Watanabe), he’d already won two double hill matches, against Lidio Ramirez and Arturo Reyes. He eliminated Watanabe 7-5 and chalked up his third double hill win against Joe Mazzeo to draw Yolcu, coming over from the winners’ side semifinals. Hudson picked up Russell Masciotti, who’d eliminated Kevin Shin 7-5 and Debra Pritchett 8-5 to reach him.
 
Klein chalked up his fourth double hill, loss-side win against Yolcu and was joined in the subsequent quarterfinals by Masciotti, who’d sent Hudson home 7-3. Klein then recorded his fifth loss-side double hill win, eliminating Masciotti and earning an as-long-as-it-gets awaited rematch against Gupta in the semifinals.
 
Klein shut Gupta out in those semifinals, which likely gave Dayrit something to think about as the finals approached. In spite of the momentum on Klein’s side, Dayrit opened the finals with four straight racks. Klein had to reach 8 racks just to extend the match to 10, and he caught up to Dayrit in the 12th rack at the 6-6 tie. The 6th proved to be Dayrit’s last as Klein went on to win the next four and claim the event title.
 
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui, Phil Capelle, Paul Dayton Cues, Pool & Billiards, Liquid Weighted Cues, JohnBender Cues, Billiards Engineering and Bloodworth Ball Cleaner. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 9, will be hosted by Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.

Watanabe and Klein start but don’t quite finish Tri-State stop, leaving Watanabe with event title

Max Watanabe & Matt Klein

They met in the opening round of play at the Tri-State Tour stop on Sunday, December 8; Max Watanabe and Matt Klein. Familiar opponents on the Tri-State Tour, friends, two of the tour’s highest ranked players. Max at #1 among A players, Matt at #3. The kinds of players who might, at larger tournaments, be seeded so that they wouldn’t meet in an event’s opening round. They did here and Max prevailed 7-4, moving on to advance through the field, all the way to the hot seat. Matt, in the meantime, went on an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that ended up giving him a shot at redemption in the form of a second chance against Max in the event finals.

That didn’t happen. They opted out of meeting a second time, allowing Max’s earlier 7-4 win to stand as the defining match between them. On this day, at least. Max, undefeated, claimed the official title of the $1,000-added event that drew 28 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Max’s path after Klein in the opening round went through Joe Mazzeo 7-5 and Debra Pritchett 10-8 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal matchup against Chris Schmidt. Zain Sundaram, in the meantime, who’d started his day by shutting out Jason Goberdhan, allowing Bob Toomey only a single rack in a 6-1 victory and downing Jim Gutierrez 6-3, drew Jose Carlos Ramos in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Watanabe defeated Schmidt 7-5 and in the hot seat, faced Sundaram, who’d sent Ramos to the loss side 7-1. Watanabe played what proved to be his last match of the day, utilizing some strong safety play to claim the hot seat 8-6 over Sundaram.

Klein, in the meantime, was navigating his way through the loss side. He got by Mikhail Kim, Steve Kalloo and Luis Lopez, before surviving a double hill match against Debra Pritchett. He went on to down Eddie Medina 7-3 and drew Schmidt, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal. Ramos picked up a re-match versus Adrian Daniel, whom he’d defeated in a winners’ side quarterfinal and who’d eliminated Mike Strassberg 6-4 and Jason Goberdhan 6-3 to earn the rematch.

Klein downed Schmidt 7-3 and in the quarterfinal, faced Ramos who’d defeated Daniel a second time 6-3. Klein chalked up his seventh win of the day, sending Ramos home 8-5.

Momentum aside, Klein’s path through Zain Sundaram in the semifinals was not as easy as he might have liked or predicted. They battled back and forth and it was Sundaram who reached the hill (7) first. He gave Klein the smallest of openings in the next rack and Klein forced a 15th deciding game. He won that game to earn a well-deserved second shot against Watanabe, waiting for him in the hot seat.

With some good-natured trash talk and the opportunity to get home a little early, the two opted out of the final. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat at the time of the negotiations, Watanabe claimed the title.

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 Tri-State Tour will take a couple of weeks off, as the Predator Pro Am Tour holds its season finale at Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY this coming weekend and is followed by an Open Date for the Tri-State Tour. The tour will return on the final weekend of 2019 (December 29) for a $1,000-added, A-B-C-D event at Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

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.

Hsu Kai-Lun goes undefeated to take Open/Pro division of Predator Pro Am Tour stop

Ko Ping-Han, Fu Che-Wei, Tony Robles and Hsu Kai-Lun

Dayrit wins Amateur event
 
Four of the final five players competing in the Open/Pro event of the November 2-3 stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour had drifted north from participating in the International 9-Ball Open in Norfolk, VA. Can you guess which four, among Hsu Kai-Lun, Fu Che-Wei, Liu Cheng-Chieh, Ko Ping-Han and Tony Robles?
 
Hsu Kai-Lun and about half a dozen fellow Taiwanese players signed on to the $500-added event, with Kai-Lun going undefeated through the field of 19, hosted by The Spot in Nanuet, NY. Kai-Lun defeated separate opponents in the hot seat (Robles) and finals (Fu Che-Wei) to claim the title.
 
Kai-Lun had to defeat Fu Che-Wei twice; the first time in a winners’ side semifinal, as Tony Robles squared off against Liu Cheng-Chieh in the other one. Kai-Lun downed Che-Wei 7-4 and was joined in the hot seat match by Robles, who’d sent Cheng-Chieh to the loss side 7-3. Kai-Lun claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Robles.
 
On the loss side, Che-Wei picked up Lin Ta-Li, who’d defeated Mike “Fingers” Badsteubner 7-2, and Max Watanabe 7-4. Liu Cheng-Chieh drew Ko Ping-Han, who’d eliminated Chang Yu-Lung 7-4 and Joey Korsiak 7-3.
 
Ping-Han downed Cheng-Chieh 7-2, and in the quarterfinals, faced Che-Wei, who’d eliminated Ta-Li 7-4. Che-Wei then defeated Ping-Han to face Robles in the semifinals.
 
Che-Wei got a second shot at Kai-Lun in the hot seat, with a 7-4 win over Robles in the semifinals. The second meeting between Kai-Lun and Che-Wei was a double hill battle for the event title. Kai-Lun won it 7-6 to claim that title.
 
Dayrit goes undefeated through field of 62
 
Ryan Dayrit and Keith Guenzel battled twice to claim the $1,000-added Amateur event title that drew 62 entrants. They met twice, hot seat and finals, to claim the title.
 
They advanced to their respective winners’ side semifinals; Dayrit, facing Carlos Duque and Guenzel, squaring off against Levie Lampaan. Dayrit moved into the hot seat match with a 7-4 victory over Duque. Guenzel joined him after downing Lampaan 7-2. Dayrit took the first of two against Guenzel 8-4 and waited in the hot seat for the second to happen.
 
Lampaan and Duque moved to the loss side where they picked up Jaydev Zaveri and Nick Croce, respectively. Zaveri had survived two straight double hill matches versus Bud Robideau and Ocheign Carlos to reach Lampaan.  Croce had eliminated Jay Choi 7-3 and Nicole Monaco 7-5.
 
Zaveri advanced to the quarterfinals 7-4 over Lampaan and was joined by Duque, who’d defeated Croce, double hill. Duque took the quarterfinal match that followed 8-4.
 
Duque started the semifinals against Keith Guenzel with ‘4 on the wire’ in a race to 9. He managed to chalk up the four he needed to force a single deciding game, which Guenzel won for a second shot at Dayrit in the hot seat.
 
Dayrit and Guenzel then locked up in a double hill final, which Dayrit finally won to claim the event title.
 
A Second Chance drew nine entrants and was won by Julie Ha. She took home $110 for her efforts, which included her final 7-5 victory over Mike Harrington ($70).
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Rhys Chen and his staff at The Spot 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 16-17, will be a Double Points, $1,000-added event, hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Bozigian goes undefeated to capture Eastern States Amateur Championships

(l to r): Tony Ignomirello, Gary Bozigian, Matt Klein & Ryan Dayrit

He came in search of his first 2019 event victory and found it. Gary Bozigian, making only his fourth appearance on the 2019 Predator Pro Am Tour, went undefeated in the Amateur division of the Eastern States Championships over Labor Day weekend (August 31-Sept. 2). With limited points in the tour standings as a B player (#24 on the list), Bozigian defeated the tour’s top-ranked B+ player, Matt Klein, twice to claim the title. The $1,500-added Amateur event drew 83 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
Bozigian and Klein clashed first in a winners’ side semifinal, as Tony Ignomirello, the tour’s top-ranked C+ player (11 appearances) and Ryan Dayrit, the tour’s 3rd-ranked C player (12 appearances), met in the other one. Bozigian and Klein locked up in a double fight that eventually sent Klein to the loss side. Tony “Iggy” sent Dayrit to the loss side 7-4 and joined Bozigian in the hot seat match. Bozigian claimed the hot seat 7-2 over Ignomirello and waited on the return of Klein.
 
On the loss side, Klein and Dayrit met up with the Estevez brothers. Klein drew Alberto Estevez, who’d defeated Yomaylin “Smiley” Feliz, double hill, and Max Watanabe 7-4 t reach him. Dayrit picked up Ambi Estevez, who’d recently eliminated Jonathan Martinez 7-2 and Amanda Andries 7-3.
 
The brothers Estevez went down to identical 7-4 defeats to Klein and Dayrit, who advanced to the quarterfinals. Klein then eliminated Dayrit 8-3 and got a second shot at Bozigian with a 7-4 victory over Ignomirello in the semifinals.
 
Klein may have had the momentum from loss-side action, but it didn’t improve his game play in the finals against Bozigian. Bozigian downed him a second time, this time 7-4 to claim the Amateur Eastern States 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 own Predator Pro Am team, to include his lovely wife, Gail. Robles also acknowledged the work of UpstateAl and his AZBTv crew for the streaming of selected matches throughout the event weekend. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 14-15, will be a $1,000-added, double points event, hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Kuo goes undefeated, splits top prizes with Lam on Tri-State stop

Tony Kuo & Duc Lam

It was the same matchup that had occurred at the 2017 Empire State Championships on Long Island two years ago. At that tournament two years ago (February), Tony Kuo and Duc Lam met twice – hot seat and finals – to determine the event’s amateur champion. Kuo got into the hot seat, but Lam came back from the semifinals to win it. On Saturday, August 17, at a $1,000-added Tri-State Tour stop that drew 36 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY, Kuo and Lam battled it out for the hot seat again and again, Kuo prevailed. This time, though, Lam didn’t get a second chance. Although Lam did win the semifinal match for the right to challenge Kuo in the final, the late hour led to a mutual agreement to split the top two cash prizes. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, Kuo claimed the official event title.

Victories over Joe Wilson Torres (double hill), Juan Melendez and Shweta Zaveri set Kuo up for a winners’ side semifinal against Raymond Lee. Lam, in the meantime, squared off against Bianca Martinez. Lam and Martinez locked up in a double hill fight that eventually did send Lam to the hot seat match. Kuo joined him after 7-4 victory over Lee. In what proved to be the decisive match of the tournament, Kuo and Lam fought to double hill, as well, with Kuo prevailing in his last match of the evening.
Martinez arrived on the loss side of the bracket and ran into Dax Druminski, who’d been sent to the loss bracket by Lam in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then, defeated Max Watanabe, double hill and Luis Lopez 6-2. Lee picked up Luis Jimenez, who’d eliminated Shweta Zaveri 8-4 and Rick Rodriguez 7-4 to reach him.
Druminski chalked up his third straight loss-side win 6-1 over Martinez. Jimenez recorded his third straight on the loss side, as well, downing Lee 7-3.
Druminski took the quarterfinal match 7-5 over Jimenez to earn his rematch against Lam in the semifinals. Lam, though, closed out the event proceedings with a 9-4 win over Druminski, before agreeing to the split with Kuo in the hot seat.
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, Bludworth Ball Cleaner, Quick Slik, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, and Paul Dayton Cues. The Tri-State Tour will return to Steinway Billiards this weekend (August 24-25) for a two-day, B/C/D event.