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Jay Chiu double dips Ray Lee to claim Predator Tri-State title

Jay Chiu and Ray Lee

It’s been a good year for Jay Chiu. Coming into this past weekend’s (Oct. 23-24) Predator Tri-State Tour stop, it was already his best earnings year of four that have been recorded. He’s earned over twice as much on the tour this year than he has in the previous four recorded years combined (’21, ’14, ’13 & ’09). And he added to his 2021 earnings, in style, so to speak. He came from the loss side to double dip hot seat occupant, Ray Lee, who’d won the first event of the newly-named Predator Tri-State Tour, when it returned from its COVID hiatus last April. This past weekend’s $1,000-added event drew 33 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY, in a last minute switch from an event originally scheduled for New City Billiards in Sunnyside (Queens).

Chiu and Lee had met previously in the semifinals of a July 21 stop in New City, NY. Both had advanced to separate winners’ side semifinals, with Lee advancing to the hot seat match, and being defeated by Brandonne Alli. Chiu won two on the loss side to face and defeat Lee in those semifinals, only to be defeated by Alli, double hill, in the finals. Chiu and Lee met at the Cue Bar for the first time in the winners’ side semifinals, while Nishant Narang and Roberto Rodriguez squared off in the other one.

Narang advanced to the hot seat match 7-5 over Rodriguez, while Lee and Chiu were battling to double hill. Once again, as he’d done back in July, Lee advanced to the hot seat match, where this time, he defeated Nishant Narang to claim it. 

On the loss side, Chiu picked up Kevin Shin, recent winner over Abel Rosario and Erland Lami, both 7-2. Rodriguez drew Mac Jankov, who’d eliminated Esteban Morrell, Jr., double hill, and Linda Cheung 7-5.

Chiu and Jankov advanced to the quarterfinals; Chiu 8-6 over Shin and Jankov downing Rodriguez 7-4. Chiu then defeated Jankov 6-3 in those quarterfinals.

By the same 6-3 score, Chiu eliminated Narang in the semifinals and earned his spot in the finals. Chiu downed Lee twice in the true double elimination final, both times 8-6, to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff for their hospitality, which included stepping in to fill the void when the event couldn’t be held in its original location. They also thanked 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 Nov. 13-14, will be hosted by The Spot in Nanuet, NY.

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.

Jankov Takes Matters Into His Own Hands, Launches Series of Tri-State New York Area Tourneys

Robert Calton, Henry Cha and Nishant Narang

Cha, Calton and Narang share inaugural spotlight with 11-year-old who defeats her Dad

Mac Jankov, a tri-state New York area pool player and a competitor on both the Tri-State Tour and Predator Pro Am Tour got a little tired of waiting for those tours to re-start. One of them (the Predator Pro Am) had shut down completely and Jankov was not only looking for competition himself, but was aware of many fellow players looking, as well. He’d noted the proliferation of virtual ‘ghost’ challenges playing out on the Internet, but like many fellow competitors, it was not enough.

“The pool community in New York/New Jersey is huge and has been growing all the time, thanks to the Tri-State and Predator Pro Am tours,” he said. “Ghost tournaments are not the same as being in a real competition with other real players, in the same room, playing on the same table.”

Jankov took the proverbial bull by the horns. After hearing from members of the tri-state pool community of a recently re-opened and under-new-management pool room – Breaker Billiards in Clifton, NJ – that was drawing many area players since it re-opened, he approached owner Leonard Morina. On Sunday, September 13, Jankov oversaw the first (and not the last) Breaker Billiards 9-Ball Tournament.

“I created a Facebook page about the event,” said Jankov, “and within six hours, the proposed field of 32 was full, with a waiting list, 15 players deep.”

The field was split into upper (A/B) and lower (C/D) brackets with 15 players in each and things got underway at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning.  Races were basically, with some handicap adjustments, 7 on the winners’ side and 6 on the losers’ side. The event finished when the final three players – Henry Cha, Robert Calton and Nashan Narang – negotiated a split of the top three prizes. Cha, originally from the upper bracket, was in the hot seat at the time and became the event’s official winner.

Cha, a B+ player, had worked his way through Erwin Jao, Chris Schmidt and Tommy Schreiber to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Raymond Paragas, who’d just sent Kevin Scalzitti to the loss side. Scalzitti joined the tournament one day after winning a stop on the Garden State Pool Tour.

Working in the lower bracket initially, Robert Calton had survived an opening round double hill match against Christina Li. He then got by CA Duque, who’d just sent 11-year-old Brooke Nasta to the loss side (more on her and her Dad later). Calton then downed “Scooter” Hilton to draw Nishant Narang in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Calton got into the hot seat match 7-3 over Narang and met up with Cha, who’d sent Paragas over 7-5. Cha played what proved to be his final match in claiming the hot seat 7-5 over Calton.

On the loss side, Narang and Paragas showed up in the first money round. Paragas drew Chris Schmidt, who’d recently eliminated Scalzitti and Christian J. Orque, both 6-2. Narang picked up Christian Taeza, who, showing no mercy for the player responsible for him being there, defeated Mac Jankov 6-4 and Suzzie Wong, 6-2. Two loss-side matches earlier, Wong, one of the Tri-State and Predator Pro Am Tour’s top female and top C players had eliminated the aforementioned 11-year-old, Brooke Nasta, which brings us to the father/daughter match.

Brooke Nasta

11-year-old Nasta faces and defeats her Dad on the loss side

Brooke Nasta, who, at 11, became a championship finalist at the Billiard Education Foundation’s 2020 Junior Nationals and has qualified for league play in Las Vegas, came to this tournament with her Dad, Anthony Nasta. They both signed on to compete and entered the tournament in the C/D bracket. 

Dad won his opening round match against Dave Votta 7-5 and then, was sent to the loss side by Christian Taeza 7-4. Dad opened his loss-side campaign against his daughter, who’d opened her loss-side journey with a 6-4 victory over Christina Li. 

Unlike the Californian father-son duo of Ernesto and Oscar Dominguez, who never play each other because father Ernesto always forfeits to his son, the father-daughter combination competed and Brooke came out on top 7-5. In a way, though, Dad shook his daughter out of a low-heat frying pan and threw her into a fire against Suzzie Wong. Suzzie and Brooke battled to double hill before Wong prevailed. Wong and Brooke exchanged pleasantries after the match, with the elder Wong complementing the younger Brooke on her game play, setting up a potential BFF combination right there on the spot.

Wong played one more match. She defeated Scooter Hilton before meeting and being defeated by Christian Taeza. 

The victory over Wong proved to be Taeza’s ‘swan song’ as he went down to defeat in that first money round 7-5 to Nishant Narang. Chris Schmidt joined Narang in the quarterfinals after eliminating Paragas 6-4.

In what proved to be the last match of the evening, Narang downed Schmidt 6-4. Narang, Calton and Cha negotiated the payout settlement and it was over.

In his first foray into the world of directing pool tournaments, Mac Jankov thanked Leonard Morina and his staff for their hospitality. Jankov has posted videos of this recent tournament at a new site he created on YouTube;

The next independent event, organized by Jankov is scheduled for Sunday, September 27 and will be hosted by Clifton Billiards. Jankov and his ‘crew’ will return to Breaker Billiards for another 9-ball tourney, scheduled for Sunday, October 4.

Dayrit wins five on the loss side to down Saiki in finals of Tri-State stop

(l to r): Ryan Dayrit and Naoko Saiki

Last Sunday’s (Jan. 26) Tri-State Tour stop at Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY featured one of those still-rare, but a lot more frequent than they used to be battles between a male and female in the finals of a regional tour. There was a little bit of ‘David and Goliath’ in the air, too, because Naoko Saiki, who’d only ever cashed in one other event on the tour (9th, two and a half years ago at Steinway Billiards) was going up against Ryan Dayrit, who’d cashed in 13 events last year alone, including one win each on the Predator Pro Am and Tri-State Tours. The woman got into the hot seat, but Goliath came back from the loss side to down the female ‘David’ in the finals. The $1,000-added event drew 26 entrants to Cue Bar.
Dayrit had something of a shaky start. He survived an opening-round, double hill match against Johnny Colon and then fell 7-2 to Chris Luna, which, in a 32-player bracket, happened to be a winners’ side quarterfinal match. Luna advanced to face Nishant Narang in a winners’ side semifinal. Saiki, in the meantime, had her own kind of shaky start; opening with a double hill win over Jose Ramos, she avoided a second double hill scenario by a game, defeating Allison LaFleur 6-4 to face Lionell Swanston in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Saiki chalked up her second double hill win, over Swanston, and in the hot seat match, faced Narang, who’d sent Luna west 6-3. Saiki claimed the hot seat 6-4 over Narang, and waited for Dayrit to finish his loss side run.
Dayrit had opened that run with a 6-1 victory over Juan Melendez and then got locked up in a double hill fight against Qian Chen, before prevailing to draw Swanston. Luna, in the meantime, certainly mindful of a potential rematch versus Dayrit in the upcoming quarterfinals, drew Bob Toomey, who’d survived a double hill fight against LaFleur and eliminated Mike Strassberg 6-2 to reach him.
Dayrit got into the quarterfinals 6-4 over Swanston. Toomey spoiled the Dayrit/Luna rematch with a 6-3 win over Luna.
Dayrit won the next two 6-4, downing Toomey in the quarterfinals and Narang in the semifinals. Though the final match between Dayrit and Saiki see-sawed back and forth through its opening racks, Dayrit eventually pulled out in front to complete his comeback and win it 8-4.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, Paul Dayton Cues, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies and Quick Slick. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Saturday, February 1, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.