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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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Chey and Paragas split top three prizes at Stop #4 on Mac Attack Tour

Levie Lampaan, Cj Chey and Raymond Paragas

Though CJ Chey would go undefeated on the Mac Attack Tour’s 4th stop, he would split the top three prizes with Raymond Paragas and Levie Lampaan. The event drew 32 entrants to CJ Chey’s ‘home’ room, Rockaway Billiards in Rockaway, NJ.

Chey and Lampaan advanced through the field to arrive at their respective winners’ side semifinals. Chey faced Miguel Berrios, as Lampaan squared off against Ricky Mejia. Lampaan and Mejia locked up in a double hill fight, which eventually advanced Lampaan to the hot seat match. He was joined by Chey, who’d sent Berrios west 6-4. Chey claimed the hot seat and his last victory of the tournament 7-4 over Lampaan.

On the loss side, Ricky Mejia ran into Raymond Paragas, who was moved to the loss side by Lampaan in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then defeated Kevin Scalzitti 5-3 and Matt Klein 6-4. Berrios picked up Mike Strassberg, who’d been defeated by Chey in the second round and was working on a four-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently included a double hill victory over Michelle Brotons and a 5-2 win over Paul Everton.

Strassberg and Paragas handed Berrios and Mejia their second straight loss; Strassberg 5-3 over Berrios and Paragas 6-1 over Mejia. Paragas and Strassberg battled to double hill in the quarterfinals that followed before Paragas advanced to what would have been, but was not, a rematch against Lampaan in the semifinals.

The three remaining contenders agreed to a three-way split of the first three cash payouts. Chey, as the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, was awarded the official event title.

Tour director Mac Jankov thanked Rockaway Billiards’ owner Paul Spaanstra and his staff, including Michelle Pirrello, for all of their help. He extended thanks, as well, to the members of the tri-state area pool community who’ve attended all four of the Mac Attack Tour’s events, thus far. The next stop on the Mac Attack Tour, scheduled for Nov. 1 will be hosted by Breaker Billiards in Clifton, NJ. Further events are scheduled through Nov. 15. A 16-entrant Open/Pro event is in the planning stages for the Mac Attack Tour. Anyone interested in sponsoring this event should reach Jankov at 973-937-8852

Paragas goes undefeated to win Mac Attack Tour Stop #3

Brandon Alli and Raymond Paragas

The Mac Attack Tour went back to its inaugural venue, Breakers Billiards in Clifton, NJ, for its third stop this past weekend (Sunday, Oct. 4), where Raymond Paragas and Brandon Alli battled twice to claim the event title. Paragas completed an undefeated run with a victory in the finals of the event, which drew 38 entrants to Breakers Billiards.

Paragas, working initially in the upper bracket (A/B players), got by Kyle Manuel, Sebastian Kas, Ric Geronimo, and Silky Acosta to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Henry Cha. In the lower bracket, Alli had defeated Boojie Oraa, and then survived two straight double hill battles versus Suzzie Wong and Sumit Bansal to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Ameer Persaud. 

Paragas sent Cha to the loss side 7-5, as Alli downed Persaud 6-4. In their first of two, Paragas claimed the hot seat 6-2 and waited for his return.

On the loss side, Cha and Persaud arrived to compete in the first money round. Cha drew Jimmy Acosta, who’d just won a double hill match against Levie Lampaan and eliminated Joe Valania (the previous week’s official winner, who split the top two prizes with Daniel Dagotdot) 7-3. Persaud picked up Sumit Bansal, who’d defeated Mike Strassberg 5-2 and Marc Lamberti 5-3.

Cha defeated Acosta 5-2 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Bansal, who’d battled Persaud to a double hill deciding game before prevailing 5-4. Bansal ended up on the wrong side of his second straight double hill match, as Cha defeated him 7-6 for a shot at Alli in the semifinals.

Alli, though, spoiled Cha’s efforts for a rematch against Paragas by downing him 7-5 in the semifinals. Momentum didn’t help and Paragas did not appear affected by his wait in the hot seat. Paragas had given up two games to Alli in the battle for the hot seat. He reduced that down to one in the finals to claim the event title.

Mac Jankov thanked the ownership and staff at Breaker’s Billiards for their hospitality, as well as Paul Spaanstra, owner of Rockaway Billiards in Rockaway, NJ, who opened his room to the Mac Attack Tour for Stop #4, this coming weekend (Saturday, Oct. 10).