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DaBreo and Fracasso-Verner win Open/Pro, Amateur events on Predator Pro Am Tour

Joey Korsiak, Zion Zvi, Raphael DaBreo & Jimmy Rivera

It is a significant rite of passage; moving from the top ranks of Amateur status to the loftier competitive environment where the Open/Pro players do battle. On the weekend of March 3-4, at a $250-added Open/Pro event on the Predator Pro Am Tour, Raphael Dabreo took that step, winning his first-ever Open/Pro event, and according to tour director Tony Robles, was “super happy about it.”
“Like a kid in a candy store,” said Robles.
DaBreo, working as a B player, first showed up on the AZBilliards’ radar 10 years ago, when he won his first stop on the Tri-State Tour. A year later (2009), he won two more on that tour. He won his first stop on the Predator Pro Am in 2010. Over the next eight years, he chalked up a baker’s dozen (13) more on the two tours, as he climbed the rankings ladder. On average, we reported here last October, he’d won an average of one event per year on both tours, dating back to those initial victories.
In a concurrently-run, $750-added Amateur event over the weekend, Lukas Fracasso-Verner went undefeated through a field of 53 entrants to claim that title (more on this a little later in this report). Both events were hosted by The Spot in Nanuet, NY.
DaBreo had a crack at a Predator Open/Pro event about three weeks ago, (Feb. 10-11), when he made it to the semifinals (downing Robles on the loss side along the way), before being eliminated by the event’s winner, Kudlik Marek. His first Open/Pro victory followed the same script, with the significant difference of coming back from the loss side to win it. He advanced to a winners’ side semifinal versus Jimmy Rivera in this most recent event, while Joey Korsiak and Zion Zvi squared off in the other one.
Korsiak got by Zvi 7-4. DaBreo battled Rivera to a deciding game, before Rivera sent him to the loss side. Korsiak claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Rivera and waited on DaBreo’s return.
On the loss side, DaBreo picked up Robles (whom he’d met in the quarterfinals of the Feb. 10-11 event), who’d defeated Victor Nau 7-3 and Mike Salerno 7-2 to reach him this time. Zvi drew Jorge Teixeira, who’d gotten by Yesid Garibello 7-3 and Dave Shlemperis 7-1. DaBreo got by Robles again; this time, 7-4, as Zvi eliminated Teixeira 7-2.
DaBreo, apparently very motivated to collect his first Open/Pro title, chalked up two straight double hill wins to get a shot at Korsiak in the hot seat. He downed Zvi in the quarterfinals, and then, Rivera in the semifinals. A 9-5 win over Korsiak in those finals secured DaBreo’s first Open/Pro win.
[photo id=48780|align=right]Fracasso-Verner goes undefeated to take Amateur division
Last February, at the age of 15, Lukas Fracasso-Verner became the second-youngest player to ever win a stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour; the first, being Thomas Rice, who, at 14 won a stop on the tour in 2013. What was particularly significant about Fracasso-Verner’s victory at the time was that he’d won 13 loss-side matches to meet and defeat the hot seat occupant, Atif Khan.
At this most recent stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, Fracasso-Verner, now 16, chalked up another victory, this time going undefeated through a field of 53. He advanced through the field to a winners’ side semifinal against Rhio Anne “Annie” Flores, while Adam Miller met up with Feng Zhao in the other winners’ side semifinal. Miller downed Zhao 7-3, while Fracasso-Verner and Flores locked up in a double hill battle that did eventually send Flores to the loss side. Fracasso-Verner then downed Miller 9-5 to claim the hot seat.
On the loss side, Zhao picked up Suzzie Wong, who’d gotten by Greg Matos 6-3 and won a double hill match against Matthias Gutzmann. Flores drew Mark Zamora, recent double hill winner over Ocheign Carlos and Max Watanabe 7-5. The ladies advanced to the quarterfinals; Wong, over Zhao 7-2, and Flores over Zamora 7-4.
The ladies then locked up in a double hill fight, won by Wong. Miller took the semifinal 6-3 over Wong. Fracasso-Verner completed his undefeated run with a double hill 9-8 win over Miller in the finals.
A Second Chance event drew eight entrants. It was won by Wax Watanabe, who defeated Rich Hourihan in a double hill final. Watanabe pocketed  $100, while Hourihan took home $50.
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at The Spot for their hospitality, as well as special thanks to title sponsor Predator Cues, NAPL, Ozone Billiards, The DeVito Team,,, AZBilliards, Billiards Digest and Robles also extended thanks to his entire Predator Staff, including his wife, Gail Robles, Mandy Wu, William Finnegan, Irene Kim, and Rob Omen. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of March 17-18, will be an A/B/C/D event hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Sossei goes undefeated to take Predator Open/Pro stop

Zion Zvi, Jeremy Sossei and Joey Korsiak

DaBreo comes from the loss side to down Davladze in Amateur finals


Jeremy Sossei and Zion Zvi battled in the finals of the June 10-11 Pro event on the Predator Tour. Sossei was in the hot seat, when Zvi completed a five-match, loss-side run to face him. Sossei won to claim the $1,500-added Pro event that drew 12 entrants to Gotham City Billiards in Brooklyn, NY. In a concurrently-run, $1,500-added Amateur event that drew 51 entrants, Raphael Dabreo recovered from an early loss at the hands of Koka Davladze, and won seven on the loss side to eventually meet and defeat him in the finals.


Sossei advanced through the short Pro field to face Michael Wong in a winners' side semifinal. Wong had just sent Sossei's eventual finals' opponent, Zvi, to the loss side. Joey Korsiak, in the meantime, met up with Chris Derewonski in the other winners' side semifinal. Wong put up a double hill fight, but it was Sossei who advanced to the winners' side final against Korsiak, who'd sent Derewonski to the loss side 7-4. Sossei claimed the hot seat 7-3 and waited on Zvi.


Zvi opened his loss-side campaign with a 7-3 win over Frankie Hernandez (runner-up on Memorial Day weekend's Ginky Memorial), following it with a 7-3 win over Shawn "Alaska" Morgan, which set him up for a re-match versus Wong. Derewonski drew Greg Mitchell, who'd defeated tour director Tony Robles 7-5 and Jorge Texeira 7-2.


Zvi successfully negotiated the vengeance match 7-3 over Wong, as Derewonski eliminated Mitchell 7-2. Zvi took the quarterfinal match over Derewonski 7-1 and then, downed Korsiak 7-5 in the semifinals. In the finals, by the same score, Sossei stopped Zvi's run to claim the event title.


DaBreo comes back to 'haunt' and defeat Davladze in Amateur event


You'd have to think that downing an opponent 7-2 in a winners' side match would allow a competitor to think that he (or she) would have few worries about that individual coming back for a second challenge, especially when you've advanced beyond that match to the hot seat. Pool, though, is a funny kind of game and nobody knows that better than pool players, particularly Koka Davladze, who won that early match during the Predator Tour's Amateur event, and Raphael DaBreo, who lost in that matchup and eventually won seven on the loss side to meet and defeat Davladze in the finals.


With DaBreo at work on the loss side, Davladze advanced to a winners' side semifinal against Dan Faraguna. Daves Callaghan and Weinstein met in the other one. Davladze moved into the hot seat match 9-4 over Faraguna, and met up with Callaghan, who'd sent Weinstein over 7-4. In spite of a match that went one game shy of double hill, Davladze won his last match, claiming the hot seat over Callaghan 11-9.


On the loss side, DaBreo chalked up victories #3 & #4 against Roberto Hung (9-7) and Thomas Rice (8-5) to draw Faraguna. David Weinstein picked up Emit Yolcu, who'd eliminated Xavier Romero, double hill, and Ambi Estevez 7-1, to reach him. Yolcu and DaBreo advanced to the quarterfinals; Yolcu in another double hill win, over Weinstein, and DaBreo 9-4 over Faraguna.


Callaghan put up a double hill fight against DaBreo in the semifinals, but it wasn't enough, as DaBreo advanced to a long-awaited second shot against Davladze. He took full advantage, downing Davladze 9-5 to claim the title.


Tour director Tony Robles extended special thanks to Kevin and Isabel Buckley, along with their staff at Gotham City Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Poison Billiards,, The Devito Team,, Capelle (, AZBilliards, Billiards Digest and Pool & Billiard Magazine. The next stop on the Predator Tour, scheduled for June 17-18, will be hosted by Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY.

Fracasso-Verner comes from deep on the loss side to win Predator stop at Steinway

John Cullen, Lukas Fracasso-Verner and Atif Khan

Predator Tour Director Tony Robles had to scour his tour archives to determine whether 15-year-old Lukas Fracasso-Verner had become the youngest competitor to ever win a stop on the tour. He was not. As Robles discovered, Fracasso-Verner was the second oldest competitor to win a stop on the tour; the youngest being Thomas Rice, who at the age of 14, won a Predator stop in September, 2013. Fracasso-Verner's victory, which came at a Predator Tour stop on the weekend of January 28-29, was made all that more dramatic by the teenager's 13-match winning streak on the losers' side of the bracket. The $1,000-added event drew 80 entrants to Steinway Billiards, in Astoria (Queens), NY.
With Fracasso-Verner already at work on the loss side (he'd lost his opening match in a double hill fight against Eugene Ok), his eventual finals' opponent – Atif Khan – advanced to a winners' side semifinal match against Nick Liberatos. John Cullen faced Kanami Chau in the other winners' side semifinal. Cullen and Khan moved into the hot seat match, following Cullen's 8-6 win over Chau and Khan's 7-5 victory over Liberatos. Khan claimed the hot seat, double hill, over Cullen.
On the loss side, Fracasso-Verner edged past the halfway mark in his 13-match, loss-side odyssey and into the money rounds. He then got by Kevin Shin 7-3, and Junior Singh 7-1, to pick up Chau. Liberatos drew Duc Lam, who'd defeated Matthew Harricharan and Tom Hagan, both 7-4. Two double hill fights advanced Fracasso-Verner and Lam over Chau and Liberatos to the quarterfinals.
Fracasso-Verner eliminated Lam 8-5 in those quarterfinals, and then finished Cullen's weekend 7-3 in the semifinals. Khan and Fracasso-Verner were each looking for their first win on the Predator Tour, though Khan had two wins on the Tri-State Tour in his resume. Khan completed his unlikely, but strong loss-side run with a 9-6 win in the finals.

Shaw stops loss-side bid by Robles and goes undefeated on Predator Open/Pro finale

Jorge Rodriguez, Tony Robles, Jayson Shaw and Michael Yednak

Jayson Shaw chalked up his third win on the Open/Pro side of the Predator Tour with a victory in the tour's finale, held on the weekend of December 12-13. It brought his 2015 victory total to 11, which has included  two Turning Stone victories (XXIII & XXIV), the 27th Annual Ocean State 9-Ball Championship, the Pro side of the Ginky Memorial, and the 2015 Eastern States Open/Pro Championships at Snooker's in Providence in September. He went undefeated on this most recent, $1,500-added event, which drew 24 entrants to Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY.
Shaw faced separate opponents in the hot seat match and finals, thanks to Tour Director Tony Robles, who mounted a five-match, loss-side winning streak (including three double hill wins) to face him in those finals. Shaw was challenged by Jeremy Sossei in a double hill, winners' side semifinal, but advanced to the hot seat match against Michael Yednak, who'd sent Robles to the loss side 7-4 in a winners' side quarterfinal and defeated Holden Chin (the owner of Raxx Billiards) in the other winners' side semifinal. In Yednak's words, Shaw "crushed" him in the hot seat match 7-1.
On the loss side, Chin and Sossei ran into Jorge Rodriguez (who entered the tournament, and remained, the tour's top Open player) and Robles, respectively. Rodriguez had eliminated Thomas Rice 7-2 and shut out Earl Strickland to draw Chin. Robles, following his defeat at the hands of Yednak, defeated Hunter Lombardo, double hill, and Chris Derewonski 7-3 to pick up Sossei. Rodriguez downed Chin 7-5, as Robles was busy winning his second, double hill match on the loss side to Sossei.
Robles chalked up his third, double hill win in the quarterfinals, eliminating Rodriguez, before having a somewhat easier, 7-2, time against Yednak in the semifinals. The finals between Shaw and Robles was a battle between the second (Robles) and third (Shaw) ranked players on the Predator's Pro rankings (Zion Zvi was ranked at #1, going in to the tournament). Shaw put a stop to Robles' winning streak to take the finals 7-3 and claim the event title.

Corona comes back from the loss side to take Tri-State stop

Michael Corona came back from a defeat at the hands of Alison Fischer to win all five of his matches on the loss side and two more against hot seat occupant Henri Hernandez to claim the Tri-State Tour event title. The $720-added, B/C/D event drew 39 entrants to Amsterdam Billiards and Bar in Manhattan on the weekend of August 29-30.
After defeating Corona, double hill, in a winners' side quarterfinal, Fischer, who'd been off the tour recently due to a hand injury, and had guaranteed herself at least a share of the 5/6 money ($120), moved into a winners' side semifinal against Jiri Marsalo. She was the only "C" player among three "B"s in those semifinals. Henri Hernandez, in the meantime, squared off against Kirill Safronov. Marsalo sent Fischer to the loss side 8-3, and in the hot seat match, faced Hernandez, who'd sent Safronov over 7-3. Hernandez claimed the hot seat 7-5.
On the loss side, Corona opened up his five-match winning streak with a 7-3 win over teenager Thomas Rice, and then, double hill, eliminated Tri-State vet Tony Ignomirello. He drew Safronov. Fischer picked up Kapriel Delimelkonoglu, who'd gotten by Dmitry Rozenfeld 7-3 and Martin Carducci 7-5.
Corona downed Safronov 7-2, as Fischer defeated Delimelkonoglu 8-7; Delimelkonoglu scratching on the 9-ball at double hill. Fischer's return to the Tri-State tables came to an end at the hands of Corona in the re-match quarterfinals 8-4. Corona went on to defeat Marsalo, double hill, in the semifinals.
Corona took the opening set of the two-day event's double elimination final 7-4. Hernandez got a game closer in the second set, but Corona completed his first Tri-State win 7-5.

Paulino comes back from semifinals to down Greibesland and claim Tri-State title

Jessica-Lynn Greibsland and Fernando Paulino

It looked for a while there, near the end, as if Jennifer Lynn-Greibesland was going to go undefeated and claim her first Tri-State Tour title. She got off to a hot 5-0 start in the finals against Fernando Paulino, whom she’d defeated previously in the hot seat match, but Paulino rallied and took the last three games of the match to claim his own first Tri-State title. The $1,000-added event, held on Saturday, August 15, drew 46 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
Following wins over Stewart Warnock, Duc Lam (double hill), Kapriel Delimelkonoglu, and Richard Ng (double hill), Paulino squared off against Alex Osipov in a winners’ side semifinal. Lynn-Greibesland, in the meantime, faced Nevine Lepovac. Paulino advanced to the hot seat match 7-4 over Osipov, and was joined by Greibesland, who’d sent Lepovac west 6-4. Greibesland grabbed the hot seat 10-7 and waited on Paulino’s return.
Osipov and Lepovac moved over and picked up Richard Ng and Gary Serrano, respectively. Ng had survived a double hill fight against Rhys Chen and defeated Thomas Rice 7-5 to draw Osipov. Serrano had eliminated Brian Dorfman 6-3 and Mike Figueroa 6-2 to face Lepovac. 
Osipov downed Ng 7-5, as Serrano was busy eliminating Lepovac 6-5. Osipov took the subsequent quarterfinal match over Serrano 8-5 to earn himself a re-match versus Paulino in the semifinals. Paulino defeated him a second time by the same 7-4 score to earn his own re-match against Greibesland.
In spite of the wait, Greibesland came out gunning, chalking up five straight to open the finals. Paulino, though, fought right back with five of his own, at which point they battle back and forth, one game at a time to a 7-7 tie. Paulino closed it out with another five-rack run to claim his first Tri-State title.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Steinway Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Ron Vitello, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, and Bloodworth Ball Cleaners. The next Tri-State event, scheduled for Saturday, August 29-30, will be hosted by Amsterdam Billiards in Manhattan.

Rodriguez goes undefeated through short field at 7th Annual Empire State Championships

It was an unusually short field that competed this year in the 7th Annual Empire State 10-Ball Championships, held under the auspices of Tony Robles' Predator Tour. Run in conjunction with an Amateur 9-Ball event (separate story), the Open/Pro field has not been extensive over the past couple of years, drawing 25 in both 2013 and 2014. The 2015 field of 16, though, was affected by, among other things, the US Bar Box Championships out in Vegas, which drew the 2013 Empire State Champion and 2014 participant, Jayson Shaw, as well as other potential competitors like Jeremy Sossei and Sean "Alaska" Morgan.
This year's $1,000-added event, hosted again by Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY, was won by Jorge Rodriguez, who went undefeated through the short field. After defeating tour and event director Tony Robles in a double hill, winners' side semifinal, Rodriguez met up with Mhet Vergara, who'd just defeated Koka Davladze 7-5. Rodriguez took command of the hot seat 7-2 over Vergara and waited on what turned out to be the return of Raphael Dabreo.
On the loss side, there was a rather furious effort to advance, as three out of the four matches that determined the four-way tie for ninth place went double hill. Ultimately advancing were Chris Derewonski (in the only non-double hill match, 7-5) over Victor Nau, DaBreo over youngster Thomas Rice, Nigel Francis over Holden Chin (owner of Raxx) and Joey Korsiak over Laszlo Kovacs.
DaBreo subsequently defeated Derewonski 7-3 to hook up with Davladze. Francis eliminated Korsiak and picked up Robles. DaBreo kept his loss-side streak going with a 7-5 win over Davladze, while Robles defeated Francis 7-1. 
DaBreo then played what Robles described as "the set of his life against (him)" in the quarterfinals. DaBreo defeated Robles 7-2 and advanced to a semifinal match against Vergara. A 7-5 victory there, gave DaBreo a shot against Rodriguez. Rodriguez, however, was not to be denied, as he went on to defeat Dabreo 9-7 and claim the Empire State Championship title.

Shaw comes from the loss side to take his fourth 2014 Predator stop

Jayson Shaw

Rice adds Predator win to his 2014 resume
According to information in our records, it's been something of an 'off' year for Jayson Shaw. Reported earnings of $50K in 2013 were cut by almost half in 2014 (as was his Money Leaderboard ranking; down from 14 at the end of 2013 to 29 at the end of this year). Going into the final event of the Predator Tour season, on the weekend of December 13-14, Shaw was poised to pick up his sixth overall win of the year, having previously won three on the Predator Tour, along with victories at Turning Stone XXII and the NYC 8-Ball Championships. By the end of 2013, he'd chalked up 10, including some head-to-head matchups against Mike Dechaine and Johnny Archer, and a doubles victory with Earl Strickland over Francisco Bustamante and Warren Kiamco
Shaw recorded that fourth win on the 2014 Predator Tour, coming from the loss side of an Open/Pro field of 30 that had shown up to compete in the Predator Tour's season finale; a $2,000-added event, hosted by Raxx Pool Room, Sports Bar and Grill in West Hempstead, NY. 
According to information, also in our records, it's been an 'on' year for 15-year-old Thomas Rice, who won the $3,000-added Amateur event of the Predator Tour's finale.  It was the young man's first Predator tour win since September 2013, and came on the heels of a November win on the Tri-State Tour, which he'd not won since May 2013. Though he's 'cashed' in fewer 2014 events, he's made almost twice as much money (the recent Tri-State win, which drew 64 entrants, accounted for just about half his 2014 winnings). Unlike his Open/Pro counterpart in this most recent event, Rice went undefeated through the field of 87 that came out to play, and added another $2K to his yearly total.
In the Open/Pro event, the finish of the final three (Shaw, Frankie Hernandez, Jeremy Sossei) duplicated the final three finish of a September Predator Tour stop in Queens. However, how each of the three got there was a lot different.  Shaw went undefeated in September, defeating Sossei for the hot seat, and then, Hernandez in the finals. On the weekend of December 13-14, it was Hernandez over Sossei for the hot seat (7-2), with Shaw battling back from the loss side to defeat Sossei in the semifinals (7-2) and shutting Hernandez out in the finals.
Mike Dechaine and Raphael Dabreo were the winners' side semifinal victims; Sossei surviving a double hill match against Dechaine, as Hernandez was downing DaBreo 7-4. It was DaBreo who had the misfortune of running into Shaw, who'd already eliminated Chris Derewonski 7-2 and shut out Phil Davis on the loss side. Dechaine drew Jorge Rodriguez, who'd gotten by Holden Chin 7-4 and Kevin Guimond 7-1. Shaw defeated DaBreo 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, met up with Dechaine, who eliminated Rodriguez 7-4.
The quarterfinal meeting between two of the game's feistier competitors came within a rack of going double hill, but Shaw finished it 7-5, and then, picking up steam, he downed Sossei in the semifinals 7-2. Not content with that, Shaw turned to face Hernandez and didn't give up a rack to claim his fourth Predator and sixth overall event of 2014.
In the Amateur event, Rice's victory went through Laszlo Kovacs in a winners' side semifinal, as Todd Trent met up with Wanlop Chantarakolkit. Rice squeaked by Kovacs, double hill, and faced Trent, who'd defeated Chantarakolkit 7-2. Rice claimed the hot seat 7-3 and waited on the return of Mike Panzarella, whom he'd sent to the loss side, double hill, in an earlier match.
Panzarella moved over, chalked up two, and then defeated Eric Grasman 7-3 and Tom Hagan 7-2, to draw Kovacs. Chantarakolkit picked up Josh Friedberg, who'd eliminated Giovanni Maga 7-5 and George Poltorak 7-2. Both battles for the right to play in the quarterfinals went double hill; Panzarella over Kovacs and Chantarakolkit over Friedberg.
Panzarella took the quarterfinal match over Chantarakolkit 9-7 and then chalked up his seventh, loss-side win 9-7 over Trent in the semifinals. Rice put an end to Panzarella's winning streak 7-5 in the finals.
In the final event of the Predator Tour's 2014 season, tour director Tony Robles sent out special thanks to all of the room owners that have sponsored stops on the tour, as well as all the players, spectators and fans who went to those rooms to play, watch and support the tour. He also thanked his assistants – Gail (his wife), and Bill Finnegan – without whom, very little would have been possible. He also thanked tour sponsors Delta-13 Racks, The National Amateur Pool League (NAPL), (Alison Fischer and Jerry Tarantola),,, Gotham Technologies, Billiards press (Phil Capelle) and Billiards Digest.

2014 Predator Pro-Am Tour Season Finale – Amateur Finals – Thomas Rice vs Mike Panzarella


2014 Predator Pro-Am Tour Season Finale – Amateur Hotseat Match – Thomas Rice vs Todd Trent