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Joss NE 9-Ball Tour at Sharpshooters This Weekend

Players & Fans,
Congratulations to Stop # 2 winners & "Hudson Valley Fall Classic II" champ, Shaun Wilkie ($1,000), Victor Nau ($300, second chance) & $1,500 custom, engraved Joss Cue raffle winner, Holden Chin
Stop # 3 of our Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour's 2018-2019 season will take place on October 13 & 14 at Sharp Shooters Billiards & Sports Pub in Amsterdam NY. Tim & Julie Berlin also own Trick Shot Billiards & Sports Pub in Clifton Park NY where we will once again have a tour stop this season, as well as another here at Sharp Shooters later on. Sharp Shooters is the home of some of the Diamond Pro tables that were used at one of our Turning Stone Classic events just a few years ago. Sharp Shooters is a full service facility with a full bar, a complete pub food menu, darts, arcade games, nightly entertainment and most recently a tournament quality indoor Bocce Ball court. There is something for everyone of all ages, every day of the week at Sharp Shooters. More information can be found at their site or call them at 518-627-4634. Also, as is done at all of our Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour events, there will be a raffle for a custom, engraved, Joss Cue valued at $1,500. Anyone can participate in the cue raffle and you Do Not have to be present to win! The drawing for this gorgeous cue will take place immediately prior to the final match on Sunday. So come to Sharp Shooters to play, or just watch a great tournament & to show your appreciation to Tim & Julie by taking a shot at winning a $1,500 Joss cue in their raffle! 
The raffle cue can be viewed here:
This event is being held in honor of our recently departed good friends and Sharp Shooters and regular Joss Tour players, John "Babs" Babravich and Jim Romanowski. RIP friends. You are both missed immensely!
If you will be in need accommodations, try one of these two nearby motels. Super 8, 5502 Rt 30, Amsterdam NY 12010, 518-843-5888 OR Valley View Inn,1351 NY Rt 5s, Amsterdam NY 12010, 518-842-5637. 
This event at Sharp Shooters Billiards & Sports Pub will consist of a $1500 added Saturday and Sunday Main Event (entry Fee $120 for pro level or $70 for non pro level) and a $500 added second chance event on Sunday ($20 Entry Fee) for those non pro players eliminated from the main event on Saturday. All of our billiard parlor main events are now races to 9 on the winners side and races to 7 on the one loss side.
For those of you coming to play, please arrive on Saturday Oct 13th BEFORE 11:30 AM, and in proper dress please. Jeans and sneakers are permitted in our billiard parlor events. But please, No T-shirts, tanks, shorts or sweats. Complete tour info can be found on our site    
Also, our second "Joss Junior 9-Ball Championships" will be held right here at Sharp Shooters on January 26 & 27, 2019. There will once again be 2 divisions. 18 & under and 12 and under. 18 & under will play exactly the same as all of our regular season Joss events which is, races to 9/7 double elimination on the 9 footers. The 12 & under will play races to 7/5, double elimination on the 7 footers. For more info, please contact Mike Zuglan immediately at 518-356-7163 for entry information. Please contact Mike if you would like to donate any items to be given away at the event.
Please note that our $25,000 Added Turning Stone Classic XXXI 9-Ball Open on January 10-13, 2019 is fast approaching and will fill to capacity before you know it. If you would like to compete in this BCA, WPA official ranking event, NOW is the time to enter to avoid being shut out! To enter you must contact me at 518-356-7163 or see me at any of our events Before the event is full at 128. I have actively been collecting entries since our last Turning Stone event and we are currently about 2/3 full so I strongly urge everyone to act now!! 
Please remember to spread the word to frequent your local billiard parlors and utilize the world class products of our most generous sponsors. They are the backbone of our sport and deserve our support!! 
Thanks and I hope to see you all at Sharp Shooters.
Mike Zuglan
The Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour Is Proudly Sponsored By;
Joss Cues –
Turning Stone Resort Casino – 
Simonis Cloth – – –
Billiards Press –                 
World Class Cue Care –
FargoRate –



Wilkie Holds Off Sossei For Joss Tour Win

Jeremy Sossei, Lenore Donovan Chen (room owner) and Shaun Wilkie

The second stop of the 2018 Joss NE 9-Ball Tour drew a field of 38 players to The Spot in Nanuet, NY on October 6th – 7th for the “Hudson Valley Classic II”. 
Shaun Wilkie and Bucky Souvanthong made their way through the winner’s side on this weekend to face off for the hot-seat. That match went to Wilkie 9-5. 
Just prior to his match against Wilkie, Souvanthong had sent stop 1 winner Jeremy Sossei to the one loss side 9-7. Sossei bounced back with three wins on the left side of the board (Mike Yednak, Zion Zvi and Souvanthong), to earn his place in the finals against Wilkie. 
Two weeks ago, Sossei was taken to two sets in the finals before getting the win. This weekend, he was one game shy of forcing a second set against Wilkie, but Wilkie ended up with the 9-8 win for first place. 
The second chance tournament on Sunday drew eleven players with Victor Nau dropping a 3-2 decision to Dylan Spohr for the hot-seat, but coming back to defeat Spohr twice in the finals for first place. 
The Joss NE 9-Ball Tour is back at it again this weekend, with a $1500 added main event and $500 added second chance tournament at Sharpshooters in Amsterdam, NY.

Hernandez comes from the loss side to win Pro Division of Eastern States Championships

Open/Pro winners (l to r): Mike Dechaine, Annie Flores, Jorge Rodriguez & Frankie Hernandez

Osipov loses first match to Nau, wins 9 on the loss side to down him in finals of Amateur event
The names were all familiar ‘Eastern States’ competitors, recognizeable, for the most part, by their last names – Rodriguez, Hernandez, Dechaine in the Pro event, and Osipov, Nau and Ortiz in the Amateur event. It was Frankie Hernandez who emerged as the Pro event winner of the 2018 Eastern States Championships (Stop #12 on the Predator Pro Am Tour), while Alex Osipov took the Amateur title. Both came from the loss side to complete their title run and defeated the competitor who’d sent them there; Hernandez winning three on that side of the bracket, before meeting and defeating Jorge Rodriguez in the finals, while Osipov, who lost his opening match, won nine on the loss side before meeting and defeating the man who’d sent him there, Victor Nau. The $3,000-added event ($1,000 in the Pro event, $2,000 in the Amateur) drew 23 Pro competitors and 75 Amateurs to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
Hernandez, Rodriguez and the semi-retired Dechaine were three of the four players in the two winners’ side semifinals of the Pro event, with Rodriguez battling Hernandez and Dechaine squaring off against Rob Pole. Rodriguez got into the hot seat match with an 8-5 win that sent Hernandez to the loss side, where he was joined by Pole, who’d been defeated by Dechaine 8-3. Rodriguez claimed the hot seat 8-6 over Dechaine and waited on the return of Hernandez.
On the loss side, Hernandez picked up Pat Fleming, who’d eliminated Mike Salerno 8-2 and Predator Pro Am Tour Director Tony Robles 8-3. Pole drew Rhio Anne (Annie) Flores, making a strong showing in this Pro event, and winning two straight double hill matches, against Mike (Fingers) Badsteubener and wily Predator veteran, Mhet Vergara, to reach Pole.
Annie Flores moved into the first-money-round quarterfinal with an 8-3 win over Pole, where she was joined by Hernandez, who’d sent Fleming home 8-5. Flores’ bid for further advancement was halted abruptly by Hernandez, who shut her out. Hernandez then won five matches in a row on his way to an 8-2 victory over Dechaine in the semifinals. He completed his run with a successful rematch against Rodriguez 11-8.
Osipov spends all but one match on the loss side and in finals, downs the man who sent him over
Alex Osipov, who’s in the midst of his best earnings year, to date (since 2011), came to the 2018 Eastern States Championships with two Amateur victories and one Pro event victory on the Predator Tour this year. Two of those three victories – the single Pro and one of the Amateur events – were chalked up within the last month. So he came, as it were, prepared, though not for being sent to the loss side by Victor Nau in the opening round. Apparently not willing to settle for a short weekend, he worked his way through nine matches on the loss side (including one forfeit win) to eventually meet and defeat Nau in the finals.
With Osipov at work on the loss side, Nau advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Miguel Laboy. Raphael Ortiz, in the meantime, squared off against Luis Carrasco in the other one. Nau sent Laboy to a match against Osipov with a 7-4 win, and in the hot seat match, faced Ortiz, who’d sent Carrasco over 7-2. Nau claimed the hot seat with a forfeit by Ortiz, which meant that the winner of the quarterfinals would be leap-frogging over the semifinals and move directly into the finals.
On the loss side, Osipov chalked up loss-side wins #5 and #6 against Paul Everton 8-3 and Mario Lozano 9-7 to pick up Laboy. Carrasco drew Paul Lyons, who’d recently eliminated Ray Feliciano 7-2 and Suzzie Wong (the #2-ranked female on the Predator Pro Am Tour) 7-3. Osipov and Lyons handed Laboy and Carrasco their second straight loss; Osipov 7-4 over Laboy and Lyons 7-2 over Carrasco.
Knowing that winning the quarterfinal match would propel them directly into the finals, Osipov and Lyons both put up a fight. With Osipov, who came into the event as the tour’s #1-ranked A+ player and Lyons at #14 among the tour’s C+ players, Lyons began the quarterfinal race to 10 with five ‘on the wire’ already. He won his four to reach the hill, but Osipov won his nine to be there as well. Osipov closed it out and turned for his re-match against Nau.
In the straight-up-extended race to 9 final (Nau came into the event at #7 among the tour’s A+ players), Osipov, coming from the loss side, had to be the first to win seven racks to extend the race. He did so and went on to claim the Eastern States Championship’s Amateur title with a 9-4 win.
In a full field, 16-entrant, single elimination Second Chance event, Ambi Estevez picked up the first place, $150 prize, after winning a double hill final against Akiko Taniyama, who went home with a $100, runner up prize. Ron Bernardo and Freity DeLaRosa finished in the tie for third place and pocketed $30 each.
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, along with title sponsor Predator Cues,, NAPL, Cappelle (, Ozone Billiards and the DeVito Team. The next stop on the Predator Tour (#13), scheduled for Sept. 15-16, will feature a $750-added, Double Points Amateur event and a $250-added Pro event, to be hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

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.

Miller comes back from semifinals to down Cleary and win Predator Pro Am stop at Steinway

(l to r): Andrew Cleary, Rick Miller & Matthias Gutzmann

When the Predator Pro Am Tour held its annual tour championships back in early December, the $10,500-added event drew 89 invited entrants. The winner, Rhys Chen, pocketed $7,000 for his undefeated run through the field. Though correlation does not always signify causation, it would appear that the $7,000 top prize in that event has led to increased interest in sufficient participation in Predator Pro Am Tour events this year to qualify for (be invited to) the 2018 Tour Championships. The Predator Pro Am Tour opened its 2018 season with a record 115 entrants at a $1,000-added event, hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. Though Andrew Cleary battled Rick Miller and claimed the hot seat in this event, Miller returned from the semifinals to defeat Cleary and win the Predator Pro Am season opener.
Second and Third Chance events drew 16 and 14 entrants, respectively. Jason Carandang won the Second Chance event, downing George Poltorak in the finals. Victor Nau chalked up the win in the Third Chance event, defeating Jessica Lynn in that one.
In the main event, Miller advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Tom Wan, as Cleary squared off against Matthias Gutzmann in the other one.  Cleary got into the hot seat match with a 7-2 win over Gutzmann, and was joined by Miller, who’d sent Wan west 7-5. Cleary claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Miller and waited on his return from the semifinals.
On the loss side, Wan picked up Junior Singh, who’d defeated Jimmy Acosta 7-3 and Thomas Schreiber 7-5 to reach him. Gutzmann drew Mark Zamora, who’d eliminated Amy Yu 7-3 (ending a seven-match, loss-side winning streak for Yu), and Quang Nguyen 7-5.
Singh advanced to the quarterfinals 8-6 over Wan, and was joined by Gutzmann, who’d ended Zamora’s weekend 7-6. Gutzmann advanced another step, downing Singh in those quarterfinals 7-5. Miller ended Gutzmann’s three-match, loss-side trip with an 8-5 win in the semifinals.
In the extended-race-to-9 finals, Cleary was tasked with chalking up seven racks before Miller, at which point, the match and tournament would have ended with Cleary as its undefeated winner. Miller, though, reached the seven-match mark first, and added two more – to Cleary’s 3, total – to claim the event title.
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his staff for their continuing hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards,, Capelle Publishing, NAPL,, and his own Predator Pro Am staff, including his wife, Gail Robles, Irene Kim, Mandy Wu, William Finnegan, and Rob Omen. This year's Predator Pro Am Tour will feature 11 stops that will include both Amateur and Pro events. The first of these, scheduled for February 10-11, will combine a $750-added event for Amateurs and a $250-added event for Pros, both to be hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY. 

Spahiu Makes Statement at UPT Tour Stop

Besar Spahiu (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

 As the day's of the Inaugural UPT Tournament drew near and the players list was filling up, Besar Spahiu was the biggest underdog leading to the event. July 6th, 2017 as the players filled Raxx Pool Room in West Hempstead, Spahiu had paid the Amateur level entry fee to later on prove that he was much more. 
The Ultimate Pool Tournament Inaugural event drew just under 30 players, and with such a small field, there were some big name players. The Ultimate Pool Tournament brought out a format for the event in which a set can go hill-hill or a complete blowout. In order to rise to the occasion, Besar Spahiu quickly realized by the second day of the event, the break is what would win him the tournament. As players were breaking from the box, with the 10ball racked on the spot, balls were flying everywhere, but a dry break quickly lead to players losing that rack. Besar,had utilized his breaking capabilities in which majority of his break shots lead to 1 or more balls being pocketed. 
Spahiu drew one of the tougher Amateur leveled players in NY, rated A++ on the Predator Pro/AM Tour,Rob Pole. Spahiu And Rob began play at 7PM on July 6th in what was expected to be a great showcase for the first round match. Besar quickly set the stage with a quick win over Pole even before the 2hour time limit sending Pole to the Loser side to face Co-Founder of UPT, Elvis Rodriguez. At this point, Besar had patiently waited for his next opponent for the 9PM round in which he had already felt comfortable. Denis Grabe had just completed his battle with Michael Wong in a outstanding 9-2 victory as Besar was already awaiting for Denis at the next table. 
Denis and Besar had an incredible back and forth battle, in what had boiled down to the better breaks and capitalization of the spread. As the match had finished up fairly quickly, once again before the 2hour time limit, Besar was feeling good about himself with a win over the Estonian sending Grabe to the "B" side of the chart.
What had lied in the eyes of Besar was determination. Besar would continue his quest on Friday with the first round with Brooklyn's own, Jorge Rodriguez. Besar came in equipped and ready for battle, but Jorge had the better of the set. The first round had left both players aggravated at the mistakes and the rolls of the table, but both players never gave up. Young 24 year old Besar was on a mission that day as he quested to be the better player but Jorge Rodriguez had stopped him in his tracks with a 9-6 win over Spahiu. This match had pushed Jorge Rodriguez to remain on the winner side to face, "King Kong Kaci" as one referenced him over the livestream of the event. Klenti Kaci would try to avenge for his friend in a semi-finals round with Rodriguez. 
Over on the "B" side of the bracket Spahiu needed to  redeem himself from his mistakes as he did not waste any time as he went on the next available table for practice. In what was another back and forth battle with a credited player from the Predator Pro/Am Tour, Besar Spahiu had played Victor Nau in the 5PM round. Given that this was Besar's 2nd match for the day but 3rd match for Victor, Victor seemed to be fatigued at the early going of the match letting Besar get the early lead of the set. Taking a break at the 4th rack,it was just what both players needed to rejuvenate. With Besar having a 4-1 lead over Victor, he had let loose at this time of the set allowing Victor to step up to the plate and making it a 4-3 game in a matter of minutes. Besar knew at this point he couldn't let this one slip, as he shifted into a higher gear playing a lot of tough safeties leaving Victor, nearly impossible kicks but someone was able to get out of them. As though the safeties didn't plan out as great as Besar wanted to, both players gave it there. In which at one point everyone thought Besar would have definitely lost this set. Besar playing with determination had other plans, better plans, as Besar capitalized on some key mistakes leading with 8-6 on Victor, Besar breaks the following rack making not a singLe Mistake to win the set. With a sigh of relief after that win, Besar's toughest opponent was yet to come. At the 7PM round Besar was waiting on 2 world renown players, Tony Robles and Mika Immonen in what had been a blow out that no one saw coming, Tony had beaten Mika and sent him packing with a 9-3 victory. 
Table 28 of Raxx Pool Room, the secondary streaming table of the event was appointed to the Besar and Tony Robles match without regret. This match showcased the immortality of Besar Spahiu amongst thousands of spectators worldwide. In what had been already a long day for all players competing, Besar showed what he was really made of. Besar played hands-down the best he had played while competing at this event. Tony Robles had seemed to use all his energy in his previous match against Mika, but he was shooting well enough to run a table. Unfortunately, everyone makes mistakes, and that is what exactly happened in this match. Besar limited the amount of times Tony Robles was able to shoot at the table. Besar capitalized on every mistake made by Robles to gain the early leade of 3-0 then 5-0 then 7-0. Besar was playing well, and Tony Robles was being outplayed by the Albanian youngster. Everyone was astonished from the spectators to the commentators to the fans tuned in from Tokyo to Serbia. A well fought day to stay alive , Besar had completed his quest to compete another day and head over to Day number 3 in which 6 players would return for a prize purse of over 10,000.00.
Spahiu would return to day 3 bright and early, an hour and a half before his scheduled match awaiting his opponent Jeremy "Giant Killer" Sossei who had came a long way and battled through a tough field consisting of Mark Gray, Elvis Rodriguez, Alex Kazakis, Jon Smith and Jorge Rodriguez. Jeremy and Besar would go on and put on a show for everyone watching as the safety battles were intense and both players were in it to win it. The experience of Jeremy Sossei made him the favorite, but Besar being the under dog had already set the stage that he was very well much playing on the same plane as his partner, Klenti Kaci. Spahiu and Sossei would put on quiet a match which lead to about 2 hours and 30 minutes. At the end the underdog became the big dog as Besar won to move on to the next round with a tremendous win of 9-7 over Jeremy Sossei. 
Besar would quickly break away from pool as Alex Kazakis had been waiting after a loss to Klenti Kaci for the hot seat match. This match would have been the longest match of the event traveling a bit over 3 hours of play on the main stream table. As both players were determined to cash for the grand prize, both players played nothing short of great and they had both put on a show for the fans. With a neck and neck set of points going back and forth, this set was a true meaning of a pool match. Both players triumphed with incredible runs, mistakes, safeties and unbelievable encounters back and forth, it was obvious that both it was taking a toll on the players. Besar would take the lead, as Alex Kazakis would trail right behind him and never letting Besar lead by more than 3 points ahead. The set had came down to the wire, in which the match was 8-8, as Alex was at the table, it came down to tieing up the 7ball and Cue Ball in which Alex was more than capable of running out. Besar took advantage of the failed safe played by Alex and ran the table to gain the win and the right to play in the finals. 
The finals would come about around 9PM on Saturday July 8th as the chat room was packed and Klenti had been waiting for 5 long hours for this match. Besar and Klenti had both came here from Albania with one mission on their mind and that was to conquer to pool world of America. Klenti Kaci was the favorite leading to this match, but after the show Besar had put on, everyone thought twice about this match up. The finals was set up for a single race to 11 points in which both players made many mistakes throughout the sets. At some times of the match both players would make mistakes that they would end up conceding with 3-4 and even 5 balls on the table.As the set started winding down, it seemed as if Besar Spahiu was ready for another tournament. The ending result coming down to 11-7 victory over Klenti Kaci, and that was a statement made out to the pool world that Besar will be a dominant factor in every tournament he participates in.
The Ulimate Pool Tournament founds would like to congratulate Besar Spahiu on a well deserved win of claiming the top prize and earning the respect of many for his determination and dedication to be the best. 

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.

Ignacio and Warnock come from the loss side(s) to win season opener on the Predator Tour

Miguel Laboy, Stewart Warnock and Rene Villalobos

Stewart Warnock has been either the winner or runner-up in at least one Predator or Tri-State Tour stop, every year over the past five years. To keep that streak intact, he chalked up his first 2015 Predator win on the weekend of January 17-18. Warnock came back from a defeat among the winners' side final four, and defeated hot seat occupant, Miguel Laboy in the Predator Tour's season opener. On the Open/Pro side, Jeffrey Ignacio and Earl Strickland battled twice, with Ignacio claiming the second, final match to claim that title. The $500-added Open/Pro event drew 22 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. The $1,000-added Amateur event drew a record 110 entrants.
"Every year, we go up," said Tour Director Tony Robles. "Last year, we drew 105 for our season opener and the year before that, it was 90-something."
Robles won the season opener in 2014, coming back from a hot seat defeat, to meet and defeat Mike Dechaine in the finals. This year, Earl Strickland defeated Robles 7-4  in a winners' side semifinal, as the eventual winner, Ignacio, sent Frankie Hernandez to the losers' bracket 7-5. Strickland took the first of his two versus Ignacio 7-5, and waited for him to get back.
Both Hernandez and Robles would lose their second match immediately; Hernandez to Jorge Rodriguez 7-5 and Robles to Zion Zvi 7-4. Rodriguez defeated Zvi 7-5 in the quarterfinals, and was then himself defeated by Ignacio in the semifinals 7-3. Ignacio took full advantage of his re-match opportunity, defeating Strickland 11-5 to claim the Open/Pro title.
In the Amateur event, Laboy and Warnock met first in a winners' side semifinal, won by Laboy 7-4. Rene Villalobos, after surviving a double hill battle against Adrian Daniel, joined Laboy in the battle for the hot seat. Though Villalobos would draw within a game of double hill, Laboy won it to claim the hot seat.
On the loss side, Warnock drew Victor Nau, who'd gotten by Duc Lam and Al Zea, both 7-5. Daniel picked up Mike Figueroa, who'd defeated Chris Guariglia 7-5 and Chris Brooks 7-4. Warnock advanced to the quarterfinals on the heels of a double hill win over Nau. Figueroa eliminated Daniel 7-5 to join him.
Warnock then defeated Figueroa 9-7, and in the semifinals, Villalobos 8-7. Warnock claimed the event title, successfully wreaking vengeance for the earlier loss with a 9-6 win in the finals.

Mason goes undefeated to win Amateur stop on the Predator Tour

Sossei wins short-field Open/Pro event
Ron Mason, last seen in a Predator Tour winners' circle back in March of 2012, when he came from the loss to side to chalk up the victory, wound his way through a field of 26 to go undefeated on a Predator Tour Amateur stop on the weekend of September 27-28. The $500-added event drew the 26 to Mr. Cues, in Lindenhurst, NY. A concurrently-run Open/Pro event drew a short field of eight entrants, and was won by Jeremy Sossei.
Mason's win came in spite of being tightly challenged by Roger Lakotko in the hot seat match and then, in the finals, by Jerry Tarantola, who'd won five on the loss side for the right to face him. Mason drew Dan Faraguna in a winners' side semifinal, while Lakotko squared off against John Schott, who'd just sent Tarantola to the losers' bracket. Lakotko defeated Schott 7-3, as Mason was busy downing Faraguna 7-4. Lakotko battled Mason to double hill before giving way and moving to a semifinal match against Tarantola, from which he would not return.
Tarantola began his five-match, loss-side march to the finals with a 7-2 win over Asa Shaw, and then hung on to win a double hill fight over Victor Nau, which set Tarantola up for a re-match against Schott. Kevin Falco, in the meantime, defeated Lionell Swanston 7-4 and Joe Wilson Torres 7-3, to pick up Faraguna.
Tarantola survived his second straight double hill match, successfully wreaking his vengeance on Schott, as Faraguna was busy eliminating Falco 7-3. Tarantola took the quarterfinal match against Faraguna 8-6, and the semifinal match against Lakotko 7-5. Mason, though, was not to be denied. He took the final match 8-5 to claim the Amateur event title.
The Open/Pro event consisted of 14 matches, the first four of which created the winners' side semifinals; Jeremy Sossei defeated Scott Murphy 8-2, Frankie Hernandez downed Tour Director Tony Robles 8-6, Joey Korsiak survived a double hill match versus Warren Kiamco and Hunter Lombardo got by Joe Davis 8-4. Sossei and Lombardo then downed Hernandez and Korsiak, both 8-6, and faced each other in the hot seat match. Lombardo took that, double hill, and sat in the hot seat, awaiting Sossei's return.
On the loss side, Murphy eliminated Robles 8-6 to face Korsiak, as Kiamco defeated Davis 8-2 to pick up Hernandez.  It was Hernandez and Korsiak advancing to the quarterfinals; Hernandez 8-5 over Kiamco, and Korsiak over Murphy 8-3. It was Hernandez who advanced to a semifinal re-match against Sossei with an 8-4 win over Korsiak. 
Sossei defeated Hernandez 8-4 and then took full advantage of his second opportunity against Lombardo, defeating him 11-8 in the finals to claim the event title. 

Tang comes from the loss side to win 1st Annual Eastern States Amateur Championship

Eric Tang returned from a winners' side semifinal defeat at the hands of Dennis Levesque to defeat him in the finals of the newly-revived Eastern States Amateur Championship, held on Labor Day weekend. The $2,000-added event drew 75 entrants to Snooker's Billiards in Providence, RI. A concurrently-run, $3,000-added Pro event  (separate story) drew 30 entrants.
Tang (an "A" player) and Levesque (a "B+") met first in the winners' side semifinal, as Dan Faraguna (B) and Mark Small (C) met up in the other. Levesque took the first (and last) of two against Tang 7-3 and in the hot seat match, met up with Small, who'd sent Faraguna west 7-4. Levesque gained the hot seat 8-7 over Small and waited on Tang.
Tang moved over and picked up Paul Dryden, who'd defeated Ryan Cullen and Victor Nau, both 7-5, to reach him. Faraguna drew Josh Gormly, who'd eliminated Chris Amaral 7-4 and Mike Demarco 7-5. Tang got by Dryden 7-2, and after Gormly had defeated Faraguna 7-3, Tang defeated him 7-2 in the quarterfinals.
Tang chalked up the third straight loss-side match in which he'd given up only two racks by defeating Small in the semifinals 9-2. Levesque, in the finals, challenged that streak, as he and Tang battled to double hill (8-7). Tang chalked up game #16 to snatch the title away from Levesque.
Tour Director Tony Robles thanked Steve and Regina Goulding, owners of Snookers, and their staff, as well as "(his) lovely wife, Gail," NYCGrind, NAPL, AZBTV, New England 9-Ball Series, Gloria Jean's Ride the NineTour,, Gotham City Technologies, Ozone, Delta-13 racks and ("the Big Kahuna," said Robles) Predator Cues.