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Hohmann chalks up final, double hill thriller to capture 7th Steinway Classic

Tony Robles, Thorsten Hohmann, Manny Stamatakis and tournament director John Leyman (Erwin Dionisio)

They were an odd couple, left standing on Thursday evening, October 17. Not . . . strange, or all that unexpected, or even odd enough to be characterized as a surprise, just . . . odd. In the 45-entrant field at the $7,000-added, 10-Ball 7th Steinway Classic, hosted, of course, by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY from October 15-17, Thorsten Hohmann and Fedor Gorst were unlikely to have been the two players deemed most likely to appear in the event final. In fact, the euphemistic spectator choices for the two most likely candidates were, as one might have expected, Shane Van Boening and Dennis Orcollo.
 
There were three members of the USA Mosconi Cup Team that were competing (Van Boening, Billy Thorpe and Tyler Styer), and two members of Team EUROPE – Jayson Shaw and Alex Kazakis. There was also, among others, Mike Dechaine, Lee Van Corteza, James Aranas, Jeremy Sossei, Tony Robles, Ruslan Chinakhov, Chris Melling and a boatload of serious local talent, like Frankie Hernandez, Joey Korsiak, Michael Yednak, Hunter Lombardo and Raphael Dabreo, to name just a few. Any one of them capable of winning the event on the proverbial “any given Sunday,” but this was mid-week, Tuesday through Thursday, and Hohmann went undefeated through the field, downing Gorst twice to claim the title.
 
Hohmann didn’t back into the title with a series of easy draws and just luck out. He faced the ‘meat’ of that entrant list and in spite of being occasionally off-stride in the early going of several matches, hung in to win it all, including a breathtaking comeback in an “all you could ask for” final match.
 
Hohmann did have something of an easy time in his opening match against local talent Elvis Rodriguez, but a shutout over him led to a nail-biting, double hill match against “Fireball” Mike Dechaine, which Hohmann won and followed with a 9-6 win over Venezuela’s Jalal Yousef. He then downed Greece’s Alex Kazakis 9-3 to draw Dennis Orcollo in a winners’ side semifinal; Orcollo having just sent Van Boening to the loss side 9-6.
 
Gorst’s path went through Chris Melling 9-3, local talents Michael Badstseubner and Zion Zvi, both 9-4, before arriving at a winners’ side quarterfinal match against Polish 18-year-old Wiktor Zielinski, the youngest player to ever win a Euro Tour event (the 2017 Treviso Open). Zielinski battled him to double hill before giving way and allowing Gorst to advance to his winners’ side semifinal match against Jeremy Sossei.
 
Hohmann and Orcollo locked up into a somewhat predictable double hill match that eventually sent Hohmann to the hot seat match. He was joined by Gorst, who’d sent Sossei to the loss side 9-6. Gorst took the opening rack of the hot seat match, but he and Hohmann battled back and forth to a 5-5 tie, before Hohmann broke out to win the next four and claim the hot seat. He waited in it to see how the youngster fared against Van Boening in the semifinals.
 
After his defeat at the hands of Orcollo in the winners’ side quarterfinal, Van Boening moved over and ran right into Mike Dechaine, who was working on a four-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end and had included, most recently, a 9-3 win that took James Aranas out of the picture. Van Boening ended Dechaine’s streak 9-7 and then, in a double hill fight, ended Alex Kazakis’ brief loss-side run to draw Sossei. Orcollo drew the youngster, Zielinski, who, following his defeat at the hands of Gorst had picked up loss-side wins over Hsu Jui-An 9-4 and much (one would assume) to the surprise of Jayson Shaw, defeated him double hill to face Orcollo.
 
Van Boening and Sossei fought to double hill before Van Boening prevailed and advanced to the quarterfinals. Orcollo earned the rematch by prevailing 9-5 over the youngster Zielinski, whose performance and finish in this event is bound to increase his spectator popularity in events ahead.  Van Boening was picking up speed as he approached the finish line and eliminated Orcollo 9-3 in the quarterfinals.
 
It was clear from the outset that the much-younger Gorst was going to give Van Boening all he could handle in the semifinals that followed. It was something of a cautionary tale for Van Boening, as he prepares for the Mosconi Cup next month, as he went down to defeat against Gorst 9-7.
 
As had been happening, more or less throughout the tournament, Hohmann got off to a bit of a bad start in the finals; a five-rack bad start at the end of which he had failed to chalk up so much as one. But then, as though someone had flipped a switch, Hohmann settled in to win the next five racks. Gorst slipped a rack in to make it 6-5, before Hohmann came back to win two and take his first lead at 7-6.
 
Hohmann missed a chance to go ahead by two, rattling a 9-ball in a corner pocket and allowing Gorst to tie things up at 7-7. They traded racks to an 8-8 tie before Gorst chalked up rack 17. It was a critical juncture in the match, as Gorst got out in front by a first, second and then, a third, and a fourth rack to put himself on the hill at 12-8 for extending the race to 15 games.
 
Hohmann came back with some extraordinary shooting in the 21st rack to chalk up his 9th (12-9); the crowd reaction (including comments from the booth in the live stream broadcast) was muted, as though they were encouraging someone who’s doing their best in a losing battle. Gorst moved on and over the course of the next two racks, made two critical unforced errors, which Hohmann took full advantage of to pull within one at 12-11.
 
And suddenly, it was 12-12, and calm as you please, Hohmann chalked up the win in the final rack and claimed the 7th Steinway Classic title.
 
Silent Assassin Production’s Tony Robles (who competed, was sent to the loss side by Roland Garcia and eliminated by Tyler Styer) thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as the event’s official director, John Leyman. He extended thanks, as well, to the usual members of his own staff, including his own “lovely wife, Gail,” and Irene Kim. He also acknowledged the work of UpstateAL and his broadcast crew for their streaming coverage of the event throughout the three days, the photograph work of Ernest Dionisio and thanked title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, Poolonthenet.com, Capelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine and Billiards Digest.
 
The next event, to be held under the auspices of Robles’ Silent Assassin Productions, scheduled to begin today (Saturday, Oct. 19) and continue through tomorrow will be the 6th Annual NYC 8-Ball Championships, sponsored by Dr. Michael Fedak and hosted by Steinway Billiards. The Predator Pro Am Tour will return to Steinway the following weekend (Oct. 26-27).

Sossei goes undefeated, downing Korsiak twice to claim Eastern States Championships

(l to r): Jeremy Sossei, Joey Korsiak, Tony Robles and Jonathan Smith

They’re familiar rivals, Jeremy Sossei and Joey Korsiak. Joey’s been around a little longer; his recorded exploits dating back 20 years. Jeremy’s on record (here) back to 2007. They’re both veterans of the Joss Northeast 9-Ball and Predator Pro Am Tours and have met on numerous (sometimes unrecorded) occasions. When Jeremy arrived at the 2019 Eastern States Championships at Steinway Billiards this past Labor Day Weekend (August 31-Sept. 2), he’d already chalked up five wins on the 2019 Joss Tour, four of them in a row from April to June. Joey entered the tournament with only two ‘cash’ appearances on his 2019 resume. He finished 28th at the Derby City Classic 9-Ball event and was runner-up to Frankie Hernandez at a Predator stop in March. He was among the top five finishers in six events last year and downed Zion Zvi in the finals of a Predator stop last June.
 
As far as we know, the only time they met in a final before this past weekend was in February 2011, when Joey defeated Jeremy in the finals of a Predator Pro Am event. Joey finished as runner-up in another Predator event in April of that year, with Sossei finishing in fourth place.
 
They met twice in this year’s $1,500-added, 10-Ball Open/Pro division of the Eastern States Championships, which, held under the auspices of the Predator Pro Am Tour, drew 19 entrants to Steinway Billiards over the weekend. There was, arguably, a lot more at stake for Korsiak than there was for Sossei as they squared off in the finals of this one. For Sossei, it was going to be just a 6th notch on his 2019 victory belt. For Korsiak, on the other hand, a victory over Sossei would have been his first major victory since last June and only his third since he defeated Sossei eight years ago. It made for some high drama in the finals on Monday night.
 
A concurrent, $1,500-added Amateur event (separate story) drew 83 entrants to Steinway. Gary Bozigian went undefeated to claim that title, downing Matt Klein in the finals.
 
Sossei and Korsiak met first in the winners’ side semifinals of the Open/Pro event. Jonathan Smith and Michael Yednak squared off in the other one. Sossei sent Korsiak to the loss side 9-4 and advanced to the hot seat match against Smith, who’d defeated Yednak 9-6. Sossei claimed the hot seat and waited for Korsiak to finish his three-match march back to the finals.
 
On the loss side, Korsiak picked up Del Sim, who’d eliminated Duc Lam 9-6 and Zion Zvi, double hill, to reach him. Yednak drew Predator Pro Am Tour director Tony Robles. Yednak had sent him to the loss side in an earlier round and Robles had recently defeated Vinko Rumora 9-1 and survived a double hill match versus Jorge Rodriguez to earn the re-match.
 
Robles won the rematch against Yednak and Korsiak downed Sim by the same 9-5 score. Korsiak then eliminated Robles 9-5 in the quarterfinals.
 
Korsiak’s interest in a rematch against Sossei in the hot seat was evident in the gritty double hill victory he chalked up against Smith in the semifinals. As Labor Day drew to a close, Korsiak and Sossei went to work.
 
Sossei opened things with a break and run that was followed immediately by a tight safety match in which they both took about a half dozen shots at the 1-ball before Sossei broke out of it and went up 2-0. Sossei broke dry on the third rack and though Korsiak ran to the 6-ball, he got a little out of position shooting at the 7-ball, missed it and watched Sossei make it 3-0.
 
Korsiak got on the board with rack #4 and drew within one by winning rack #5, as well. They traded racks to 5-4, when Sossei jumped out by two to regain the three-rack lead he owned at the start. Korsiak reduced it back down to two (7-5) with a rack #12 win.
 
Rack #13 proved to be about as unlucky as it gets. Korsiak played a terrific safe shot that forced Sossei to make a soft-shot, multi-rail kick at the 3-ball. He touched it successfully, but it barely moved in the jaws of a corner pocket and Korsiak made the assumption that nothing had hit the rail after contact. Sossei tried to tell him that he’d made a good hit, but Korsiak reached out and touched the cue ball, committing a foul that in essence, took the wind out of his sails.
 
Sossei took the ball in hand and closed out the rack to reach the hill first; 8-5 in the extended-race-to-11 format (if Korsiak reached 9 first, the race would extend to 11).  Rack #14 featured a couple of unforced errors by both of them; Sossei dropped a ball that he had called safe, Korsiak missed a relatively easy shot that was a gateway to the 14th rack finish line, and Sossei scratched shooting at the 8-ball. Korsiak made another unforced error but managed to leave Sossei a difficult shot. Sossei made the shot he had to make and closed it out 9-5 to capture the 2019 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 entire Predator Pro Am staff, to include his lovely wife, Gail. Robles also acknowledged the efforts of UpstateAl and his AZBTv staff for their streaming of selected matches throughout the weekend.

Turning Stone Classic XXXII – – Matt Tetreault vs Zion Zvi

No Real Upsets at Turning Stone Day One

Matt Tetreault (Erwin Dionisio)

Day one at the Turning Stone Classic XXXII went pretty much as expected, with no real upsets of note. All of the top players advanced into day two without a loss. 
 
The first rounds usually don’t offer many “marquee matches” but it looked like there would be one in the first round matchup between Joss Tour regular Matt Tetreault and Zion Zvi. Tetreault had other plans though, as he cruised to a dominating 9-1 win over Zvi. 
 
Bruce Carroll, who got into the tournament at the last minute because of a no-show, took an early 2-0 lead over former champion Billy Thorpe, but Thorpe quickly righted his ship to tie things at 4-4 and then go on to win the match 9-5. Jim Prather did what he could to give the fans an upset as he fought Johnny Archer to a 4-4 tie before Archer took control of the match and won 9-4. Brandon Shuff was on his way to a convincing win over Jesse Docalavich in the final round of the night when he held an early 6-0 lead. Docalavich wasn’t going to just hand Shuff the win though, as he came back to 6-4 down, to get Shuff’s attention. Shuff then regained control for the 9-5 win. 
 
Upstate Al is providing a free stream of select matches on his Facebook page and the noon (Eastern Time) match looks like a great one between Shane Van Boening and Johnny Archer. We are providing complete coverage of the event with online brackets and real time scoring for the duration of the event. 

Turning Stone Classic XXXII Underway

Jayson Shaw (File photo courtesy of Dave Thomson – Medium Pool)

The Turning Stone Classic XXXII kicks off today at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY. 
 
Reigning champion Jayson Shaw is once again in attendance, along with four time winner Shane Van Boening, six time winner Johnny ArcherMika Immonen, Earl Strickland, Thorsten Hohmann, Brandon Shuff, Danny Hewitt, Frankie Hernandez and Erik Hjorleifson.
 
Brackets are online and we will be covering this event with real time scoring all weekend long. For those who can’t make it to Turning Stone, Upstate Al will be providing a free live stream of feature matches for the entire event. 
 
Today’s streaming matches are:
4:00 PM Matt Tetreault vs Zion Zvi
6:00 Chris Pyle vs Earl Strickland
8:00 Frankie Hernandez vs Matt Krah
10:00 Len Gianfrate vs Loree Jon Jones

NYC Scotch Doubles 8-Ball Championships Crown Four Winners

Tony Robles and his team at Silent Assassin Productions welcomed 164 players to Steinway Billiards on August 3rd – 4th for four divisions of the 3rd Annual NYC Scotch Doubles 8-Ball Championship. 
 
The Leisure Division saw the smallest field, twelve teams, competing for first prize. This division saw Amanda Andries & Henry Chan redeem themselves after a 5-2 loss to Kendall Nunn & Radames Marimon for the hot-seat. Andries & Chan bounced back with a hill-hill win over Cesar Becerra & Maxwell Musser in the semi-final match, and then another hill-hill win in the extended final match over Nunn & Marimon.
 
The Open Division drew a field of thirty seven teams and there was no late tournament redemption in this one, as the team of Artur Trzeciak & Sebastian Karwas went undefeated with a 6-3 hot-seat win over Charlene Capers & Jerry Alexander and then a 6-0 win over Capers & Alexander in the finals. 
 
The Advanced Division’s eighteen teams played a tight final few matches with John Durr & Ken Batal taking the hot-seat with a 6-4 win over Quang Nguyen & Jimmy Tran. Nguyen & Tran then lost to Chris Schmidt & Kevin Scalzitti in the semi-final match 5-2. The extended final match was another close one, with Durr & Batal winning the hill-hill match for first place. 
 
The absolute top players competed in the sixteen team Master Division, where Miguel Batista & Wilberto Ortiz were undefeated with wins over Zion Zvi & Duc Lam for the hot-seat 7-4 and again in the finals 7-5. 
 
Robles wished his thanks to UpState AL and his team for hosting the free live stream courtesy of Blatt Billiards, John Leyman for being the official referee, tournament assistants Julie Ha, Tommy Schreiber and Irene Kim,  Erwin Dionisio for his fantastic photography, and Steinway Billiards, National Amateur Pool League (NAPL) and Predator Cues for their sponsorship.  He also wished a huge thanks to all of the players for their enthusiasm and support of the event.  
 
Robles and his team will be back at Steinway Billiards on October 19th – 20th for the six divisions of the NYC 8-Ball Championship Singles Championships.

Kazakis goes undefeated to claim Open/Pro side of 9th Annual Ginky Memorial

Jayson Shaw, Alex Kazakis, James Aranas and Hunter Lombardo

In the absence of defending champion, Klenti Kaci and runner-up Lee Van Corteza (or third-place finisher, Mike Dechaine), Jayson Shaw and Alex Kazakis were the early, euphemistic ‘fan favorites’ going into the 9th Annual George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial Tournament, held over this past Memorial Day weekend (May 25-27). There was a bit of a collective groan when Shaw stumbled in the third round, falling to Del Sim, double hill, to begin a loss-side trip, but the Scotsman validated fan interest in his abilities when he won seven on the loss side to meet Kazakis in the finals. Kazakis, though, coming off his best earnings year to date (2018), completed an undefeated run by downing Shaw in the finals to claim the 9th Open/Pro 10-Ball Ginky Memorial title. The $2,000-added event, held under the combined auspices of the Predator Pro Am, Tri-State and Mezz Tours, drew 36 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
The weekend also included a $2,000-added Amateur event, which, like the Open/Pro event drew a record field of 169 entrants, divided initially into upper and lower handicapped brackets. Jason Sheerman won seven on the loss side to meet and defeat the man who’d sent him there, Jimmy Acosta, in the finals. Further details on the Ginky Memorial’s Amateur tournament, which once again, crowned a unique champion, will be featured in a separate report.
 
As it turned out, Del Sim’s triumph over the event’s presumed ‘favorite’ was short-lived and ended with a 9-4 loss to Kazakis in one of the winners’ side quarterfinals. What was left at that point was a list of three usual suspects, with one unusual suspect to compete in the winners’ side semifinals. Kazakis advanced to face Jeremy Sossei, who’d just survived a double hill fight versus Raphael Dabreo. The other usual suspect, Zoren James Aranas, advanced to meet the somewhat unusual suspect, 19-year-old Russian phenom, Kristina Tkach, who was the event’s only female competitor.
 
Kazakis sent Sossei to the loss side 9-7, while Aranas sent Tkach west 9-3. Early on, in the battle for the hot seat, it looked as though the second ‘fan favorite’ – Kazakis – was going to join Shaw on the loss side. Aranas jumped out to a 4-0 lead, before Kazakis woke up and chalked up four of his own to tie it and then, take the lead at 5-4. Aranas responded with three racks to tie and retake the lead at 7-5. They proved to be the last three racks he would win in the match. Kazakis followed his five-in-a-row with four-in-a-row to reach the hill first and then, claim the hot seat.
 
Over on the loss side, Kristina Tkach drew an immediate rematch against the man she’d defeated in the third round of play, Hunter Lombardo. Lombardo had defeated Jimmy Rivera 9-5, Raphael Dabreo 9-1 and moving into the first money round, just did survive a double hill fight against the  Ginky Memorial’s 2016 champion Zion Zvi. Zvi had previously spoiled any hopes Shaw might have been entertaining about a rematch versus Del Sim by defeating Sim 9-6. Sossei had the misfortune of picking up Shaw, four matches into his loss-side winning streak, having given up only eight racks over the past 35 games; two to Mhet Vergara, three to Alan Rolon and three to Dmitris Loukatos.
 
Lombardo successfully navigated his way through his rematch against Tkach, which was tight through about the halfway point of the match. He pulled out in front and advanced to the quarterfinals 9-5. Shaw joined him after eliminating Sossei by the same 9-5 score.
 
Shaw took an early 3-0 lead in the quarterfinals, after which, briefly, it looked as though Lombardo was going to give him a run for his money, literally. Lombardo won two to draw within one at 3-2. Shaw, though, roared right back to win another three in a row to go out in front by four at 6-2. Lombardo fought back a second time with another two, but they’d prove to be the last two. Shaw added his third run of three to win it 9-4.
 
Now, as one might imagine, things started to tighten up. Though externally calm and composed, it was clear from the semifinal get-go that both Shaw and Aranas wanted a shot at Kazakis in the hot seat. From all appearances, this might just have been a match between two buddies with nothing at stake but a good time playing pool; there was no grim determination, or frustration over the occasional (actually, rare) bad rolls. Even the mistakes, and there were a few, were met with an easy sense of humor as these two battled to see who’d be relegated to a third-place finish. It was rare to see either of them actually finish a rack. Each of them conceding up to three balls at the end of racks to move on.
 
Shaw took the opener and Aranas came back to tie it. Shaw won two and then, they traded racks back and forth to 5-3. Aranas missed the 8-ball in the 9th rack and conceded the final three balls to give Shaw a 6-3 lead. Aranas came right back with three in a row to tie things at 6-6 and then sunk four on the break, ran the other six balls and took his first lead at 7-6. It would be his last. Shaw won three straight to end the Filipino’s weekend 9-7.
 
The match everybody had been waiting for, was on.
 
It was a modified race to 11. If Shaw reached 11 first, they’d extend the match to 13. At the 8-7 mark, with Kazakis out in front, that probability remained. But getting there was more than half of the fun of this match, which was preceded by a few trick shot demonstrations by the two of them. Accompanied by microphone commentary that introduced the finalists, they placed two object balls on a diagonal from each other, and stroked the two balls simultaneously. The balls collided at the center of the table, each of them bouncing off the other and landing in a pocket. One time, one of the balls failed to drop into its designated pocket, but bounced off of an extra rail to land in a side pocket.
 
Demonstrations over, they lined up for the lag, won by Kazakis, who opened the proceedings with a win. Shaw responded with a win of his own to mark the first of four ties. Kazakis got out in front by two at 3-1, but Shaw came back to win two to tie it at 3-3. At 5-5, the tide turned in Kazakis’ favor. He won three in a row to give himself an 8-5 lead that he’d never relinquish (Shaw conceded the last three balls in the rack that gave Kazakis this biggest lead of the match).
 
Shaw closed the gap with two in a row to pull within one at 8-7, but in the following rack, Kazakis made a match-defining shot – an oblique angle, long table bank shot on the 8-ball – that led Shaw to concede the game’s last two balls. Kazakis won the next rack to reach the hill first and though Shaw won the 18th rack, Kazakis took the 19th to claim the event title.
 
Event director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his entire Steinway Billiards staff, who worked tirelessly, professionally and with remarkable grace throughout a long weekend with over 200 pool players and a contingent of venue regulars who spent time playing chess and backgammon at nearby tables. Robles also acknowledged his regular tour sponsors, including Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, Capelle (Billiards Press.com), PoolontheNet.com, The DeVito Team, as well as the cooperation of the other sponsoring tours (Tri-State and Mezz Tours) and the tireless, non-stop live stream operated by Upstate Al and his broadcast team.
 
Robles also made note to all in attendance of the defining fact that this annual event is held each year in memory of George “Ginky” Sansouci, who passed away in 2011, and whose legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of innumerable players in the New York area and wherever “Ginky” played. The event was attended by members of the Sansouci family, who were accorded ‘front row’ seating privileges for all of the live-streamed matches and remain deeply grateful for the opportunity to celebrate Ginky’s life with a living, breathing memorial to his influence on the game and the people who continue to play it. 

Aranas goes undefeated to win Diamond 10-Ball Pro Players Championship at 27th SBE

James Aranas (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

With just a touch of exaggeration, in about as much time as it takes to state the official tournament name – The 27th Annual Allen Hopkins’ Super Billiards Expo’s Diamond Open 10-Ball Pro Players Championships (or, AHSBEDO10-BPPC), held on the last weekend in March at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA – Zoren “James” Aranas from the Philippines went undefeated through a full field of 64 entrants to capture the event title, its $10,000 first-place prize and the Waterford Crystal trophy that went along with it. Aranas had won last year’s SBE ProAm Bar Box Championships. The trek to the winners’ circle entailed seven matches for Aranas; the first three, in a double elimination bracket that advanced him to a single-elimination, final round of 16 that featured four matches. He faced Oscar Dominguez in the finals, who played one extra loss-side match, which advanced him to the final 16, and eventually, after winning three, earned his slot in the finals against Aranas.
 
With some overlap (players in multiple events), the 2019 SBE drew over 3,000 entrants to its 11 events, which included a warm-up event, a Second Chance event and two junior events. A separate report will be posted regarding the results of the Ladies Open Event (47 entrants), the ProAm Bar Box Championships (32), the Open Amateur (1,024 entrants), Open Seniors (384), Super Seniors (192) and Women Amateurs (188). According to Allen Hopkins, it was the highest attendance figure in the event’s 27-year history.
 
There were, this year, a number of pro players, who were conspicuous by their absence, including (in the 10-Ball Open) the defending champion, Mike Dechaine, who, after registering, had to bow out for personal reasons. As a random example of those among the missing, of the 10 players who competed in the 2018 Mosconi Cup for the European and American teams, only three (all Americans) competed in this year’s SBE. All five of the European 2018 Mosconi Cup team members (as well as recent German ‘phenom,’ Joshua Filler) and two of the Americans (Shane Van Boening & Skyler Woodward) spent the same weekend in close proximity to the Rock of Gibraltar, competing in the 27th annual Dafabet World Pool Masters Championship, which featured a total prize fund ($100,000) that was over twice the total prize fund ($48,000) for the SBE’s marquee event – the Diamond Open 10-Ball Pro Players Championship – and featured less than half the players (24) of the SBE event (64). Last year’s World Pool Masters event was held in the first week of March and there is little or no information as to why that date was changed in a way that conflicted with the (scheduled way ahead of time) SBE.
 
The end result more or less allowed Aranas to navigate his way through a field that, for him, did not feature anyone with a higher FargoRate and no one closer than 20 points on that scale. With a FargoRate of 805 (going in), Aranas’ average opponent (of the seven he faced) had a FargoRate of 740. His closest competitor in that regard was Mika Immonen (785) and Aranas opened his seven-match run against a competitor (Matt Krah) with a 677 rating. It should be noted that pool has something of an “Any Given Sunday” rule, which dictates that at the upper levels of competition, with players sporting wide disparities in FargoRates, anything can and often does happen. This is not to say that Aranas wasn’t challenged in his seven-match march to the finish line, because he was, primarily in the single elimination phase of the event.
 
Though he would enter the finals with a 66.3% game-winning average (69-35), Aranas’ average over the three matches in the single elimination phase of the event was 59% (39-27). Once Aranas had sent Matt Krah to the loss side 10-1 in the double-elimination opening round, he went on to defeat Hunter Lombardo 10-5 and Jeremy Sossei 10-2, which moved him among the winners’ side final eight for advancement to single elimination. Joining him on the winners’ side final eight were ‘young gun’ Chris Robinson, Mika Immonen, Martin Daigle, Roberto Gomez, Jason Klatt, Ralf Souquet and Raymund Faraon, who’d just sent Oscar Dominguez to the loss side 10-7.
 
Dominguez opened his runner-up campaign by defeating Tommy Tokoph 10-8, and then, downing Jeremy Seaman 10-7. Raymund Faraon then sent him to the loss side 10-7, where he defeated Mahmut Sami Koylu 10-2 to qualify for the losers’ bracket final eight. Joining him from the loss side of the bracket among the Final 16 were John Morra, Thorsten Hohmann, Mosconi Cup USA team member Tyler Styer, Zion Zvi, another Mosconi Cup team member Billy Thorpe, Shaun Wilkie and Omar Alshaheen.
 
The final 16 featured two former US Open 9-Ball Champions – two-time champion Mika Immonen (‘08/’09) and Ralf Souquet (2002). Among those who competed, and conspicuous by their absence from the event’s final 16, were four other US Open champions; Johnny Archer (1999), Tommy Kennedy (1992), Corey Deuel (2001) and Gabe Owen (2004). Also MIA from the final 16 were Tony Robles, and Billy Thorpe. Former two-time US Open champion Darren Appleton (‘10/’11) was among the original 64 competitors, but after winning his opening round 10-8 over Robert Casanzio, he learned that his mother had passed away and went home to be with his family.
 
The first four to drop from the winners’ side final eight were Chris Robinson (to Aranas 13-11), Martin Daigle (to Immonen 13-9), Jason Klatt (to Gomez 13-7) and Ralf Souquet (to Faraon 13-5). This set up a winners’ side bracket set of semifinals that saw Aranas down Immonen 13-5, as Faraon eliminated Gomez 13-7. In the winners’ side final, Aranas defeated Faraon 13-11.
 
To the best of our knowledge, linked to the accuracy of SBE’s published brackets, there were only 12 matches in this entire event that went to double hill. As it turned out, Thorsten Hohmann was involved in three of them. Two of those three occurred during his three-match run among the final 16. He was one of the four who advanced to the losers’ bracket semifinal, defeating John Morra, double hill (the SBE Web site has this match result wrong). It was Hohmann’s second, double hill match; his first was in the event’s opening round against Chris Robinson. Hohmann’s losers’ bracket, semifinal opponent was Tyler Styer, who’d defeated Zion Zvi 13-16. Oscar Dominguez, in the meantime, bound for the event finals, had gotten by Billy Thorpe 13-9 and in his losers’ side semifinal, faced Omar Alshaheen, who’d eliminated Shaun Wilkie 13-6.
 
Dominguez downed Alshaheen 13-6 and in the twelfth and final double hill match of this Pro Players Championship, Oscar Dominguez eliminated Hohmann in a true, nail-biting, double hill match that never for a moment seemed in complete control by either of them.
 
For those seeking further information about the match specifics of any individual players or a more thorough understanding of the overall progress of the event toward its eventual outcome, you can visit the Super Billiards Expo Web site (superbilliardsexpo.com). You should be made aware, however, that while it features a preliminary, double elimination bracket that shows the final 16 that advanced to single-elimination play, and the winners’ and losers’ side brackets of that single-elimination play, it does not indicate that a final match between Aranas and Dominguez ever happened.
 
It did. Aranas completed his undefeated run with 13-10 victory over Dominguez (another very entertaining match) to claim the 2019 AHSBEDO10-BPPC.
 
Allen Hopkins thanked the management staff of the Greater Philadelphia Convention center, as well as his two tournament directors; Doug Ennis for the two Pro events and C.C. Strain for the Pro Am Bar Box and all Amateur events. Sponsors for this 27th Annual SBE were Tiger Products, Diamond Billiards Products, Simonis Cloth, TAP League and Run Out Sportswear.

Dabreo Earns First Career Joss Tour Win

Mike Zuglan, Raphael Dabreo, Tom D’Alfonso and Snookers Owner Steve Goulding

Raphael Dabreo earned his first career Joss NE 9-Ball Tour win over the weekend of March 2-3 with an undefeated run at the 10th New England Hall of Fame 9-Ball Open at Snookers Billiards in Providence, RI. 
 
After a hill-hill tester against Steve Mack in his second match of the day on Saturday, Dabreo finished day one of this event with a 9-5 win over Qais Kolee and then a 9-3 win over Marko Clarke. Joining Dabreo on the winner’s side on Sunday were Tom D’Alfonso, Austin Ross and Zion Zvi. Dabreo sent Zvi to the one loss side Sunday morning 9-6 and then took the hot-seat with a 9-3 win over D’Alfonso.
 
Ivaylo Petrov had lost to Pat Fleming midway through Saturday play, but bounced back nicely with six straight match wins on the left side of the board. Petrov would settle for third place though, as he finally lost to D’Alfonso 7-3 in the semi-final match. 
 
Dabreo came out on fire in the first set of the finals, taking a quick 3-0 lead. D’Alfonso then came back to win five straight racks for a 5-3 lead. After Dabreo tied things back up at 5-5, the match would be tied at 6-6 and 7-7. D’Alfonso got to the hill at 8-7, but a scratch on the break led to Dabreo running that rack to tie things again at 8-8. Dabreo came up dry on the break at hill-hill, but a D’Alfonso safety on the 1-ball left Dabreo the opening he needed and he ran that rack for the 9-8 win in one set. 
 
Sunday’s second chance tournament saw Ben Werblow go undefeated with wins over Joe Darigis for the hot-seat and again in the finals for the victory. 
 
The Joss NE 9-Ball Tour will be back in action this weekend (March 9-10) at Trick Shot Billiards in Clifton Park, NY. 

Shaw comes back from hot seat loss to win 11th Annual Empire State Championships

Pnoto by Erwin Dionisio (l to r): Jorge Rodriguez, Jayson Shaw, Frankie Hernandez, Raphael Dabreo

Fracasso-Verner goes undefeated to capture Amateur title
 
When Frankie Hernandez first appeared in our database, finishing 25th in the US Open 9-Ball Championships, won by Tommy Kennedy in 1992, Jayson Shaw was four years old. A year later, in the same event, Hernandez would share a 17th place finish with such luminaries as Allen Hopkins, Jim Rempe, Richie Richeson and Cliff Joyner. In Frankie’s best earnings year, to date (2001), Shaw had just become a teenager, as Frankie was busy finishing 49th at the US Open, but cashing in 21 events, including eight stops on the Joss Tour, two Turning Stone events (II & III), and geographic victories all over the map; Florida, Las Vegas and New England, et al.
 
At the $1,000-added, 11th Annual Empire State Championships (Open/Pro division), which drew 28 entrants to Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY on the weekend of February 23-24, Hernandez advanced to the hot seat match, where he met and defeated Jayson Shaw in an exciting, back and forth, double hill match. Shaw returned from the semifinals to down Hernandez in the finals.
 
When Shaw first appeared in our database in 2006, Lukas Fracasso-Verner was four years old. They didn’t meet to play in this 11th Annual Empire State Championships, although it would have been fun to watch. Fracasso-Verner went undefeated through the $2,000-added Amateur event’s field of 140 to capture the Amateur title.
 
Both defending champions of this event were on-hand at this year’s championships, but both would end up in the tie for 13th in their respective divisions; Zion Zvi, the two-time defending champion of the Open/Pro division, and Jason Carandang, last year’s amateur winner.
 
Fracasso-Verner is fresh off his best earnings year to date (2018) and recent winner of a stop on the NE 9-Ball Series. He was last year’s winner in the Amateur division of the 8th Annual George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial, at which he lost his opening match and won 11 on the loss side before downing Chuck Allie to claim the title. That said, he’s proved to be a bit of puzzle. Though his various accomplishments on regional tours and national events has been impressive (last year’s Ginky Memorial and this event as just a couple of relevant examples), he has come into this broad field of top-notch competition without benefit of a Junior National Championship under his belt, although he’s competed several times. He is also not on anyone’s short list to become a member of the USA’s junior team at this year’s upcoming Atlantic Cup Challenge. According to Roy Pastor, who’s taught Fracasso-Verner in the Connecticut Youth Billiards program and is a part of the BEF’s junior and world championship programs, Fracasso-Verner’s absence from this year’s Atlantic Cup Challenge team says less about his individual skills and talent, than it does about the overall strength of the youth programs leading up to the BEF Junior Nationals every year.
 
“The field (of junior competitors) is getting stronger every year,” said Pastor, “and there are a lot of Lukas Fracasso-Verners out there.”
 
Joey Tate, the teenager, from Raleigh, NC, for example, is younger than Fracasso-Verner and has already attained a 681 Fargo Rate. By comparison, Fracasso-Verner is currently at 645. And there are others, some of whom, over the years, have defeated Fracasso-Verner in Junior National competition.
 
“Lukas is a terrific player, though,” said Pastor, “and has the potential to be one of the greatest.”  
 
This time around, Fracasso-Verner opted out of the loss side route for this event, going undefeated through the Amateur field. He defeated Chris Ganley in the hot seat match and Matt Klein in the finals.
 
[photo id=50742|align=right]
Fracasso-Verner and Klein met first in a winners’ side semifinal, while Ganley and Paul Carpenter squared off in the other one. Fracasso-Verner got into the hot seat match with an 8-4 victory over Klein and was joined by Ganley, who’d sent Carpenter west 7-5. Fracasso-Verner downed Ganley, who started the match with 5 on the wire, 10-7 to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Klein picked up Xavier Romero and Carpenter drew Jim Gutierrez. Klein and Carpenter got right back to work, downing Romero and Gutierrez, both 7-3, to meet in the quarterfinals. Klein then eliminated Carpenter 7-5 and got a second shot at Fracasso-Verner with a 7-4 victory over Ganley in the semifinals. Fracasso-Verner claimed the Empire State title with an 8-5 victory over Klein.
 
Shaw comes back from hot seat loss to claim 10-Ball Open/Pro title
 
There had to be an inescapable air of inevitability about the 10-Ball Open/Pro event. With Jayson Shaw in the relatively short field, as the winners’ side whittled down further and further, who wouldn’t be bracket watching to see if they were next on the world-class player’s hit list. Frankie Hernandez, though, was one of the 28, who, having competed against his share of top-notch champions, would be unlikely to be intimidated. Cautious, maybe, respectful of Shaw’s obvious talent, but up to the challenge, which reached him in the hot seat match.
 
Shaw had faced and defeated another unlikely-to-be-intimidated competitor, Jorge Rodriguez 7-3 in a winners’ side semifinal (Rodriguez won this event in 2015). Hernandez, in the meantime, squared off against and eventually sent Rob Pole to the loss side 7-2. In a thrilling, double hill hot seat match, Hernandez sent Shaw off to the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, in the first money round, Rodriguez picked up Tenzin Jorden, who’d been the first of two to defeat defending champion, Zion Zvi, and a week earlier, had chalked up his first Predator Pro Am Amateur title. He’d defeated Jimmy Rivera 7-3 and survived a double hill match against Joey Korsiak to reach Rodriguez. Pole drew Raphael Dabreo, who’d most recently eliminated Jonathan Smith 7-4 and Mike Salerno (Smith, in the previous round, had knocked out Zion Zvi).
 
Rodriguez and DaBreo advanced to the quarterfinals, both 7-2, over Jorden and Pole. DaBreo took the quarterfinal 7-5 over Rodriguez. It was getting late, already into early Monday morning, when Shaw, seemingly impatient, gave up only a single rack to DaBreo in those semifinals to earn a second shot against Hernandez in the hot seat.
 
Things broke pretty evenly in the early going of the finals, which didn’t get underway until nearly 2 a.m. Shaw and Hernandez fought back and forth early, with no clear winner in sight. Near the middle of those finals, though, Shaw broke through to claim the title 9-4.
 
A Second Chance event drew a full field of 16 entrants. Julie Ha ($160) won four straight in the single elimination bracket to down Monika Callaghan ($100) 8-6 in the finals. Chulo Castro and Mark Antonetti finished in the tie for 3rd place ($30 each). A Third Chance event drew another full field of 16 and was won by Brian Tierney ($160), who downed Dave Callaghan ($100) 7-5 in the finals. Mike Callaghan and Shashi Hajaree each took home $39 for their third place tie.
 
Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at Raxx Billiards for their continuing support and hospitality at these annual Empire State Championships, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, NAPL, The DeVito Team, PoolontheNet.com, Billiards Digest, AZBilliards, Pool & Billiards Magazine and his entire staff, including his lovely wife, Gail. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of March 2-3 will be an Amateur event, hosted by The Spot in Nanuet, NY.