The Next Stop on the Predator Pro-Am Tour is...
Stop #15
August 2-3
3rd Annual Steinway Classic
Pro Event

$6000 Added
Steinway Billiards
3525 Steinway Street
Astoria, NY 11101-1415
718.472.2124
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website

Steinway Classic Pro Event Players List
Steinway Classic Amateur Waiting List
Click here to view the complete 2014 Predator Tour schedule
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Tony Robles Makes an Undefeated Run to Win the Predator Tour’s Open 10-Ball at Amsterdam Billiards
 
L-R Tony Robles (1st), Zion Zvi (2nd), Adam Wheeler (4th), Jeremy Sossei (3rd)
Story & Photo by Alison Fischer / NYC Grind
 
On day two of the Predator Pro/Am Tour’s 14th stop of the 2014 season, the Open 10-Ball event got underway at 12:00pm…and tour founder Tony Robles would begin to make his way to an undefeated win. The tour stop was held at Amsterdam Billiards in New York, NY, where Robles is house pro and can regularly be seen practicing straight pool for the upcoming World Tournament of 14.1.
The practice clearly paid off for Robles in this event, as he beat out some of region’s top names to take the top spot. After a first-round bye, Robles defeated Gregg McAndrews (8-2) and Hunter Lombardo (8-5) to get to the final of the winner’s bracket.
Coming into the winner’s side final from the lower half of the bracket was New York-based Israeli champion Zion Zvi, who previously took wins over Jeremy Sossei (8-4) and Frankie Hernandez (8-4). Zvi moved on to the match for the hot seat against Robles, which was closely-contended, but Robles pulled ahead for a final winning score of 8-6.
Among the players grinding to come out of the comeback side of the bracket was visiting Orlando, FL-based player Adam Wheeler, who is originally from Albany, NY. Wheeler went toe-to-toe with Frankie Hernandez to get to the quarterfinal, and when the two were tied at 7-7, Hernandez scratched on the break. Wheeler then played two consecutive safeties, forcing Hernandez to foul three times and turn over the match.
Joining up with Wheeler in the quarterfinal was Connecticut-based pro & 2014 Mosconi Cup candidate Jeremy Sossei, who had a solid 8-4 win over Hunter Lombardo to get there. Sossei would continue to play strong in the quarterfinal, leaving no breathing room for Wheeler.
Sossei walked away with an 8-1 win over Adam Wheeler, but he would have the tables turned on him in the semifinal against Zion Zvi, who had hopes of getting a rematch against Robles in the final. Zvi ended Sossei’s run with the same score as the quarterfinal, 8-1, which landed him in third place.
In Zvi’s rematch against Robles in the final, it was a close fight to the end, but Robles one-upped Zvi in the final game…wining it 9-8. This victory would mark Robles’ second win of the season, with his first win being almost exactly seven months prior, at Steinway Billiards.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13 Racks, NYC Grind, PoolOnTheNet.com, Gotham City Technologies, and Ozone Billiards.
Coming up next on the Predator Pro/Am Tour will be Stop #15: The 3rd Annual Steinway Classic on August 2-3.
Complete Payouts Open/Pro
1st: Tony Robles – $550
2nd: Zion Zvi – $350
3rd: Jeremy Sossei – $250
4th: Adam Wheeler – $150
Phil Davis Fights from the One-Loss Side to Take the Predator Tour Amateur 9-Ball at Amsterdam Billiards
 
L-R Phil Davis (1st), Thomas Rice (2nd), Ron Mason (4th)
Story & Photo by Alison Fischer / NYC Grind
 
After losing his fourth match in the winner’s bracket Phil Davis would emerge from the elimination side of the bracket to win the Amateur 9-Ball division of the Predator Pro/Am Tour’s 14th stop of the season. The event, held at Amsterdam Billiards in New York, NY on the weekend of July 12-13 drew a total of 56 players in the running for a $1,000 first prize. As Davis’s most recent tour win was the 2013 Predator Season Finale, this event would make for his first win of 2014.
To make it into the second day of competition, Davis, who is based out of Ansonia, CT, marked win over Diana Rojas (8-5), Kirill Safronov (8-6), George Poltorak (8-5), and Raphael Dabreo (7-4), but would be ejected from the winner’s bracket by Steinway Billiards-based player Chris Derewonski by a score of 7-1.
On day two, Derewonski moved on to play the match for the ‘hot seat’ to determine who would guarantee a spot in the final. Derewonski’s opponent would be one of New York’s standout junior players, 15-year-old Thomas Rice. After three very close matches to open the tournament, Rice hit a stride with strong wins over Gabriel Palacios (7-3) and Akbar Karmoddien (7-2) to meet up with Derewonski. Rice would only allow him to win one game, and he moved on to win it at 9-1.
Ron Mason, owner tour sponsor Gotham City Technologies, would be one of the stand-out players to come from the one-loss side. Following his third-round loss to Akbar Karmoeddien (7-4), Mason moved forward to defeat Wanlop Chantarakolkit (7-6), Dax Linden (7-3), and made good on his prior loss to Karmoeddien, knocking him out with a score of 7-5.
While that win moved Mason into the quarterfinal, Phil Davis took out one of the tour’s other top names, Raphael Dabreo, with a 7-2 final score. Davis then proceeded into the quarterfinal, to take on Ron Mason. Despite Mason’s early lead in this match, Davis was determined, and came away the winner at 9-8.
Up against Davis in the semifinal was Chris Derewonski, who waited for the match following his loss to Thomas Rice in the winner’s side final. Once again, Davis found himself trailing in this match at 3-1, but turned things around and took the lead at 5-4. Davis then got on the hill at 6-4, and although Derewonski won the next rack to go 6-5, he scratched on the break, and Davis ran out the final rack to continue on to the final.
In the final match between Phil Davis (rated ‘A++’) and Thomas Rice (‘B’), the young gun teen came out firing and was in free-wheeling mode. The format was a modified single race set, where if Rice got to nine first, he would win the match as the undefeated player…but if Davis got to nine first, the set would be extended to eleven.
It appeared that Rice would run away with the final…as he had gotten to the hill with eight racks, while Davis had merely two on the board. Davis won the following rack to put the score at 8-3, when Rice was confidently and quickly running out his last needed game to win the match. However, the nine ball did not find the pocket, and would become Davis’s salvation.
That missed nine ball would come back to haunt Rice, as little by little, Davis began to tally up the beads. Davis showed both patience and grit, and was able to capitalize on the opportunities he was given. Although the odds seemed to be against him, Davis got to nine first after Rice missed position for the two ball. Davis made few errors from that point on, and would finish the match with an 11-8 score.
Phil Davis (1st), Thomas Rice (2nd), Ron Mason (4th) - Photos: Alison Fischer
Phil Davis came away with a very scrappy win, to which he credited his advantage in experience, as well as his ability to control his emotions. “I didn’t get mad if I made a mistake, I just let it roll off,” Davis explained.
While Thomas Rice may have come up short, he succeeded in impressing the crowd of enthusiasts and players who followed the event throughout the weekend. Few players ever make it to the final of a Predator Tour event, an accomplishment that Rice has now achieved three times.
Other notable players from the event include Akbar Karmoeddien, who had his season high finish on the Predator, and Amsterdam league player Dax Linden, who finished in the money in his first-ever tour stop. Congratulations to all the top finishers at Amsterdam!
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13 Racks, NYC Grind, PoolOnTheNet.com, Gotham City Technologies, and Ozone Billiards.
Coming up next on the Predator Pro/Am Tour will be Stop #15: The 3rd Annual Steinway Classic on August 2-3.
Complete Payouts ABCD
1st: Phil Davis – $1,000
2nd: Thomas Rice – $725
3rd: Chris Derewonski – $500
4th: Ron Mason – $325
5th/6th: Akbar Karmoeddien, Raphael Dabreo – $220
7th/8th: Miguel Laboy, Dax Linden – $170
9th-12th: Wanlop Chantarakolkit, Gabriel Palacios, John Schott, Marcy Dy – $120
Lidio "Rasta" Ramirez Scores First Predator Tour Victory at Raxx
 
L-R Ray Feliciano (2nd), Dave Shlemperis (4th), Luis Jimenez (3rd),
Lidio Ramirez (1st)
Story & Photo by Alison Fischer / NYC Grind
 
On the weekend of June 28-29, New York-based player Lidio “Rasta” Ramirez would reign supreme in the Predator Pro/Am Tour’s thirteenth tour stop of 2014. The two-day Amateur 9-Ball division of the event, held at Raxx Pool Room in West Hempstead, NY, featured Ramirez as the undefeated player.
Impressively, this would make for Ramirez’s second straight weekend tournament win, as on the previous weekend, he was the undefeated winner in the Tri-State Tour’s final event of the season at Steinway Billiards. The ‘A+’ ranked player would get through day one with wins against Jack Smith (7-5), James Stevens (7-4), Brooke Meyer (7-5), and Diana Rojas (7-4).
On day two, Ramirez was then among the last four undefeated players. In the 1:00pm round, he defeated B+ rated Dave Shlemperis (7-5), while in the lower half of the bracket, Luis Jimenez had a 7-1 win over Josh Friedberg. Jimenez and Ramirez then moved on as the final two undefeated players remaining in the bracket. In their match to see who would move on to the final, Ramirez closed the door at 8-6 over Jimenez, who would then wait to face the top player of the one-loss bracket in the semifinal.
Coming with an impressive performance on his birthday, that player would be longtime tour player Ray Feliciano. Following his early loss to Josh Friedberg in the winner’s bracket, Feliciano came with a run of seven wins, topped off by a 7-6 win in the quarterfinal against former tour winner Dave Shlemperis and a semifinal win of 7-5 against Luis Jimenez.
Moving on to the final match, Ray Feliciano took on undefeated Lidio Ramirez. Ramirez and Feliciano would have a close match for the title, but at the end of their late-finishing match, Ramirez would come out ahead at 11-9. This would mark Ramirez’s first Predator win, along with Feliciano’s first finish in the top three since 2012, when he took second at Steinway Billiards.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13 Racks, NYC Grind, PoolOnTheNet.com, Gotham City Technologies, and Ozone Billiards.
Complete Payouts ABCD
1st: Lidio Ramirez - $1,200
2nd: Ray Feliciano - $900
3rd: Luis Jimenez - $600
4th: Dave Shlemperis - $450
5th/6th: Josh Friedberg, Peter Cornell - $250
7th/8th: Dan Faraguna, Nick Chuang - $200
9th-12th: Mark Perel, Kapriel Delimelkonoglu, Jamiyl Adams, Diana Rojas - $150
13th-16th: Al Francis, Bryan Toolsee, Brooke Meyer, Steve Wright - $100
Sean "Alaska" Morgan Takes First Predator Tour Win at Raxx
 
L-R Frankie Hernandez (2nd), Sean Morgan (1st), Elvis Rodriguez (4th),
Evgeny Stalev (3rd)
Photo by Claude Gregoire / Story by Alison Fischer NYC Grind
 
To follow up his recent runner-up finish in the NYC 8-Ball Championships, Sean “Alaska” Morgan one-upped himself three weeks later, taking down the Open 10-Ball division of the Predator Pro/Am Tour’s thirteenth stop of the season. The event, held at Raxx Pool Room on Sunday, June 29, would mark Morgan’s first win on the tour, which he has been competing in since the tour’s launch in 2008.
After a first-round bye, Morgan came away from a close call against Steve Wright at 8-7, then went on to defeat Elvis Rodriguez (8-4) to move on to the winner’s side final. Meeting up with Morgan as the other undefeated player was one of Russia’s top champions, Moscow native Evgeny Stalev.
Stalev took out tour amateur Lionell Swanston in the first round, then went on to defeat tour owner Tony Robles (8-4) and top NYC veteran player Frankie Hernandez (8-5). To determine who would take the hot seat and guarantee a spot in the final, Stalev had a close fight against Morgan, and it went down to the wire before Morgan won 8-7.
Although Frankie Hernandez was sent to the left side of the bracket by Stalev, it was not ‘game over’ for him. Hernandez went on to defeat Steve Wright (8-7) to make it to the quarterfinal…where he would end up playing tour newcomer Elvis Rodriguez of Queens. Rodriguez had just come away from a big win over Tony Robles (8-6), but would be topped by Hernandez by a score of 8-4.
Hernandez then moved on to the semifinal, where he successfully avenged his earlier loss to Stalev, sending him into third place with a 8-4 winning score. Going up against Morgan in the final, Hernandez would fight hard, but “Alaska” persevered to win by a two-game margin of 9-7 and remain undefeated for the day.
Complete Payouts Open/Pro
1st: Sean Morgan - $700
2nd: Frankie Hernandez - $400
3rd: Evgeny Stalev - $250
4th: Elvis Rodriguez - $100
Mike Dechaine Strikes Again – Wins 2nd Ginky Memorial Title at Steinway
 
L-R Tony Robles of the Predator Tour, Mike Dechaine (1st), Mika Immonen (2nd), Adam Smith (3rd), John Leyman of The Tri-State Tour
Photo by Claude Gregoire / Story by Story Alison Fischer NYC Grind
 
On Sunday, May 25, 2014, the Open/Pro 10-Ball division of the 4th Annual George “Ginky” SanSouci Memorial got underway at Steinway Billiards in Astoria, NY. The three-day event, presented jointly by the Predator Pro/Am Tour, The Tri-State Tour, and The Mezz Pro/Am Tour, had started off with the handicapped Amateur 9-Ball division on the previous day, Saturday, May 24, and both events continued into their completion on Monday, May 26.
Joining the tour directors and staff at Steinway were the teams from AZBtv and NYC Grind, who collaborated together to co-produce a live stream of feature matches, free to view on the AZBtv Ustream Channel. Matches from the event will also be available to watch at any time, on the AZBtv YouTube Channel.
The fans and supporters at Steinway, included some of Ginky’s family members, were treated to a lineup of some of the Northeast’s most notable names, many of whom were personal friends of his. Included among the top-rate players were 2011 Champion Mike Dechaine, former World Champion Mika Immonen, 2013 Empire State Champion Jayson Shaw of Scotland, BCA Hall of Famer “The Irish Invader” Karen Corr, top Virginia-based player Danny Mastermaker, Ohio-based touring pro Adam Smith, Boston’s Jarrod Clowery, Florida’s Hunter Lombardo, WPBA touring pro Emily Duddy, and Predator Tour owner Tony Robles.
Through the two-day run of action at Steinway, Mike Dechaine would forge through the winner’s bracket to capture his second Ginky Memorial title. On his way to the top, Dechaine took out Travis McKinney (8-5), Joe Dupuis (8-5), Rich Britt (8-1), Karen Corr (8-2) on the live stream table, and Danny Mastermaker (8-5), which sent him into the hot seat match.
Coming from the upper half of the winner’s bracket into the hot seat match was Adam Smith, whose run included wins against Jarrod Clowery, Mika Immonen (8-6), and Steinway player Mhet Vergara (8-5) in the final four. However, in the hot seat match, Dechaine held Smith to only four games, for a final score of 8-4, which sent Dechaine into the final.
Following his upset loss to Adam Smith, Mika Immonen charged back through the one-loss bracket, with wins against Society Billiards house pro Johnathan Smith (8-6), Hunter Lombardo (8-1), and Danny Mastermaker (8-5) to get to the quarterfinal.
Meeting up with Immonen in the quarterfinal was Jayson Shaw, who had previously taken wins against New Yorkers Frankie Hernandez (8-4) and Mhet Vergara (8-2). The quarterfinal between Shaw and Immonen was a close one, and had Shaw reaching the hill first. However, Immonen mounted a comeback, and tied it 7-7. In the final rack, Immonen played a good safety, which resulted in Shaw jumping to hit the four ball. Shaw contacted the four, but being that it was close to the rail, the ball flew off the table, and Immonen had ball in hand to run out the rack.
Immonen then moved on to his semifinal rematch against Smith, who he had played the previous day. While Smith got out to an early 4-1 lead, the tide turned in Immonen’s favor, and he would eventually win by a score of 8-6. The modified extended-race final between Immonen and Dechaine could not have been more exciting. The players exchanged racks, staying nearly-tied the entire time, until it was 10-10. With the entire event on the line, Dechaine broke, and the ten ball was kicked into a position in front of the side pocket. Dechaine successfully banked the one ball into the ten to capture the win in the case game, securing a second Ginky Memorial title to add to his collection of honors.
Complete Payouts Open/Pro
1st: Mike Dechaine – $2,000
2nd: Mika Immonen – $1,500
3rd: Adam Smith – $1,000
4th: Jayson Shaw – $700
5th/6th: Danny Mastermaker, Mhet Vergara – $500
7th/8th: Hunter Lombardo, Frankie Hernandez – $320
9th-12th: Johnathan Smith, Karen Corr, Mustafa Dikilitas, Brian Deska – $200
Kapriel Delimelkonoglu Scores the Amateur 9-Ball Title at the 4th Annual George “Ginky” SanSouci Memorial
 
L-R Tony Robles of the Predator Tour, Christian Smith (3rd), Kapriel Delimelkonoglu (1st), John Ortiz (2nd), John Leyman of The Tri-State Tour
Story & Photo by Alison Fischer / NYC Grind
 
The 4th Annual George “Ginky” SanSouci Memorial has reached its conclusion on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26 at Steinway Billiards (Astoria, NY). The first of the two divisions featured in the event to complete was the Amateur 9-Ball, where a full field of 128 players fought to make it to the top on the third and final day.
Collaborating together in this celebration of one of New York’s most accomplished players in professional pool, were the area’s three top amateur and pro/am tours, The Tri-State Tour, Predator Pro/Am Tour, and Mezz Pro/Am Tour, which include top players from around the regional.
Emerging as the victor of this event was Predator Pro/Am Tour & Tri-State Tour player Kapriel Delimelkonoglu, who could not be contained by any of his opponents, and earned undefeated status at Steinway. Only recently, Delimelkonoglu (rated with a ‘B’ handicap) had his first Predator Tour win at Cue Bar in Queens in April of this year. At the Ginky Memorial’s start on Saturday, May 24, Delimelkonoglu began his route to the top, defeating Jack Cuomo (7-6), Kevin Cheung (7-6), Julie Ha (7-4), his friend Joe Wilson-Torres (7-6), Chris Karp (7-4), and Glenn Ramsey in the final four.
Kapriel "Kapo" Delimelkonoglu in the finals. (Photo: Claude Gregoire)
While Delimelkonoglu held down the lower bracket (comprised of B/C/D players), his contender in the hot seat match reigned supreme in the B+ through A++ bracket. John Ortiz, an ‘A’ rated player based in New Haven, CT, would clear the upper bracket with a run that included a 7-6 win over former tour winner James Stevens and a 7-4 win over Christian Smith to meet up with Delimelkonoglu in the hot seat match. In the match for the hot seat, which took place on day three, Delimelkonoglu had a solid 9-4 win over Ortiz to secure his place in the final match.
In the rounds to complete on the final day, four players on the one-loss side joined the last two who were undefeated. In the ‘final four’ of the one-loss, Glenn Ramsey defeated Thomas Rice in the lower side, while Christian Smith had a 7-5 win over Lidio Ramirez. Smith and Ramsey then met up in the quarterfinal, which was soundly won by Smith at 7-3.
In the semifinal, Smith took on John Ortiz in a hard-fought battle that went to hill-hill. After Ortiz led 6-5, Smith bumped the score to 6-6. In the final break of the match, Smith came up empty, and Ortiz ran out the rack to take a 7-6 win.
This win would make for a rematch in the final between Ortiz & Delimelkonoglu. The final would be a modified “extended-race” format, where Delimelkonoglu would win if he reached nine first, but if Ortiz got to nine first, the race would go on to eleven games. While Delimelkonoglu got out to an initial lead, Ortiz stayed close behind. However, Delimelkonoglu pulled ahead to to secure a 9-7 victory to take the match.
You can watch the final match, as commentated by Upstate Al, Ed Culhane, and Larry Ross here in the video player below, from the AZBtv YouTube Channel.
Kapriel “Kapo” Delimeklonoglu, who is originally from Turkey and came into pool with a three-cushion background, has had big improvements in his game in recent years, and went from a ‘C’ handicap to a ‘B’ in a short period of time. Following his performance in the Ginky Memorial, his tour handicap will be raised to a ‘B+’.
This win for Kapo was a significant one. “I came back to playing pool after a nine-month break, and made the goal of winning the Ginky Memorial when I started to play again,” said Kapo.
“As an amateur in the Tri-State area, in pool, there is no better accomplishment as a goal. Ginky was a great player,” he went on to say.
Steinway owner Georgios Nikolakakos & Kapriel Delimelkonoglu (Photo: Alison Fischer)
Runner-up John Ortiz is among the contingent of Connecticut players who compete on the Predator Pro/Am Tour, and he also finished in the top of the rankings at Steinway in the 2013 tour season opener, in the third place position.
New Jersey-based third semifinalist Christian Smith has also been a notable name on both the Predator and the Tri-State Tours for a number of years, and this finish marks a highlight of his 2014 tournament showings. Fourth place was also an outstanding finish for Steinway Billiards regular Glenn Ramsey, who won the Megabucks League Straight Pool playoffs at Steinway earlier this year.
Tony Robles of the Predator Tour, Christian Smith (3rd), Kapriel Delimelkonoglu (1st), John Ortiz (2nd), John Leyman of The Tri-State Tour (Photo: Alison Fischer)
A strong showing of sixteen New York area female competitors were included in the 128-player lineup at the Ginky Memorial, and NJ-based player Julie Ha would have the top finish of the women, tied for 9th-12th place. Ha, who was notably the 2013 and 2014 Super Billiards Expo Amateur Women’s runner-up, was one of three women who finished in the money rounds, along with Erin Bechner (25th-32nd) and myself, Alison Fischer (17th-24th).
Tour directors Tony & Gail Robles, Todd Fleitman, John Leyman, and Jose Burgos earned credit for a very smooth-running three days of competition, and had the support of the hard-working staff and owners of Steinway Billiards.
“Upstate Al” Leon was in the commentating booth throughout the weekend for the free live stream co-produced by AZBtv & NYC Grind, and was joined by me and special guests attending the event. Al’s son Joey was also on-site to assist him, and a network of online supporters helped to get the word out about the stream.
Other people on the scene who should be recognized include Jimmy Martinez and David Padilla, who produced the Ginky Memorial shirts. Part of the proceeds for the shirts went toward a breast cancer awareness charity, selected by Ginky’s family members, who were at Steinway to support the event and players throughout the weekend. New York-based Focused Apparel, a Predator Tour affiliate, was also on-site throughout the event.
David Padilla & John Leyman at the tournament bracket table, with players Joey & Danny Mastermaker in the background (Photo: Alison Fischer)
Stay tuned for the full results from the Open 10-Ball event, which coincided with the amateur division on May 25-26.
Complete Payouts ABCD
1st: Kapriel Delimelkonoglu – $2,000
2nd: John Ortiz – $1,500
3rd: Christian Smith – $1,000
4th: Glenn Ramsey – $750
5th-6th: Thomas Rice, Lidio Ramirez – $460
7th/8th: Scott Bannon, Chris Karlp – $300
9th-12th: Julie Ha, Dan Faraguna, James Stevens, Doug Youmans – $200
13th-16th: Meshak Daniel, Ed Culhane, Sanjay Sachdeva, Koka Davladze, Sam Islam – $150
17th-24th: Alison Fischer, Bogie Uzdejczyk, Joe Wilson-Torres, Dean Selvey, Ron Mason – $125
25th-32nd: Erin Bechner, Andre Ramos, Brian Hunter, Todd Trent, Scott Murphy, Greg Antonakos, Sookdeo Ramkissoon, Juan Guzman – $100
Rhio Anne Flores Makes an Undefeated Run to a First Predator Tour Win at Cue Bar
 
L-R Dan Faraguna (2nd), Rhio Anne Flores (1st), Shawn Sookhai (3rd), tournament director William Finnegan
Story & Photo by Alison Fischer / NYC Grind
 
Out of the field of forty-two players who headed out to Cue Bar in Bayside, Queens, NY on the weekend of May 17-18, Rhio Anne Flores proved that it was her time to shine, as she paved her way to an undefeated victory in the Predator Pro/Am Tour’s Amateur 9-Ball division. While Flores has had numerous top finishes in Tri-State area events in recent years, this would be her first-ever Predator Tour win, and make her the first female tour winner of 2014.
Flores regularly plays out of Steinway Billiards in Astoria, NY, which is where she had her previous high finish of runner-up in the Predator at the April 14, 2013 tour stop. At Cue Bar, following her opening win against Scott Murphy (7-3), Flores would take on her significant other & former tour winner Raphael Dabreo for a solid 8-3 win, then continued on to defeat Carl Yusuf Khan (7-1), and Shawn Sookhai (7-4) to make it to the winner’s bracket final.
Meeting Rhio Anne Flores in the ‘hot seat match’ would be another breakout performer in the event, Dan Faraguna. Faraguna made it to the top of the B/C/D side of the bracket following a narrow 7-6 win over Luis Jimenez, but would not be able to get past Flores, who pulled away to take the hot seat at 7-4.
The two players to lose in the ‘final four’ of the winner’s bracket, Luis Jimenez and Shawn Sookhai, would both rebound with wins on the one-loss side against Paulo Valverde and Jerry Tarantola, respectively. Sookhai and Jimenez moved on to face one another in the quarterfinal, where Sookhai soundly won at 7-4.
Dan Faraguna, was waiting in the wings to take on Sookhai in the semifinal, in what would be a closely-contested match. In the end, it came down to a couple untimely positional errors by Sookhai, which were capitalized on by Faraguna…leading to his 7-6 victory. This would make for Shawn “Snoop Dogg” Sookhai’s second straight top place finish on the Predator, as he finished in second at stop #10.
In her final rematch against Dan Faraguna, Rhio Anne Flores continued to display her well-measured pace and strong focus that are characteristic to her style. Flores took control of the final from the start, and went on to win by a score of 7-2. Along with a first-time win for Flores, this would be Faraguna’s record top finish, with his previous best being ninth place.
Following the final, NYC Grind caught up with Flores, who mentioned that she did not come into the event with high expectations and was looking to get warmed up for the following weekend’s Ginky Memorial. “I’m just happy that I played well throughout the event,” said Flores. Congratulations to Rhio Anne Flores on her strong win, along with all of the event’s top finishers.
Next up on the Predator Pro/Am Tour will be the 4th Annual George “Ginky” SanSouci Memorial, coming up on May 24-26 at Steinway Billiards in Astoria, NY. The event will be jointly-presented by the Predator Tour, Tri-State Tour, and Mezz Tour, and NYC Grind will be teaming up with AZBtv to present a free live stream via ustream.tv/channel/azbtv.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13 Racks, NYCgrind, PoolOnTheNet.com, Gotham City Technologies, and the tour’s newest sponsor, Ozone Billiards, along with Cue Bar and their staff. Visit PredatorProAmTour.com fore more tour information.
Complete Payouts ABCD
1st: Rhio Anne Flores – $800
2nd: Dan Faraguna – $600
3rd: Shawn Sookhai – $400
4th: Luis Jimenez – $300
5th/6th: Paulo Valverde, Jerry Tarantola – $200
7th/8th: Joe Wilson Torres, Cal Yusuf Khan – $120
9th-12th: Tony Ignomirello, Meshak Daniel, Marco Dy, Jack Smith – $90
Brandon Shuff Scores a Predator Tour Win at Cue Bar in Queens
 
L-R Tony Robles (2nd), assistant tournament director Mandy Wu, Brandon Shuff (1st),
Mhet Vergara (4th)
Story & Photo by Alison Fischer / NYC Grind
 
It was the out-of-towner who came in to upend the Predator Pro/Am Tour’s Open 10-Ball event at Cue Bar in Bayside, NY on Sunday, May 18. Despite having tour owner Tony Robles and Steinway Billiards resident pro Earl Strickand to contend with, Virginia pro Brandon Shuff stood on top at the end of the day.
However, Robles would prevent Shuff from going undefeated on this day, as their hot seat battle ended with a narrow 7-6 victory for “The Silent Assassin”, who kicked in the one ball on his opening shot, to run out and win the rack. Robles had come off a prior 7-1 trouncing of Strickland, while Shuff had sent tour regular Michael Yednak to the one-loss side at 7-4.
On the left side of the chart, Steinway-based open player Mhet Vergara met up with 2013 Ginky Memorial amateur champion Yednak with a 7-5 ending victory, while Strickland knocked out Raphael Dabreo at 7-4. Strickland would have little trouble with Vergara in the following quarterfinal round, which resulted in a 7-3 finish to bump Strickland up to the semifinal.
Strickland then took on Brandon Shuff for the semifinal, in a match that went right down to wire before Shuff closed out a 7-6 win. In Shuff’s second meeting with Robles, a different outcome would ensue. From an early 2-2 stage in the match, Shuff pulled away to lead 7-2. Although Robles began to right the course, he left the door open in a few key situations, and Shuff concluded the match with a 10-5 win to finish the day strong.
Next up on the Predator Pro/Am Tour will be the 4th Annual George “Ginky” SanSouci Memorial, coming up on May 24-26 at Steinway Billiards in Astoria, NY. The event will be jointly-presented by the Predator Tour, Tri-State Tour, and Mezz Tour, and NYC Grind will be teaming up with AZBtv to present a free live stream via ustream.tv/channel/azbtv.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13 Racks, NYCgrind, PoolOnTheNet.com, Gotham City Technologies, and Ozone Billiards, along with Cue Bar and their staff. Visit PredatorProAmTour.com fore more tour information.
Complete Payouts Open/Pro
1st: Brandon Shuff – $500
2nd: Tony Robles – $300
3rd: Earl Strickland – $150
Earl Strickland Claims Second Straight Predator Win at Cue Bar
 
L-R Earl Strickland, Mika Immonen, and Tony Robles
Story & Photo by Alison Fischer / NYC Grind
 
On Sunday, April 13, Earl Strickland would take down the Predator Pro/Am Tour for the second week running. As a follow-up to his win at Steinway Billiards on April 6, Strickland went undefeated at the tour’s tenth stop of the season, held at Cue Bar in Bayside, Queens, NY.
The event was streamed live in an AZbilliards.com & NYCgrind.com co-production via the AZBtv Ustream Channel, and "Upstate Al" Leon was on-site as commentator of the feature matches.
To make it to the top at Cue Bar, Strickland started out with an 8-1 win over Anthony Chiapp, and in the second round, took out New York open player Michael Yednak, who held an initial 4-1 lead…but Strickland struck back, and went on to win 8-4.
Along with Strickland and tour owner Tony Robles, Mika Immonen made an appearance at this event as the third pro competing at Cue Bar. Immonen was struck down in the winner’s bracket by an in-form Robles by a close score of 8-6.
While Immonen headed to the one-loss side, Robles and Strickland faced off in the hot seat match. After being closely-tied at the start, Strickland pulled away at 4-4, and went on to win the set at 8-4.
On the left side of the bracket, Immonen went on to defeat Bryan Singh (8-1), Michael Yednak (8-1) in the quarterfinal, and exacted revenge on Tony Robles in the semifinal with an 8-3 finish.
Immonen moved on to face his former Mosconi Cup opponent, Strickland, in the final…but even the Iceman was unable to freeze the Pearl. Strickland ran through the final set with a 9-3 score to take the win.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13 Racks, NYCgrind, PoolOnTheNet.com, Gotham City Technologies, and the tour’s newest sponsor, Ozone Billiards, along with Cue Bar and their staff.
Stop #11 of the Predator Tour will also to be held at Cue Bar, on the weekend of May 17-18.
More photos by Alison Fischer from the event can be found on the NYC Grind Facebook page.
Complete Payouts Open/Pro
1st: Earl Strickland - $500
2nd: Mika Immonen - $300
3rd: Tony Robles - $200
Kapriel Delimelkonoglu Undefeated for his First Predator Tour Win in the Am 9-Ball at Cue Bar
 
L-R Shawn Sookhai (2nd), Kapriel Delimelkonoglu (1st), Tom Hagan (3rd)
Story & Photo by Alison Fischer / NYC Grind
 
On the weekend of April 12-13, the Predator Pro/Am Tour headed to Cue Bar in Bayside, Queens, NY for stop #10 of their 2014 tour season. Throughout the first day of the event, AZbilliards.com & NYCgrind.com teamed up to present a free live stream via the AZBtv Ustream Channel, while on day two, the Open/Pro 10-Ball division was streamed.
A full field of 64 players came from around the New York Tri-State area to put in their bid in this event…but the player to break through to the top would be Queens-based player Kapriel “Kapo” Delimelkonoglu, as he captured his first tour win.
Delimelkonoglu (who is rated a ‘B’) on the tour and regularly plays at Steinway Billiards and Amsterdam Billiards, got through to the top of the bracket with a string of six wins. Along his path, he took out Mike Woike (7-3), Meshak Daniel (7-5), Ron Mason (7-5), Bryan Singh (7-4), Chickie Romero (7-6), and made it out of the hot seat match as the winner over Shawn Sookhai at hill-hill (7-6).
Sookhai (a former tour winner and dedicated player on the Predator and Tri-State Tours) then waited to contend with the player to come out of the one-loss bracket. This player would be the ‘A+’-ranked Tom Hagan, who previously scored his first win at Cue Bar earlier this year. Hagan was dealt a loss in the winner’s bracket on day one, but recovered well, with a run to the semifinal including wins over Jack Smith, Marco Dy, Stewart Warnock, James Stevens, and Laszlo Kovacs, to get to the quarterfinal.
The quarterfinal match would pit Hagan against tour regular and owner of Predator Tour sponsor Gotham City Technologies, Ron Mason. Mason also had a tough fight through the one-loss side, where he defeated Tony Ignomirello, Glenn Ramsey, Meshak Daniel, and Chickie Romero. In the quarterfinal, Hagan and Mason had a gritty battle that went all the way to 6-6, when Hagan broke and ran out to move on to the semifinal.
Hagan went up against Shawn Sookhai in the semifinal, which was won convincingly by Sookhai with a 7-4 score. In a repeat of the hot seat match, Sookhai took on Kapo Delimelkonoglu once again…with the same results, a 7-6 win for Delimelkonoglu.
In speaking with Kapo following his win, he attributed his breakthrough win against Chickie Romero (who he had previous repeated hill-hill losses against) to helping him achieve his first tour victory, as it helped to boost his confidence moving forward. Congratulations to Kapo, along with all of the top finishers at Cue Bar!
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13 Racks, NYCgrind, PoolOnTheNet.com, Gotham City Technologies, and the tour’s newest sponsor, Ozone Billiards, along with Cue Bar and their staff.
Stop #11 of the Predator Tour will also to be held at Cue Bar, on the weekend of May 17-18.
More photos by Alison Fischer can be found on the NYC Grind Facebook page.
Complete Payouts ABCD
1st: Kapriel Delimelkonoglu - $1,000
?2nd: Shawn Sookhai - $700?
3rd: Tom Hagan - $500?4th: Ron Mason - $350?
5th/6th: Chickie Romero, Laszlo Kovacs - $250
?7th/8th: Meshak Daniel, James Stevens - $200
?9th-12th: Stewart Warnock, Glenn Ramsey - $130
?13th-16th: Eugene Ok, Dan Faraguna, Marco Dy, Tony Ignomirello, Kirill Safronov - $100
Omar Alli Tears Though Steinway for his First Predator Tour Victory in the Am 9-Ball
 
L-R Enoch Houper (3rd), Omar Alli (1st), Eric Grasman (2nd), Miguel Laboy (4th)
Story & Photo by Alison Fischer / NYC Grind
 
On the weekend of April 5-6, the ninth stop of the Predator Pro/Am Tour’s 2014 season was held in Astoria, NY, at one of New York’s most popular spots for competitive pool, Steinway Billiards. The two-day Amateur 9-Ball division featured a total of 72 players at the event’s start on Saturday…but on the second day, only twelve would remain with a shot at winning the title.
The double-elimination handicapped division of this stop features a split format, with B+ through A++ players in one half of the bracket, and D through B ranked players in the other half. The top players to come through each group then face off in the winner’s side final.
Following a number of top finishes on the tour in recent times, New York’s Omar Alli would be the player to walk away with his first tour victory at Steinway. Making his route through the winner’s bracket, Alli defeated Gus Iliopoulos (7-3), Paulo Valverde (7-4), Kirill Safronov (7-6), George Poltorak (7-6), and Ray Feliciano (7-3).
With four players left in the winner’s bracket on Sunday, Alli moved forward after a 7-4 win over Enoch Houper, while on the other half of the bracket, former tour winner Eric Grasman got through a close match to win 7-6 against another former winner, Billy Santiago. Grasman and Alli moved on to face one another in the match for the hot seat, which was won in a near-shutout by Alli at 8-1.
Fighting for redemption on the one-loss side of the bracket, the final four players matched up to see who would make it to the final rounds. On the B/C/D side, Enoch Houper recovered from his previous loss to Alli with a 7-4 win over Kirill Safronov. In the B+/A++ half of the bracket, it was Miguel Laboy who was the rising force, who took wins over Diana Rojas (7-3), James Stevens (7-6), Shawn Sookhai (7-2), Junior Sanchez (7-5), and Billy Santiago (7-5) to get to the quarterfinal.
However, Laboy’s strong run would end in the following round, after an 8-1 loss to Enoch Houper in the quarterfinal. Houper would then take to the semifinal versus Eric Grasman. Things were shaping up to be a runaway win for Houper, as he took the hot seat with a wide gap of 8-2.
But, things were not yet over, as Grasman went on to win six straight games and tie it at double-hill, 8-8. In the final game, Grasman made a tough shot on the four, but ended up having an unfortunate scratch. In another interesting turn of events, Houper got to the eight, but would have to play a back-cut in the side. He ended up under-cutting the ball, and missed. Grasman was left with a long cut on the 8, and he missed the ball also. Houper would make the eight, but in yet another twist, missed the nine and scratched, turning over the match to Grasman.
In the final, Eric Grasman would get another shot at the undefeated Omar Alli. While this would be a closer match than their previous meeting, Alli would lead the way through the set, to finish with an 8-5 win. Congratulations to Alli on a well-played weekend of competition, along with all of the event’s top finishers.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Ozone Billiards, Delta-13 Racks, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with Steinway Billiards and their staff.
Next up on the Predator Tour will be the tour’s 10th stop of 2014, to be held at Cue Bar in Bayside, Queens, NY on April 12-13
Complete Payouts ABCD
1st: Omar Alli - $1,100
2nd: Eric Grasman - $800
3rd: Enoch Houper - $575
4th: Miguel Laboy - $400
5th/6th: Billy Santiago, Kirill Safronov - $250
7th/8th: George Poltorak, Junior Sanchez - $200
9th-12th: Brian Hunter, Shawn Sookhai, Ambi Estevez, Ray Feliciano - $150
13th-16th: Yomaylin Feliz, Lenore Donovan-Chen, Junior Singh, James Stevens - $100
House Pro Strickland Wins Predator Tour Stop #9 at Steinway Billiards
 
L-R Steinway manager & owner Manny Stamatakis, Earl Strickland (1st), Jorge Rodriguez (3rd), Chris Derewonski (2nd)
Story & Photo by Alison Fischer / NYC Grind
 
On the second day of the Predator Pro/Am Tour’s ninth stop of 2014, hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria, NY, the tour’s Open/Pro 10-ball event got underway at noon. In a live stream co-production from NYC Grind & AZbilliards.com, “Upstate Al” Leon hosted the live show at Steinway for fans to watch live via the AZBtv Ustream Channel.
Despite strong efforts by one of the tour’s top up-and-coming talents, resident pro Earl Strickland could not be denied at Steinway, and he laid down another Predator win on his home turf. As Strickland is now a full-time New Yorker, he is regularly seen in area tour events, and most recently won the tour’s February stop at Gotham City Billiards in Brooklyn.
Meeting up with Strickland in the final of the winner’s bracket was the previous week’s Predator winner at Gotham, Chris Derewonski (aka “The Polish Champion), who also plays out of Steinway. On his path, Derewonski had some heavy-handed wins over Jerry Tarantola 7-2, Keith Adamik 7-1, and Jorge Rodriguez 7-3.
On the lower half of the bracket, Earl “The Pearl” also had little trouble on his way to the hot seat match, taking out Steve Wright 7-3, Tony Robles 7-2, and Zion Zvi 7-2. Strickland’s only real threat of the day would come in the winner’s side final against Derewonski, who nearly stole the show from the Hall of Famer.
Derewonski got out to an early lead in this match, and with the score at 5-2, he was on his way to getting on the hill…before an untimely miscue shifted the gears in Strickland’s direction. Strickland went on to win the next four games to get on the hill first at 6-5, to lead for the first time in the match…but a dry break in the next rack allowed Derewonski to tie it up at 6-6. Derewonski would also break dry as a follow-up, and Strickland executed a touchy 2/10 carom shot to win the match on the live stream.
To make it to the quarterfinal, Jorge Rodriguez defeated tour owner Tony Robles 7-2, while Zion Zvi took a 7-5 win over Michael Yednak. Zvi and Rodriguez would have a closely-contended match in the quarterfinal, where Rodriguez sealed the win at 7-6. In an equally-close semifinal, Chris Derewonski defeated Jorge Rodriguez for the second time in the event, with a narrow 7-6 final.
Derewonski would then go up against Strickland on the live stream once again…but this time, Strickland led the way for his final win of the night, with a score of 9-4 to remain undefeated.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13 Racks, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with Steinway Billiards and their staff.
Next up on the Predator Tour will be the tour’s 10th stop of 2014, to be held at Cue Bar in Bayside, Queens, NY on April 12-13.
Complete Payouts Open/Pro
1st: Earl Strickland - $600
2nd: Chris Derewonski - $300
3rd: Jorge Rodriguez - $200
Jayson Shaw Makes a One-Loss Comeback to Take Another Predator Win at Gotham City
 
L-R Earl Strickland (3rd), Jayson Shaw (1st), Jorge Rodriguez (2nd), and room owner Kevin Buckley (Photo: Alison Fischer / NYC Grind)
Story & Photos by Alison Fischer / NYC Grind
 
On Sunday, March 30, the Open/Pro 10-Ball division of stop #8 at the Predator Pro/Am Tour got underway at noon. This weekend’s event was hosted by one of Brooklyn’s most notable pool rooms, Gotham City Billiards, which is one of the few rooms in New York City to feature all Diamond tables.
In a co-production between NYC Grind & AZbilliards, a free live stream of feature matches was made available for followers of pool around the world to watch the event all weekend on AZBtv’s Ustream Channel, which started with the Amateur 9-Ball division on the first day of the event. Read the Amateur 9-Ball results here.
In a similar fashion to the recent tour stop at Steinway Billiards, local New York top player Jorge Rodriguez went through the winner’s bracket to claim his spot in the final. Rodriguez took out the multiple-Predator Tour winners Jeremy Sossei (7-5), Steinway house pro & former World Champion Earl Strickland (7-4), and in the winner’s side final, international touring pro Jayson Shaw (7-2).
However, that would not be the last time Rodriguez would be hearing from Shaw. In his move over to semifinal in the one-loss side, Shaw would meet up with Earl Strickland, who had previously come away with a close 7-6 win over tour owner Tony Robles in the quarterfinal. Robles had received his first loss of the event from Shaw earlier on, but rebounded with a 7-3 win over Hunter Lombardo to get to the quarterfinal.
In the semifinal match against Strickland, pool’s top player out of Scotland had all cylinders firing once again, and Shaw got through with a 7-3 win. The final match against Rodriguez was a similar performance from Shaw, whose break at full-speed. There were few opportunities afforded Rodriguez in this match, as Shaw cleared rack after rack…to end with an 11-5 victory.
Earl Strickland (3rd), Jayson Shaw (1st), Jorge Rodriguez (2nd), and room owner Kevin Buckley (Photo: Alison Fischer / NYC Grind)
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13 Racks, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with Gotham City Billiards and their staff.
Next up on the Predator Tour will be the tour’s ninth stop of 2014, to be held at Steinway Billiards in Astoria, NY on April 5-6.
Complete Payouts Open/Pro
1st: Jayson Shaw – $600
2nd: Jorge Rodriguez – $400
3rd: Earl Strickland – $200
Chris Derewonski Returns from the Semifinal to Claim First Predator Tour Victory
 
L-R Chris Derewonski (1st), Mike Harrington (2nd), Gail Robles (3rd), and room owner Kevin Buckley (Photo: Alison Fischer / NYC Grind)
Story & Photo by Alison Fischer / NYC Grind
 
At Gotham City Billiards in Brooklyn, NY, two players were vying for their first-ever Predator Pro/Am Tour win in the tour’s Amateur 9-Ball division. This event, held on the weekend of March 29-30, was the tour’s eighth stop of the 2014 season, and would be the second time ever that the tour was hosted by Gotham. NYC Grind & AZbilliards joined forces to present a free live stream of the event, via the AZBtv Ustream Channel.
The two players who had their shot to win in the final were also the two who were the last players standing undefeated. Mike Harrington (rated a C+) and Chris Derewonski (rated A++). The format for each of the tour stops divides players ranked D through B in the lower half of the bracket, and the players ranked B+ through A++ in the upper half…leading to a face off between the two sides in the winner’s bracket final.
Harrington, a longtime area tour player based in New York, would have one of his best finishes in the event, and played very strong in the hot seat match to win 10-3 over Derewonski. On his path through the bracket, he took out Josh Friedberg (7-5), Joe Diamond (7-6), Patrick Meyers (7-3), Bob Schlott (7-5) on day one, followed by Sookdeo Ramkissoon (7-1) on the second day in the final four.
The top force on the one-loss side of the event would be the Predator Tour’s own Gail Robles (formerly Glazebrook), who would eventually meet up with Chris Derewonski in the semifinal. Robles would have her first loss of the event in the last round of day one (to Sookdeo Ramkissoon 7-4), but got back in the groove on the second day, with wins against Patrick Meyers, Meshak Daniel, Sookdeo Ramkissoon, and in the quarterfinal Steve “The Russian” in a 7-0 shutout. The semifinal between Robles & Derewonski would be a close one, but Derewonski pulled ahead to win it 9-7 and earn a second chance at Mike Harrington in the final. This would place Robles in third, which would be her record high finish in seven season on the tour.
In the final match, Chris Derwonski, who plays out of Steinway Billiards, was in top-form for his rematch against Mike Harrington. With their handicap difference, Harrington was spotted five games in an extended-format race to ten. If Harrington got to ten first, he would win as the player with no losses…but if Derewonski got to ten first, the race would be extended to twelve. In this case, Derewonski pushed full speed ahead, giving no breathing room to Harrington. The match closed out with a final winning score of 12-6 for Derewonski to take his first tour win.
Chris Derewonski was impressive throughout the weekend at Gotham, and made a run through the winner’s bracket with wins against recent tour winner James Stevens (8-6), Victor Nau (7-6), Nigel Francis (8-7), “Devil Dave” Ascolese (8-4), and Brooke Meyer (8-4). Derewonski joined Harrington & Robles in their best tour finishes to date.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13 Racks, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with Gotham City Billiards and their staff.
Next up on the Predator Tour will be the tour’s ninth stop of 2014, to be held at Steinway Billiards in Astoria, NY on April 5-6.
Complete Payouts ABCD
1st: Chris Derewonski - $1,000
2nd: Mike Harrington - $700
3rd: Gail Glazebrook Robles - $500
4th: Steve Astashen - $350
5th/6th: Sookdeo Ramkissoon, Brooke Meyer - $230
7th/8th: Meshak Daniel, Brian Russel - $150
9th-12th: Bob Schlott, Patrick Meyers, Koka Davladze, Dave Ascolese - $100
13th-16th: Josh Friedberg, Jerry Tarantola, Miguel Laboy, Chris Karl - $80
Josh Thiele Charges the Predator Tour for his First Victory at Corner Pocket Cafe
 
L-R Joe Torres (4th), Brooke Meyer (2nd), Chickie Romero (3rd), Josh Thiele (1st), and room owner Bart Rivezzi
Photo by Linda Moreiras Piddington
 
The seventh stop on the 2014 season for the Predator Pro/Am Tour was held at one of the tour’s new venues, Corner Pocket Cafe, in Orange, CT on March 22-23. A strong base of tour players hail from Connecticut, many of whom made it out to compete at Corner Pocket. However, in the Amateur 9-Ball division, New York would come out on top in this event, as Josh Thiele of Cold Spring, NY would take home an undefeated victory & his first tour win.
Along his path, Thiele took out recent Steinway winner James Stevens (7-3), Junior Sanchez (7-1), Phil Davis (7-5). Things picked back up with the final four of the winner’s bracket on Sunday at noon, where Thiele narrowly defeated Jack Smith at 7-6 after being down 6-2, and Chickie Romero gave Joe Torres his first loss at 7-4. Josh Thiele would have another close fight against Romero in the match for the hot seat, which ended in his favor at 8-6. Also on the second day of the stop, the Predator Tour’s Open 10-Ball event kicked off at noon, read the results & watch NYC Grind’s newest video featuring Jeremy Sossei’s winning finale here.
Brooke Meyer was also busy fighting for redemption on the one-loss side, after having lost his opening match to John Barton 7-4. Meyer went on to knock out Sal Midolo 7-2, Ervin Simpkins, Junior Sanchez, Dave Shlemperis, Jack Smith, and Joe Torres in the quarterfinal, by a score of 7-2. The semifinal continued Meyer’s hot streak, as he edged out Chickie Romero at hill-hill, with a 7-6 win.
In the final match, Meyer took on the undefeated player in the ‘hot seat’, Josh Thiele. Thiele would maintain his perfect record for the event, with a big 7-2 win to take the event after breaking and running out in the final game. At the start of the tournament, Thiele was rated as an ‘A’, but his performance at Corner Pocket led to his handicap being raised to ‘A+’.
Along with this being a first-time win for Thiele, all four of the top players had breakthrough showings in this event, with record best finishes on the tour. Congrats to all of the top players at Corner Pocket!
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13 Racks, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with Corner Pocket Cafe & their staff. Corner Pocket owner Bart Rivezzi & his family are to be credited for stepping up to contribute to the growing landscape of pool supporters & enthusiasts in the region with their first Predator Tour stop.
The next stop on the Predator Pro/Am Tour will be held at Gotham City Billiards in Brooklyn, NY on March 29-30. This event will be streamed in a co-production between AZbilliards & NYC Grind, via the AZBtv Ustream Channel: ustream.tv/channel/azbtv.
Complete Payouts ABCD
1st: Josh Thiele – $750
2nd: Brooke Meyer – $500
3rd: Chickie Romero – $350
4th: Joe Torres – $280
5th/6th: Jack Smith, Mike Esposito – $200
7th/8th: Tony Ignomirello, Billy Santiago – $130
Jeremy Sossei Returns from Loss Side to Win the Predator at Corner Pocket
 
L-R Mike Dechaine (3rd), Tony Robles (2nd), Jeremy Sossei (1st), and room owner Bart Rivezzi
Photo courtesy Linda Moreiras Piddington
 
On the weekend of March 22-23, the Predator Pro/Am Tour made its first appearance in Connecticut in many years, as its seventh stop of 2014 was held at Corner Pocket Cafe in Orange, CT. Fittingly, Bethlehem, CT pro Jeremy Sossei rose to the occasion to put another win in the books.
As a follow-up to his win in the Predator at Steinway, Sossei once again made a return from the loss side. After an initial 7-2 win over room owner Bart Rivezzi, Sossei lost 7-3 to Mike Dechaine. On the lower half of the bracket, Tony Robles came away with a 7-3 win over top CT amateur Phil Davis, and he went on to win the hot seat at 7-5 over Dechaine.
Following his loss to Dechaine, Sossei moved on to defeat Mike Jackson 7-3 and Kevin Guimond 7-5, in the quarterfinal. His close win over Guimond put Sossei up into a rematch against Mike Dechaine in the semi…which had the opposite outcome, as this time, it was Sossei winning solidly at 7-3.
Jeremy Sossei would then go up versus tour founder Tony Robles in an extended-format race final. Robles would win the match if he got to nine games first, but if Sossei reached nine first, the race would be extended to eleven. Sossei ran away with this set, as he put on a finely-tuned performance to lead 8-1. Robles would manage to put up a few more racks on the board, but Sossei nailed down an 11-5 victory by the night’s end.
NYC Grind’s latest video, created by Jerry T, highlights Sossei’s strong finish to capture his victory at Corner Pocket. Watch in the video player at the top of the page. Recently, Jerry T also spotlighted the Amateur 9-ball division of the tour, in the video highlighting the February tour stop at Steinway–watch the video here.
Mike Dechaine (3rd), Tony Robles (2nd), Jeremy Sossei (1st), and room owner Bart Rivezzi - Photo courtesy Linda Moreiras Piddington
Sossei has recently been announced as one of the 2014 Team USA Mosconi Cup candidates, and is joined by other top young American talent. As Sossei has proven to be one of the toughest forces in pool on the East Coast, and a reputation as a sportsman, many in the region will be pulling to see “The Giant Killer” make the roster.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13 Racks, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with Corner Pocket Cafe & their staff. Corner Pocket owner Bart Rivezzi & his family are to be credited for stepping up to contribute to the growing landscape of pool supporters & enthusiasts in the region with their first Predator Tour stop.
The next stop on the Predator Pro/Am Tour will be held at Gotham City Billiards in Brooklyn, NY on March 29-30. This event will be streamed in a co-production between AZbilliards & NYC Grind, via the AZBtv Ustream Channel: ustream.tv/channel/azbtv.
Complete Payouts Open/Pro
1st: Jeremy Sossei – $550
2nd: Tony Robles – $300
3rd: Mike Dechaine – $150
Jeremy Sossei Takes the Comeback Route to Victory at the Predator Pro/Am Tour’s Steinway Billiards Expo Warm-Up
 
L-R Tour director William Finnegan, Jeremy Sossei (1st), Jorge Rodriguez (2nd)
Photo and story by Alison Fischer - NYCGrind.com
 
March 8-9, 2014 was a big weekend for pool in the New York Tri-State area, as many amateurs and pros alike were out in droves to get ready for the upcoming Super Billiards Expo, happening a short drive out of NYC in Edison, NJ on March 13-16. The players of the Predator Pro/Am Tour were among those in action, at Steinway Billiards in Astoria, NY.
While the remaining players in the tour’s Amateur 9-Ball division continued into day two, the Open 10-Ball event kicked off at noon on the second day. With a strong combination of local talent and touring players, the tour was also host to the co-produced NYC Grind & AZbilliards live stream, which featured them in the worldwide webcast hosted by ‘UpState Al’ Leon.
While notable touring names such as Warren Kiamco, Jayson Shaw, Mike Dechaine, and Earl Strickland highlighted the field, it was top local Steinway player Jorge Rodriguez who stole the show in the winner’s bracket of this event.
Rodriguez was unable to be stopped on his run to take the hot seat, after wins against Jonathan Smith 7-5, Ed Culhane 7-4, CT pro Jeremy Sossei 7-6, Earl Strickland 7-4, and lastly, Mike Dechaine at 7-4. Dechaine had come off previous wins against Zion Zvi & Tony Robles, but would then have to bounce back in the semifinal to get another shot at Rodriguez in the final.
Mike Dechaine shooting on the feature table (Photo by Alison Fischer)
For the semi, Dechaine would have to contend with one of his opponents from earlier in the day, Jeremy Sossei. Sossei made a fierce recovery after his loss to Dechaine, devastating his opponents on his run to the final rounds. On the one-loss side, Sossei knocked out Raphael Dabreo 7-2, Jonathan Smith 7-1, Zion Zvi 7-2, and in the quarterfinal, Earl Strickland at 7-2. Jeremy Sossei would again follow suit in the semifinal match against a clearly-worn out Mike Dechaine, as he again won by a 7-2 scoreline.
Jeremy Sossei in the semifinal on the feature table. (Photo by Alison Fischer)
In the finals, Sossei starts out strong against the hot seat occupant Jorge Rodriguez, going up 5-1 in the extended-format single race set. Rodriguez won the next rack to go 5-2, but misses the one ball off the next break. Sossei went on to extend his lead at 9-3, and it would not be long before Sossei cleaned up the last two needed racks, putting away an 11-4 win.
Sossei performed with his customary methodical, disciplined style, and it proved to be successful, landing him his first tour win of the season. Jeremy Sossei, along with many of the other competitors in this event, will be seen at the upcoming Super Billiards Expo. Best of luck to everyone in Edison!
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with Steinway Billiards & their staff.
Complete Payouts Open/Pro
1st: Jeremy Sossei – $1,000
2nd: Jorge Rodriguez – $600
3rd: Mike Dechaine – $400
4th: Earl Strickland – $200
5th/6th: Zion Zvi, Frankie Hernandez – $150
Vincent Rochefort Goes on an Undefeated Run to Claim his First Predator Win at Steinway
 
L-R Josh Friedberg (3rd), Omar Alli (2nd), Vincent Rochefort (1st)
Photo and story by Alison Fischer - NYCGrind.com
 
On the weekend leading up to the annual Super Billiards Expo, the Predator Pro/Am Tour held their sixth stop for the 2014 season, the ‘Expo Warm-Up’ tournament, on March 8-9. For the two-day Amateur 9-Ball division, a total of seventy-two top amateur players turned out at host room Steinway Billiards in Astoria, NY.
In an undefeated run out of the gate, New York-based Paris native Vincent Rochefort came away with his first-ever Predator Tour win. Starting out on day one, Rochefort went on a run with wins against Diana “Snooky” Rojas 7-4, Alberto Estevez 7-6, Shawn Sookhai 7-6, Jimmy Acosta 7-6, to make it to the final four. In the next round on day two, Rochefort had another hill-hill finish, where he defeated Chris Derewonski 8-7 to get to the hot seat match.
While Rochefort dominated the upper half of the bracket, made up of B+ through A++ players, Josh Friedberg came out firing in the D-B half. A newcomer to the tour in 2014, Long Island-based Friedberg had an impressive run in this event, and eventually place in third. To make it to the hot seat match, Friedberg had a string of wins against Nick Spinnato 7-3, Mike Woike 7-1, Gail Robles 7-3, Dennis Lake 7-6, and Kapriel Delimelkonoglu 7-3. In the match for the hot seat, Friedberg had a close match against Rochefort, but fell short at 7-5.
Josh Friedberg (Photo by Alison Fischer)
Another impressive young up-and-coming player on the tour, Omar Alli, had a long grind after losing his second-round match to eventually make it all the way to the final. Alli, who was a recent winner in the Tri-State Tour’s December 14 stop at Steinway, lost to Dave Heyman 7-5, but went on to win a string of ten matches to get to the final. On his path, Alli took out Adrian Daniel 7-2, Tony Ignomirello 7-5, Thomas Rice 7-5, Naldo Troncoso 7-4, Steve Kalloo 7-5, Joe Gibbons 7-4, and Kapriel Delimelkonoglu 7-4 to make it to the quarterfinal.
Meeting Alli in the quarterfinal was a player who had just as long of a journey through the elimination side, Laszlo Kovacs. Kovacs (rated ‘A’) also lost in the second round to Jimmy Acosta 7-5, and went on for a strong run of wins against “Devil Dave” Ascolese 7-5, Steve Astashen 7-5, Miguel Laboy 7-2, Juan Guzman 7-2, Jimmy Acosta 7-5, Brooke Meyer 7-5, and Chris Derewonski 7-3.
In their quarterfinal match, Kovacs and Alli had a close fight, but Alli pulled away to win 7-5 and move on to the semifinal. Josh Friedberg awaited Omar Alli for the semifinal, and they would have an even closer match…going all the way to 6-6 before Alli finished off the winning rack to make it to the final.
Undefeated Vincent Rochefort then took on Omar Alli for the title match. Rochefort stayed on-point and looked very at ease throughout the match, and went on to win easily at 7-3 to take his first title on the Predator Tour. In addition to this win, Rochefort also recently won two weekly tournaments at Steinway, showing that he had some game to reckon with in New York. Rochefort’s previous best finish on the tour was 9th-12th place, so this win was a big achievement in his performance record.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with Steinway Billiards & their staff.
Complete Payouts ABCD
1st: Vincent Rochefort – $1,200
2nd: Omar Alli – $800
3rd: Josh Friedberg – $600
4th: Laszlo Kovacs – $350
5th/6th: Kapriel Delimelkonoglu, Chris Derewonski – $250
7th/8th: Brooke Meyer, Joe Gibbons – $200
9th-12th: Dave Shlemperis, Dennis Lake, Jimmy Acosta, Steve Kalloo – $150
13th-16th: Billy Santiago, Juan Guzman, James Stevens, Naldo Troncoso – $120
James Stevens Takes Home His First Predator Pro/Am Tour Win at Steinway
 
L-R Steve Wright (3rd), Diana Rojas (4th), James Stevens (1st), Victor Nau (2nd)
Photo and story by Jerry T. - NYCGrind.com
 
The Predator Pro/Am Tour’s fifth stop of 2014 was hosted by hotspot Queens pool room Steinway Billiards in Astoria, NY. The Amateur 9-ball segment of the event kicked off on Saturday, March 1 and ended on Sunday, March 2 on. A very strong showing of the most impressive up-and-coming talent in the New York area came out to compete over the excitement-filled weekend.
A total of 96 players, ranked from D+ to A++ converged at Steinway for this double-points event, and set out on a quest to earn the honor of being named champion.
It’s clear to the NYCgrind.com team that pool is hot right now, and there is more excitement, buzz, and dialogue being sparked around all that’s cool in the pool world. We are glad to see the momentum gaining steam, and being fueled by those who believe in the future of the sport.
Predator Cues, the largest pool cue manufacturer in the world, is the title sponsor of the tour, and the brand recently announced they will be sponsoring two of the pro events at the upcoming Super Billiards Expo: the men’s 10-ball and women’s 9-ball competitions.
With the Super Billiards Expo coming up around the corner on March 13-16, it seems that almost all the amateurs in the New York area have been tuning up their stroke and getting in the competitive swing for the upcoming Expo. Known as the “Greatest Show on Pool Earth”, the Expo is known for having events for all ages, and is the largest consumer & player pool Expo in the world.
Predator Tour’s fifth stop served as a great warm-up for the Expo, and coming up this weekend, March 8-9, the tour’s Expo Warm-Up event will continue to heat up the action for players in the area.
During the two days of competition at Steinway for the Predator Pro/Am Tour event, I was moved by the gritty performances by 15-year-old Thomas Rice, veteran female grinder Diana “Snooky” Rojas, Victor Nau, and the eventual winner, who not long ago made the decision to step back from his successful business to focus on seeing how far he elevate his pool game.
NYCgrind.com is pleased to introduce our Super News video from the event at Steinway, which summarizes the action from our unique perspective. This video is a little longer than our recent work, as we took a new approach in capturing the energy and the excitement as the action unfolded. Check out new video in the player below.
Predator Tour at Steinway Billiards, 2014 Stop #5 – Super News from NYC Grind on Vimeo.
NYC-based junior phenom Thomas Rice showed poise and experience well beyond his years by earning win after win in front of a knowledgeable New York crowd of tour supporters. Meanwhile, veteran player Victor Nau grinded through the one-loss bracket in impressive fashion, capping off his run with a gritty 7-5 win over Steve Wright for a spot in the finals.
In that final match, Victor would face undefeated James Stevens, a Connecticut-based tour player who capped off an undefeated run to win his first-ever Predator Tour stop, and most importantly, proved to himself that practice and immersing yourself in the game pays dividends.
Over the last year, James has competed in many events, and has been part of the fabric of the New York pool scene, while rediscovering his love for the game. Over this last weekend, James clearly took his game to a new high, as he found the confidence and trust to perform to the best of his ability. Kudos to James on a number of hard-fought battles en-route to a dominant 8-2 final score to seal his first Predator Tour victory.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with Steinway Billiards & their staff.
Complete Payouts ABCD
1st: James Stevens – $1,400
2nd: Victor Nau – $1,000
3rd: Steve Wright – $600
4th: Diana Rojas – $400
5th/6th: Chickie Romero, Luis Novas – $250
7th/8th: Josh Friedberg, Roberto Mendoza – $200
9th-12th: Dave Shlemperis, Tony Liang, Gus Iliopoulols, William Finnegan – $150
13th-16th: Sookdeo Ramkissoon, Luis Jimenez, Alberto Estevez, Shivam Gupta – $130
17th-14th: Francisco, Ray Feliciano, Emily Duddy, Vincent Morris, Naldo Troncoso, Justin Muller, Bob Toomey – $100
Eric Grasman Remains Undefeated for his First Predator Tour Win in the Am 9-Ball at Gotham City Billiards
 
L-R Diana Rojas (3rd), Eric Grasman (1st), Gotham owner Isabel Buckley,
Thomas Rice (2nd)
Photo and story by Alison Fischer - NYCGrind.com
 
It was a weekend for breakthroughs at the Predator Pro/Am Tour’s fourth stop of the 2014 season, held at Gotham City Billiards in Brooklyn, NY on February 22-23. Gotham owners Kevin & Isabel Buckley and their staff welcomed a contingent of 48 strong amateur competitors from around the New York Tri-State area for the two-day A-D 9-ball division of the event.
This tournament would bring out strong showings from a number of players, including one in particular who only recently made a return to the game after taking a nine-year stretch of time off: Eric Grasman. 2013 was the season that Grasman got back into the game, and had a strong finish at the Predator’s season finale at Raxx, where he came in fourth place.
Rated an ‘A+’, Grasman played in the upper bracket, which included players from ‘B+’ to ‘A++’. He was not granted a weak route in this field, but Grasman successfully made it Billy Santiago 7-4, Raphael Dabreo 7-5, Roberto Mendoza 7-5, and got to the final four to defeat Steve Wright 7-5.
Meanwhile, 15-year-old Thomas Rice was on the path with hopes of winning his second Predator stop. Making his way through the winner’s bracket, Rice took out Niko Berdzenishvili 7-3, Omar Chavez 7-5, Ron Mason 7-2, and James Stevens 7-6, to line up a match with longtime New York player Diana “Snooky” Rojas in the final four.
Leading up to their match, Rojas defeated Joe Gibbons 7-4, Sammy Alvarez Jr. 7-3, Steve Persaud 7-3, and John Crescente 7-4. Rojas proved to be too strong for Rice in their match-up, as she won it soundly at 7-1. Rojas moved on to the hot seat match, where she took on Eric Grasman. Grasman came out ahead with a final score of 8-4 to move on to the finals.
On the second day of the event, the players left standing one the one-loss side would fight to keep their hopes alive. In the final four, Chris Derewonski eliminated Roberto Mendoza 7-6, while James Stevens knocked out Tony Ignomirello by a score of 7-4. Stevens moved on to see another round, but his run would end there, as Thomas Rice would win 7-2. Derewonski would likewise also be sent home in that round, as Steve Wright dealt him a shutout at 7-0.
Rice and Wright paired up in the quarterfinal, where Rice earned a 7-5 win, and continued to stay strong in his rematch against Diana Rojas, where he won 7-3. Thomas Rice would then face Eric Grasman in the extended single-race format final. Rice got out to a solid lead in this match, and made it to nine games first, which extended their race to 11. This is when Grasman began to mount his comeback, and the match would go all the way to 10-10 before Grasman claimed the victory and remained undefeated at Gotham.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with Gotham City Billiards & their staff.
Complete Payouts ABCD
1st: Eric Grasman $1,000
2nd: Thomas Rice - $600
2nd: Diana Rojas - $400
4th: Steve Wright - $300
5th/6th: Chris Derewonski, James Stevens - $170
7th/8th: Roberto Mendoza, Tony Ignomirello - $130
9th-12th: Gary Murgia, William Finnegan, Koka Davladze, John Crescente - $100
Strickland Stays On Top at the Predator Pro/Am Tour’s Gotham City Billiards Stop
 
L-R Jorge Rodriguez (3rd), Earl Strickland (1st), Emily Duddy (5th), Gotham owner Isabel Buckley, Jeremy Sossei (2nd), Joey Korsiak (4th), and owner Kevin Buckley
Photo by Jerry T. and story by Alison Fischer - NYCGrind.com
 
On day two of the Predator Pro/Am Tour’s fourth stop of 2014, held a Gotham City Billiards in Brooklyn, NY on Sunday, Feb. 23, the Open 10-Ball segment of the event took place alongside the second day of the Amateur 9-Ball division.
Of the top players who made it out to take theirs shot at Gotham, the two final players in the winner’s bracket would be none other than Earl “The Pearl” Strickland and Jeremy “The Giant Killer” Sossei, who were also opponents in the final of the last Turning Stone Classic, won by Strickland in September, 2013.
While Strickland now calls Queens, NY his home (where he is house pro at Steinway Billiards), and Sossei is based nearby in Connecticut, both players appear regularly on the tour, and are frequent opponents.
To make it into the hot seat match, Sossei had a strong win over tour owner Tony Robles (7-3), while Strickland got past top New York open player Jorge Rodriguez (7-5). In the hot seat match, Strickland came out the winner at 7-3 to take his post in the hot seat.
Heading to the left side of the bracket, Top Long Island-based player Joey Korsiak would eliminate Tony Robles with a 7-3 victory, while Jorge Rodriguez took out Emily Duddy 7-2. Emily and Tony would finish tied for 5th place.
In the quarterfinal match, Rodriguez would deal a shutout to Korsiak (7-0), to then go up against Jeremy Sossei in the semifinal. Sossei prevailed in the semi by a three-game margin at 7-4, which put him up for a rematch against Earl Strickland.
The outcome of their second meeting of the day would turn out much the same, with Sossei gaining only one more game than in their prior match, as Strickland put down a 7-4 score for the win.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with Gotham City Billiards & their staff.
The next stop on the Predator Pro/Am Tour will be held this weekend, March 1-2 at Steinway Billiards. For more event information visit PredatorProAmTour.com and SteinwayBilliards.com.
Complete Payouts Open/Pro
1st: Earl Strickland - $600
2nd: Jeremy Sossei - $300
3rd: Jorge Rodriguez - $200
Wang Can Storms Back in the Final to Win the 2014 Empire State Open 10-Ball Championship
 
Jayson Shaw (3rd), Zion Zvi (2nd), Wang Can (1st), & tour founder Tony Robles
Photo and story by Alison Fischer - NYCGrind.com
 
Fighting for the Empire State 10-Ball Open Championship’s top honor of having their name on the 2014 banner at the event’s annual venue, Raxx Pool Room Sports Bar & Grill, was a total turnout of twenty-four pro, open, and top amateur players hailing from around the region and beyond.
Alongside Tony & Gail Robles and tournament director William Finnegan of the Predator Pro/Am Tour, Raxx proprietor Holden Chin and his staff set the stage with great service and hospitality for the players over the course of the single-day event on Sunday, February 16. AZBtv director 'Upstate Al' Leon was also on-site to live stream feature matches throughout the full two days of the Empire State weekend, starting with the Amateur 9-Ball event which got underway on Saturday, February 15.
By around 8:00pm that evening, the last player standing in the winner’s bracket had been determined. In the hot seat match to determine who would lock down a spot in the final, Zion Zvi and Wang Can matched up after getting through four rounds of some of the toughest players the area has to offer.
Zvi, one of the top players out of Israel who now calls Queens, NY home, started off the day strong with a 7-2 win over top Long Island player Joey Korsiak, and went on to beat Connecticut pro Jeremy Sossei 7-5, Earl Strickland 7-4, and room owner Holden Chin 7-3 to get to the winner’s side final.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old Shanghai phenom Wang Can took out Greg McAndrews 7-2, Joe Gibbons 7-1, Chad Bowling 7-2, and in the final four defeated defending champ Jayson Shaw in a 7-0 whitewash. Despite Can’s tear through the bracket, he was not able to hold back Zion Zvi in the match for the hot seat, and Zvi plowed through to a 7-2 finish.
The one-loss bracket had quite a bit of catching up to do…and following his early loss to Zvi, Jeremy Sossei would end up as one of the last players standing. In his closest match-up, Sossei one-upped Tony Robles at 7-6, and overpowered regional semi-pro Kevin Guimond at 7-5.
In the same round, Earl Strickland knocked out Connecticut top amateur Phil Davis 7-1 on the live stream, but Strickland was unable to get past Jayson Shaw, who sent him out with a 7-5 scoreline. Strickland was resigned to fifth place, along with room owner Holden Chin, who was eliminated by Jeremy Sossei, 7-3.
Sossei and Shaw were then left to fight in the quarterfinal, in what would be a closely-contended match. Taking the initial lead, Sossei forged ahead to go 4-1, but an unforced error gave Shaw his needed opportunity, and he caught up to tie 4-4.
Shaw then took the lead at 5-4 and got to the hill first at 6-4, but broke dry in the next rack, allowing Sossei to run out and make it 6-5. After Sossei tied it up at double-hill, it came down to one game. Sossei had a successful break at 6-6, and played a good safe on the two. Shaw played a jump, but unintentionally pocketed the ball in the cross-corner pocket, while leaving an open shot on the three. Sossei had the remainder of the table open…but missed the six, giving over the final rack to Shaw.
The semifinal would offer a second chance for Shaw against Wang Can, who waited out the rounds following his hot seat loss. Can won the lag, and started out hot with a runout from the break, making a jump shot along the way. In the following rack, he failed to make a ball, and Shaw ran out to tie 1-1. However, Shaw’s opportunities in the rest of the match were few and far-between, as Can put on a clinic, exhibiting his mastery of the table to end with a 7-2 win.
The final match immediately followed, and Zion Zvi, who was waiting in the hot seat, won the flip for the break against Wang Can…who was hoping to make good on his previous loss to Zvi. For the title, Can and Zvi would play an ‘extended format’ final set. Having no losses, Zvi could win if he got to nine first, but if Can got to nine first, the set would be extended to eleven.
At the start of the match, things were tied up at 2-2 when Zvi failed to get out to take the lead. Juxtaposed with his earlier powerful, fast-and-loose play, the wind seemed to have dropped from Zvi’s sails…and Can took full advantage of the opportunities Zvi afforded him.
Can moved through the rest of the match like a hot knife through butter, running out like a machine to get to nine games first…while Zvi only had three. Zvi was only able to get two more games up before Can put away the match with a final score of 11-5.
While Wang Can was clearly in the driver’s seat of the final match, and was a pool fan’s dream to watch, Zion Zvi had a very strong day on his path to the final, and made his name one of the headlines of the event.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with Raxx Pool Room & their staff.
The next stop on the Predator Pro/Am Tour will be held this coming weekend, February 22-23 at Gotham City Billiards in Brooklyn, NY. For the complete tour schedule and more information, visit PredatorProAmTour.com.
Complete Payouts Open/Pro
1st: Wang Can - $1,000
2nd: Zion Zvi - $600
3rd: Jayson Shaw - $450
4th: Jeremy Sossei - $300
5th/6th: Earl Strickland, Holden Chin - $200
Marco Dy Makes a Comeback to Become the 2014 Empire State Amateur 9-Ball Champion
 
L-R Mike Hertz (2nd), Marco Dy (1st), Roberto Mendoza (3rd)
Photo and story by Alison Fischer - NYCGrind.com
 
Over the weekend of February 15-16, the Predator Pro/Am Tour continued its seven-year run of the Empire State Championships, held annually at Raxx Pool Room in West Hempstead, NY, on Long Island. The talent in this event ranged from both long-standing tour members to some newcomers looking to make their name in one of the Predator Tour’s biggest events of the season. Top names included the event’s defending champion Yesid Garibello, and many other former tour winners such as Raphael Dabreo, Tom Hagan, Phil Davis, and Shawn Sookhai.
One of the most standout performances of the event was seen from Mike Hertz (Washingtonville, NY), who had a dominant showing in the winner’s bracket to get to the hot seat and lock in his spot in the finals. On his way, he took out Andrew Cleary 7-2, Larry Ross 7-2, Mike Harrington 7-1, Joe Torres 7-4, Randy Fisher 7-5, Chris Brooks 7-2, and for the hot seat, Marco Dy, by a score of 7-4.
Dy, who has made a recent return to competing, had a first-round bye to start off the tournament, then defeated Victor Nau 7-5, Austin Ouilette 7-6, Dave Shlemperis 7-2, Jimmy Acosta 7-2, and then beat Roberto Mendoza 7-2 in the final four to meet with Hertz.
Among the grittiest fighters on the one-loss side was Omar Alli (rated B), who lost in the very first round, but went on to win eight straight matches before a loss to Randy Fisher that went down to the wire at 7-6. Alli finished in 7th place, while Fisher was knocked out in the following round after a hill-hill loss to Chris Brooks.
Brooks moved on to the quarterfinal to face Roberto Mendoza, who lost his winner’s bracket match to Marco Dy. Following that loss, Mendoza played near-perfect and defeated Romeo Singh 7-2. Mendoza had another strong win in the quarterfinal against Brooks…but would face a tougher challenge in the semifinal. Marco Dy would come out the winner over Roberto Mendoza in the semi after a battle that went all the way to 6-6 before Dy won the final game.
Marco Dy then got another turn to take on Mike Hertz in the finale. Hertz was spotted one game on the wire going to seven, but if Marco got to seven first, the final would be extended to nine for both players. After the one-game spot, Hertz won the opening rack to lead 2-0, but Dy then won the next two to tie it 2-2, and took the lead at 3-2.
In the next rack, Dy played a safe on the seven, but the cue ball leaked out from behind the eight. Hertz got funny on the eight, and missed a cross-side bank. They alternated safes until Hertz made a full-table bank on the eight, but missed his bank attempt on the nine, double kissing the cue ball, for Dy to go up 4-2. After getting ball in hand, Dy then put the gap to three games, at 5-2. After Dy missed a relatively easy shot on the eight, Hertz scratched, allowing Dy to go up 6-2…then got his needed seven games to extend the race, at 7-2. Hertz then earned his first game after having lost seven straight, but that would be his last stand, as Marco Dy put away the last two racks for a final winning score of 9-3.
Throughout the final, Dy showed his strong shot selection knowledge, and played smart both offensively and defensively. Both Marco Dy and Mike Hertz came out as the players with the most heart in this event, and had a long haul to make it to the finals. Congratulations to them both!
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with Raxx Pool Room & their staff.
The next stop on the Predator Pro/Am Tour will be held this coming weekend, February 22-23 at Gotham City Billiards in Brooklyn, NY. For the complete tour schedule and more information, visit PredatorProAmTour.com.
Complete Payouts ABCD
1st: Marco Dy $2000
2nd: Mike Hertz $1500
3rd: Roberto Mendoza $1000
4th Chris Brooks $700
5th/6th: Randy Fisher/Romeo Singh $400
7th/8th: Omari Alli/Jimmy Acosta $250
9th-12th: Miguel Laboy/John Lazo/Dave Schlemperis/Ambi Estevez $180
13th-16th: Niko B/koka Dauladze/Tom Hagen/Steve Kallo $140
17th-24th: Mike Harrington/Amit Umadas/Ron Mason/Joe Torres/Erin Bechner/Chris Lazarovitch/Dean Selvey/ Lido Rasha $100
Tom Hagan Comes Back from a Hot Seat Loss to Take the Predator's 2nd Am 9-Ball at Cue Bar
 
L-R Dave Shlemperis (3rd), Brian Toolsee (2nd), Tom Hagan (1st)
Photo by Keith Diaz
Story by Alison Fischer - NYCGrind.com
 
On the weekend of January 18-19, the Predator Pro/Am Tour held its second tour stop of the 2014 season at one of Queens’ upscale spots for pool, Cue Bar in Bayside, NY. As in each event, an impressive field of amateur talent from around the New York Tri-State area turned out to take their shot in the Amateur 9-Ball division of one of the area’s toughest tours.
In this event, Brian Toolsee took second place for the second consecutive week…while former top finisher Tom Hagan prevented him from breaking through to his first tour victory. It was instead Hagan’s day to shine, as he came back from his loss to Toolsee in the hot seat to take down the field.
On Tom Hagan’s route to the finals, he took out Alex Borukhovich 8-4, Jack Smith 7-4, Ed Culhane 7-1, and Victor Nau 7-4 to get lined up for the hot seat match. In the bottom half of the bracket, on the B/C/D side, Brian Toolsee was busy dealing losses to Matt Vascellaro 7-5, Bob Schlott 7-4, Dan Faraguna 7-4, and Kapriel Delimelkonoglu 7-4. Toolsee continued on his charge with an impressive hot seat win over Hagan at 8-2.
Area player Delimelkonoglu also had a strong showing, and make a good effort on the one-loss side to make it to the quarterfinal, with a final win against up-and-coming junior talent Thomas Rice 7-2.
However, it would be former tour winner Dave Shelmperis who would make the best run from the left side of the bracket, as he made it past Gary Murgia 7-5, Alex Osipov 7-4, Ed Culhane 7-4, Rhio Anne Flores 7-4, and Victor Nau 7-4 to get to the quarterfinal and get Delimelkonoglu at 7-4.
Shlemperis was then bumped up to the semifinal, but could not get past Tom Hagan, who finished off the semi at hill-hill, 7-6. In the final match, Hagan stayed on his game, and walked away with a 10-8 win over Toolsee to take the event’s finale at Cue Bar. Hagan one-upped his previous top finish at Cue Bar in 2013, where he finished in second.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with host room Cue Bar & their staff.
The next stop on the Predator Tour will be the $3,000-added 7th Annual Raxx Empire State Championships, to be held at Raxx Pool Room, Sports Bar & Grill in West Hempstead, NY on Long Island on February 15-16.
Complete Payouts ABCD
1st: Tom Hagan - $1,000
2nd: Brian Toolsee - $700
3rd: Dave Shlemperis - $500
4th: Kapriel Delimelkonoglu - $350
5th/6th: Victor Nau, Thomas Rice - $250
7th/8th: Rhio Anne Flores, James Stevens - $180
9th-12th: Dan Faraguna, Ed Culhane, Raphael Dabreo, Meshak Daniel - $140
14th-16th: Alex Osipov, Bob Schlott, Jack Smith, Gail Robles - $100
Strickland Stays on Top in the Predator Tour's Open 10-Ball at Cue Bar
 
L-R Wang Can (2nd), Earl Strickland (1st), Zion Zvi (4th), Tony Robles (3rd)
Photo by Keith Diaz
Story by Alison Fischer - NYCGrind.com
 
In the Predator Pro/Am Tour’s second edition of 2014, Cue Bar in Bayside, Queens, NY was the venue, held on the weekend of January 18-19. The one-day Open/Pro 10-Ball division of the even was held on Sunday, January 19, and touted some of pool’s top touring names, including 19-year-old runner-up Wang Can of Shanghai, China and ‘The winner Earl Strickland, who was featured in last week's 'Last Showdown' challenge vs Efren Reyes.
Strickland would be the player to go the the hot seat undefeated…and continue on to stay untouched. Leading up to the hot seat, Strickland’s toughest opponent Can took out Zion Zvi 7-3, Jayson Shaw 7-1, and Omar Alli 7-0…while Strickland claimed wins against Steve Kalloo 7-2, Mhet Vergara 7-1, and Tony Robles 7-2. Strickland held up in the hot seat match, and locked in his spot in the final.
Meanwhile, Zion Zvi and Jayson Shaw (who has recently returned to the States from Scotland) were working their way through the one-loss bracket. In the final four of the loser’s side, Shaw’s run was cut short by Tony Robles with a 7-6 score, while Zvi defeated New York amateur player Omar Alli 7-3. Robles continued on strong with a 7-5 win against Zvi, but would end his run in the semifinal against Wang Can at 7-4. In the final match of the event, Earl Strickland ran through Can in the final, and the score would end with a 9-2 victory for ‘The Pearl’.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with host room Cue Bar & their staff.
The next stop on the Predator Tour will be the $3,000-added 7th Annual Raxx Empire State Championships, to be held at Raxx Pool Room, Sports Bar & Grill in West Hempstead, NY on Long Island on February 15-16.
Complete Payouts Open/Pro
1st: Earl Strickland - $700
2nd: Wang Can - $400
3rd: Tony Robles - $250
4th: Zion Zvi - $150
Tony Robles Makes a Turnaround to Win the Predator Pro/Am Tour’s First Event of 2014 at Steinway Billiards
 
L-R Tony Robles (1st), Mike Dechaine (2nd), Zion Zvi (3rd)
Photo and story by Alison Fischer - NYCGrind.com
 
A very tough field of twenty-six players turned out for the Predator Pro/Am Tour’s 2014 season opener in the Open/Pro 10-Ball Division. Players from around the region were in full force at the opener’s host room Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY, in front of a very knowledgeable crowd of New York City pool aficionados.
Two generations of top players in the Northeast were headed on a collision course to the hot seat it this event, up against both local and international talent. One being Predator Tour founder Tony “The Silent Assassin” Robles, a living legend in New York’s pool scene and former BCA Champion…and the other being a young player who broke out from Waterville, Maine in the last decade to top the charts of the toughest tours and pro tournaments in the U.S, Mike “Fireball” Dechaine.
Dechaine would be the player to take down the winner’s bracket, dealing losses to Gregg McAndrews (7-5), Frankie Hernandez (7-4), Steinway house pro Earl “The Pearl” Strickland (7-5), and local top amateur Bogie Uzdejczyk (7-1).
Dechaine moved like a freight train through the hot seat match against Robles, and got out to a 4-1 lead before he finished the set at 7-2. Robles would wait for the player to come away from the one-loss side of the bracket, who would turnout to be his good friend Zion Zvi. After having taking a hiatus from the game to work full time, Zvi had a very strong return to competing at Steinway, his home room. Zvi’s last tournament was also an appearance at Steinway, in the 3rd annual Ginky Memorial.
In this event, Zvi suffered an early loss to Hunter Lombardo in the first round of the event, but went on to win six straight matches and make it to the semifinal match. Along his path, he eliminated Sean Morgan (7-4) Jennifer Barretta (7-2) Ed Culhane (7-4), Earl Strickland (7-1), 2013 Open Class Player of the Year Runner-Up Travis McKinney (7-2), and one of New York’s strongest veteran players, Frankie Hernandez (7-3).
The semifinal between Zion Zvi and Tony Robles would be a tooth-and-nail battle. Zvi and Robles were closely tied early on in the match, but Zvi would make it to the hill first at 6-5. Zvi looked to run out the next rack for the win, but a surprising miss gave Robles another shot to get into the match. This would end up being a lethal miss for Zvi, as following a lengthy battle, Robles fought back to win the set 7-6.
Robles then had his second shot against the Providence, RI-based young gun Mike Dechaine. After getting tuned up in his fantastic finish against Zvi, Robles maintained the charge against Dechaine in the final, and held the lead throughout the match. The hour was very late and both players were showing signed of weariness in their games, but Robles maintained the most energy and momentum in his game, and got two games away from the hill at 8-4. Dechaine would get only one more win under his belt in this match, and it ended in an 11-5 match in favor of Robles.
In a tough field including a number of full-time pro players, Robles stamped his name on this event, with an authoritative finish in the final. Robles pulled off a strong feat in winning the tournament while also running the tournament. Tony and Mike both deserve credit for showing a lot of grit in a late-running final.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The national Amateur Pool League, Delta-13, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with host room Steinway Billiards & their staff.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with host room Steinway Billiards & their staff.
The next tour stop will be held on January 18-19 at Cue Bar in Bayside, Queens, NY.
Complete Payouts Open/Pro
1st: Tony Robles – $1,000
2nd: Mike Dechaine – $600
3rd: Zion Zvi – $400
4th: Frankie Hernandez – $200
5th/6th: Travis McKinney, Bogie Uzdejczyk – $150
Raphael Dabreo Unstoppable at the Predator Pro/Am’s Season Opener Amateur 9-Ball at Steinway Billiards
 
L-R Keith Adamik (3rd), Brian Toolsee (2nd), Raphael Dabreo (1st)
Photo and story by Alison Fischer - NYCGrind.com
 
The Predator Pro/Am Tour’s season opener at Steinway Billiards got 2014 started off big, with an impressive turnout of 105 players. While most of the competitors who appeared are regulars on the Predator as well as the Tri-State Tour, a number of new names were also seen in the running at Steinway.
Among the top names in the event were a number of former tour winners, including regular Steinway grinder Tony Liang, 2013 Predator Tour ‘A’ Class Player of the Year Bogie Uzdejcyk, Stewart Warnock, Marco Dy, Billy Santiago, Victor Nau, Dennis Lake, Shawn Sookhai, Yesid Garibello, Juan Guzman, and Dave Shlemperis, among others.
However, none were able to topple the firepower of Raphael Dabreo, whose game has been on the fast track to high-caliber in recent years. With greater frequency, Dabreo has been racking up wins at many of the New York Tri-State area locations, and had his most recent Predator win at Cue Bar in September, 2013. He was also a force to reckon with at Castle Christmas Classic at Castle Billiards in December, finishing third in a field of top open and pro level players. Dabreo is one of Steinway’s house players, and he also runs his cue repair service ‘Cue 2 Go’ out of the Astoria pool room.
Dabreo went to the hot seat of the tournament chart in his undefeated run to victory at Steinway. Along the way, he took out Brooke Meyer 7-5, Juan Guzman 7-5, Alberto Estevez 7-5, Koka Davladze 7-5, Eric Grasman 7-4, and Keith Adamik 7-3 to get to the hot seat match.
Up and-comer Brian Toolsee (rated C+) matched up with Raphael Dabreo for the hot seat, but Dabreo left him no space to roam, as he won it 10-5 after spotting him five games on wire. Toolsee, who has recently been a frequent name on the listings of top finishers, had a strong run to make it to the hot seat. He marked wins against Jose Kuilan 7-5, Chuckie Romero 7-5, Tom Romano 7-1, Omar Chavez 7-3, Meshak Daniel 7-4, and Bryan Singh 7-4 in the final four.
A newcomer to the top of the charts was the player to be named #4 at Steinway, Izac Horne. Following his loss in the winner’s bracket, Horne went on to defeat James Stevens 7-6, Ron Mason 7-4, Meshak Daniel 7-4, Chuckie Romero 7-4, and had a 7-5 win over Bryan Singh to make it to the quarterfinal. Horne’s run was ended in the quarterfinal match by one of the top performers, Keith Adamik, who won by a score of 9-5.
Keith Adamik earned both the ‘A Class’ Player of the Year Runner-Up award and the tour’s Sportsmanship Award in 2013, and got off to a strong start in 2014. Adamik had bounced back from his ‘final four’ winner’s bracket loss to Dabreo, but was prevented from getting a rematch with him…as Brian Toolsee dealt him a 9-5 loss in the semifinal.
In the extended-format final race, Dabreo would win it if he reached ten games first, but if Toolsee got to ten, the race would be extended to twelve for both players, with Toolsee getting a five-game spot. In the amount of time that Dabreo won six games, Toolsee put one more up on the board, which tied the match at 6-6. Toolsee would retake the lead at 7-6, and then go up 8-6. Dabreo then moved forward to win the next four racks, and finish his undefeated run in the event at 10-8.
The Predator Pro/Am Tour would like to give special thanks to their sponsors for their support: Predator Cues, The national Amateur Pool League, Delta-13, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com, along with host room Steinway Billiards & their staff.
The next tour stop will be held on January 18-19 at Cue Bar in Bayside, Queens, NY. Visit the tour on the web at PredatoProAmTour.com for more details.
Complete Payouts Open/Pro
1st: Raphael Dabreo - $1,500
2nd: Brian Toolsee - $1,100
3rd: Keith Adamik - $800
4th: Izac Horne - $600
5th/6th: Bryan Singh, Jack Smith - $400
7th/8th: Marco Dy, Chuckie Romero - $250
9th-12th: Eric Grasman, Keith Diaz, Shawn Sookhai, Meshak Daniel - $180
13th-16th: Kapriel Delimelkonoglu, Koka Davladze, Billy Santiago, Ron Mason - $150
17th-24th: Dan Faraguna, Victor Nau, Rhio Anne Flores, Joe Gibbons, James Stevens, Jerry Tarantola, Sal Midolo, Omar Chavez - $120
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