For the Predator Pro/Am Tour’s fifth
stop of 2016, players from around the New York City
area headed to the south-side Brooklyn neighborhood
of Gravesend to battle at Gotham City Billiard Club
on March 19-20. Voted the “Best Pool Hall in Brooklyn,”
Gotham is known as one of the only rooms in the area
to feature Diamond tables, and draws strong turnouts
for the tournaments held there.
At this event, a total of eighty-four players turned
out to compete in the Amateur 9-Ball division, while
thirteen competed in the Pro 10-Ball division. Along
with the player-friendly atmosphere at Gotham, the $3,000
in added prize money was a big draw for competitors,
with $1,500 going to the prize funds for each division’s
payouts. Throughout the weekend, a free live stream
was provided by AZBtv and hosted by “Upstate Al”
In what would become an international battle between
a New York-veteran player and a newcomer to the tour,
action in the Amateur 9-Ball division got underway at
11am on Saturday, March 19 due to the early turnout
and close of the lower bracket.
From the half of the chart featuring “D”
through “B”-level players, tour rookie Nayan
Roy found his way to the final through the winner’s
bracket. Roy, an accounting student who hails from Bangladesh,
India, first began playing on the Predator Tour at the
beginning of the 2016 season and already has begun to
In the tour’s previous event (Stop #4 at Cue
Bar), Roy took third place, only to continue his hot
streak going through the winner’s bracket at Gotham.
After a first-round bye, Roy had a six-match run which
culminated in a 7-6 win for the “hot seat”
against Steve “The Russian” Astashen.
On day two of the tournament, before his match against
Roy, Astashen topped off a five-match run with a win
over Riyadh Benghalem of Algeria. Benghalem, who first
began playing on the tour in 2015, has also become known
as a threat this season, having earned a number of high
finishes thus far.
Benghalem stayed in the fight after his loss to Astashen,
going on to defeat Willy “Shorty” Santiago
(7-6), followed by another close battle in the quarterfinal
match against Dan Faraguna (7-6). The semifinal was
rematch time for Benghalem and Astashen—Astashen
soundly won with a score of 7-2.
In the final, Astashen had his second rematch of the
tournament—this time against Nayan Roy. The format
for the match was a modified single race to seven games.
If Roy reached seven first, he would win the match outright;
if Astashen made it to seven first, the set would extend
to nine games. This rule came into play as Astashen
took seven first, and ended in a 9-8 win for Astashen,
his first-ever tour victory.
While the amateur players worked through their final
rounds of competition, some of the area’s top
open and pro-level players battled it out at Gotham.
Included in the lineup of headlining players were Gotham
house pro Jorge Rodriguez, Predator Tour founder Tony
Robles, Mike Dechaine, Hunter Lombardo, Mike Wong, Frankie
Hernandez, and eventual winner Jayson Shaw.
Shaw, who recently returned from a trip to Europe
with his wife and daughter, landed in the final undefeated
after wins over top amateur Koka Davladze (7-3), Mike
Dechaine (7-4), Hunter Lombardo (7-6), and Mike Wong
Following his narrow loss to Shaw, Lombardo put in
a strong performance, defeating Tony Robles (7-4) and
Jorge Rodriguez (7-1). Lombardo then matched up against
Wong for a gritty battle in the semifinal. Wong got
out to an early lead, reaching the hill first at 6-3.
Lombardo kept the heat on to tie the match at 6-6, but
the last rack ended in Wong’s favor, landing Wong
a rematch against Shaw in the final.
The match for the title also went down to the wire
as Shaw and Wong traded racks. With the match tied at
10-10, Wong was poised to score an upset win, but a
positional error proved costly. Shaw took the opportunity
given to close out the match 11-10 and walked away with
Alongside the the Pro 10-Ball event, a “Second
Chance” tournament was also held on day two, for
players who had been eliminated from the amateur 9-ball
division. The top finishers in this event would be Chris
Kelly and Koka Davladze, who split the first and second
Story by Alison