GPL Playoffs: Montreal Nationals win title after 11-game thriller

The Montreal Nationals were crowned the first ever champions of the Global Poker League after a season finale against the Berlin Bears.

The two teams, consisting of some of the biggest names in poker, faced off against each other in the CUBE, a unique playing environment that pitted players against each other in heads up online games. After three days, and three rounds of play the Nationals, led by team captain Marc-Andre Ladouceur, triumphed.

montreal_nationals_trophy.jpgThe Nationals with the GPL trophy

What's more it was a thriller.

Up to now matches had been the best of seven. The final was best of 11, meaning each team required six wins to secure the title. But these teams had spent the best part of a year perfecting the GPL way, and this one would go the distance.

Sorel Mizzi of the Bears opened the scoring against Mike McDonald, a key player in the Nationals campaign but who would score only once in his four games. Pascal Lefrancois (who would go 3 and 1 in the final) won the second game before Jason Lavallee made it 2-1 Nationals in Game 3, and McDonald added another point in game 4.

mcdonald_mizzi_cube_2dec16.jpgMike McDonald and Sorel Mizzi get things started in the CUBE

Then came a back and forth only broken by Sorel Mizzi's back-to-back wins in games nine and ten that would make this one such a nail biter. It meant Brian Rast and Pascal Lefrancois, players each team had depended on in the playoffs, to play for the win.

It was close in all ways, but Lefrancois sealed it, the last hand a slow motion conclusion in which Lefrancois, holding pocket queens and having flopped a set, waited for Rast to get his money in with a turned two pair.

montreal_nationals_watch_lafrancois_2dec16.jpgWith team mate Pascal Lefrancois in the CUBE, his team mates look on

The Nationals had won their conference and had now demonstrated why they were the best team in the competition. What's more they had shown what the GPL was about. As Mike McDonald put it after the win, the GPL was about the poker, not the money, and it had clearly accomplished that.

Here's how the scoring went through the 11-game final.

1Sorel Mizzi (w)vsMike McDonald
2Bill PerkinsvsPascal Lefrancois (w)
3Brian RastvsJason Lavallee (w)
4Bill PerkinsvsMike McDonald (w)
5Brian Rast (w)vsJason Lavallee
6Sorel MizzivsPascal Lefrancois (w)
7Bill Perkins (w)vsMike McDonald
8Brian RastvsJason Lavallee (w)
9Sorel Mizzi (w)vsPascal Lefrancois
10Sorel Mizzi (w)vsMike McDonald
11Brian RastvsPascal Lefrancois (w)

Congratulations to the GPL Champion Montreal Nationals. Find out more about the league, and watch coverage of all the playoff matches on the GPL website.

Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog. Follow him on Twitter: @StephenBartley.

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