WCOOP 2014: Proteges on the bubble and a contest wide open

A little earlier today we recapped events of the weekend, events that were dominated by the overnight scores in the WCOOP Main Event.

As things stand there are 271 players remaining, with only 270 guaranteed to finish in the money. The action was paused on a knife edge, with alfaromea currently the short stack with a little more than a single big blind to her name.

What we didn't mention is that alfaromea is in fact Olga Ermolcheva, one of the four Proteges who won a promotion to receive tutoring from a Team PokerStars Pro ahead of the WCOOP series, and all for the princely sum of $5. Now she's one place away from a guaranteed min cash of $12,316.50 -- if she can survive what could be a brutal first few minutes.

Olga Ermolcheva_wcoop_29sept14.jpgOn the stone cold bubble: Olga "alfaromea" Ermolcheva

But that's not all. Ermolcheva is not the only Protégé still in the Main Event. It turns out that three of the four protégés are still in the running, leaving the entire Protégé contest wide open.

Ironically it was the fourth protégé, Rob Glenister, who led going into the Main Event, and looked most likely to win the first prize of a trip to the PCA Main Event. Now, after elimination, he is the only one of the four unable to win, with the highest placed finisher tonight when play resumes guaranteed to win the package.

Here's how they'll return.

136th place: Arseny "asfin88" Shurapchikov (trained by Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier)

236th place: Allan "Justino" Justino (trained by Andre Akkari)

271st place: Olga "alfaromea" Ermolcheva (trained by Eugene Katchalov)

Shurapchikov is the best placed of the three Protégés. Having managed just two hours sleep ("Nerves didn't allow me to have a rest more long!"), it's about keeping his concentration, but anyone in his position would be hard pressed not to let their mind wonder.

Arseny Shurapchikov_wcoop_29sept14.JPGArseny "asfin88" Shurapchikov poised for a memorable WCOOP Main Event finish

What was uppermost in his mind? Winning the Protégés contest or the Main Event itself?

"The victory in competition of the Protégés is a main objective," he said. "But if there is a good hand, I will play it to the showdown."

One last point to make is that Justino's coach Andre Akkari is also still in the main event field--just to keep things interesting. Or awkward, depending on how things turn out.

"His tips were very valuable," said Justino, "I played every hand remembering his advice. I am very grateful to him, and I promise not to disappoint him!"

Either way it seems the mentoring most certainly worked.

You can find out how they get on for yourself when play resumes in the WCOOP Main Event at 19:30 BST today. If they reach the final table you can follow all the action on the webcast, presented by James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton, which starts at 05:30 BST tomorrow.

Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.
Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in WCOOP