World Cup of Poker: Week 1 update
Bunker Bob is back!
As we mentioned last week, the ninth World Cup of Poker will play out this year, now with a heads-up format. Everyone has a chance to play for his or her country, an effort that could land them in the live finals at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.
During the first weekend, 72 different countries fought the first two of four qualifying matches. Keeping track of the numbers is a Herculean task. Fortunately, we have our own in-house Hercules in the form of the aforementioned Bunker Bob, a gentlemen who cloisters himself in a double-reinforced bunker with a giant golden abacus. The man can crunch numbers better than anyone I've ever met.
We've spent the past day interpreting his notes. This is our best translation:
World Cup of Poker: Week 1 update
Group 1: Canada went into the group as a hot favourite, with Argentina expected to pose the main threat, however it was tiny Honduras that came good in the first qualifying match. 'LUISRO23' overcame Canadian 'alma53' to lock up 113 points for the small Central American nation. Argentina provided both of the beaten semi-finalists, locking up 33.72 points and depriving the other teams in the group of a top four spot.
The second match went to form however with an all Canadian final. In fact all but one of the top 8 spots were occupied by Canadian players, forcing most of the other teams to settle for money scores. It was '2xMaGiCx2' that ultimately claimed the 126.32 points. Argentina again locked up a semi-final place for a score of 35.28. Defending champions Peru are currently struggling with just 12.22 points.
Contenders: Canada (182.52 pts), Honduras (119.04 pts) & Argentina (69 pts)
Group 2: Things are much tighter in the second Americas group. Mexico got off to the perfect start on Saturday, with 'Josman27' taking the win and 88.4 points. 'Estacion Aga' from Uruguay took 45.76 points for the runner-up spot. Brazil kept in touch with the leaders by taking the remaining spots in the top 4 for 24.64 points.
The second match saw Venezuela rise to the top with 'Chechegami' earning 88.03 points for the win. This time Brazil took second place and Colombia snatched a semi-final finish to keep them in contention. Mexico could only add another 11.23 points for a quarter final cash, but it was enough to put them on top going into the second half of qualifying.
Contenders: Mexico (99.63 pts), Venezuela (92.25 pts), Brazil (70.27 pts), Uruguay (49.97 pts) & Colombia (25.97 pts)
Group 3: The first of the European groups saw the most dominating performance of the first half of qualifying, with pre-match favourites Germany taking down both matches. Saturday saw 'gottzeus' secure 201.2 points, then compatriot 'bowling-ffo' won the Sunday match for 187.77 points.
However a huge performance from Greece will keep interest alive next weekend. The relatively small poker nation took second place in both matches to give them a shot at qualifying for the Bahamas next weekend. Belarus will also feel they're in with a chance after reaching the semi-finals in both matches.
Contenders: Germany (388.97 pts), Greece (204.57 pts), Belarus (125.01 pts) & Poland (94.84 pts)
Group 4: On paper this group should come down to a contest between Ukraine and the UK, but at the halfway stage both face an uphill battle to qualify. The first qualifying match was won by Croatia, with 'Patrick Dash' taking the 185.1 points on offer after victory over Bulgaria's 'MAHRK'.
Hungary then stepped up to take match 2, with 'SlyderS1' defeating Denmark's 'Calkulating' for 164.66 points. Combined with a semi-final finish the previous day, the result was enough to see Hungary move to the top of the group. This time the UK and Ukraine were able to secure spots in the semi-finals, thus giving them a chance to fight back next weekend.
Contenders: Hungary (220.04 pts), Croatia (210.48 pts), Bulgaria (117.68 pts), Denmark 88.36 (pts), Ukraine (77.75 pts) & the UK (77.75 pts)
Group 5: The qualifying matches of group 5 were the single biggest tournaments in the first round of qualifying with well over 1,200 participants in each. The reason? The group contains the mighty Russian playerbase. In the new WCP format there's strength in numbers, but so far the advantage is yet to tell. In the first match 'TOMMYWOG' of Ireland battled singlehandedly for his country from the round of 32 onwards, eventually securing a 245 point win over Russia's 'VIPERstar.ru'.
The second match saw 'FAustuxXP' of Lithuania defeat a trio of Russian players in the last four to earn 210.24 points for his country. Israel added a quarter-final finish to their semi-final appearance the previous day to keep them in the hunt for qualification. Russia remain the favourite, but a big upset could be on the cards.
Contenders: Ireland (248.69 pts), Russia (239.94 pts), Lithuania (223.14 pts) & Israel (112.75 pts)
Group 6: Match 1 in group 6 witnessed the only final 4 whitewash by a single nation, with Romania taking all the semi-final spots. Ultimately 'Rapid4Ever' closed out the tourney for a 169 point gain. Serbia, Belgium and the Netherlands all had to settle for quarter-final places worth 26.1 points each.
The second qualifying match went the way of Belgium, as 'JacktShipper' defeated Serbia's 'Ljuti_Gusar' for the 149.68 point top prize. One of the group's underdogs, Cyprus, picked up 44.64 points for a semi-final appearance, while Romania added 23.06 points for one of their three quarter-finalists. The Netherlands began the group as one of the favourites but will now struggle to qualify after failing to make the top 32 places in the second match.
Contenders: Romania (192.06 pts), Belgium (175.78 pts), Serbia (100.5 pts) & Cyprus (46.32pts)
Group 7: Taiwan got off to a perfect start in group 7 with 'shaqssmm' defeating compatriot 'S.rainy' for 77.57 points. Players from Japan and the Philippines both earned 21.63 points for their countries by reaching the semi-finals.
In match 2, 'Ihou' of Japan took victory from New Zealand's 'edmuldrock' and 66.25 points - enough to secure a small lead going into the second week of qualifying. The Philippines this time provided both losing semi-finalists, keeping them well in contention of qualifying.
Contenders: Japan (87.88 pts), Taiwan (80.75 pts), New Zealand (44.33 pts) & Philippines (40.18 pts)
Group 8: The final group in the competition contains the mysterious yet dangerous Rest of the World (RoW) team, and they got off to an incredible start with 'FreddyEagle' from Iceland securing them maximum points in match 1, earning RoW 77.5 points. Australia's 'kungfukarlos' scored 40.3 points for finishing runner-up.
The second match appears to have gone well for China, though it may yet still be good for the RoW team. 'raiden_kan' from Macao took the win for 65.13 points, but the points could legitimately count for either China or RoW. The player has been contacted to find out which team should benefit from the points. If it goes the way of China, then RoW can still breath easily, as 'MMx200070' from Turkmenistan has guaranteed at least a 2nd place finish and 36.15 points. Australia scored a semi-final finish to stay within touch of the group leaders.
Contenders (provisional): RoW (113.65 pts), China (68.85 pts), Australia (59.58 pts) & Kazakhstan (30.13 pts)
A special mention should go to Albania, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Indonesia and Vietnam, all of whom are looking for their first points in the competition. Qualification for the finals now looks unlikely for these teams, but pride can be restored with a cash in next weekend's final qualifying tournaments!