Shocks and surprises as World Cup of Poker reaches next phase
The World Cup of Poker group qualifying matches are over and this is how things shape up for the Round of 16 on Saturday, November 29:
Most of the big names made it through, but not all of them found it an easy task. Surprisingly there was no place in the knockout phase for Brazil, the UK, the Netherlands or any of the Scandinavian countries.
The pick of the ties in the next round has to be the USA Vs Canada, which will be a huge clash of the North American poker titans. Not far behind though will be the match between European heavyweights Spain and Germany. Whatever happens two of the pre-tournament favourites will be missing from the quarter finals on December 6.
Here is how things worked out for each group:
Group A (Asia Pacific)
A superb effort from New Zealand on Saturday saw them go through as the winner of their group. They made up three of the remaining eight players in the latter stages of the tournament, and ultimately 'jarjar21' secure the kiwis place. The favourite for the group was Australia, and they managed to get through at the second attempt on Sunday.
Group B (Central Asia)
Group B almost produced the biggest upset of the competition as Russia survived by the skin of their teeth. On Saturday Kazakhstan locked it up before the last match saw a hand by providing both of the finalists. It was 'DUSHUMOTAL' that ultimately took the glory for his nation.
The Sunday qualifier looked to be going all Russia's way with 30 of the last 32 players, but by the semi-finals it had come down to a straight shoot out with the two remaining player from Uzbekistan. The last surviving Russians held their nerve though and booked their place in the knockout phase as Group B runners-up.
Group C (Europe & Africa 1)
Things went more truly to form in the first of the European groups, as 'jr.aventador' from Italy took the first qualifying spot on Saturday with a win over France. The French weren't to be denied though and came back strongly to take the second match on Sunday, seeing off a determined display by Hungary.
Group D (Europe & Africa 2) - Matches at 12:00 ET
The second European group turned out to be one of the most evenly matched and fiercely contested. It was a remarkable performance from 'and73' that saw Switzerland upset the odds and progress as group winners. He was the only Swiss player left standing with 128 players to go and carried his team all the way to the knockout stages.
The second group match proved to be less open and a dominant display from Ukraine was enough to take the runner-up position.
Group E (Europe & Africa 3)
The third European group also went according to the form book with Germany taking down the first qualifying match against a pair of determined Lithuanians. 'owen330' ultimately took down the last match to send the favourites through.
The runner-up spot proved to be more closely contested and it was former champions Poland that came through, locking up the win with an all-Polish final.
Group F (Europe & Africa 4)
Group F proved to be more unpredictable with Bulgarian 'EMAKS123' taking down the opening match to top the group against a mixed bag of Dutch, Spanish and Georgians. With a relatively small nation progressing, it meant we were going to be losing some big names in the Sunday match.
As expected it was the Spanish and the Dutch that pushed the hardest to make it to the Round of 16, and it came down to a straight shootout between the two European poker powerhouses. In the end it was the Spanish that secured victory and a berth in Saturday's fixtures.
Group G (Americas 1)
On paper, the USA looked a lock for an easy progression through their group. As the biggest and most experienced poker nation, the World Cup of Poker format plays to their strengths like never before. However, despite very strong representation in Saturday's match it was 'AAlfieri' from Venezuela that secured the coveted place in the knockout phase.
Sunday's match was make-or-break for the USA and they didn't disappoint. With only one player from Argentina and one from Paraguay standing in their way with 16 players remaining, they secured a comfortable runners up spot.
Group H (Americas 2)
Brazil came into the qualifying weekend as a firm favourite to qualify, with just Canada seemingly able to field much of a threat. So it proved to be, as the Canadians secured their place in the last 16 with a final win over Peru. A special mention must go to Trinidad and Tobago, who had an incredible run to finish in fifth, just a few wins short of a place in the next round.
Sunday's match saw an incredibly strong field of Brazilian players taking part, but the underdog nations weren't going without a fight. With eight players to go the final Brazilian player was eliminated, leaving just Colombia, Peru and Ecuador to fight it out. It was the Peruvians that dug deepest, finding the same skill and determination that won them the title back in 2012 to secure the runner up spot.
To find out more about the World Cup of Poker please visit the dedicated web page.