EPT8 Berlin: Wigg takes lead at close but it's Geshkenbein who dominates
Sometimes the story of the day is lost amid scenes that are hard to make sense of, and not just those about players tossing coins or rolling dice to determine their next action.
Then there are tournament days during which there is at least one area of complete clarity. That area today was the space around Vladimir Geshkenbein, who bags up 670,500, and the chip lead, tonight after what was almost a wire to wire performance. Then Anton Wigg stepped in to take the lead.
While Wigg, another former winner, bundles up 695,000 tonight, it's fair to say that Geshkenbein's exhibition was the highlight, the type that could, if he keeps his head, usher him into the final stages of this event without much protest.
Chip leader Anton Wigg
The Snowfest swagger was back in the 23-year-old, so too the conceited smile and the anxiety in his opponents, whom he plundered ruthlessly, at times helping himself to chips without as much as a by-your-leave.
Geshkenbein had finished well on Day 1A but it was not the Russian who led coming into the day. That was Cenzig Ulusu.
While it seems Wigg uses stealth to get his chips, Geshkenbein uses precision to pierce the confidences of opponents. Then there's Ulusu, who uses blunt instruments and brute force to shatter whatever stands in his way.
The Turk quickly extended his lead from the start, eliminated two players in a single hand (his nines making a straight against aces and queen-jack) to move up to 340,000. But from then on it was Geshkenbein who was first to reach 400,000, then 500,000. That's where he stayed.
The feature table
His nearest opponents will be keen to dodge this revitalised impaler when the draw is made for Day 3, that guarantees a money finish for the 102 who return. The additional play on Day 1 (ten levels rather than eight) has prematurely aged the tournament, some would say (as William Thorson made clear). As play entered the sixth and final level it looked set to burst the bubble. It did.
David Vamplew, who before the tournament tweeted his intention not to bubble, did just that, moving in with kings only to lose to pocket queens, a third one hitting the flop.
With the bubble burst (Bill Chen and Jeff Sarwer the first to the payout queue) the action will likely be swift tomorrow as we play down to a final 24, and among that crowd are various players perfectly suited to thrive in said conditions.
Jeff Sarwer with Jeremy Nock
Anton Wigg leads those returning, ahead of the likes of Koen de Visscher, Vanessa Selbst, Taylor Paur, Jan Heitmann, JP Kelly, Ulusu, Kevin MacPhee, Will Molson and Ana Marquez. You can check the full list, as well their official scores on the official chip count page.
Meanwhile it was a tough day for others, including Boris Becker, Peter Jepsen, Barry Greenstein, Rupert Elder, Per Linde, Viktor Blom, Jake Cody, Ilan Boujenah, Moritz Kranich, Shaun Deeb and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, all of whom found themselves on the rail today.
Their fate, and that of everyone else, can be found in detail in our live coverage, while feature articles can be found at the links below.
Day 2 seat draw, action set to start
Ulusu on the loose, increases lead
Inside the black and white world of Vlad Geshkenbein
Poker boxing, a concept waiting to happen
Does the name Mouawad mean anything to you?
De Visscher making waves at Ebanks's expense
Following the pros
David Vamplew fails to take his own advice, bubbles main event
Day 3 begins at 12 noon tomorrow when the remaining players will play on until just 24 of them remain. It's typically one of the most action filled of days, and you'll find all the action on the PokerStars Blog from start to finish.
The Sony Centre at Potsdamer Platz
Until then, it's goodnight from Berlin.
All photography © Neil Stoddart