Eureka Croatia 2: Final Table - Level 20-23 (12k/24k/3k)
8.25pm END OF LEVEL 23: PLAYERS TAKING A 15 MINUTE BREAK
8.05pm: Filipovic fights back
All that hard work Mecs used to pull himself level with Filipovic has been undone - the pendulum swinging back in favour of the Croatian.
It looked like he might be on an ever-increasing downward spiral but a few big hands have seen him re-establish the lead he held at the start of heads-up play.
First off he raised from the button pre-flop, called by Mecs.
The pair saw a K♦9♦8♠ board - and Filipovic led out 60k, called by Mecs.
The turn was a bricky-looking 4♠ and a 120k bet was again called by Mecs.
The river fell the 2♥ and this time both players checked, leaving Filipovic to showdown a powerful A-K for top, top....good for a 400k+ pot.
Next up Mecs led a J♦J♠Q♥ board for 60k, called by Filipovic.
The pair checked the Q♣ on the turn, but when Filipovic checked the 3♠ on the river, Mecs bet out 95k, only for Filipovic to call with J♣7♦ for a full house - which was good.
So that leaves Mecs descending after a great start - currently with around 700k to his name and Filipovic has around 1.8 million.
7.46pm: It's Mecs-y time!
Mecs has definitely been the more aggressive heads-up player and right now, Filipovic looks a tad frustrated as he has been unable to find a strategy to counter the barrage of bets and raises he has faced.
Most recently he limped in on the button, only for Mecs to raise it up 55k...Filipovic called.
A bet of 65k on the K♦3♦7♣ board was called by Filipovic before both players shut down on the potentially flushing 2♦ on the turn.
The 2♣ river was similarly checked, leaving Mecs to turn over K♣J♠ and Filipovic to muck his 7♦4♠.
We think Mecs has just edged into the lead now with around 1.3 million to Filipovic's 1.2 million.
He looks fresher than his Croatian opponent right now...
7.40pm: LEVEL UP - BLINDS 12k, 24k,3k
7.25pm: Buddy love!
The atmosphere has become a little muted since the well-supported home favourite Dragan Galic busted in 3rd, so what better to pep up the players than the arrival of a couple of buddies.
Mecs waved hello to a friend he noticed arriving on the rail, breaking out in a smile for one of the first times on the final table, whilst Filipovic had a good ol' bro hug with one of his best buds who came to wish him good luck.
7.13pm: Mec warrior winning war
Alija Filipovic still holds the lead but he's been ground down by a relentless barrage of three bets and raises by Mate Mecs.
The Hungarian has been very aggressive heads-up, raising most buttons and putting in a c-bet almost 100% of the time.
The biggest pot saw him make his standard raise to 40k from the button and Filipovic call - the pair seeing a 8♣7♦5♦ board. Mecs bet out 65k and Filipovic called.
Come the 3♣ on the turn, Mecs bet 95k and suddenly Filipovic pulled out a stack of 10k chips and raised to 200k.
Mecs didn't think for too long before announcing all-in, putting Filipovic to a big decision. It was 480k more to him and ultimately he folded what he said was 5-6 for the pair and straight draw. Mecs showed down pocket tens and collected another juicy pot...
So Mate Mecs up to 1.1 million, Alija Filipovic losing ground with 1.3 million...
6.55pm: Swapped pots - no change so far
The two players have so far been trading pots with no one getting the upper hand just yet.
Mecs has been the marginally more aggressive, raising nearly every button and 3-betting one Filipovic button raise to no resistance meaning he has chipped up to 850k, Filipovic down to 1.6 millon or so...
6.40pm: Heads-up for glory!
The heads-up sees Alija Filipovic begin with 1.85 million to Mate Mecs 750k.
Will Filipovic bring the title home for Croatia or can Mecs turn round his chip disadvantage and secure a triumph for Hungary?
6.30pm: Dragan's fire extinguished - out in 3rd place
For a while it looked like Dragan was destined to win this tournament, but he was pegged back and ultimately overcome by a combination of Mate Mecs and Aliya Filipovic.
It was the latter who did the damage at the last.
Galic had found himself somewhat short following failed attempts to win the last few pots and so when he found K♥T♣ on the button, he moved all-in swiftly.
The huge stack of Alija Filipovic was never going to find A♥T♥ a tough call and when he did so, Dragan let out a groan as he realised he was dominated and in bad shape.
A board of 8♦4♣2♥7♣Q♥ failed to turn the tables and this means we are heads-up for the title - Alija Filipovic taking on Mate Mecs for the crown.
It also means Dragan Galic finishes in 3rd place, collecting €16,400 for his finish.
6.15pm: Bibov busts out in 4th place - 3 handed now...
Bulgarian Nikolay Bibov has been on death row for some time with his small stack, and eventually he moved his sub-100k stack into the middle from the small blind, Dragan Galic making a quick call from the big blind.
Q♦T♣ for Bibov and 7♠7♥ for Galic - and suddenly Bibov was flipping for his tournament life.
A flop of A♥J♠3♠ gave Bibov some hope but the J♣ and 4♠ on the river were not what the doctor ordered and Galic drags in the pot, up to 470k.
Meanwhile Nikolay Bibov is our 4th place finisher, collecting €13,450 as his reward.
6.08pm: Mec-hanical failure - Filipovic out in front
A pre-flop war between Mate Mecs and Alija Filipovic saw Mecs raise to 40k, Filipovic make it 80k and Mecs 4-bet to 130k. Filipovic made the call and the flop fell J♠T♥5♣.
Filipovic checked and Mecs now cut out a bet of 130k, however when Filpovic counted out two stacks of 10k chips and a further 60k for a check min-raise to 260k, Mecs instantly folded, leaving Filipovic to show a set of tens and sweep up the pot that leaves him well out in front with 1.45 million chips whilst Mecs is back to 700k...
6.05pm: END OF BREAK - LEVEL UP BLINDS 10k/20k/2k
5.50pm: END OF LEVEL 21, 15 MINUTE BREAK
5.27pm: Filipovic and Mecs rising, Dragan sliding
We've been waxing lyrical about Galic's chances of winning this tournament, but someone forgot to hand Alija Filipovic and Mecs the script as they have now overtaken him.
Filipovic had already bolstered his ever-growing stack by knocking out Ivan Brkicic and he picked up several pots after this to rise over the million chip mark, Dragan the main one to suffer, his stack knocked down to 720k.
However it was Mecs who inflicted the real damage, raising pre-flop to 48k, Galic made the call.
The board fell Q♦Q♥4♦ and Galic checked - as he is prone to do - before Mecs fired out a bet of 63k.
Allin from Galic with a definitive wave of his arms but a snap-call from the unemotional Mecs, who has remained as placid as a summer lake all final table.
Q♣8♠ for Mecs and 6♥4♥ for Galic, leaving him clutching at a backdoor flush draw to get him out of it.
The turn was the T♣ leaving him drawing dead and once the irrelevant river had been dealt, he was already cutting out 301k further from his stack to hand over to Mecs. It's Gallic's first real setback but its a major one that has seen his stack halved.
So Mecs up to 700k, Galic down to 320k with Nikolay Bibov still the shortstack with 220k. Filipovic is now the runaway chip leader with 1,125,000...
5.08pm: Brkicic bricks it - Out in 5th place
Ivan Brkicic has been quiet on the final, but made sufficient moves to keep himself in contention.
His latest move saw him ship his stack of 160k over the top of an Alija Filipovic raise to 33k, Filipovic making a quick call with A♠7♠
It proved a hasty decision as Brkicic flipped the dominating A♥9♠ and looked set to book a quick double up.
Not so fast though - a flop of 7♥5♣4♥ was bad news for him and great news for Filipovic, who crashed into the lead - his newly-won equity advantage holding through the 8♠ turn and 7♦ river.
Unfortunate to depart, Ivan Brkicic finishes up as our 5th place finisher, collecting €11,200 for his efforts.
4.59pm: The tale of the tape:
Only 5 men remain contending this tournament now, and these are they, Dragan Galic still the massive obstacle they need to overcome if they are to have any hopes of winning.
Dragan Galic - 845k
Alija Filipovic - 580k
Mate Mecs - 500k
Nikolay Bibov - 380k
Ivan Brkicic - 215k
4.52pm: The Muzic finally ends
Verdan Premuzic still had work to do, and once again he tangled with Mate Mecs, this time moving his stack over the top of a Mecs open....Mecs making the call of the short-stacked Premuzic.
9♣9♥ for Premuzic, he was nominally ahead of Mecs, although it was basically a coin toss as Mecs held A♦T♥ for two over cards.
The 2♦4♦4♥ was safe for Premuzic but a disastrous T♦ on the turn catapulted Mecs back into the lead and a blank K♥ river ensured it stayed that way.
Well played Verdan Premuzic, a great performance is rewarded with €9,050 for his 6th place finish.
5 players left now...chip counts to follow...
4.35pm: Premuzic bites the bullets
Crippled down to 75k when he paid off a value bet from Mate Mecs on the river of a A♥2♠8♠6♠7♠ board, only to be shown the A♠ in Mecs hand for the nut flush, Verdan Premuzic folded down to 40k, when he finally took his chance to move allin under the gun for 40k.
Called by Dragan Galic and Nikolay Bibov, the active pair checked down the J♥4♣5♥Q♦6♠ board, only for Premuzic to confidently flip over aces with a grin!
They were good for a triple-through up to 130k and Premuzic had given himself hope once more...
4.20pm: Filipovic flush with success - Van de Goor out 7th
We joined the hand on the turn of a Q♠T♠6♠2♣ board with Marius Van de Goor leading out for 56k, called by Alija Filipovic after a dwell.
The river was the 3♠ and Van de Goor instantly shoved all-in. Filipovic instantly called, showing A♠K♠ for the nut flush. An unfortunately timed bluff there...
Van de Goor finishes in 7th position, €7,300 his reward for his deep run. Well played sir.
4.04pm: Final table resumes
3.45pm: Players take 20 minute break - Galic in control
The players are just taking a break and will be assessing their strategy in the face of Galic's dominant performance so far.
Dragan has certainly used his chip stack well, raising frequently in a bid to dominate the table. Although this strategy has been paying dividends, he has been helped by some big hands also, seen raising pre-flop twice and once the table had folded showing down A-K and K-K.
The one time he got action in recent times he raised again and was flat-called by Bibov, who check-folded the K♠9♣5♠ board, only for Galic to turn over top set - pocket kings again!
This combination of dominating aggression and big cards means Dragan has extended his lead and can now exert massive pressure on the others.
It will take a seismic shift in the landscape for us to change our view that Dragan is a big favourite for the title as things stand...
3.35pm The long Kis goodnight
Karolj Kis has been in danger for sometime, folding down to just 60k, so when the aggressive Dragan Galic raised and he found pocket 8s, he went for a double through.
Someone revealed they folded K-J, putting him in good shape for a double-up but no problem for Galic who is running very well (and playing well also.)
The flop came K♠J♠7♥ to give him top two and when he filled up with the J♦ on the turn Kis was drawing dead.
Good game Karolj Kis, you finish in 8th spot, collecting €5,910.
Galic meanwhile has a stack worth 850k now and is really the dominant force on this final table.
3.26pm: Fillip for Filipovic
Dragan opened for 27k and was three-bet by Mate Mecs to 55k, leading Alija Filipovic to 4-bet to 147k in the first show of real aggression we'd seen from him,
Fold from Galic and ultimately aso from an unhappy Mecs who showed A-Q, only to see Filipovic had him pipped, showing A-K.
Mecs has run pretty bad so far in this tournament but he still has over 250k to his name... Filipovic up to over 400k though...
3.25pm LEVEL UP - BLINDS 6k,12k,1k
3.01pm: Karolj Kis-sing his chances goodbye?
It's not looking great for Karolj Kis who came into the day as the shortstack and has just lost two pots, leaving him very short.
The first pot saw him raise preflop to 21k, picking up a call from Mate Mecs in the BB.
He c-bet the A♠Q♠6♥ board for 25k, but when called shutdown on the J♦4♠ turn and river.
Mecs showed A♣7♥ which was good for the pot - Kis' 8♦9♦ not good enough.
Next up he raised UTG to 20k, called by Filipovic in the SB and Bibov in the big.
The flop fell A♥8♥7♥ and all three players checked.
The turn was the 7♣ and when Filipovic led out for 31k, Bibov folded, as did Kis, the latter showing pocket kings with a rueful shake of his head.
Kis now in severe danger with just 125k...
2.43pm: Cagey start sees Mecs take a hit
The players are being careful here, understandable really as many of them are 20 big blinds or less deep.
Mate Mecs and Dragan Galic played out the major pot of note, Mecs raising pre to 20k and Galic calling from the big blind.
The flop fell 7♦3♣7♠ and when checked to, Mecs lef out 25k....Galic called.
The turn was the J♥ and both players checked.
Come the K♦ river, Galic bet out 45k and Mecs quickly called, only to be shown 7♥6♥ in Galic's hand for trips.
Mecs shook his head frustratedly - his stack pushed back down to 330k, whilst Dragan is up just over 700k.
Galic lost some of those chips moments ago though, raising the button to 25k only for Ivan Brkicic to shove the small blind. Galic folded and Brkicic rises to 200k...
2.25pm: Eureka Croatia - The FInal Table
Welcome one and all to the Golden Sun Casino here in Zagreb as we reconvene for the final of the Croatian leg of the Eureka Poker Tour.
178 players arrived shiny-eyed and fresh-faced to take their shot at securing the crown, but one by one they were picked off and busted until just eight remained to contend the title.
Here are those eight along with their final chip counts...
Dragan Galic Croatia 699000
Nikolay Bibov Bulgaria 419000
Mate Mecs Hungary 419000
Alija Filipovic Croatia 325000
Marius Van de Goor Netherlands 241000
Verdan Premuzic Croatia 185000
Ivan Brkicic Croatia 174000
Karolj Kis Slovenia 152000
Those eight have taken their place at the final table and are keen to get started, riffling chips and eyeing each other's stacks carefully.
Dragan Galic leads the way, the Croatian player one of the most successful in the country's history and he will be a tough man to topple from the head of the chip rankings.
We're primed and read to start so let's get it on! Good luck all.