MPCC a must-play event for the Asia Player of the Year race

ps_news_thn.jpgSince 2009, the Asia Player of the Year (APOY) title has been awarded to the best player on the Asian poker circuit.

Some things have changed along the way: the winners now receive a one-year sponsorship from PokerStars Macau; several legs of the APPT are now recognized as Official APOY events such as Macau and Cebu; and, the Casino Royale Cup (Goa, India) and Filipino Poker Tour have also had tournaments which get entered into the ranking system.

However, some things remain the same. The winners have their names immortalized onto the Golden Palace - the permanent trophy that resides in the PokerStars Macau cardroom. As described by Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin "Nothing beats having your name etched on one of those golden steps."


But more interesting is the connection the APOY trophy has with the Macau Poker Cup: Championship (MPCC). Both began the same year - the Championship became an extension of the hugely successful Macau Poker Cup: Red Dragon series - and it seems like every year, the MPCC becomes the critical turning point that either cements victory or shatters the dream. It's often accompanied with plenty of drama as well.

In the 2009 season, Korea's Tae Joon Noh was in a head-to-head battle with Taiwan's Kitty Kuo. Kuo edged Noh in their Red Dragon head-up match. Two months later, at the MPCC, they both made the same final table in a side event where Kuo and Noh came 2nd and 3rd respectively. However, Noh made it to the final table of the main event and needed to finish 5th or better to overtake her on the leaderboard. Noh came agonizingly close as he was eliminated in 7th place to lose the race by only 308 points. I remember thinking, "It may never be this close again."

2010 was the year of Team PokerStars. Raymond Wu opened the year with a Red Dragon victory which put him on top of the standings. 7 months later, Wu still found himself atop the standings as the No. 1 ranked player but Bryan Huang had been steadily climbing up the leaderboard to No. 3. Of course, the MPCC was the next major series and Huang won the warm-up event to take the lead. The race had come down to the last tournament. After Huang had an early exit, Wu was amongst the final four players and only needed to place third to re-claim the top spot. Wu busted in 4th place and it was a bitter-sweet win for Huang who wanted to win the APOY title but also wanted to support his teammate. The win was by the narrowest margins at just 66 points. It may never be this close again...REALLY!!!

Last year, PokerStars sponsored player Shaq Lin had the type of year that may not be repeated in quite some time as he set single-season records for points (6,278) and final tables (10). But after looking like a sure thing at the midway point of the season, Raiden Kan made a sudden charge at, you guessed it, the MPCC. Kan had won a smaller event a few weeks prior and then took down the MPCC main event which should have closed that gap to a miniscule 23 points (I was having a never this close again flashback). However, Lin made 3 final tables including a 6th place finish in that same main event to widen the lead to more than 1102 and it stayed that way as neither gained ground on the other during APPT Macau Season 5.

Every eventual winner of the APOY has always held the No. 1 rank after the MPCC so if you hope to be amongst those candidates for Asia's greatest honor then make sure you're in Macau from September 7-16.

Fred Leung
@PokerStars in PokerStars Macau