As they emerge from the ashes of Day 2 of the bwin WPT Merit Cyprus Classic, Alexey Rybin and Natalya Nikitina are two of the favorites to walk away with the first WPT title of Season XII. Two Russian players have styles that are poles apart – Nikitina is graceful; she picks her spots well, is patient and waits for the cards to do the damage for her. Rybin, on the other hand, is like a bull. He sees red everywhere and likes to gore anything, and everybody, that gets in his way. He is adaptable and very dangerous; he also has 300k more chips than anyone left remaining in this tournament.
Day Two was a massacre. 72-players fell by the wayside as 103 became just 31. Of those 31-players who will return for the third day of action, 27 of them are guaranteed at least €7,780 in prize money as close to a million dollars starts to get spread out amongst the most deserving. $250,000 is reserved for the winner, and that includes a $25k seat in the WPT Championships at the Bellagio in a year from now.
There are two more serious contenders for the title that remain hidden amongst the final 31-players. The brooding Italian, Giacomo Fundaro, became a member of the WPT Champions Club fraternity when he was victorious at WPT Mazagan on the outskirts of Casablanca in Morocco during Season XI. I even saw Fundaro smile yesterday when he was forced to show a bluff on the river, and he certainly understands the terrain that needs to be tread in order to win a WPT title.
Manig Loeser is another exceptional talent hidden in this field of value. Another member of the German conveyor belt of talent that seems to keep turning year after year. He came close to winning a bracelet in the summer, but had to settle for a chop, and second place, when he lost out to John Beauprez in the $1,500 Six Max event. That field had 1,069-players – Loeser knows how to be patient that’s for sure.
Those four apart you really are looking at a field largely made up of local players. It’s a great opportunity for somebody to pick up a wave and sail through to the closing stages. I said it last year, and I will say it again this year, the WPT Cyprus event is one of the greatest spots of value on the live tournament circuit. Marvin Rettenmaier realized that en route to his historic victory last year; who will follow in his footsteps?
Join the live updates at WPT.com at 13:00 (local time) Mon 19 Aug to find out.