Ladies and gentlemen, after a truly epic heads-up battle, Serghei Lisii has won the 2019 MPNPT @ Battle of Malta! Going into the heads up with the chip disadvantage, Moldovan-born Lisii, who now lives in Sochi, Russia, displayed astonishing tenacity, patience and old-fashioned luck to pick up the trophy, with Steven van Zadelhoff collecting second place.
The published payouts for first and second had been €306,205 and €158,130, but following a deal agreed heads up, they decided to take €217,167.50 each, and play for €30,000 and the title.
The €500 + €55 Main Event attracted a record-breaking field of 4,657 entries (with 2,691 unique players), dwarfing last year’s 3,816-strong field and cementing the Battle of Malta’s reputation as the biggest tournament in Europe at this buy-in level. It took place October 15-22 at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Giljan, in conjunction with Casino Malta, as part of the Battle of Malta festival which boasted 35 events with buy-ins ranging from €60 right up to €5,300. Full results for all the events can be found here.
All eyes, however, were on the Main. Each of the five starting flights played down to 15% of the field, with all 688 players who made it through to Day 2 guaranteed a min-cash of €1,100. Players who cashed included Scottish pro Ludovic Geilich (60th, €3,160), social media influencer Dehlia de Jong (47th, €4,070), UCOP champions Niko Pakalén (48th, €4,070) and Mateusz Moolhuizen (285th, €1,720), Daragh Davey (104th, €2,260), Irish Open champions Patrick Clarke (166th, €2,030) and Ian Simpson (465th, €1,330), Patrik Antonius’ wife Maya Geller (170th, €2,030), 888poker ambassadors Sofia Lövgren (245th, €1,810) and Ana Marquez (648th, €1,100), Betsson Ambassador Daiva Byrne (306th, €1,630), Norwegian veteran Rolf Woods (392nd, €1,470), award-winning podcasters David Lappin (400th, €1,470) and Dara O`Kearney (666th 🤘, €1,100), NordicBet Ambassador Jon Kyte (476th, €1,330), Main Event Travel CEO Fraser MacIntyre (493th, €1,330) and Irish veteran Mick McCloskey (630th, €1,170).
By the end of Day 3, just 11 players remained, with the Czech Republic’s Josef Guláš in pole position on 25.5 million in chips, just ahead of Steven van Zadelhoff’s 21.6 million. However, the final table only has nine seats at it, and it would be Vincenzo Pinna (busted by van Zadelhoff in 11th place) and Valerii Firstenko (eliminated by Colum Higgins in 10th place) who didn’t make it, both taking home €22,360 for their trouble.
Gulas and van Zadelhoff remained in first and second place heading into the final table. Colum Higgins had started Day 3 as the short stack with less than 10 big blinds, but after doubling with pocket kings on the first hand of the day and then knocking out Firstenko in 10th, the 32Red qualifier (and winner of the MPNPT Last Longer promotion) had by now manoeuvred himself into third place in chips.
|Steven Van Zadelhoff||25,325,000||3|
|Shaun De Cesare||7,200,000||2|
It would be Higgins who claimed the first scalp of the final too, taking out Flavio Laudani in ninth place (€24,620) – swiftly followed by the second scalp, Casino Malta scion Shaun De Cesare in eighth place (€27,100).
Bruno Massimo went in seventh place (€33,880) to Serghei Lisii, which was fortunate for Rune Moerk, who was sitting on just three big blinds at the time. In the end Moerk went out next, successfully laddering his way to €42,910 for sixth place.
Leo Worthington-Leese put together a very impressive run and proved as tough as a limpet to dislodge but finally Serghei Lisii got him – winning a coin-flip to send the Brighton-based player to the rail in 5th place (€42,910) – his pockets and reputation augmented. Colum Higgins very nearly turned his tiny stack at the start of the day into a victorious one – delivering numerous KO’s before van Zadelhoff got him with a series of coolers. A great result for Higgins – he showed some real grit in hanging tough when things looked bleak to parlay his stack into a 4th place finish. (€74,550)
Gulas had been a calm and confident performer all through this tournament, taking the chip lead at the end of Day 2 and keeping it when Day 3 ended on the cusp of the final. It wasn’t to be his day though as a dramatic coinflip saw van Zadelhoff spike an eight to dismiss him in 3rd – the €102,050 he took with him his well-earned consolation.
That left van Zadelhoff and Serghei Lisii battling it out for the title, the Dutchman holding a slender lead. The chips went back and forth, and with the stacks almost even after an hour or two of heads up play, a deal was struck – €217,167 each, with €30,000 for the winner. However, any hopes that this would result in a swift conclusion were soon dashed. Serghei Lisii proved the most stubborn of thorns in van Zadelhoff’s side – over the coming hours, there would be four all-in showdowns. Each time Lisii was the player at risk. And each time he doubled up.
After the fourth double up, Lisii finally had the chip advantage – and when the chips went for a fifth time, Lisii was dominating. Van Zadelhoff was drawing dead by the turn, and despite his exemplary performance at the final table, had to settle for second.
To cheers from the rail, both players raised their respective trophies. In his exuberance, Steven van Zadelhoff managed to break his trophy, eliciting even bigger cheers – but a replacement trophy was forthcoming, and the merriment resumed. The champagne that had long ago turned warm was sprayed across the feature table, and the happy winners disappeared into the balmy Malta night. We are inclined to do likewise. All that remains is to remind you all that qualifiers are now running for MPNPT Madrid, taking place February 6-9. Until then – we’ll see you at the bar. 🍻
Final table results:
|2||Steven van Zadelhoff||Netherlands||€217167*|
|3||Josef Gulas||Czech Republic||€ 102,050|
|4||Colom Higgins||Ireland||€ 74,540|
|5||Leo Worthington-Leese||United Kingdom||€ 56,470|
|6||Rune Moerk||Norway||€ 42,910|
|7||Bruno Massimo||Italy||€ 33,880|
|8||Shaun De Cesare||Malta||€ 27,100|
|9||Flavio Laudani||Italy||€ 24,620|
For full Main Event results: click here.
For full side event results: click here.