It all started on Feb. 25. The first Global Poker League draft saw eight managers draft their teams to compete in the inaugural season of the GPL. Throughout the season, the GPL has delivered some insightful and competitive play. It all ends, at least season one does, on Dec. 1.
The GPL playoffs kick off Nov. 29 with the final four teams from the Americas division playing for spots in the GPL finals. Each team has picked three players from their roster to represent them in a best-of-seven heads-up match. The players will rotate after each match. The first team to win four matches moves on to the Americas final. Each team can pick up to four players to represent them in the GPL Playoffs.
First off, the Montreal Nationals, who finished the season at No. 1, take on the fourth seed San Francisco Rush. The second match of the day pits LA Sunset versus the Sao Paulo Metropolitans.
The Nationals finished the season with the most points in either division and enter the playoffs as the favorite. Team captain Marc-Andre Ladouceur has put together an incredible roster and the Nationals lineup is strong. During the regular season, Mike McDonald, former WSOP Main Event Champion Martin Jacobson and Xuan Liu took care of business in the six-max portion of the schedule; together they scored more than 90 percent of their team’s six-max points.
However, the playoffs are all about heads up, and the other half of the roster, Jason Lavallee, Pascal Lefrancois and Ladoucuer earned 105 points during the heads-up matches in the regular season. Their lineup for the playoffs is McDonald, Lefrancois, Lavallee and Ladouceur.
San Francisco Rush
Their opponents are the San Francisco Rush, led by manager Faraz Jaka. Jaka’s team finished fourth in the Americas division, making it through to the GPL Playoffs on the final day of the regular season and beating the New York Rounders for the final playoff spot by just three points. The Rush’s lineup for the playoff is Jaka, with Jonathan Jaffe and Anton Wigg.
The LA Sunset are led by manager Maria Ho and they finished the season in second place. The Sunset earned 77 of their points from six-max play, with Fedor Holz bringing in 40 percent of the team’s six-max points. Olivier Busquet played almost half the Sunset’s heads-up matches and earned 51 of the team’s 111 heads-up points. Chance Kornuth will join Ho and Busquet as the three representatives for the playoffs.
Sao Paulo Mets
The Sao Paulo Mets finished in third place and are led by Andre Akkari. The Mets scored more than 100 of their 183 points in heads-up play. The will be represented by Darren Elias, Thiago Nishijima and Joao Bauer. Nishijima lost his first heads-up match of the season, but has been undefeated since and is one of the hottest players entering the playoffs.
The winners of each match will then play each other for the chance to represent the Americas division in the final on Dec. 1.
The Eurasia division hits the e-felt on Nov. 30 and the first match pits top seed Moscow Wolverines against the London Royals. The second match of the day will be the Hong Kong Stars versus the Berlin Bears.
The Moscow Wolverines are led by manager Anatoly Filatov. He has selected Andrey Pateychuk and Igor Yaroshevsky for his playoff roster. Dzmitry Urbanovich is their alternate. The Wolverines finished the season with 171 points, which would have been good for fourth place in the Americas division.
Filatov led his team, scoring more than a third of the Wolverine’s total points. An interesting note on their playoff roster decision is that Sergey Lebedev, who scored 30 points for the team in heads-up play, will not be representing the team in the playoff. Whatever the reason, Filatov looks to Yaroshevsky and Pateychuk, who have only played three of the season’s 19 heads-up matches between them.
Their opponents are the London Royals, led by manager Liv Boeree. The Royals secured their spot on the final day of regular season play, finishing the season with 156 points. The Paris Aviators also finished the season with 156 points, but the Royals are through, thanks to the tiebreaker of total wins.
Justin Bonomo earned the team’s 15th win on the final day, which turned out to be the eventual tiebreaker and sent the team through to the playoffs. Boeree is bringing Bonomo and Igor Kurganov to represent the Royals in Vegas. Bonomo and Kurganov both scored 30 points for the Royals in heads-up play, bringing in more than 70 percent of the team’s heads-up points. Boeree brought in almost half of the team's six-max points and put together a roster that most thought would win the Eurasia division.
Hong Kong Stars
The Stars were selected by most to finish dead last in the Eurasia division, but have outperformed expectations and finished only seven points behind the Wolverines in first place. Team manager Celina Lin kept the draft local and put together a roster of some of the best players from the region.
The Stars will bring Lin, Randy “Nanonoko” Lew and Guo Dong to Vegas to represent them in the playoff. Lew stands out in this bunch thanks to his whopping 69 heads-up points. He played 15 of the team’s 21 heads-up matches and won nine of them. Meanwhile, Lin and Dong earned half of the team’s six-max points. The Stars have surprised all season and are the favorite entering this match.
Their opponents are the Berlin Bears. The Bears are led by manager Philipp Gruissem, who has selected four players to represent his team in Vegas. He is one of only two managers (Sao Paulo Mets manager Andre Akkari is the other) who didn’t put himself on the playoff roster.
The Bears will bring Bill Perkins, Brian Rast and Sorel Mizzi to Vegas, with Daniel “Jungleman” Cates as their alternate. Mizzi and Cates are responsible for more than half of the Bears heads-up points during the regular season. Rast helped the team by winning one of his two heads-up matches during the season, but put up 23 of their 70 six-max points.
Once that match is decided, the two winners will play for their spot to meet the Americas Champion in the GPL Final on Dec. 1. The final match will be best of nine and the teams will compete for the first GPL Championship and the $100,000 grand prize.
The GPL Playoffs and GPL Final are live streamed on Twitch.tv. PokerNews will be bringing you live updates from the GPL until a champion is crowned.