Not only did this year’s Battle of Malta break all records for number of entries and number of unique players, the 2019 event also broke records for the number of nationalities competing.
Players from all over the world – 64 countries in total – competed in the event including players from such far-flung nations as Tunisia, Thailand, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Panama and South Korea. There were 4,657 entries in the Main Event this year creating a staggering prize pool of €2,258,645.
The 2019 champion himself – Serghei Lisii – grew up in Moldova, a small country sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania with a population of just 2.6 million. Lisii now lives in Sochi, the popular Black Sea resort in Russia that has become a huge poker destination in recent years.
Lisii also competed on a truly international final table with eight different nationalities represented – the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Ireland, UK, Norway, Italy and Malta itself.
Italians out in force at BOM 2019
Yet again, it was Italians who dominated the Battle of Malta Main Event. More than a third of the total field came from Italy – 904 players in total, making up 34%. The UK was the next biggest country with 210 players (8%) and it was encouraging to see just how many local players support the event; more than 160 Main Event entrants came from Malta, accounting for more than 6% of the field.
Israelis also love the Battle of Malta and yet again they were out in force, with 149 players (5.6%). They were closely followed by Sweden with 147 players, France with 97 and Norway with 92. Estonians are also big Battle of Malta fans; 80 players from the tiny Baltic nation competed and Estonian-based poker site OlyBet is a big presence at the event – it’s a lead sponsor and hosts its own Road to Kings of Tallinn tournament.
It wasn’t just the Main Event that flew flags from many nations. This year’s side event champions also revealed the wide range of countries competing at the festival with winners hailing from all over Europe and beyond, including the UK, Italy, Finland, Cyprus, Israel, Denmark, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Tunisia.
Overall, the number of entries in this year’s Main Event was up 22% on 2018, which attracted 3,816 entries from 47 countries. There were 2,625 unique players in the Main Event.
Post-event number crunching has also revealed just how keen some players are to keep in contention in the Main Event. While the vast majority of players fired just one or two bullets, more than 300 players thought it worthwhile buying in three or four times. With an extra day added to the schedule and five start flights to choose from, players were clearly reluctant to let go of the chance of sharing in the record-breaking prize pool. Fifty players bought in to the Main Event five times and a further 20 bought in six times. The total prize pool of €2,258,645 was shared by 688 players and was more than double the €1,000,000 guarantee.
There were 35 events on this year’s schedule and more than 13,000 tournament entries overall. The tournament venue was packed throughout the seven-day festival and made this year’s Battle of Malta a spectacular success. The Battle of Malta 2019 festival was hosted by Casino Malta and took place October 15-22 in the spacious InterContinental Arena at the InterContinental Hotel in St Julian’s.
Battle of Malta Event Director Diane Fenech said: “It’s pretty incredible that a poker tournament in Malta – a tiny, Mediterranean island with a population of less than 500,000 – manages to attract players from so many different countries. We’re thrilled that players love the event so much and this year’s festival shows that our reach is now truly global. Many thanks to all those who competed this year and we hope to welcome even more nationalities in 2020.”