Live Updates by Will Shillibier and Aaron McBride
Serghei Lisii has won the 2019 Battle of Malta €555 Main Event for €247,167 after an epic heads-up match against Steven Van Zadelhoff.
After two hours of back and forth, the final two agreed to a money deal at the InterContinental Arena hosted by Casino Malta at the InterContinental Hotel, with the prize pool being chopped down the middle, with €30,000 and the trophy to play for.
Despite this, it took another two hours for Russia-based Moldovan player Lisii to take the title.
With 4,657 entries, including 2,691 unique players, over five starting flights, the €555 buy-in event smashed all previous records for the event – including last year’s field of 3,816 players. The total prize pool was shared by 688 players and was way over double the €1,000,000 guarantee.
Final Table Results:
||Steven van Zadelhoff
||Shaun De Cesare
Among those who cashed in the record-breaking event were Scottish pro Ludovic Geilich, media influencer Dehlia de Jong, UCOP champions Niko Pakalen and Mateusz Moolhuizen, Daragh Davey, Irish Open champions Patrick Clarke and Ian Simpson, Patrik Antonius’ wife Maya Geller, 888poker Ambassadors Sofia Lovgren and Ana Marquez, betsson Ambassador Daiva Byrne, Norwegian veteran Rolf Woods, award-winning podcasters David Lappin and Dara O`Kearney, NordicBet Ambassador Jon Kyte, Main Event Travel CEO Fraser MacIntyre and Irish veteran Mick McCloskey.
History of Battle of Malta
2012: Winner Nicodemo Piccolo, €35,000, 349 entries, total prize pool of €169,265
2013: Winner Louis Cartarius, €68,000, 888 entries, total prize pool was €430,680
2014: Winner Antoan Katsarov, €122,750, 1,447 entries, total prize pool €701,795
2015: Winner Nicolas Proust, €110,000, 1,804 entries, total prize pool €875,000
2016: Winner Robert Berglund, €160,000, 1,813 entries, total prize pool €879,305
2017: Winner Nadav Lipszyc, €200,000, 2,074 entries, total prize pool €1,005,890
2018: Winner Julien Stropoli, €168,500, 3,816 entries, total prize pool €1,850,760
Final Day Action
The final day saw eleven players return to battle, and the action got off to a quick start. Vincenzo Pinna departed in eleventh place after he ran ace-four into Van Zadelhoff's ace-queen, and just minutes later, the final table of nine was set when Valerii Firstenko hit the rail in tenth place after he found no joy with ace-nine against Higgins' pocket eights.
Flavio Laudani was the first player to depart when the Final Table action began having run pocket nines into the jacks of Higgins.
The final Maltese player left in the 2019 Main Event, Shaun De Cesare (pictured), departed in eighth place, and it was once again Higgins who scored the elimination. Higgins raised to 1m with pocket queens and called after De Cesare three-bet all in with ace-king. Higgins kept his lead on the flop and turn, then improved to a set on the river to seal De Cesare's fate.
Bruno Massimo then found a treble up, but it couldn't prevent him from being the next player to leave in seventh place. Massimo three-bet all in with ace-king and ultimately lost the vital flip against Lisii's pocket jacks.
Rune Moerk was by far the shortest stack remaining and benefited with a pay jump due to Massimo's exit, but the Norwegian was soon making his way to the payout desk in sixth place after failing to connect with the board holding nine-seven suited against Van Zadelhoff's pocket kings.
In fifth place was the UK's Leo Worthington-Leese, who was making his second major final table of the month. Worthington-Leese finished in eighth place during the recent WPT UK Main Event and improved on that result here in Malta with a fifth-place finish. The Brit three-bet all in from the big blind with pocket fours, but was unable to get the better of Lisii's ace-queen from the small blind.
MPNPT qualifier Colum Higgins (pictured) started the final day as the shortest stack, but his valiant run finally came to an end in fourth place. Higgins opened with ace-queen, and Van Zadelhoff defended his big blind with king-ten, only to hit trips on the ten-ten-queen flop.
The Dutchman check-raised a c-bet from Higgins, which the Irishman called before Van Zadelhoff moved all in on the six of spades turn. Higgins thought about his decision for three minutes before he flicked in the calling chip and saw the bad news. There was to be no saving grace on the river, and Higgins hit the rail but also captured the consolation last longer prize of a package to MPN Madrid in February 2020.
Van Zadelhoff was now in a controlling position, and the battle was on between Josef Gulas and Lisii to make the heads-up, and it was to be the former who fell.
After Lisii limped on the button with pocket eights, and Van Zadehoff called, Gulas moved all in with ace-nine from the big blind, which Lisii called. Gulas took the lead on the turn after an ace fell, but in shocking fashion, the eight of spades appeared on the river to bust Gulas in third place.
As mentioned, the epic heads-up match lasted nearly five hours, and in the final hand, Lissi held with king-seven against seven-six.
That's all from us here in Malta! A huge thank you to all the players who joined us here and to everyone who followed along with the action! Goodbye for now!