888poker’s third XL Championship series, XL Blizzard, is in the rearview mirror. With over $2.9 million in guarantees up for grabs, players flocked to the lobbies of the daily tournaments to take their shots at grabbing a piece of the prize pools. As opposed to XL Eclipse, which took place in September 2017 and had 197 events, XL Blizzard slimmed down the tournament schedule to a more manageable 34 events, making it easier for players to get involved in as many as they’d like.
So here we take a look back at 11 days of action and some of the stories that came out of yet another memorable online series.
A streamlined schedule made it easier for players to focus in on the value of XL Blizzard and they responded by pushing the prize pools of just about every tournament over the guarantee. Of the 34 events, 32 of them exceeded their guarantees. In fact, player participation helped bring approximately $400,000 more to the total overall prize pools, helping the total schedule’s prize pool to swell to roughly $3.3 million.
Big Names Making Moves
Some of online poker’s biggest names were in action and making moves during the series. You could look up and down the resistant list of any tournament and find names like ‘Isildur1337’ (aka #1 ranked ‘C Darwin2), Fabrizio ‘DrMiKee’ Gonzalez, Sebastian ‘p000cket000’ Sikorski and 888poker ambassadors Parker ‘tonkaaaa’ Talbot, Chris ‘Moorman1’ Moorman, Dominik Nitsche, Sofia Lovgren and Martin Jacobson.
In fact, online superstar Jans ‘Graftekkel’ Arens put his stamp on the series by taking down the very first event. The former PocketFive Triple Crown winner claimed the first XL Blizzard crown and padded his bankroll with over $17,000.
Russia’s ‘msksevart’ continued his XL Championship domination as well adding a title to his resume by taking down Event #8 ($20,000 Late Crazy 8). The grinder, who also claimed an XL Eclipse title, made his way into the money four times during the series.
While he didn’t end up on top in any of the events, the Worldwide #2 ranked grinder ‘tutten7’ (aka ‘lena900’) had himself one of the best overall days of any single player when on Day 4 he finished in the top three of two of the largest tournaments of the entire series. First, in Event #10 ($200,000 Tune Up) he wrapped up in third for over $19,000. Then, properly ‘tuned up’, he went on to finish as the runner-up in Event #12 ($200,000 Whale) for an additional $32,000.
PocketFiver’s Top The Leaderboard
Part of the allure of XL Blizzard was the bonuses one could get by winning multiple events or finishing in the top 50 of the XL Blizzard leaderboard. While in this series there wasn’t a double event winner, plenty of PocketFivers made it into the top 50 of the XL Blizzard Leaderboard.
888poker promised the top 50 a tournament of their own, the Champion of Champions tournament that includes a top prize of a $12,000 World Series of Poker Main Event package.
The top points earner was PocketFiver Alfred ’Kzzon’ Karlsson. The worldwide #108 ranked player cashed in an impressive 14 events including picking up the win in Event #28 ($50,000 6-Max) for over $14,000. Just as the series was winding down, he passed up ‘Ao1ing’ who had sat atop the leaderboard for the majority of the 11 days. The Russian picked up a ton of points by going deep in events with tons of runner, especially his second-place finish in Event #5 ($20,000 Twins Flush).
Main Event Mania
The Main Event with a $1,000,000 guarantee did not disappoint. Thanks to a host of online satellites, players who may not otherwise be able to buy their way into the $1,050 tournament got to take shots at six-figure scores. In the end two players walked with life-changing money. Argentia’s ‘Pepepepe.’ won the event for over $183,000 and Lithuania’s ‘Vienas2’ took home over $130,000 for second place.
As a whole, the online series was a success. No technical malfunctions, plenty of new screen names making headlines as well as well-known grinders mixing it up for large sums made it a memorable 11 days. Next up for 888poker is the first 888Live event of the year as the online site brings its live poker festival to London’s Aspers Casino on February 8.