2021 Review – A Year of Challenges and Progress

2021 saw IFMP make considerable progress after a rather quiet pandemic hit 2020. With the constantly changing situation caused by Covid, we didn’t want to be dependent on live events for Match Poker activity this year. We therefore decided to run virtual qualifiers for the 2021 Nations Cup Finals for our member nations in Asia and Europe. Being the world’s only recognised digital sport, Match Poker has the unique advantage of digital gameplay as compared to other conventional sports which are more physical in nature. We used this to our advantage and re-created the live Match Poker environment linking a video conference platform in with Match Poker gameplay, thus enabling the athletes to see and talk with each other just like they would at a live event, while playing Match Poker for their nation.
We ran a total of 10 qualifiers, which produced 5 Asian and 6 European qualifiers who will attempt to stop Ukraine from wining their 3rd World Championship in a row! 200 unique hands of Match Poker were played in each qualifier, giving us 2000 hands played by 25 participating nations. Over 200 athletes competed for their nations, testing themselves in this skill-based format with the aim of securing a spot at the finals. The qualified nations are India, Israel, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Singapore from Asia, with Austria, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Macedonia and Switzerland from Europe. The virtual qualifiers allowed many nations, who have previously not been able to participate in live events, to play, compete and experience Match Poker. It has been fantastic to see our sport grow and reach so many new countries this year.
One prime example of this effect is the birth of the Mongolian National Match Poker League! 12 teams participated in the first season of the league, which took place on 11th and 12th December in Ulaanbaatar and saw 500 hands played across the 2 match days. Every team had atleast one male and one female member in their squad, across various age groups once again reinforcing that Match Poker is a fully inclusive sport. Team Pokerfriends were crowned Champions with 749.5 points, Team Shrup came 2nd with 723 points and Team Megamind was 3rd with 710 points. Trophies, medals and prize money was awarded to the top 3 finishing teams and top 3 individual players. The Mongolian NF will use this event and the content captured to approach their National Olympic Committee (NOC) and National Sports Authority (NSA) for the formal recognition of Match Poker as a sport in Mongolia and for their national federation as a national governing body of sport, linked to IFMP as the global representative.
IFMP’s observer membership of GAISF was extended for another 2 years as we continue our fight for full recognition. One of the main aims of encouraging local Match Poker activity by way of national leagues was to be able to evidence to the NOC and NSA of your nation that we are a sport, recognised globally, played digitally, and are not anything like conventional gaming or gambling. Once the authorities see it in action, being played in teams, without the presence of physical cards or chips, they will better understand what we have been trying to explain to them for so long. We are hopeful that this all will work to our advantage and we can provide the GAISF membership council with plenty of new national recognition certificates in the coming year.
We are working hard towards a packed events calendar for 2022, with a Champions League style finale event for our many national league champions, a Global University Challenge involving student Match Poker teams from universities and colleges across the globe, and of course our Continental Championships (Asia, Europe, America’s) all culminating in a Nations Cup Final at the end of the year. There have been a few nations that have expressed their desire to host an event and we are evaluating our options, and would encourage other nations who are interested to let us know at the earliest.
Finally can we take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful holiday period. Stay safe, take care of yourself and your loved ones and let’s make 2022 the year where Match Poker really takes off! Happy Holidays and wish you a fantastic New Year!

Macedonia’s Road to the 2021 Nations Cup Finals

On the 10th anniversary of their existence, the Macedonian national Match Poker team managed to qualify for the Nations Cup Finals. They played the first qualifications for the European Championship back in 2012 in Vienna, when in the competition of 14 countries they placed 7th, which saw them just miss out on qualifying.

Since then the sport of Match Poker has gone through a lot of growth & development until finally in 2017, after the Congress in London, it was officially accepted by GAISF (Global Association of International Sports Federations) as a recognised sport governed by the International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP) based in Lausanne, where the Macedonian Poker Federation has been a full member since registration in the Central Register of the Republic of Macedonia in 2011.

Preparations for these qualifiers lasted several months, beginning last spring, the cycle of competitions began in June, and finally with the victory in the qualifier they are going to be competing for their first time at a Nations Cup Finals.

Austria, Germany, Iceland and Switzerland were successful in the earlier qualifiers, and for the remaining 2 places in the European zone 9 national teams were in contention: Poland, Norway, Croatia, Cyprus, Italy, Lithuania, Estonia, the United Kingdom and Macedonia.

Macedonia was drawn with Cyprus, Lithuania and Estonia in 4×4 format for the final spot!

The love for the country and the desire for ranking was huge among the selected athletes. The great self-confidence of Tomas Spaseski, who said the day before the qualifier: “Not to believe, we will certainly place ourselves” brought optimism to others.

Thomas always plays for the team and when he was offered the captain’s armband as the oldest in the team, he selflessly left it for Aleksandar Trajkovski who has the most appearances and is the only player in the team who played for Macedonia in the first qualifiers in Vienna 2012. At the end of the qualifier, statistics showed that Thomas Spaseski was the most effective player in the tournament.

Sofija Dzadzeva did not hide her pride and happiness to play for her Macedonia and with great confidence she believed in victory knowing the quality of her teammates.

‘We do not have much to write about the possibilities of the captain Aleksandar Trajkovski, simply without him this ranking among the best 18 in the world would have been impossible.’ says NF president Michael V. Pop-Gonoff.

Petar Filipov is an experienced player who was not in the best shape this year, but when it was most needed, he performed the task entrusted to him to win Macedonia their qualification.

Andreja Andreevski is the Alpha and Omega in the national team, disciplined, consistent and solid for the last 5-6 years. Just as skiing has a downhill, slalom, giant slalom, etc. so poker has more variants, unlike other players, “Match Poker” is his specialty. When it was most needed and the result was uncertain in the last session, he performed exceptionally, topping the individual rankings and securing very important points for a Macedonian victory!

It will be ungrateful to not mention the other national team members who played in this series of qualifications: Katarina Tasevski from Skopje, Aleksandar Naumoski from Kicevo, Spase Klenkovski from Struga, Metodi Aleksov from Stip, Gorjan Peshev from Skopje, Goce Blazeski from Makedonski Brod, Martin from Vinica, Aleksandar Zuberovski from Bitola and Simon Trendafilov from Delchevo.

Gevgelija Miki Jovanov and Stipe Zharko could not be made available to the national team due to work obligations, just like one of their best players in recent years Toni Zengovski who was absent for justified reasons.

Filip Filipovski gave up at the end of the preparations in May for understandable reasons.

Thanks also to the players who were abroad, had a desire, and were not able to physically attend, but still were good online sparring partners for the national team players: Mariana Josifovska (Cyprus), Bojan Vlakevski (Germany), Dejan Andonov (Switzerland) , Ivana Velickovic (Malta), as well as the home team: Velika Dimitrovska, Ivan Panev, Koki Atanasov, Dimitar Mechev, Naum Taneski, Ice Boceski, Dejan Burmuzoski, Viktor Nasteski and Stefan Strkov.


The Macedonian NF thanks Zlatan Milivojevic and Hotel Europa for their support, Dimitar Badev, Pance Krstev, Petko Tanov, Stojan Trajcev, and Toni Kondevski from Australia who have been supporting and following their work for years.

Former Ambassador of the Republic of Macedonia in Vienna – Mr. Gjorgi Filipov, a great fan of poker, is their honorary member and supporter. Thanks also to the Macedonian Olympic Committee and the legend of Real Madrid, Mr. Bogoevski! Of course, a big thank you to their partners Apollonia Hotel & Casino Gevgelija and Casino Pintija Skopje who provided excellent conditions for their selection!

Many greetings and thanks to the members of the founding board of the organization Mr. Bojan Avramoski and Mr. Trajce Pop-Gonov.

IFMP’s Observer Status Renewed by GAISF General Assembly

Following the GAISF (Global Association of International Sports Federations) General Assembly held on Friday, 12th November 2021, and in particular the decision to approve the modifications of the GAISF Statutes, the Membership Council decision taken on 27th September to renew IFMP’s Observer status for the next two years has been confirmed.

We were delighted to receive the news from Jonas Barbezat, Membership Coordinator for GAISF, who confirmed the extension of our GAISF membership’s observer status for a further two years, taking it through to the end of 2023. IFMP has been a recognised observer member since October 2017 and will continue to work hard to achieve full recognition at the earliest.

The International Federation of Match Poker (IFMP) is an internationally recognised sports Federation, promoting Match Poker a digitally played mind sport (eSport) & game of skill, and on the ladder to become a recognised Olympic sport. It is educational, helps risk assessment, mathematics and social skills. It is inclusive, and can be played by all ages, shapes and sizes.
The Federation, which is now over 60 national federations strong, has been an observer member of GAISF and an official signatory to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code since 2017. Match Poker has no restrictions to being played, advertised, promoted or broadcast as it is a recognised sport globally.