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.