1) Andrii Kravets, current rating 2684
Andrii has been present amongst the top European players for a few years now. He is actually, according to his current rating, the strongest player born in Europe without professional status at the moment. In spite of the fact that his rating has exceeded 2650 for a long time, he modestly refused to play as 7 dan up until recently. Last year he lost in the all-Ukrainian final of the Pro Qualification Tournament to his compatriot, Artem Kachanovskyi. So, one of the interesting questions before this year's EPQ final stage is: "Will Ukraine be the first country to have two EGF Professionals?“
2) Viktor Lin, current rating 2626
A very smart Austrian player born in a small street in Vienna, which he was actually named after and where he still lives today. At one time life was cruel to him, and Viktor became living proof of the proverb: "what does not kill you, makes you stronger.“ He is a very serious and hard-working young man who besides being a strong go player works also very hard to promote the game and raise its profile. He is one of the founding fathers in the EGF Academy project, a project which searches for young and talented players across Europe and helps them to train and improve, and for which he works as a manager.
3) Lukas Podpera, current rating 2624
Another smart young boy who started playing go at the age of 7 and has been dreaming of becoming a Pro since he was 10 years old. He has been interested in everything connected with go since his childhood and has been working very hard and seriously on his improvement. Nevertheless, he does not just concentrate on his own progress. Since being 16 years old, he is involved in teaching young players/kids in Czechia for whom he is a real hero.
4) Cornel Burzo, current rating 2623
A very strong go player who has been amongst the top European players already for many years. He is not only one of the most active European players but also one of the most active teachers. It is possible to say about Cornel that if he wins the EPQ and becomes the 6th EGF Professional, it will be just a formal confirmation of his whole life's work.
5) Rob van Zeijst, current rating 2598
Rob used to be one of the strongest players in Europe in the 1990's, winning the European Championships three times,the European Futjitsu Cup four times, and the first European Ing Cup in 1990. Then he disappeared from Europe, moving to Japan. There he became known as a writer of many go books, and articles about go in newspapers. He returned to Europe last winter and thanks to that we can see him in our tournaments again. The Professional title would also be for him a formal confirmation of his way of life.
6) Csaba Mero, current rating 2593
A former insei in Japan, Csaba belongs to the group of strongest and most active in Europe since the turn of the century. Recently he somewhat slowed down his go activities, setting up a family and starting his business career outside of go. Nevertheless go is an activity which nobody can get rid of easily. Once a go player, always a go player. So, Csaba is back to his full strength and we can enjoy his games again.
7) Jonas Welticke, current rating 2575
A young and promising go player from Germany. He spent a half year in China during the last CEGO training session. He is known for his unorthodox go style, especially in fuseki. We will see how he will succeed with it in EPQ.
8) Oscar Vazquez, current rating 2435
This 14-year-old boy is undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the first part of EPQ tournament in Vienna. He also went to China about a year ago to train for half year in the CEGO Academy. He went there as a 3 dan and returned about two grades stronger. CEGO gave him a wild card for the EPQ and he has already proved that he deserved it. Even if he does not become a professional this year, it seems certain that we will see much more of him in the future.
The final stage of the EPQ will be a single knock-out tournament where we can expect a lot of interesting fights. It will be possible to follow all the games on KGS where the account handles EGF1ProQ, EGF2ProQ, EGF3ProQ and EGF4ProQ are set up to provide live broadcasting. There will also be a live stream on http://ustre.am/1zGVv. Games will be commented by Pavol Lisy 1p and Mateusz Surma 1p.
The quarter-final of the knock-out starts on Thursday, 13 July, 2017 at 15:00 CEST.
Pairing for the quarter-final is as follows:
1) Csaba Mero vs. Viktor Lin
2) Rob van Zeijst vs. Oscar Vazquez
3) Andrii Kravets vs. Cornel Burzo
4) Lukas Podpera vs. Jonas Welticke
This article will be regularly updated. More information will be available when the tournament starts. Keep following us to learn more!