Those players fortunate enough to survive Day 2 returned this afternoon to play deeper into the money and to decide who would be coming back to sit down in front of the cameras at the finale. In all, 32 took to the felt, but not many of them were destined to stay seated for long.
The eliminations came in a flood with a wave of short stacks going broke in the first few levels. Relatively high blinds, coupled with the high level of action found only in Europe, made short work of many and cut the field down to the final two tables in record time.
As the ball was set in motion it was the American Jason Mercier atop the chip counts, a position he would trade by the end of the night for the honor of No. 2 position going into the final table. Mercier plays online under the name "treysfull21" and exercised an impressive amount of patience to get to this point so well-stacked.
Everyone who came back today was guaranteed a payday; the only question was how much cash they would be taking home. Among the group who made the money, but didn't make it to the big money, were a few familiar faces.
Todd Brunson was looking good and managed to get his hands on some chips before going out to a bad beat. Marcus Golser and Stefan Raffey were also in contention for a seat at the final eight but were unable to go the distance.
The most disappointing eliminations though were Isaac Baron and Mark Flowers. WestmenloAA and RandALLin, respectively, are greatly respected for their online accomplishments and thought to be among the best in the world. Both went broke before the night concluded, though, putting their skills on display for a limited time only.
The one player who stood out today, despite being very slight in stature, was Dario Minieri. Representing the new wave of young guns coming out of Italy, Minieri is one of the most aggressive players on the face of the earth. A Supernova Elite who traded his cache of FPPs for a Porsche, Minieri first garnered live poker attention at last year's WSOP with two cashes, including a deep run in the Main Event.
Minieri's performance today confirmed his reputation and he was very successful in picking up chips without the need for premium hands. The Italian audience showed their support in the way that only Italians can, with loud screaming and the waving of their native flags.
Joining the pride of Italy at tomorrow's playdown are a few others who might have something to say about Dario's plans for victory.
William Thorson is one of the Scandinavian heavyweights with a slew of accomplishments under his belt, also one known to employ an aggressive style. Thorson bubbled the final table of the EPT PokerStars Caribbean Adventure earlier this season and came close to doing the same today, getting it in a little behind nine-handed but hitting the cards he needed to secure himself a final-table seat.
Most of the entertainment tomorrow is likely to come from one of the French players, Eric Koskas. Known as Moumouth on PokerStars, Koskas is a favorite among players, perhaps due to the amount of money he's infused into the site. Unbelievably reckless, Koskas was able to pick up a ton of chips on Day 2 which he put to good use getting to the final table today.
Antony Lellouche is the second player representing France and also employs a high level of aggression in his game. A high-stakes cash game player who's been earning a living in casinos since he was old enough to get in, and probably before, Lellouche, along with Jason Mercier, will be the biggest obstacles in Dario Minieri's path to victory.
Rounding out the final eight are another Italian native, Gregory Genovese, a second American, Marcus Bower, and Dag Palovic, who made the final table at the recent EPT event in Prague.
To complete your preparation for tomorrow's action we strongly suggest you head over to the Live Tournaments page where great things await. Also be sure to check out the interview we did with final-table participant Jason Mercier.
3 p.m. CEST is the time and you know where to find us. Don't be late.