Legend. Phenom. Ghost. In his early career, Viktor Blom may well have been called many different names. Just this week, Blom has once again become synonymous with the best title of all – a major live event winner. Viktor Blom won the MILLIONS Germany Main Event on Sunday evening for a cool €1,000,000, coming back from a 10:1 chip deficit heads-up to seal a remarkable victory even by his standards. Here's the moment his amazing call ended Pavel Plesuv's hopes and won Blom the title:
Can the enigmatic, softly-spoken Swede possibly go back-to-back in Barcelona? Well, to understand any poker player's future, the answer often comes from their past. Blom, for once, is no exception. Viktor Blom's history has become the stuff of legend, but the Swedish superstar, young and wild in his early career cash games, became a poster-boy for a new generation of online players without even revealing his face or name. Speak to any poker player six or seven years ago and the player they feared most wasn't an individual, but an anonymous collective.
Online players had become so prevalent that pocket fives ratings and sharkscope scores were used as regular trackers for progress, not remote outposts of information. The unknown player was to poker, what the unknown soldier was to the fallen in World War II – an underestimated majority who could never be fully appreciated because they had no name. Becoming an online phenomenon was one thing, but Blom did exactly that under an invisibility cloak in cyberspace.
Blom was never the tortoise. He hared into the online poker world with a rapacious attitude to titles, profit and ever-growing leaderboards. Climbing the ranks wasn't something Blom did step by step, but leap by leap, and his ambition knew no bounds. At the same time, he was just 18 years old, living in London with home help he could easily afford and pushing what he knew he could do well to the point of ultimate achievement. In a sense, Blom was an early pioneer for the generation of poker players we now see flooding live events and online tournament registrations en masse. Everything he could optimise, he did. Everything that took time away from that aim, right down to cooking, cleaning, washing, studying, none of it mattered if it wasn't poker. Isildur1, his online moniker, was more of a machine away from the online felt than he was at it.
In another sense, however, Blom was very different. Talk to most online pros nowadays and they will happily discuss push-fold strategy, range-merging and every other online hack that helped them get where they are in the game. Blom not only never held truck with statistic-gathering poker HUDs, but actively pursued alternate ways of developing his every move at the tables via some of the bloodiest nosebleed stakes on offer. Maybe Blom, who was given a thousand different names by his online opponents, was just one letter away from his poker definition. After all, in poker terminology, a 'bomb' describes "a very aggressive poker player, aggressive both pre and post flop". Hardly a more fitting description for the fearless Swede.
As attention turns to Barcelona, for what promises to be an amazing season-ending finale to the first MILLIONS partypoker LIVE tour, it's certain that Blom's latest foray into tournament poker will have poker fans wondering if his pursuit of live glory now extends to live trophies rather than success at the online cash games where he made his name at. Could we see a Viktor Blom in the future who makes a genuine attempt to assail the leaderboards of trophy-winning players who focused their attentions on tournaments? Possibly is the answer. Nothing is certain with Viktor Blom, but the manner of his incredible call to win the MILLIONS Germany Main Event will have fans anticipating the showdown in the Catalan capital of Barcelona even more.
Can Viktor Blom, the player who played in the shadows and brought the term 'online phenomenon' into the light, strike it rich in Barcelona? The only man who knows is probably the man himself. We'll all have to wait until April to find out.
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- Игорь Алексеев