The Ultimate SuperStar Showdown: Daniel Negreanu vs Isildur1

Last year, Isildur1 (later revealed to be Viktor Blom) issued an open challenge via PokerStars’ SuperStar Showdown. The challenge’s considerably lower stakes and smaller session size have made it a more popular endeavor than Tom Dwan of Full Tilt’s $1 million Durrrr Challenge. To date, Blom has competed a total of five such challenges and holds an impressive 4-1 record. Tomorrow night, though, Blom will compete in his most significant Showdown yet against living legend Daniel Negreanu. It seems unlikely that a more formidable foe will present itself, too, since Negreanu is the current lifetime earnings leader.

Coming into tomorrow night’s big event, there are reasons to favor or doubt the success of both players. Isildur1 has been calling himself the best heads-up player in the industry for over a year, but 2011 hasn’t been kind to him. Despite his SuperStar Showdown winning streak, Isildur1 is still down more than $300,000 at the Full Tilt tables so far this year. He’s had highs and lows but inarguably performs best in his own challenge.

Meanwhile, Daniel Negreanu has the best live tournament record in the industry with 17 wins, 118 cashes and four WSOP titles. He’s taken on and beaten virtually all of the best players in the game and has earned more than $12 million at live tournaments alone. Having said that, Negreanu has never been known for his heads-up skills. Furthermore, he’s not a very active online player despite also being a member of Team PokerStars.

While both players are competing on their home turf, Isildur1 has the obvious advantage when it comes to format. Negreanu seemed all too aware of that advantage this week when he was four-tabling at the nosebleed NLHE tables. At the $5/$10 stakes, he fared reasonably well against regulars like nanonoko and ZeeJustin. Unfortunately it was a far bleaker story at the $50/$100 tables, where heads-up pros like altiFC and Sauce123 scraped nearly a quarter million off of KidPoker’s sizable bankroll.

That’s not to say that Isildur1 hasn’t had his own trials at the high stakes tables these last couple weeks, but it certainly bodes less well for a newcomer to the format. Then again, Negreanu’s level head and ability to adapt have seen him through before. In other words, who will triumph is at this point anybody’s guess. Because Negreanu is not particularly strong at long online sessions, his SuperStar Showdown is expected to stretch across several sessions throughout the week. You can catch the first face-off tomorrow night.

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