After 44 tournaments in 2016, the field is set for the European Masters, the end of year final tournament that will test and confirm the best players of the year. 10 jugglers qualified: four Germans, four Brits, and two Dutch. Four jugglers are playing at the tournament for the second time.
The unique structure of the tournament, with a group stage before the knockout, means each juggler will play a minimum of five matches. Rankings points will be earned for each match, with 750 points going to the undefeated winner, up from 500 last year.
The two groups were decided by random draw, with each next pair in the rankings being assigned to opposite groups, and with the restriction that equal numbers of German, British and Dutch jugglers should be in each group.
Jochen Pfeiffer, currently second in the 2016 race rankings, is just 522 points behind Luke Burrage in first place, so he has a chance to become the 2016 end of year number one (depending on Luke's results). Jochen has gone undefeated in all three tournaments he has played this year (Berlin, EJC and Cottbus), but has only played other 2016 European Masters three times (Luke twice and Alex once), so now has a chance to prove himself against the rest of the top 10.
Rob van Heijst secured his invite to the European Masters with his win at the NJF, the second major tournament of the year, but also made it to 5th place in the race rankings with a win at Havixbeck and other strong results. His record against the other European Masters in 2016 is 3 wins (including beating Luke Burrage and Markus Utke back to back at the NJF) and 4 losses.
Jon Peat is one of only two players to make it to the European Masters without any points from the EJC tournament. His wins in Cambridge and Cumbria, as well as second place finishes at Leicester, Chocfest and Coastcon put him into sixth place in the race rankings. He has a 4-5 win-loss record against other European Masters players in 2016.
Danny Cooper helped his European Masters qualification chances with a six match winning streak in the summer where he won at CoastCon and made it to the quarterfinals at the EJC. Another win in Dublin to go with his fourth place at the BJC got him to eight in the race rankings. His win-loss record against other European Masters is 1-4, but he hasn't lost to anyone else in 2016!
Alex Leymann was the last player to qualify for the European Masters this year, with his second place finish in Cottbus pushing him to 10th in 2016. He won in Suderburg and had three third place finishes. His record against other European Master in 2016 is 0-2 (losing to Markus Utke and Jochen Pfeiffer).
Luke Burrage, currently at the top of the race rankings, has won three tournaments in 2016 (BJC, Brianza and Bungay), and came second at the EJC. He has won more matches this year than anyone else (18 wins and 5 losses). He must win just three matches at the European Masters to secure his end of year number one ranking, but that won't be easy: he lost to two other members of group B in 2016. His record against other European Masters is 5-5 in 2016 (losses to Jochen, Brook, Markus and Rob).
Brook Roberts has won or come second at every tournament he entered in the UK this year (1st: Leicester, Durham and Chocfest, 2nd: BJC, Cambridge, Bungay). His has the second highest number of wins in 2016 (18-5). His win-loss record against other European Masters is 4-4, with all of those wins and losses against Luke Burrage and Jon Peat.
Markus Utke won in Hannover and Laer and came second at the NJF. He recorded his first win against a number one player by defeating Luke Burrage in the Berlin 2016 third place match. His record against other European Masters is 5-1 in 2016.
Leo Ostenrath didn't make it out of qualifications at the EJC, but had a strong second half of 2016 to climb to 7th in the race rankings. He won the HJW and Herxheim Fight Nights and came second or third at four other tournaments. His nine tournaments in 2016 is the most of any of the European Masters. His record against the other players in 2016 is 3-1.
Jan Poolen is the lowest ranked player to make it to the European Masters (11th in the 2016 race rankings). He won at the WJW in Heerlen early in the year and posted solid results at all the other Fight Nights in the Netherlands. His record against the other European Master in 2016 is 2-3.
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