Tuesday, December 9, 2008

2008 Board Two All Stars

If you are wondering what criteria was used to determine these All Stars, please refer to the first post on the subject.

1st Team: IM Davorin Kuljasevic (DAL)

This was a no brainer, as if postseason play counted in the MVP contest, Kuljasevic likely would have been league MVP. Not only did Kuljasevic go 3 – 0 in postseason play, but he was also the only player to defeat GM Julio Becerra, won a must win game in the Finals to send the match to a tiebreaker, and also knocked out three Boston Blitz players in the blitz tiebreaker, to give Dallas their second straight USCL Championship.

It would have been difficult to script a better season this year for Kuljasevic from the start, and his two super impressive seasons have obviously been the key in giving the Destiny their back to back Championships. The Destiny can only hope that with his impending graduation from UTD that he will still remain in the area and continue to serve them well while other teams can hold out hope that his graduation might lead him elsewhere in the country into allowing some lucky team to pick up what would likely be the most valuable free agent in league history.

Record: 6.5 / 8 (81%)

Performance Rating: 2778

2nd Team: FM Slava Mikhailuk (SEA)

There was a large gap in between the first and second team for Board Two, and it was much more difficult for the League to determine the second and third team All Stars. Slava ended up making the second team because while his resume was similar to some other Board Two's, he won four matches in a row, including a do or die performance in the final week, at the end of the regular season to send Seattle into the playoffs. If he hadn't won even one of those four games, Seattle almost certainly would not have made the playoffs, and due to the clutch nature of his performances, he seemed like the best candidate for the second team.

In all it was a very strong season by Mikhailuk as Seattle, a team which mostly drew its strength from the top and bottom board in previous seasons, really needed this huge boost from him on the second board to put them in the playoff picture. If Seattle can achieve their normal first and fourth board success next year, with him holding down the second board, the Sluggers will definitely be a team to watch out for.

Record: 4.5 / 6 (75%)

Performance Rating: 2610

3rd Team: FM Tom Bartell (PHI)

When you look at the performances of Bartell and Mikhailuk, most things are similar on paper, except that Bartell's performance rating is 70 points higher. So one may wonder why Mikhailuk was on second team instead of the third, and as mentioned above, it was mainly because Mikhailuk's victories had such a monumental effect on his team's success along with being at the most important juncture of the season.

Despite the fact that Philadelphia finished with a 2 – 8 record, Bartell provided the lone spark for the Inventors in 2008. He had wins over IM John Barthlomew, FM Oleg Zaikov, IM David Vigorito, and GM Larry Kaufman. His only draw was to GM Eugene Perelshteyn, and his only loss to GM John Fedorowicz. Clearly his results were way above what one would expect for someone of his rating, and so he was a fairly natural addition to the All Star Team.

Although his team's performance was very disappointing, with such a strong underrated Board Two player available to them next year, if the Inventors, like the Sluggers, can return to the overall strength they've shown themselves capable of on the other boards next year, they will also definitely be a team to watch out for.

Record: 4.5 / 6 (75%)

Performance Rating: 2680

Other Candidates: The two strongest other candidates for the Board Two All Star Team were
GM Josh Friedel (SF) (4 / 6) with a performance rating of 2629 and IM Dean Ippolito (NJ) (4.5 / 7) with a performance rating of 2565; both had solid +2 seasons, but very simply the two players that they were in contest with for those spots had slightly better scores along with lower ratings making the All Star decisions fairly easy. Although ineligible, the showing by GM Boris Gulko (NJ) (3 / 3), 2876 performance was also noteworthy, and he would very likely have been a strong contender had he played enough games to be considered.

Stay tuned as in the next few days we will be announcing the All Stars for the other two boards!

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