Closing in to a very special event in Georgia, with the Covid19 still as a strong factor. No doubt that the the pandemic have an impact at the tournament, but everything is set to go off as planned. The difference between how the nations have been able to prepare are huge. Some nation has not been allowed to train and do sparring, others close to normal. Anyway, we dive into the categories to take a look into the line up..
Men -85 kg 18 fighters
We can start with the fact that we got two World Champions in this category. They fought another in the EC final in 2018, Valeri Dimitrov / Bulgaria and Salahat Hasanov / Azerbaijan. Dimitrov tamed a very strong Hasanov that time – will he be able to do it again? Salahat was beaten, but not on his knees – Dimitrov on the other hand known for adapting and changing the game – heels or knees? -You never know. whats coming. Bulgaria have two fighters, Miroslav Milev besides Dimitrov. Sharp technician with possibilities to end the fight before full time – with an Ushiro-Geri for example.
Hasanov did not compete in 2019 European Championship, but made a very good impression in the 12th World Open Karate championship, came into top 16 after two days of fighting. With notable wins against two Russian competitors and one Japanese.
Dimitrov where challenged by fighters from Lithuania. In fact, the semi finale and the final was against Lithuanian fighters. Both of them, Kęstutis Radvila and Juras Sokolovas are both in the line-up this year as well. After two grueling fights Dimitrov 19th EC tittle where secured. Can Sokolovas and Radvila find their way to the podium this time also? The semi-final in 2019, Dimitrov vs Radvila was very demanding, and the big question was how Radvila could take the number of heels in the leg/calf that he was inflicted by Dimitrov. This category will be tough all the way, and into the top 8 and further top 4, it will be extremely hard.
Besides Lithuania, one can include Poland and Georgia with strong, experienced fighters. Tengiz Bastoiani / Georgia – reached the EC podium in 2015 and 2017, in 2019 he lost his 3rd fight of the day against Vytautas Cėpla / Lithuania. In 2020 he was back at the podium, this time in the EFKO EC in Belgium, but in that case he fought in under 75 kg category.
Poland got two experienced fighters, been in the game for a long time, and will for sure be hard fighters to get past. Marek Odzeniak and Patryk Kostrzewa have not been among top three, on the podium yet. Odzeniak been in many fights, faced the best, and does have a very strong endurance – often taken the fight in the extension, growing stronger into the fight.
It will be tough to get around fighters from Bulgaria, Azerbaijan and Lithuania in this class – but again you have the draw that will come into play in its own way – and that it is a factor to meet someone in match 3 versus the first of the day.