Today is the day. The Cigar Smoking World Championship Final in Split, Croatia, is just a few hours away, so let the speculations begin. Who will be the first one eliminated? Who will burn their ring? Who will end up in an uncomfortable Chesterfield futon, choose a faulty cigar, or forget to go to the bathroom before? Will someone even fail to light their cigar during that first deciding minute? The questions are many, and the biggest one is of course: Who will be champion of the world?
Will it be five-time German champion Walter Hauke, a.k.a. “The Iceman”? The 58-year old who became world champion in his debut year in 2018 has been a top contender since, having passed the three-hour mark more than most others.
Best time this season: 3:01:30
Position in the top 20: 4
Or will Borys Szkodziak defend his title? At the Polish qualification he was out after just 47 minutes and on the top 20 list of the season he’s in last place? Yet, there’s no denying the nerves of steel when someone sets a season record, smoking for 3 hours and 20 minutes in the final.
Best time this season: 2:17:10
Position in the top 20: 20
Maybe it’s time for Klaudia Ide? After reaching 13th place in last year’s final she broke the world record this season. Who cares about her mere 1 hour and 15 minutes smoking at the Polish qualifier when she almost broke the four-hour limit at a time chase event earlier this season. 3 hours 53 minutes and 9 seconds is nothing less than ridiculous.
Best time this season: 3:53:09
Position in the top 20: 1
Home smoker Ivan Zizic joined the top 20 club in the final minute, when he took home the title in Croatia in August. Can he turn his 10th place from 2022 into a place on the throne this year?
Best time this season: 2:57:12
Position in the top 20: 6
The American trio Drew Emch, Barrett Johnson and Mose Ramieh all finished within five minutes in their national qualifier around the 2:45 mark. Maybe they can push each other all the way?
Best time this season: 2:47:31, 2:45:47 and 2:42:30
Position in the top 20: 8, 9 and 10
Or how about the Norwegians? In the first qualifier of the season both Tormod Skarmaas and Rolf Broch made it passed the three-hour limit in an amazing first showdown.
Best time this season: 3:30:41 and 3:10:00
Position in the top 20: 2 and 3
Or will it be another name from the top 20 list in the end, or maybe even off it? Last year’s second runner-up Dimitrijs Smirnovs from Latvia isn’t on it, for example. In fact, five of the top ten in last year’s final didn’t make it onto the list this year, so really, it’s anybody’s game.
Today is the day.