“Of course!” an animated Artem Metalidi said when asked whether he believes he’s the favorite to win this tournament if he can find one quick double up.

“You’re not going to hear me say that I’m not the best player, come on!” Metalidi added.

The pro from Ukraine came into Day 7 of the 2018 WSOP Main Event with a big stack and high expectations. With thoughts of making the final table holding an above-average stack, Metalidi has his work cut out for him sitting on the second shortest stack and just over 20 big blinds right now.

“After losing some pots I was quite upset. After the dinner break, I felt good again, and I realized that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I just had to play my best poker, and then, whatever happens, happens.”

Looking ahead at the final table, all Metalidi can think of is finding that quick double up to put him back in contention. Through the disappointment of not being in control at the final table, Metalidi can still see the excitement but also fears a potential quick exit.

“I’m feeling about overwhelmed because I don’t want to make a mistake. Every mistake is going to be magnified because of the prize pool, so I just hope I stay calm tomorrow and do the best decisions.”

Metalidi is good friends with Anton Makievskyi, Ukraine’s long WSOP Main Event finalists to date, collecting $1,010,015 in 2011 for finishing in eighth place. Doing better than his friend, and becoming the highest placed Ukrainian player in this event, however, is not on his mind.

“It’s funny. We became very good friends in the last year or so, and it’s a crazy coincidence that I have a chance tomorrow to do better than him at the Main Event final table.”

With $1,000,000 guaranteed and a potential $8.8 million up top, many players feel the rush of adrenaline, but Metalidi managed to keep his head cool.

“I can’t understand why this is happening, but I don’t feel any pressure. Maybe when the final table begins I will feel it, but so far it’s like a regular tournament to me.”

Smiling throughout the interview from ear to ear, Metalidi emphasizes that his opponents will have a big problem on their hands if the eight-biggest stack manages to spin it up.

When asked about his opponents, Metalidi pulled out a big smile and said, “I have to decline to answer that questions, I don’t want to praise anyone and in my mind, I’m the best player remaining”

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2018 WSOP Main Event, Artem Metalidi