New Records, Up-Sets and Suspensions at CSWC so Far

We’re halfway through the Cigar Smoking World Championship season and with about 20 qualifiers done, there’s been a fair share of excellent performances as well as upsets and even incidents. It’s time for a recap.

Denmark was first, but things really kicked off when Norway had another double three-hour performance a few weeks later. Just like the year before Tormod Skaaraas, who finished fifth in the 2023 grand final, won and Rolf Broch finished second, and they are now two of the main contenders for the title in Split. 

In the neighboring country of Sweden former world record holder Igor Kovacic made a spectacular return after a couple of years’ absence. “The Swedish Tiger” instantly proved he’s one of the favorites, smoking for 3 hours 21 minutes and 46 seconds. The 2021 world champion Henrik Kristensson also broke the three-hour limit while three-time national champion Mikael “Zeke” Zander had a bad year and was out after just 30 minutes. 

And he’s not the only favorite-to-win who hasn’t lived up to expectations. In Azerbaijan defending champion Elnur Adilov was out after 47 minutes and in Malaysia last year’s winner Yadie Dayana didn’t last more than eleven minutes because he was so busy coaching the fellow contenders at his table that he forgot to puff on his own cigar. At least he made up in sportsmanship what he lacked in competitiveness. The question is if it had made any difference, seeing as another favorite was back on track. After a bad year in 2023 Wilson C smoked for more than two hours as he reclaimed his fourth title.  

A smoker who’s really going for it this year, is Anastasya Arsenova. Not only did she make her way into the all time top 10 when she became the champion of Kazakhstan again, smoking for 3 hours 24 minutes and 11 seconds, she has also broken the three hour limit as a guest in both Georgia and Azerbaijan. It’s obvious last year’s second runner-up is aiming higher this year. The question is of course if she has what it takes to beat the 2023 world champion, Hauke Walter. Although Germany still hasn’t had its competition, “The Iceman” has proved he still has what it takes. As a guest in Austria he outsmoked everyone and “beat” the winner Daniel Friedenthaler with an hour. His time, 3 hours 35 minutes and 10 seconds, was a new personal records and the best one so far this season, which incidentally means Friedenthaler’s performance wasn’t’ too shabby, either. Just like Dayana in Malaysia, Walter also took time to coach his fellow smokers, giving pointers and teaching different techniques. Unlike Dayan, though, it obviously didn’t affect his performance. Any which way, this goes to show there’s a scolding, relentless rivalry between the slow smoking competitors in the CSWC. Or maybe not.  

But the big headlines so far has been for the Greek qualifier, and for all the wrong reasons. For the first time a winner was caught cheating and therefore disqualified. The winner in Greece received a lifetime ban when he was caught on tape relighting his cigar. As was a fellow contender involved in the incident. Instead the title went to John Intzirtzis. 

A few new countries have also debuted on the circuit, although Kosovo is the only one we have a report from at the moment. But it was an important one for founder Marko Bilic, as it took place at his latest addition to the Club Mareva franchise in Pristhina.           

“He was visibly emotional as he witnessed the realization of his dream to hold competitions in various Mareva clubs worldwide,” it says on the CSWC website. 

It’s been an intense first half, in other words. Still there is more to come. With the German and British qualifiers just around the corner and Italy, Poland, the US, Croatia and many more later this summer, there will surely be more impressive performances and times above the three-hour limit. After all, top names as Drew Emch from the US, world record holder Klaudia Ide, 2022 world champion Borys Szkodzik and last year’s number seven, Marcin Sakowski, from Poland, Marian Nedela from Italy, last year’s runner-up Andrej Leontijev from Belarus  and many more have yet to enter the competition. And of course, we all wonder what Hauke Walter will do at the German qualifier. And who will be the next big surprise? 

So stay tuned. The fun is far from over. 

Since graduating with an engineering degree in surveying in 2005, Simon Lundh has preferred to follow a profession in journalism. He stumbled upon the cigar world while working for a non-governmental organization in Estelí, Nicaragua, and is now mainly making a living writing about cigars, metal music, tattoos, and travel.


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