January 2018 will host one of the biggest championships organized by the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF), the European International Open. An event that has traditionally marked the opening of the gi season in jiu jitsu’s calendar, having also grown to become the second largest tournament in the sport’s international circuit, only surpassed by the Brazilian Nationals in numbers of athletes. THE EUROPEAN ELITE This will be the 15th European Open since the tournament started back in 2004, having been a tremendous tool for the development of the gentle art in the old continent. Today, much due to this tournament, we witness a constant stream of high level talent brought forward to the black belt division with each passing year. After the great Dane – Alexander Tráns broke out as one of the first international contenders from the Old Continent at this very event back in 2012, Europe has steadily developed great competitors such as Luca Anacoreta, Serena Gabrielli, Max Wisniewski, Vincent Nguyen, Alex Cabanes, Adam Wardzinski, Nelton Pontes, or Samantha Cook. This turn out of grapplers will continue in 2018 as this year’s Euro will house the international debut for many athletes in another new wave of European talent, competitors such as Espen Mathiesen, Pedro ‘Paquito’, Tommi Langaker, Tommi Pulkkanen, Emilia Tuukkanen to name a few will be challenging for IBJJF silverware this year in their new division. IBJJF EUROPEANS SETTING THE TONE In past events the Euros have also set the tone for the year, showing not only who spent December working on their techniques – preparing for the many battles ahead, but also who will likely challenge for a world title. Much like the qualifying lap for a Formula 1 race’s pole position, the European Open has a tendency to prove who will fair well at the Mundial a few months ahead, particularly with regards to newly promoted athletes. This was the case for Erberth Santos, Márcio André, Yago de Souza, Gabriel Arges to name a few over the past 3 years who have medalled in both competitions on their black belt debut year. This year we believe Rudson Mateus to be THE black belt debut to keep an eye on. Rudson is a young competitor with a brilliant future ahead of him and given that the European Open’s medium heavyweight division is riddled with sharks this year, it will be a tough and honest test to Mateus’ chances in the immediate future. With more seasoned veterans the European Open has also been a fantastic opportunity to experiment and test new ideas and weight classes while being a decent way to assess an athlete’s chances of success on the race to the world championship. This was the case for Leandro Lo last year, who tested the heavyweight division for the first time here. Marcos Tinoco and Mikey Musumeci were also competitors who showed their good form at the Euros, following it up at the Mundial. All the above statements are reasons for all BJJ aficionados to keep their eyes on this tournament, one who is often overlooked by the American crowds.