With the noticeable absence of some of the sports bigger names, such as Branch Warren, Toney Freeman and Darrem Charles, the field at this year’s Europa Pro was wide open, giving the up and comers an opportunity to shine. And shine they did with all top finishers in both the under 210 pound class and the open event appearing to be at their very best.
Class won out in the under 210 pound and open with the perpetual door knocker, Silvio Samuel finally breaking through to his first pro wins. Held on Saturday, the men’s open once again was heavily contested, with the usual assortment of emerging stars and top line talent, the distinction between both groups being as sharp as Dexter Jackson’s leg separation.
The line up contained 29 competitors, 12 of which competed in the under-210 pound class the day before. As predicted by most, Silvio Samuel who brought his usual great separation won the contest. The final five, in final placing order, were Silvio, Will “World” Harris, William Wilmore, Quincy Taylor and Omar Deckard, all in amazing shape. Seems these guys saved it all for the Europa.
The under 210 pound class, a bodybuilding first designed to showcase the “smaller” men while increasing the contest numbers and subsequently, interest in the sport, also had its share of talent as 12 competitors, most of whom brought their A-game, strode the stage. Silvio won this class also with a man I predicted would take this event, Ricky “Tricky” Jackson, finishing in second in his best ever shape. Third place was Guy Ducasse, who chose the Europa stage to make his bodybuilding comeback.
Under 210 Pound Class:
1. Silvio Samuel
When Silvio announced his inclusion in the under 210 class it was over before it began for the rest of the field. And when Silvio hit the stage it was apparent the battle was indeed for second, such was his domination. With typically crisp definition, full muscle bellies, but with better waist control this time around, Silvio looked to be much larger than the sub-210 pounds he brought to the stage.
His size and especially his amazing quad sweep made his closest rivals look to be in a different class altogether. With the 210-pound win, Silvio took $3000 and his first ever, pro victory.
2. Tricky Jackson
I spoke to Tricky a few weeks ago and he assured me he would be at his very best at the Europa. Well he was at his best and would have won the under 210 were it not for the peerless Silvio. On Saturday Tricky once again brought the house down with his unique posing style combining classic transitioning and forceful shots with entertaining dance moves.
The physique he displayed, having shown improvements with each successive outing this year, was rock hard and very nicely balanced. The detail he showed in his back-double-biceps shot might have been the best onstage. God work Tricky.
3. Guy Ducasse
Making his bodybuilding comeback, Guy was a worthy third place finisher here. With nice lines and a very dense upper body, Guy looked confident and compared well with both Tricky and Silvio. A little more polish and he could be the man to beat in this class next year.
1. Silvio Samuel
Looking to have dropped a little weight for this show - possibly to make the 210-weight limit - Silvio looked even more balanced, his proportion probably being the best onstage. Criticized in the past for his “smaller” shoulders, Silvio showed none of these problems on Saturday.
His shoulders along with his waist (another criticized area) were both perfectly in balance with the rest of his body and his thighs were the best onstage. Based on both performances he will be riding a massive wave of momentum going into the Olympia and like big Branch Warren in 2005, after the Texan won at Europa, should make the top eight on his first attempt.
2. Will Harris
I personally had William Wilmore in second place after the prejudging based on his better overall shape, but Will Harris did look huge and his conditioning was amongst the best in the show. In sheer mass he even rivalled the biggest man in the show, Quincy Taylor, but seemed to have the edge over QT in chest and back development, his back being possibly the thickest in the show.
In fact, big Will might have one of the best backs in bodybuilding behind Joel Stubbs and Ronnie Coleman. This year’s Europa will be known as, among other things, Will Harris’s breakthrough year. With a little more Silvio-like crispness he will be a threat in any contest he enters.
3. William Wilmore
This is the best I have seen Will: big and sharp with a tiny waist, flaring lat muscles, thick erectors, the usual great leg development and excellent stage presence. His front abdominal and thigh pose was, in my view, the best in the class as it really highlighted his spectacular V-taper and the nice balance between his upper and lower body.
William has one of those physiques where nothing really jumps out at you, but rather everything is in good balance - just the kind of body that wins the big events. If William can pack on a little more size to match the Ronnie’s of this world he will be fighting for the top each and every time.
4. Quincy Taylor
The big battle of the night was predicted to be between the biggest man in the show, Quincy Taylor, and one of its smallest, Silvio Samuel. And while Silvio was the smallest in the top five, his complete development and flawless conditioning pushed him way ahead of big QT, who could only muster fourth due to a slight film of water that obscured, to a degree, some of his definition.
Water problems aside, Quincy did have the most impressive physique onstage in terms of sheer size and his back development was much improved compared to previous shows. Two weeks out from this show Quincy predicted no less than a win. He will be very disappointed with his result. At over 300 pounds he did make an impression but not on the judges, where it counts.
5. Omar Deckard
Omar is a very large man, as in tallest, with some of the longest arms and legs in bodybuilding, all of which can be both a blessing and a curse. Standing relaxed he looks balanced and imposing. When he hits his front poses though, he does not make the same impact a more compact guy like Silvio does.
Once Omar achieves some more fullness he will look so much more imposing and, with his great shape, should move his way up the rankings. At the Europa, Omar was, like the other men, in his best shape ever - peeled to the bone - but his muscles did not pop out like Quincy’s or Silvio’s. His chest and biceps also seemed weak compared to those who placed before him. He just seemed to lack overall thickness.