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CSWC season ends with a Russian winner. That’s no surprise, as the Russians take this competition very seriously. Russia takes 6 spots in the top 20 and produced most world champions. They have always done very well in the competition. But this is the first time that the winner is a sister of the leaf. Anastasia Arsenova from Moscow is the first female winner of the overall competition. 

Ever since the start of the Cigar Smoking World Championship in 2010, the event has been growing. From a few events in Europe to qualification tournaments all over the world. 2020 would have been another great year for the competition, with more qualifications than ever. A brand new cigar supplier, more events in the United States, and new events in Asia and South America. But then covid-19 happened. Events were called off. And the founder of the CSWC, Marko Bilic got the covid bug, rendering him out of commission for a while. A review of the Rocky Patel CSWC can be found here.

Ministry of Cigars - CSWC season ends with a Russian winner
Anastasia Arsenova with CSWC founder Marko Bilic and her partner Evgeniy Zhuralev

Stay Strong online events

Zoom was the answer. Bilic and his team went virtual for the 2020 season. The virtual season was dubbed “stay strong”. By adding a few extra rules, the CSWC organization was able to hold qualifiers in many countries and time zones. The winners of the 15 qualifiers went on to the finale which took place last week. Over 70 people logged on to the Zoom meeting, including judges, Cigar Journal editor Reinhold Widmayer, sponsors, and cigar supplier Rocky Patel. People from all over the globe. From Europe, the USA, Middle East, and even Japan.

“The Stay Strong online season came as a rebellious response of us at CSWC to the new situation. A situation caused by COVID 19 and all social limitations caused by it. We want to continue to bring to our community what CSWC always was providing: – global gathering, friendship, entertainment, excitement, and fun. We also want to show no matter the situation we will find a way to deliver all of that, especially in situations when people need that the most. With the „Stay Strong„ season we have maintained consistency, without creating a gap in the history of this global competition. And we take a step into a new way of adaptation to the live events that we are about to announce for season 2021. From all my heart I am thankful to all partners of CSWC who kept thrust in us by constant support. Also, I want to congratulate the competitors for their open mind to accept with their participation new concepts and for creating history as a part of this unique „Stay Strong „ season which will be remembered as a great response in hard times,“ says Marko Bilic founder of CSWC

Ministry of Cigars - CSWC season ends with a Russian winner

The winner 

Anastasia Arsenova won the finale with an astonishing time of three hours and 35 minutes. The member of the Moscow Aficionados Cigar Club is a familiar name in the slow smoke community. As the winner, she won prizes from sponsors such as Les Fines Lames, Chivas, Boveda, Cuervo y Sobrinos watches, and Rocky Patel Premium Cigars. The Croatian tourist board Croatia Revealed sponsored Croatian delicacies to promote the richness of the country. 

With that time of 3 hours and 35 minutes, Arsenova ranks 3rd on the world record list. Fellow Russian Alexander Shagai and German national Hauke Walter set better times in the qualifications with 4 hours and twenty minutes and 3 hours and 55 minutes. But Arsenova performed when she needed to, in the grand finale. With this time, Shagai is the current record holder.

Ministry of Cigars - CSWC season ends with a Russian winner

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