Blizzcon 2016 wrapped up this weekend marking the end of what might have been the most important year for Starcraft II as an esport.
The final matches of the 2016 WCS finals were played this weekend at Blizzcon, and with the build up to the event full of huge headlines both in and out of the booth, many were eager to step away from the discussions and simply watch some Starcraft. Of course, those at Blizzcon were happy to deliver.
The round of 8 saw 5 of Korea’s best alongside 3 of the strongest players from the WCS Circuit battle it out and claim the prestigious title of Blizzcon World Champion.
The climax of the tournament saw ‘Byun’ Hyun Woo, the WCS Korea season 2 champion, take on Park ‘Dark’ Ryung Woo, the SSL season 2 champion. Both players have had fantastic results all year, winning major tournaments and often reaching the round of 4 of others. Dark had made a near perfect run to the final stage, having only lost one game to Stats in the group stages, while Byun had a shakier road to the finals, losing 2-0 to ShoWTimE in the group stages and dropping games against both of his Global Finals opponents. It appeared that Dark was primed to take the trophy but Byun managed to defeat the former SKT Zerg 4-2, securing him a huge bounty of $200,000.
The two had met under similar conditions during the KeSpa Cross Finals in September in a battle to find the true king of Korean Starcraft II, this occasion saw Dark victorious in a close 3-2 series. Byun, however, proved that while he might have lost that battle, he would win the war and conquer the world and when it truly mattered, this weekend he avenged his loss against the SSL champion and took the the top spot on SC2’s biggest stage, wrapping up WCS for another year.
2016 has been an extremely significant year for the game, beginning with Blizzard’s restructuring of WCS; WCS Korea and the WCS Circuit. Blizzard said at the start of the year that the international WCS Circuit was intended to “provide a proving ground for stars in regions outside of Korea” and give both the foreign and Korean players a more isolated arena in which to battle, less easily letting Korean players participate in the foreign scene like many did in the past few years. These changes precluded some historic moments happening later in the year. First was Neeb’s victory in the KeSpa Cup, marking the first time ever a non-Korean had won a Korean tournament, and second, this year marked the first appearance of non-Korean players at Blizzcon since 2013, not since Naniwa three years ago have we had a Global Finals that was truly, well… global.
While it’s easy to close this round of WCS in celebration of Byun’s achievement, as well as those by the foreign community of players, the recent KeSpa announcement that Proleague, as well as many of Korea’s strongest teams will not continue to operate into 2017 leaves the dominant force in Global Starcraft facing an uncertain future. A lot of news is sure to come out of Korea regarding these topics and will certainly present yet more changes to the world of competitive Starcraft II.
Although WCS has finished for another year there are still a handful of tournaments to keep you going until it all starts up again:
November 7-10 Homestory Cup XIV
November 10-13 World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) Asia-Pacific Qualifiers (with English commentary from Starladder)
December 15-18 WESG Global Finals
1 Blizzard talking about the 2016 WCS format
Will there be some major changes to WCS next year regarding the Korean scene?
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