Photo by: Blizzard
After a weekend of upsets eight of the world’s finest StarCraft progamers are left in the run for the championship at the 2016 WCS Global Finals.
After a weekend of upsets eight of the world’s finest StarCraft programers are left in the run for the championship at the 2016 WCS Global Finals. Though the main event is to be held at BlizzCon itself this coming weekend, the preliminary rounds of the tournament have already been played out, and the final contenders determined. With four groups of competitors from both the WCS Circuit and WCS Korea, the broadcasting studio in Anaheim has already witnessed the volatility of the StarCraft scene. Predictions did not even remotely prove to be accurate, both those made by experts and the community alike.
ShoWTimE vs Elazer
To start things off on Friday the 4th fans will get a chance to see Elazer and ShoWTimE in the opening match of the main event. Surprisingly enough, neither was predicted to get out of the groupstage, let alone in first place in the case of ShoWTimE, whose stellar performance allowed him to reign supreme over two GSL champions in Dear and ByuN. Despite proving highly competent in PvT and PvP, the German player’s PvZ was recently put to the test when he had to go up against Elazer in the round of eight of the European WESG finals. A quick 3:0 for the latter sent ShowTimE back home.
His Polish opponent’s trip to California might have not even happened, had Hydra not withdrawn from the competition. Elazer was tied with viOlet for the final seed and spent the last month preparing for a ZvZ to secure himself a ticket to the United States. His training certainly did not go down the drain, as he used his expertise in the matchup to defeat Solar and Nerchio in the groupstage advancing in second place right after TY. Elazer has played second fiddle as ‘the other Zerg’ in Poland for quite some time. Should he go far in this tournament, Nerchio’s dominance might be called into question. There is still much to prove, though. One mustn’t forget the underwhelming ZvT series between Elazer and TY for first place in group D. Despite assuring the community of being ready for the matchup, the Zerg player seemed utterly powerless in comparison to the Korean powerhouse. Talking the talk, but not walking the walk revealed a weakness in Elazer’s approach to the competition in that he sometimes gets overconfident and loses his composure.
ShoWTimE 3:2 Elazer
Dark vs Neeblet
Winning an offline event on Korean soil is no meagre feat, yet when one’s road is paved with their favourite matchup it raises the question of consistency. By taking home the KeSPA Cup trophy Neeblet proved he fears no man in the world of StarCraft. Less than a month ago, Alex Sunderhaft took the Mecca of professional StarCraft by storm, defeating well established players such as Zest, Stats, Rogue, and eventually Trap, on his way for the title. Even going into the match against Dark he’s confident to play against the Korean Zerg, as he stated in the interviews following the round of eight draw. During the groupstage, Neeblet’s PvP failed him when Zest managed to retaliate for the loss suffered back in his homeland. In the post-game interview at the WCS Global Finals the former KT player stated he had not been familiar with the American’s style prior to KeSPA Cup, hence the loss. This time, he came prepared. Is Neeb’s unabashed attitude justified? The expectations are certainly high, but the powerhouse that is Dark has surely studied the NA Protoss thoroughly and should have a fairly decent idea on how to approach the match. On top of that, Dark’s signature baneling-heavy PvZ style might deke Neeb out, since it is not as frequently used on the foreign scene. I believe the onus is on the American player to prove his versatility and defeating an SSL champion is certainly the way to do it.
Dark 3:1 Neeblet
TY vs ByuN
Had ShoWTimE not upset the last GSL champion in the groupstage, the TvT could have just as easily been the grand final of the event. ByuN and TY are currently occupying the first and second places respectively on aligulac and the possibility of losing one of the two highest ranked players in the world in the quarterfinal match at BlizzCon makes the series a must-watch.
The individual stories behind the two players add to the excitement and the anticipation of the community for the game. TY, formerly known as BaBy, started his professional career at the age of nine as a StarCraft 1 player, becoming the youngest Brood War competitor to appear on live television. Since then, he has established his place on the scene as a sturdy, reliable Terran, whose stellar performance secured his former team KT Rolster’s victory in Proleague matches many a time. Despite having competed for years, though, the closest TY has come to an individual title was a second place finish in the first season of GSL 2016, where he lost to his teammate Zest 2:4.
ByuN came back from a one year long hiatus and took the scene by storm. Returning as a teamless player, the One Man Army dominated most of the online cups held by both Korean and Chinese organisers and eventually qualified for a StarLeague in late 2015. The height of his career came just recently, when the Terran player defeated sOs in the grand final of the second season of GSL 2016, thus becoming the first teamless player in Korea to ever win a StarLeague. Coming into BlizzCon as a Team Expert representative, he suffered a small hiccough in the form of ShoWTimE. Nevertheless, he made it out of his group and will now have to go up against a player of equal skill. Both progamers are known for their multitasking capabilities and the series is bound to be wild and exhilarant.
TY 2:3 ByuN
Zest vs Stats
Though KT Rolster announced disbandment, the match still feels like a teamkill. Amicable terms will have to be set aside, as the future is uncertain and players need to fight for survival.
Despite being a three-time GSL champion and having sundry other titles under his belt, Zest’s recent form in Proleague and individual leagues has been rather underwhelming. After losing to Neeb in the 2016 KeSPA Cup he redeemed himself in the preliminary rounds of BlizzCon, where the American fell victim to Zest’s superior understanding of PvP. The Korean is by no means an underdog in this tournament, however he was in his heyday during Heart of the Swarm and the game has changed much since. One mustn’t also forget Zest’s toughest opponents in the groupstage were Protoss and the most likely person he had prepared with was Stats himself. If that is the case, the latter should have a fair inkling of the former’s abilities and the ways the Kingslayer’s defences can be probed and exploited. Historically Stats has a better record against his former teammate and should manage to reign supreme in the match. In Protoss versus Protoss anything can happen, though, and predictions have proven inaccurate in recent times. One thing is for certain; the winner will have to go up against either TY or ByuN, and I bet neither Protoss is pleased about that prospect.
Zest 1:3 Stats
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