Table of Contents
Six Stories for HSC VI
Because themes are hard
Ro32: Group A ~ B Preview
A rundown of the first day of matches
HSCVI brackets and results at Liquipedia
Six Stories for HSC VI
According to the graphic, HSC VI will be held in Morocco or Algeria.
I. Story of the Swarm.
You can tell exactly what HSC impresario Take was thinking when you look at the race representation in this tournament. Heck, you don't even need to look at this tournament, just take a look at one of the last tournaments he arranged. Zergs are dominating the European scene, Terrans are getting marginalized, and viewers are getting bored. Taking into account three qualifier spots that would likely go to Zergs, the invitations consisted of eight Zergs, nine Terrans, and twelve Protosses, and even that's modest compared to what would probably have happened if players like Lucifron or ThorZaIN had declared their interest.
But will it actually work? That's dubious. The strongest players in the tournament are probably Stephano and Symbol, and none of the other players are really known as Zerg-killers, with not even MKP and MC have showing much prowess against Zerg in the later half of the year. The way it looks now, HSC should be able to placate the viewers for the first three days of the tournament, but some luck will be needed to avoid a swarm-fest in the final day.
II. MMA's Return.
With all that unfortunate business with SlayerS and Jessica behind him, the search for a new team concluded, and a place to live and practice found, MMA is free for the first time in months to focus solely on StarCraft II. Will we see the return of the MMA of old, a player who could call himself the best in the world?
Obviously, just as it was with IPL5, HomeStoryCup VI comes too early for us to really make any judgments about MMA. It's been barely a month since he sorted all those things out, and he'll need more time to really turn things around after his dramatic decline.
Even so, waiting is for people with patience, and that's not something StarCraft fans have in abundance. We can't help but eagerly look at HSC6 as the stage for MMA's glorious return, and failing that, at least hope it yields signs that MMA's revival is coming along faster than expected. A Ro4 or finals appearance would get the "he's back" bandwagon going in fourth gear. And if he wins it all, that will be the only thing we'll hear for a week.
III. The Future of Foreign Hope.
Stephano and Scarlett have received the lion's share of the spotlight as top foreigners, but there's plenty of other worthy players who are taking up the cause of foreign hope. In the latter half of 2013, a handful of players have really come into their own. In particular, Monchi, Snute, and BabyKnight will be players to keep an eye out for at HSC6.
Snute and BabyKnight were players who were doing well in online tournaments for quite a while, but only really took off in live tournaments more recently. More so than their actual finishes, the impressive thing about their pair might be their exploits against Koreans in recent tourneys, with Snute taking out GSL champ Life at IPL5, and BabyKnight defeating players like Polt, TheStC, and Rain during WCS and Lone Star Clash.
Of the three, Monchi is the most "out of nowhere" player, surprising everyone by winning IeSF 2012, notably defeating Squirtle in the Ro8. He followed that with a top four run at DreamHack Winter, and then won the EPS winter final. There are sure to be a few hipster fans out there who will say they saw this coming way back when monchi took down Mvp in HomeStory Cup V, and they should now reveal themselves for well deserved pats on the back.
IV. So You Think You Can Cast?
HomeStory is many things at once: a serious tournament, a place for players to chill, a rare reason for anyone to ever visit Krefeld. On top of these things, it's also a place for professional gamers to showcase their ability to cast games, and the pseudo-open casting booth at HSC has even convinced quite a few viewers that professional casters will never match the quality offered by actual pro-gamers.
Plenty of the big hits from the past, Grubby, the MC-MKP-Reis trio, NightEnD, HasuObs, Socke, MoMaN, etc. will be in attendance, and they're sure to deliver the goods again. At the same time, it will be fun to see who steps up this time as the next great caster/entertainer. Take has already pointed out Fuzer to be quite the funny guy, and some of the other HSC first-timers could show their hidden depths. Appearances and in-game play are deceiving as to what someone is like on the mic, and hopefully there will be some pleasant surprises.
V. Fan Favorite All-Stars.
While we like to pretend we prefer fair competition and open qualifiers 95% of the year, we're totally okay with the occasional HomeStory Cup and its thirty-one invite spots. Compared to the insanity that was HSC3 (IdrA, MC, HuK, NaNiwa, ThorZaIN, and White-Ra all at peak popularity), no HomeStory will be able to compare, but #6 still features a pretty impressive line-up.
The headliners are Grubby, White-Ra, DIMAGA, Stephano, MC, MKP, MMA, and TLO, with whom you could already hold a pretty ridiculous eight-man invitational. On top of that you have national stars from various European countries, and some underrated pros who are favorites among elitists, making sure there's someone for everyone to root for.
The unique thing about this particular line-up of all stars is that they might actually do pretty well. Too often in StarCraft, the most popular players aren't the most successful players, but at HSC6, some of the stronger players also happen to be the ones that have the most support. Grubby and Stephano really stand out on the foreigner side in that regard, while MKP, MC, and MMA are some of the best supported Korean players out there.
VI. Korea vs. World
At the heart of any international touranment is the eternal conflict, the one that divides, frustrates, and ultimately drives this scene: Korea vs. everyone. Like any other tournament, HSC is stuck with the paradox of "No one likes Koreans" vs. "No one will take us seriously without Koreans," and thus it will host the imposing but not overwhemling line-up of MarineKing, MC, MMA, and Symbol. It's a great line-up in terms of name value, but they're not the best performing Koreans of the moment, and they appear to be beatable. Then again, a lot of Korean line-ups at foreign tournaments have seemed that way beforehand, only to wipe the floor with foreigners and collect that foreign currency.
In comparison, the international side isn't anywhere near full strength either, but critically, they've retained Stephano for this clash. He's had MC's number in all their recent clashes, and given MMA and MKP's recent woes against Zerg, he should be favored against them as well. And while some of the bigger names like Vortix, Nerchio and Scarlett aren't present, players like BabyKnight, Snute, Grubby, MaNa, Kas, etc. have all had some recent success against Koreans, and should be able to pack a formidable punch. Last, but not least, you have to take into account that it does happen to be twenty-eight to four.
Ro32 Day 1 Preview
The four day spectacle begins with the first four groups of the Ro32. Here's a highly professional preview:
Group A: EG.Stephano.RC, ESC.GoOdy, Mill.Feast, aTn.Socke
Without a Zerg opponent to give Stephano pause in his weak match-up, this group should be a race to second place between Feast, Socke, and GoOdy. While Stephano's been known to get intoxicated from time to time, this is the first group of the first day of the tournament, so we should be seeing a relatively intact Stephano here. Still, even a 100% Stephano does occasionally take an upset loss to well-executed two or three-base all-in play from a European Protoss (SaSe and MaNa say hi), so Feast and Socke might have a chance at taking Stephano down, despite never having beaten him in a TLPD recorded series thus far.
On that note, we bring you the most amusing stat of the group: GoOdy is 6 – 7 against Stephano all time. In fact, he even won their last meeting at Battle in Berlin. To this day, we're not entirely sure how that happened, but the world is a better place because of it. GoOdy fans, feel free to ignore the cries of "but that was over a year ago!" coming from the Stephano fans, and make sure to remind everyone that the Panzer General has the Frenchman's number.
Group B: Liquid`TLO, mouz.MaNa, ToD, aTn.ClouD
As the only one in this group to have won a major title (multiple ones, at that), MaNa quickly sticks out as the favorite to take first place. Recently, he's even finding the consistency that eluded him for most of 2012, stringing together some good finishes in the final quarter of the year at DH Bucharest, ESWC, and DH Winter.
Even so, this still looks to be a competitive group, with ToD, a recently teamless player who should have more motivation than anyone as he seeks to impress a potential employer, ClouD, the outspoken Terran who recently put his career to the test, and TLO, the Liquid Zerg who is finally starting to see the results of his training in Korea.
Of course, all of this is just minor details surrounding the true highlight of this group: The TLO vs. Cloud Grudge match. Tensions were sparked earlier this year when ClouD called out TLO as a player who was bad at the game (10:30), yet a proposed showmatch never materialized. Instead, both players were left to take shots at each other on twitter, with neither side able to replace words with actions. Thankfully, a lucky 'coincidence' has finally seen these two face off in a meaningful tournament, where we will see who gets to call who 'horrible' after all.
Group C: Liquid`Ret, mouz.HasuObs, aG'Fuzer, FXOBabyKnight
The biggest background story in group C would have to be the rise of BabyKnight and the fall of Ret. Six months ago their positions in this group would be reversed, with Ret looking like the favorite to top the group as one of the best non-Korean players, while BabyKnight would be pegged to give it a good fight, but ultimately be eliminated. WCS Europe marks the point where their fortunes crossed, with BabyKnight going on to impress at the WCS World Finals and MLG Dallas, while Ret was eliminated in Stockholm and has only bottom table finishes to show since. For BabyKnight, HSC is a tournament where he'll look to continue his ascent, while Ret will have to look to stop the bleeding.
Joining them is HasuObs, who for better or for worse, hasn't been subject to that kind of fluctuation. HasuObs is one of Germany's best and always a reliable performer, but might be steady to a fault – he's never gotten hot and put together a championship run to define his SC2 career. Now that he's taking on more casting gigs, that goal seems further away. But hey, if Grubby can runner-up at IEM Singapore, then there's some hope for a future player-caster-champion yet.
Finally there's Fuzer, a Terran who's been around for a while but might be most known for bringing some allegedly nasty business at the Ministry of Win house to light. Fuzer got his rent back, but he might have gotten something more valuable out of it as well, that oh-so-hard to attain commodity for any pro-gamer: some goddamn publicity.
Group D: GL.Snute, FnaticRC Naama, SK_MC, Ai.Tarrantius
On the face of it, you'd expect the guy who has won the most money in SC2 and
Strangely enough, it might be MC, and not Snute, who gets snuck up on by the underdogs of the group. MC's been awfully shaky lately, with poor results at IEM Singapore, IPL5, and MLG Fall (where he didn't win any prize money, in shocking fashion for MC). MC's been upset by European tosses quite a few times in his career, which opens the door for him to go out if he should lose Tarrantius and then to either Snute or Naama as well. Obviously, that would be unlikely, but it's something a few fans might be secretly rooting for. After all, MC does happen to be one of the players who can be more entertaining, when he's not playing.