WCS Europe Season 1 - Premier League
Ro32: Group A Preview
ForGG, SaSe, Slivko, Bunny
Brackets and standings on Liquipedia
Premier League Ro32:
Premier League Ro32:
Group A Preview
Welcome to the main event! While there's been enough drama going on to appease even the most ravenous consumer of strife, there's also a StarCraft II tournament that's about to start. Sure, WCS 2013 technically did start when WCS Korea kicked off, but that was more an continuation of the GSL doing what it's done so well for the past two years.
Now it's time to get our first look at how ESL, Blizzard's partner in the European region, takes on the challenge of producing one of the most ambitious leagues ever.
Duke of the North
Group A could be called the group of untapped potential, filled with players that suffer from inconsistency, a lack of HotS results, poor publicity, or a combination of all three. Fnatic.SaSe is the poster boy of the group. We've heard countless times that he is one of the best European players and a creative build-maker who is a threat to even the feared Koreans. However, besides one remarkable top four run at MLG Spring Championship in 2012, SaSe has had trouble living up to that reputation, and has become just as known as a talented but underachieving player.
It's hard to know what WCS Europe will bring for SaSe. While he's been on a tear in Taiwan's TeSL, his results against world competition has been a mixed bag: a 4-kill against team NrS in the TeamStory qualifiers, losses to herO and TaeJa in MLG tournaments, and a 4 - 4 record in the all-Swedish Esport SM qualifier.
WCS Europe will be one of Sase’s biggest chances to snatch the crown from one of his Northern rivals. He has spent a large amount of time in Taiwan, training on the Korean server, which one would think gives him a considerable advantage over the other three players in his group who have been playing on EU, but we'll have to see how it plays out. Sase’s lack of tournament exposure in the weeks immediately prior gives him a small, second advantage in being slightly less revealed, and he could bring devilishly creative builds to the table.
This is the biggest tournament SaSe has had to prepare for in a long time, and he could very well stomp his opponents with a combination of trickery and standard play to snatch a place in the Round of 16.
A player who has been fairly under the radar in HotS is the Russian Zerg, VPBenQ.sLivko. In fact, the last time we saw him in a big HotS tournament was before the expansion was even released, when he had a relatively poor performance at the IEM World Champioship in March. After that he's had few online matches, but for the most part it's very difficult to say this or that about Slivko's skill in HotS.
While we can't say whether or not Slivko was deserving of the title, he was one of the players most frequently called a 'patchzerg' in WoL. What we CAN say was that he was certainly good at utilizing the advantages Zerg had then, turtling up behind walls of spines and spores while patiently putting together his brood lord-infestor combination (almost like a poor man's Symbol). With that style of play now rendered ineffective, his performance here will be decided by how well he has taken on the new Zerg of HotS. Even among GSL finalists we've seen contrasting degrees of adjustment, with RorO and Symbol going on strong while Sniper and HyuN have struggled. It will be interesting to see where Slivko falls.
On one final note, we couldn't mention Slivko without posting this twitter conversation with Beastqt. We can't tell if they're kidding around or being totally serious, but either way we were very entertained.
+ Show Spoiler [Twitter Enriches Our Lives] +
The Makes Hellbats Advantage
Bunny, the Danish Terran player with Copenhagen Wolves, is without a doubt the dark horse (or should I say rabbit?) of the group, if not the entire tournament. With the single elimination bracket format of the qualifiers, one hugely unknown player was bound to jump through the qualifiers, and Bunny ended up taking that spot. From what we saw of Bunny in the qualifiers, he had a fancy hellbat drop based mech style against the Protoss he faced. But without much to go on besides that, his current skill level much like the other players in Group A, is hard to judge.
His path through the qualifiers did not contain too many notable players, with Welmu and the MVP Korean finale definitely being the strongest out of all the opponents Bunny beat. Both of them are good at macro PvT, so that does speak for Bunny's TvP skills. A lot of foreigners seem to be struggling against the incisive hellbat drop play Bunny has shown a preference for, so that might be a huge boost to his chances of making it into the next round. While he's a massive underdog against his first opponent ForGG, if he keeps up the level of play we saw in the EU qualifiers he can definitely make thing hairy for Slivko and Sase and keep up his reputation as the surprise of the tournament.
The resident Korean of the group is ladder monster Mill.ForGG, who has set up shop in France for an extended period. His play in the past few months has been shaky at best – some point to his extended stay in Europe as the cause – losing to a surprising amount of Europeans for someone who was a former Code S player. However, ForGG has been on absolute fire in the last week, defeating TaeJa, HerO, Nerchio, MMA, and Scarlett in the ATC.
ForGG has been known for exceptionally good TvT when compared with his other matchups, but nobody expected him to take out Liquid's super-ace twice. He then 4-killed Acer in the next Millenium match, saving his team from a 1 - 3 deficit. While he was always going to be the favorite in this group, he now has momentum going for him as well.
Still, ForGG fits the theme of untapped potential as he's been struggling for a while to get the big, premier tournament win he desires in StarCraft II. He had one of the most remarkable tournament runs in Brood War when he won the Arena MSL, but he keeps falling short in the sequel. While he came close in Dreamhack Valencia, being one game away from defeating TaeJa for the championship, he ended up learning the bitter lesson that no one cares about who came in second.
His opening match against Bunny should not prove to be too difficult, as his strong TvT should shine through. However, it is ForGG we are talking about, who has been notoriously inconsistent in recent times, so he's definitely not off the list candidates to suffer a shock upset.
As stated before, ForGG should have no real trouble with Bunny due to his strong TvT, and being maybe 27 times more accomplished than Bunny. I predict Sase to beat Slivko, just because HotS has a lot of harassment based additions which complements the Swedish Protoss’ style nicely. From there I predict ForGG to beat Sase, if he plays like he did against HerO, and Bunny to beat Slivko because hellbat drops are looking rather unstoppable. Then in the final match Bunny will narrowly win against Sase with two hellbat drops in a row that cause the LR thread to become Atlantis, sinking under a sea of tears.
ForGG > Bunny
Sase > Slivko
ForGG > Sase
Bunny > Slivko
Bunny > Sase
ForGG and Bunny advance.