WCS America Season 1 - Premier League
Heartbreakers and Dream Takers
Koreans cruise in week 1
Ro32: Week 2 Preview
Scarlett, HuK, viOLet, Polt, IdrA, and more!
Brackets and standings on Liquipedia
Week 1 Retrospective:
Week 1 Retrospective:
Heartbreakers and Dream Takers
The first week of WCS America has come and gone, and 8 Americans have gone along with it, with 0 players from North, Central, or South America making it out of their groups.
While there weren't high expectations for foreigners going into the first week, fans still held out on a glimmer of hope for a few groups. However, those hopes were all dashed as the Korean Invasion of WCS AM ensued in full force. The first dropships landed in the form of coL.TheStC, and Root Gaming’s ViBE was there to receive him, and while he managed to wound the Complexity Terran by taking a 1-0 lead in their series with a roach-bane timing, he was summarily thrown into the loser’s match as TheStC barreled forward, using MMMM to wear Vibe down until the American buckled under the pressure.
The following day, another ROOT gaming player came close to causing an upset, this time in the form of Chad “Minigun” Jones, who faced off against Quantic’s Apocalypse. Similarly to his Zerg teammate, he managed to start the series off with a 1-0 lead. In game two, he managed to push the Korean Terran’s advances back with a nexus cannon and a line of forcefields, but a rash decision to move out allowed Apocalypse to sneak a group of units into the Protoss’ base and without energy to recall, leading to a disappointing GG. Minigun tried to do a 2-base timing in the rubber match, but Apocalypse once again managed to wriggle a few marines into the base of Minigun while the main army was out and did enough economic damage that the rest of the game was just a clean-up job for Apocalypse.
|TheStC||2 - 0|
|Snute||2 - 1|
|ViBE||1 - 2|
|theognis||0 - 2|
|Nestea||2 - 0|
|Apocalypse||2 - 1|
|Minigun||1 - 2|
|Fenix||0 - 2|
|Alicia||2 - 0|
|mOOnGLaDe||2 - 1|
|Illusion||1 - 2|
|Maker||0 - 2|
|HerO||2 - 0|
|aLive||2 - 1|
|KiLLeR||1 - 2|
|MajOr||0 - 2|
The heartbreak continued as the next day mouz.Illusion looked like he was right on the verge of beating Alicia and advancing first in his group. With the series tied 1 - 1, he decided a proxy 2 rax would be his best shot. Having deduced that the Protoss did not make a starting zealot, his plan worked flawlessly in that regard, as the Protoss had no initial answer to marines as they marched up his ramp along with a train of SCVs. However, Illusion made some preventable errors, and Alicia defended the all-in and came out in a commanding position. From there the game was all but over as the Protoss waltzed two stalkers and a mothership core straight into the Terran’s base and crushed the dreams of many.
Last but certainly not least, was the most unexpected performance of Clarity Gaming’s c.KiLLeR. While his Latin American compatriots were getting eliminated by Koreans and Americans alike, the Zerg player from Chile stepped up his game and was the first foreigner to take an entire series from a Korean. In what was arguably the hardest group for the week, the Chilean Zerg managed to beat EG’s aLive 2-1 with the power of roach rushes, and once more the flame of the Americas was kept burning. Unfortunately, it was extinguished in the next two sets, as HerO bounced KiLLeR to a return match against aLive. This time around, the Korean Terran did not take any chances, beating the Zerg player 2 - 0.
While no one from the Americas managed to actually advance from their group, there will still be a foreign presence in WCS America. Liquid’s Snute and Nv’s mOOnGLaDe both advanced last week, both as their countries' sole representatives in the Premier Division. One could say they are in an even more dire situation than the 'Americans,' who still have four more chances ahead of them this week. Going into the Ro16, Snute and mOOnGLaDe will have to step up their game, as neither player managed to defeat a Korean and the next group stage will no doubt be filled with them.
by Pokebunny, Waxangel, and Wunder
Premier League Ro32: Week 2 Preview
To open up week two, Group D continues the theme of week one: two Americans attempt to stave off the invasion of Koreans. Even worse, the two invaders are members of the StarCraft master race: Korean Terran. Historically, Korean Terrans have been the destroyers of foreign tournaments, somehow always managing to place within the top eight of any tournament they enter outside of Korea.
Things look grim for Suppy and Hellokitty as they face off against Axiom's fearsome Terran duo of Heart and Ryung. Still, don't lose all hope just yet - even if HotS has limited the amount of suspicious ZvT upsets we saw in the last year of Wings of Liberty from foreign Zergs. If this was Wings of Liberty, I might be ready to call Suppy over Heart - but with HotS perfectly supplementing Heart's off-the-wall, super aggressive style with even more strange options to surprise Suppy with, I can't see a part-time American Zerg being prepared for everything Heart has to throw at him. Even should he get into comfortable macro games, ZvT is no longer what it once ways, and Heart is certainly no slouch in the mechanical skills department either. Look for some clever plays from Heart backed by solid macro to take quick victories over Suppy.
At first glance, Kitty's chances appear to be even more slim - Ryung is a hardened veteran of Code S seasons past, while Kitty hasn't had the breakout performances in international tournaments that Suppy has had. Still, Ryung might be one of the better Korean matchups Kitty could draw - with Ryung being historically weak TvP and Kitty showing no hesitation in playing abusive or cheesy strategies to snatch up wins, it isn't entirely out of the question that he could pick up a game or maybe even two. Still, I must once again emphasize that there's a massive hill to climb for Kitty, whose invitation to WCS America was a head-scratcher to begin with.
It's hard to see either Korean failing to advance. Both are players experienced in both the GSL booth and the international scene, and while they may not be major championship winners, they have the skills to get the job done. Despite varying playstyles and possibilities, in the end we should see Ryung and Heart take their place among their Korean brethren in the Ro16 of WCS America.
Suppy < Heart
Hellokitty < Ryung
Heart < Ryung
Suppy > Hellokitty
Heart > Suppy
Ryung and Heart advance.
The one player from the Americas with probably the highest chance of advancing to the Ro16, Acer.Scarlett, takes the stage this week in what could be one of the hotly contested groups in the Ro32. Strangely, two North American players are playing each other to begin, something that hasn't occured throughout the rest of the groups, which means that at least one North American will make it to the winner’s match. While not much has been seen from State after he dropped out of MLG Dallas losing 0 - 3 to PartinG, he did manage to qualify for SHOUTcraft America through his ladder position, which suggests he has kept up on his practice. Scarlett on the other hand, has been making multiple appearances in the Acer Teamstory Cup and the GSTL, picking up wins against Terrans such as Mvp and Apocalypse, and was even setting up to snipe ByuN last week in the GSTL in case Crank fell. She doesn’t have any recorded games against Protoss however, so it remains to be seen how strong her ZvP is in HotS.
On the other side of the group, EG's Oz faces off against America’s Sweetheart Azubu.viOLet in another ZvP. While Oz has been playing often in Proleague, he hasn’t been doing too well, with losses to Zest and even Kop in the last round. He didn’t have a stellar Dreamhack Stockholm run either, with losses to Coca and teammate Jaedong knocking him out of the tournament before the Ro16 brackets. Regardless, he did qualify through the online qualifier, so he has fully earned his spot in this tournament. While Oz has been busy losing to other Koreans, viOLet has been quietly biding his time in HotS so far. Even though the captain of Azubu made his way over to Korea to help his teammates in the GSTL, he has yet to play a single game for his team. This means that he’ll have the element of surprise against Oz and could pull the wool over his eyes. It could also mean he hasn't been doing as well as expected, to be passed over in favor of BBoongBBoong.
This is a tough group to predict, with not many televised games across the four players, and there is always the lingering fantasy of a foreigner victory. With arguably the greatest chance before our eyes, it’s hard to resist giving into the dream and predicting both Scarlett and State to advance. Yes, the odds are stacked against them, and yes, Oz and viOLet are probably going to prove us wrong and crush the dreams of thousands. But, where there is hope, there is a way, and there is most definitely hope.
Scarlett > State
viOLet > Oz
viOLet > Scarlett
Oz > State
Scarlett > Oz
viOLet and Scarlett advance.
Group C brings brings a ton of star power to the table, and for those looking for an opportunity to chant "USA! USA!" there may be no sweeter opportunity than EG.IdrA.RC vs. CMStorm_Polt. On the other side, Mill.Goswser vs. EG.Revival.RC brings another interesting matchup to the table, and while foreign Zergs appear to be struggling more in HotS than WoL, a ZvZ matchup could be a good chance for goswser to prove that he is the best American Zerg.
IdrA will forever be IdrA, and there isn't a whole lot more we can say about him. He has his ups and downs, he can look really strong on the NA ladder, he can look like a raging idiot on the NA ladder, he can beat a top Korean, and he can lose to just about anybody. IdrA never seems to be able to progress past the stage of inconsistently talented, despite showing flashes veteran savvy you'd expect from such an experienced player. If IdrA can be on his game and keep it together for an entire series, there aren't many people he can't beat. Unfortunately, he's going to have to be completely on his game to take out the now personally sponsored Polt. Perhaps the straight-up scariest of the band of Korean Terrans that have chosen to work their way through WCS America, Polt's list of achievements is long and illustrious, especially against foreign players. His strong multitasking and smart bio play should see him excel in the modern state of TvZ, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Polt go all the way in a WCS America field with not too many true superstars.
RevivaL vs. goswser looks like a far less interesting matchup on paper, but in reality, it's pretty difficult to pick a definite winner. RevivaL is certainly no slouch - the ex-TSL Zerg line players have all proven their worth time and time again for their new employers - but goswser is a truly dedicated player who won't back down from a challenge. With good mechanical skill and smart play, goswser is a well-rounded Zerg player that could challenge the Korean domination we've seen thus far. It's hard to get too excited about a ZvZ, but hopefully we at least get an interesting series with some suspense and excitement.
It would be a massive surprise to see IdrA beat Polt, but I wouldn't totally rule it out - history has shown that IdrA can truly rise to the occasion from time to time, despite those instances being far too infrequent for him to be considered a serious title contender. We've seen him take out players like MC and Bomber in their heyday just to fall flat a day later. Goswser almost represents the other side of the American Zerg coin, a skilled player who goes mostly unheralded even when he does manage to take names (at least, compared to IdrA). Once again, the Koreans will be the favorites, but this group could easily become very interesting to follow with just one upset to shake things up.
IdrA < Polt
RevivaL < goswser
Polt > goswser
IdrA < RevivaL
goswser < RevivaL
Polt and Revival advance
The final group of the Ro32 is one of the most diverse ones, featuring players from four different countries and three different continents.
It might sound shocking, but a non-Korean player actually has a case to be called the best player in the group. We rarely get to see Sen play outside of Taiwan, but whenever he does, he always brings top level play capable of taking down Korean players (his 4th place finish at least year's WCS finals was a big reminder). While it's probably a stretch to say he's Code S class, he's definitely shown us enough skill to make us think he could be a regular fixture in Code A and the Up/Down matches.
AX.CranK is the resident Korean in the group, and is probably still the favorite to advance in the eyes of many. He's not a consistent player by any means, but you can give him a pass on that end considering he was deeply embroiled in the SlayerS drama in 2012, and is now juggling the responsibilities of being Axiom's manager-player-coach-captain-chef-driver. He started his HotS career poorly with a bad showing at the ESET UK Masters (losses to HeRoMaRinE, Tefel, and Sting), but has really picked things up since by becoming a vital part of Axiom's team league efforts.
The biggest star and biggest wildcard in this group is EG.HuK.RC. It's easy to underrate HuK, as he has the misfortune of playing a lot of highly publicized matched against very good Korean players. Gumiho and Sniper stomped over him in Code S, Innovation 3 - 0'd him at MLG, and Brood War veteran Light handed him an embarrassing loss in the Proleague. Alright, we get it: HuK can't hang with top level Koreans. But it's not like many foreigners can.
When HuK got a chance to play against a more 'normal' level of competition at DreamHack Stockholm a few weeks ago, he was able to shine. He defeated fan favorites like Polt and Grubby as he went through the group stages, reaching the Ro16 before he was eliminated by Gumiho. Additionally, the reason he earned a Proleague appearance in the first place was because he performed well enough in internal practice, even if he crumbled horribly under pressure once he entered the booth. HuK at his best is definitely more than capable of making it through this group, ESPECIALLY with his vs. Korean match being a PvP.
Finally we have isurus.Capoch, another player given a seed to WCS America due to being a national champion in WCS 2012 (as to why Brazil's Potiguar and Colombia's Adj didn't receive seeds, you'll have to ask someone else). So far in the tournament these seeds have amounted to little more than charity, with the American, Chilean, Mexican, and Peruvian champions all being eliminated. Capoch barely has a chance here at all, but with all the other Latin American representatives gone, he's the only one to rest your hopes on.
Sen > Capoch
Crank > HuK
Sen > Crank
HuK > Capoch
HuK > Crank
Sen and HuK advance.