Brackets and standings on Liquipedia
We’re coming up to a big stretch of tournaments lined up in the near future. Dreamhack Valencia is looming in mid-July; IEM Shanghai a mere fortnight after that; and WCS Summer caps off the tour after another couple of weeks off. What better time is there then to get some tournament practice while meeting up with a few friends? Yes, it’s time for our biannual trip to Krefeld, and the addictive concoction that is their signature blend of Starcraft, alcohol and awkwardness.
If you’d like to join in the debauchary, we’d like to propose a drinking game:
- The Rules:
- TL Prediction is 100% right - Take a shot
- TL Prediction is right but in the wrong order - Drink your chaser and then take a shot
- TL Prediction is 50% right - Mix two drinks together and take a shot
- TL Prediction is 0% right - Down your drink
- Player calls out prediction on stream, gets eliminated - Refill your glass and down it
- Player calls out prediction on stream, advances - Post on TL to laugh at us
- Production delays the final for two hours to show an awkward SC2 music video - Chug the bottle
I will not comment on accusations that I’m botching the predictions to get everyone drunk. As ever, please drink responsibly.
Group A is actually one of the toughest in the competition. There’s no doubt that Snute should come into this as the heavy favourite. 2nd at WCS Winter, 2nd at WCS Shanghai, and a top 4 finish at DH Austin is one of the most impressive 2016 resumés in the WCS scene, even if it was undercut slightly by a shock first round exit at WCS Spring to Guru. That said, it’ll be interesting to see if the current TvZ trend of terran dominance in Korea translates to the more zerg-infested foreign scene; MaSa has finally started to deliver on his promise with consecutive top 4s in Austin and Tours.
In addition to the two heavy hitters, you can never truly write Stephano off; after all, four years on from his prime, he’s still the greatest foreigner to have touched the game. He’s probably coming into this drunk, unmotivated, and having not touched Starcraft for ages, but he’ll still probably embarass someone at least once. PtitDrogo rounds off the list, and he’s coming into this with something to prove. He’s had quite a few high profile failures since his landmark win at DH Leipzig, struggling hard with PvT in particular. Progression might still be hard though—he’ll have to beat at least one of Snute or MaSa—and it’ll be interesting to see if he’s been improving his PvZ or fixing his PvT.
Snute and MaSa to advance.
Group B is the home of four players still looking to prove themselves in the 2016 scene. After a great start to LotV, with a top 3 finish at DH Winter and a runners up medal at HSC XII, FireCake has fallen off the top rung of the ladder. There’s no doubt that he’s ranked below the top echelon of zergs right now—Nerchio, Snute, Hydra—as well as the top performers of the other races. In particular, it’ll be interesting to see if he’s stuck to his roach ravager style in ZvT, which is currently antiquated in the Korean meta at least. Either way, Dayshi will do well to overcome a zerg who beat Polt at DH Austin. The French terran has gone under the radar so far in 2016, with early exits in all his offline appearances. It’s been quite a while since he was the consistent WCS Premier performer of 2013/14, and for all the talk of ‘promise’, he’s still yet to deliver. His game against Polt at WCS Winter comes to mind; getting himself into a great position in the early game on Dusk Towers, before his decision-making ability simply falling apart as Polt began his comeback. In one of the few tournaments he’s qualified for this year so far, he’ll be looking to make more of an impact.
MaNa’s another player who’ll be severely disappointed by his Legacy performances so far. He ended his HotS career with a Bo7 match to see if he could become the first foreign Premier tournament winner since Sen; he enters HSC nearly a year on as an outsider to qualify from his Ro.32 group. He simply hasn’t impressed at all at any of the tournaments he’s attended—an 0-3 elimination in the Ro.16 by HuK at WCS Winter, for example—and he hasn’t qualified for anything since. On the other hand, Elazer has gone from strength to strength in LotV, but there’s still a sense that he’s ‘that Polish zerg who’s worse than Nerchio’. While being worse than Nerchio is hardly an insult, it must still be galling to Elazer that he’s yet to emerge from his countryman’s shadow. He might have established himself as a consistent Ro.16 / Ro.8 player right now, but there’s no doubting that he wants more.
Elazer and FireCake to advance.
Group C is headlined by the current WCS Champion. It’s hard to know what to think of ShoWTimE’s route to the trophy last time round. Beating SortOf, Guru, viOLet and MaSa is hardly the hardest run to the final that we’ve ever seen (even if he looked pretty good in doing so), although his eventual 4-3 victory over Nerchio put some of those doubts to bed. Still, the last time he had a performance this good was in WCS S1 last year, and he subsequently dropped off the map for the rest of the year—let’s hope that he doesn’t go for a repeat. Joining him is a player he beat in the first match of WCS Spring. SortOf actually pushed him pretty hard, going up 2-1 in a messy series before ShoWTimE closed out the win. He’s got a pretty friendly group draw here, and despite his mediocre 2016 so far, could be hopeful of advancing.
NoRegreT is one of the most interesting conundrums present at this event. Along with Scarlett, he’s one of the only foreigners to have truly taken advantage of the 2016 WCS format. The switch from a league format to a weekender-centric calendar means that for the first time, there are no negatives to basing yourself in Korea and attempting to qualify for one of the starleagues, especially if you’ve managed to snag yourself a spot in the MVP teamhouse. His GSL and SSL campaigns may have ended inches away from a spot in Code A / the SSL Challenge, but it’s time to see whether he can apply what he’s learnt to the foreign scene. As with all the groups, there’s a token terran present as well. While Bunny was once the de facto foreigner terran champ, he’s fallen hard since his HotS glory days. Poor performances at WCS Winter and Spring give little confidence for him here.
ShoWTimE and SortOf to advance.
Group D is one of the weakest of the 8, and there’s no doubt that uThermal is the player that everyone’s looking at to advance. Once a player who dominated online while failing at LAN, his run at DH Leipzig was fuel for all his fans praying that he’d eventually overcome his anxiety issues. WCS Spring may have been a setback—a poor 0-3 loss to Polt—but maybe the more relaxed atmosphere at HSC will inspire him to deliver. You could say the same for the next player in the group as well—while Lambo hasn’t accrued nearly the same online credit as uThermal, he’s certainly proved that he’s a threat when in the comfort of his home setup, while he’s yet to translate that to any results offline. He’s made it to the past two HomeStory Cups, being eliminated in the first group stage in 3rd place on both occasions; can he go one better here?
Namshar is a player who’s existed at the fringes of the EU pro scene in the past couple of years. Whether it’s his triplet of Dreamhack Ro.64 exits and his sole appearance in WCS (loss to TLO in Challenger) in 2014, his Ro.32 / 48 tournament exits in 2015, or his Ro.32 exit at DH Leipzig, Namshar’s never really impressed the few times his games were actually televised. That all changed at DH Austin, with his landmark top 8 finish, with wins over Guru, JonSnow and Harstem. Time to see if he’s broken some mental barrier with that achievement, or if he’ll slip out unnoticed again. NightEnD was once a staple of the EU scene in WoL, but similarly to Namshar simply hasn’t shown up in late HotS / LotV. He’s a player with a storied history in Starcraft (if not quite a successful one), but even in his prime, NightEnD was regarded as a solid Ro.16/32 player. Now, in only his third tournament since mid-2014, can he overcome his limitations?
uThermal and Lambo to advance.
There’s no doubt that among all 32 players here, one stands out in particular. Yes, TRUE’s here to wave the Korean flag. We’ve had twelve HSCs so far, and not since HSC VI have we had a foreign winner at one (Symbol’s silver curse paying off there); three for TaeJa, one each for PartinG, Rain and MMA. There’s a proud tradition to uphold, and TRUE’s got a task on his hands if he wants to keep the killstreak going. This will actually be our first chance to gauge the nature of the foreigner / KR split in 2016; TRUE is currently a player on the Code A / Code S boundary, and for the first time in the year, we'll see a player come fresh off Korean competition into a foreign tournament. Coming so soon off his Code A ZvT win against CJ_Bunny, it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on against HeRoMaRinE. The German has been missing for most of LotV, and his sole offline appearance came 6 months ago in the previous HSC. As ever, he’s been excelling in the local German scene, but whether he can convert that to international results will again be his true test.
With all the hype surrounding the Lilbow-MaNa final last year, everyone seems to have forgotten about Zanster. The Swede was the third of the three non-Korean semifinalists back in WCS S3 2015, and much like the other two, has faded into obscurity once Legacy kicked into gear. He’s yet to attend any tournaments in 2016, and will have to go some distance to regain the ‘Best Swede’ title, let alone be ranked once more as a tournament contender. Finally, rounding off the group is another of the growing group of developing Frenchmen. DnS might not have any offline results worth mentioning, but he’s been tipped as an up-and-comer in his native scene. His HSC qualifying run included several results over more established opposition (PtitDrogo, Lilbow, Tefel), while he’s generally been performing pretty well in local competitions when the big name French players aren’t present. A specialist in more macro-focussed games, this is his big break.
TRUE and HeRoMaRinE to advance.
After his ban from WCS events for wintrading, this’ll be the first time we’ll have seen MarineLorD for quite some time. For a player who’s admitted publically that his esports career is all about money, missing all those tournaments will have been painful. It’ll be interesting to see in what state MarineLorD will turn up—whether the anger at his ban will have galvanised him into practicing enough to make up for his tournament deficit, or if he turns up jaded from the experienced. In top form, he’ll certainly be a contender. Joining him is a player who’s gone through more ups and downs than pretty much everyone in the foreign scene. It’s hard to truly gauge where Scarlett stands at the moment. Much like NoRegret, she comes to Krefeld from Korean competition, falling in both starleague qualifiers. Her WCS Spring performance was neither here nor there—a close 3-2 win over FireCake, followed by Nerchio outclassing her 3-1.
Joining them is a player who’s been missing for a while now. Welmu’s definitely been one of the more established stars of the EU scene historically, but has been less than impressive so far in Legacy. His sole appearance in offline LotV came at DH Leipzig (0-3 elimination in the Ro.32 by viOLet), and he’s a long time separated from his 2014 heyday. He’s been overtaken as the Finn du jour by Serral. While the teenager has also struggled in Legacy (0-3 elimination by FireCake in the WCS Winter Ro.32; failed qualification for WCS Spring), he’s also registered one result of note—a top 8 finish at DH Leipzig. There’s still a sense that the hype surrounding him currently outweighs the results he’s actually put on the table, but here’s a chance for him to prove people right.
MarineLorD and Scarlett to advance.
Everyone looking at Group G probably has exactly the same prediction for 1st place. There’s no doubt that Nerchio has earnt his place as one of the most feared players in Europe. From his consistency on LAN (top 4 at WCS Winter, top 8 at WCS Shanghai, 2nd at WCS Spring) to his dominance online, there’s no getting around the fact that he’s one of the very best that the continent has to offer. Still, the lack of a trophy must be niggling at him. He’s had a few tournaments this year where he’s been eliminated by the eventual winner (MMA at HSC XII, Polt at WCS Winter, ShoWTimE at WCS Spring), and while that shows that he’s coming close, it’s also showing that he’s falling short each time. Coming back to the tournament where he registered his first premier tournament victory, he’ll want to put one on the board for 2016.
In direct contrast, Lilbow comes into the tournament distinctly unfancied. The BlizzCon memes and jokes train just keeps on rolling, and probably will only stop if and when he finally returns to championship contending form. He hasn’t looked good at all since the switch—Ro.32 and Ro.16 exits in all premier tournaments so far—and nothing points to a return to 2015 here. Much like Lilbow, TLO has struggled hard with Legacy following the switch. His consistency throughout HotS from start to finish was one of the marvels of the foreign scene, but all that’s deserted him following all the changes. Finally, DeMusliM has put his casting career to the side for another crack at a tournament. He might not have any notable results since 2014, but did anyone really doubt that he’d be back? He’ll have to go some way to repeat his bafflingly successful run at HSC XII, making the Ro.16 over Lambo and Scarlett.
Nerchio and TLO to advance.
While it’s hard to argue 2016 has been ‘the Year of Harstem’, there’s no doubt that it’s been by far his best year yet. After all, he is a champion now, taking home the big prize from WCS Shanghai. All that elation though is perhaps a little premature; he might finally have a result to be deservedly proud of, but that tournament is surrounded by a set of below-par results (Ro.32 exits at HSC XII, WCS Winter and WCS Spring; Ro.16 exits at DH Leipzig and Austin).
Fortunately for Harstem, he’s surrounded by a group of players who have similarly failed to set the world on fire just yet. The Polish terran souL will be in Germany for his first offline event of LotV. He’s had no other offline experience at all in SC2 apart from a failed appearance in WCS Challenger in S2 2015, but he’s been a regular in the weekly EU cup scene. Guru probably would have been included in that same bracket were it not for his win over Snute at WCS Spring, and the noted ZvZ expert will probably be more than a little disappointed by the terrans and protosses he shares the group with. Meanwhile GunGFuBanDa is another player with scattered results in 2015 (Top 16 / Top 8 finishes in WCS S2 and S3) but is yet to transform that into results in LotV. It’s likely that Harstem will take first place in the group, but it’s a bit of a toss up for second place.
Harstem and Guru to advance.
Photos: Red Bull
Photos: Red Bull