An Uncertain Landscape
HomeStory Cup will be only the third offline event of the year so far featuring both top level Koreans and foreigners. The competitiveness of KeSPA Cup and the early stages of BlizzCon have only intensified what appears to be a blossoming rivalry between members of the two scenes (Dark might disagree, though). If only in that respect, the much maligned WCS system has borne fruit, and HomeStory Cup’s star studded lineup is poised to serve as further evidence that foreigners are more capable and determined than ever before.
With a number of players fresh off BlizzCon campaigns in attendance, Homestory Cup offers us the first glimpse into a post BlizzCon world. For some, it is an opportunity at redemption, while others seek to build on their success in Anaheim. It is those players that have the most to lose and gain in Krefeld.
Leading the Korean charge is Stats, who put forth a very ardent performance at Blizzcon. He played well, but predictably fell short of the ultimate prize. For a player such as him, who looked supremely solid against those not named ByuN or Dark, Homestory Cup is a chance to exert his dominance on players of a lesser tier, as well as define himself now that neither of the finalists are present.
It might have seemed impossible given his performances to start the year, but Zest is no longer the best Protoss. His defeat at Stats’ hands sent a resounding message to all those watching: “I cannot beat Stats in a macro game”. Maybe he was just trying to take advantage of the (former) team kill dynamic, but his play seemed gimmicky, more bark than bite. Stats exposed the deficiencies in Zest’s play and emerged victorious. It’s notable, however, that Zest has just won the SC2 Cataclysm tournament run by Afreeca on the new balance patch, and looks in ominous form as he sets off on his European trip.
The third point of the once mighty KT trident, TY finds himself in a familiar position. For the umpteenth time, he exists in the shadow of another. Whereas Terrans like Maru, Innovation and now Byun have clearly established themselves as the best in the world in recent years, TY has struggled to do the same—Zest, Dark, Stats, ByuN and Solar have all been viewed as his superior since LotV’s launch at one time or another. Over a decade on from his debut, he’s still searching for his first taste of gold. Still, he is the only Korean still alive in both WESG and Homestory Cup, with the details for IEM Gyeonggi still to be announced. Three more chances for 2016, and it all starts here.
Solar and Patience are largely in the same boat. Both came into BlizzCon with high expectations; both failed to make it to the Anaheim Convention Center. Patience’s fall was more understandable due to his group—he’s not the first Korean to fall to Neeb’s mirror matchup prowess—while Solar’s fate was simply appalling. They’re back in action here though, with Solar in particular looking in hot form off his VSL hard carry performances, and they’ll be trying to return to the level that they’d exhibited during the season 2 of Starleague.
While a fair few foreigners impressed during the opening weekend of BlizzCon, it was ShoWTimE who made the strongest case that he belonged, defeating ByuN and Dear with ruthless efficiency uncharacteristic of the all the stereotypes of the past few years. The hype dissipated as quickly as it gathered, however, as he was summarily dismissed from the tournament by Elazer, who himself suffered a similar fate immediately afterwards.The highs and lows he displayed are indicative of someone with potential, but it remains to be seen how BlizzCon will impact his confidence.
Overall it was a disappointing result for the insectile race with Snute, Solar, viOLet and Nerchio failing to escape the group stage. For a long time Snute has been one of the biggest names in foreign Starcraft. He has shown to ability to rival and even surpass Korean players on many occasions, but during his first trip to BlizzCon, he was unable to escape opening weekend. Losing to Stats was perhaps expected; losing to PtitDrogo certainly not, as his tunnel vision focus on ling bane proved to be his undoing. Perhaps the reduced pressure of a more casual tournament will allow him to reproduce games more representative of the quality he’s shown all year.
Despite most people’s predictions, it turned out to be Elazer who manned the foreigner zerg offensive in the semifinals against his Korean counterpart. His results were further indication of the relentless improvement he’s demonstrated all year long—he’s come far from the player who failed to even make the top 16 of WCS last year (save for Hitman’s forfeit)—and his performances against the WCS elite in particular were noteworthy given his struggles against them throughout the year’s offline competitions. Still, his pair of bops from TY and Dark (0-5 combined) were a stark reminder of just how far he has to go. HomeStory Cup is an opportunity to bolster his budding legacy with many chances to put his impressive PvZ to use.
Meanwhile, the once foreign hope, Neeblet will seek asylum after his debacle on the BlizzCon stage. His entire year was building towards that match with Dark and his rather brusque dismissal could prove to be sizeable blemish in an otherwise prodigous rise. Still, with KeSPA Cup fresh in the memory, it would be harsh to dismiss him after one poor performance. HomeStory Cup is a chance to bounce back quickly in a relatively pressure free environment, and given the number of quality protosses in attendance, we could be in for another PvP masterclass.
The rest of the field is not to be overlooked either. Perennial attendees like Harstem, TLO and Scarlett are back for another circuit, while flashy, crowd-pleasing Koreans such as sOs, Rogue, and aLive will be making their debuts, promising good games and good times. HomeStory Cup is an event which always unites Korean and foreigner players and fans alike through a sense of community that is second to none. The fourteenth iteration promises to do so all over again.
What would HomeStory Cup be without embarrassing drunken antics? If you've watched hour after hour of alcohol-fuelled awkwardness in the past while thinking that you'd like to join in, here's your chance to join the debauchary!
- 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
- Caster plugs MIFcom - Buy one of their products. Then down your drink
- Awkward Christmas presents are given out - One shot per present
- 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: Rogue, aLive
Group B: TY, Namshar
Group C: Stats, uThermal
Group D: Patience, PtitDrogo
Group E: Snute, Neeb
Group F: Solar, SortOf
Group G: sOs, MarineLorD
Group H: Zest, Elazer