Auteur : James "Kaelaris" Carrol
Blizzard SC2 WCS EU - The Journey So Far
Blog by Kaelaris - Knight of eSports
The World Championship Series so far can be described using many words, but one that springs to mind straight away is “Extravaganza”. Blizzard has not only given a chance to everyone to participate at an equal level, but has also given existing eSports communities and organizations the opportunity to involve themselves as well. Whether it be the qualification process or the ability to practice the map pool on ladder, the WCS’ system has been thought out from start to finish with the community in mind. We’re nowhere near finished despite already having seen so many great games, so many storylines emerging and a plethora to come. Let’s take a look what’s taken place so far and what’s to come.
Our first stop was the Italy Nationals, with a prize pool of $5,000 and 2 spots up for grabs at the WCS Europe Final. A large multitude of people went into this event with one clear favourite, ClouD, the international super-star of the Italian scene looking to take a tournament that, in some regard, his tournament to win. In expected fashion, ClouD kicked things off with a couple of 2-0’s, including against StarEagle, knocking him down to the lower bracket. However, with ClouD’s weakest matchup statistically being TvT, StarEagle would eventually meet ClouD again in the lower bracket final, eliminating him and relegating ClouD to third place. JeaL and StarEagle duked it out in the final in an extremely close two series but in the end, despite a valiantly fought back deficit, JeaL was able to surprise everyone and take the 1st place.
WCS Italy Nationals: JeaL and StarEagle advance to the WCS Europe Final.
Next up we took an excursion to the Poland Nationals, where most would consider the average level of play to be a little bit higher than that of Italy. Stepping it up in terms of skill ran parallel with a step up in prize pool, with $10,000 up for grabs as well as the 2 spots for the WCS Europe Final. Players like DieStar, Slider, Forte and Tefel participated however the main story here was that of two players who are already considered to be Poland’s no.1 and 2, Nerchio and MaNa. For context, Nerchio and MaNa have met one-another many times before, Since early 2011 they’ve played around 26 times in tournament play, and only 6 of those games have fallen in MaNa’s favour. Nerchio has had his number for a long time, and always somehow manages to penetrate the defenses with Zerglings early on. Would MaNa be able to overcome the curse and defeat his national rival?
Meeting in the winners bracket final we had Nerchio yet again be able to clinch a 2-0 victory via zergling harassment early past incomplete walls, sending MaNa down to the losers bracket to fight his way through to the final. As MaNa once again went up against the Swarm he had an absolute mountain to climb, requiring 2 Bo3 wins against Nerchio. MaNa though was able to claw his way through the first Bo3, battling past the Mutalisk play to take a convincing 2-0. However, going into the last series Nerchio was able to get Zerglings in early to once again punish the Protoss once again, eventually sealing his #1 position as the Poland Champion.
WCS Poland Nationals: Nerchio and MaNa advance to the WCS Europe Final.
Swiftly on to the Belgium Nationals and Netherlands Nationals now as we had the top three from each country grace us with their presence in the brand new ESL studio. This tournament was a prime example of the WCS magical format in play. The ability to put players on huge stages where they may not necessarily be able to attain elsewhere was absolutely fantastic, as relative unknowns Makouni and uThermal both battled for National pride respectively. The powerhouses were out in force with Orly and ELVIS also representing Belgium, while Grubby and Ret were there to represent the Netherlands. Surprisingly, Feast was unable to participate due to study conflicts so this left the field open for other contenders on the podium.
Launching things into action was the Belgium Nationals, young hopefuls, all three vying for that lone spot at the WCS Europe Finals, their share of $2,000 and most importantly, becoming the National Champion. Impressive PvZs to kick things off (including Ultralisks) resulted in the Protoss Makouni failing to achieve, resulting in a short lived ZvZ final but one thing was for certain, Orly deserved to be crowned the National Champion after the tournament he’d played.
WCS Belgium Nationals: Orly advances to the WCS Europe Final.
Second in store for us was the Netherlands Nationals, where again we had $2,000 up for grabs but this time we had 2 spots open for the WCS Europe Final. uThermal had switched from Protoss to Terran just two or three weeks before the tournament, giving him a great insight into his first match against Grubby, however with his stylistic mech/banshee style, he was unable to take a win off the Protoss, falling down to the losers bracket to take on Ret. There we saw uThermal take a quick 1-0 off Ret with a abusive bunker placement on Daybreak, however Ret was able to then crush the Terran in the next two games, advancing to the Final to play Grubby once again.
They’d already met previously in the brackets where Grubby used 2 base pushes to knock Ret down to the losers bracket, so our Zerg came into this final with that weight upon his shoulders, as well as having to win 2 Bo3’s instead of 1. Grubby brought back the strong 2 base assaults once again to bewilder Ret, taking the first series off him and crowning himself the Netherlands National Champion, his first big tournament victory.
WCS Netherlands Nationals: Grubby and Ret advance to the WCS Europe Final.
Venturing forth we arrived for the Spain Nationals, a country with a smaller eSports community but for what they lack in size, the make up for in raw passion and tight bonds. The majority of people went into the Spain Nationals with one Internationally recognised superstar in mind, Lucifron of the house Duran, whose recent performances at The Gathering and SCAN Invitational secured him many a fan. With an even spread in terms of race distribution and some names looking to upset, the Spain Nationals began and ended with a bang.
Aside from moving into the finals, one player flying through the bracket and even knocking VortiX down to the losers bracket was Alastor, dominating the ZvZs with his extremely aggressive style. Eventually Alastor would end up taking on VortiX again, with the 2nd brother of house Duran looking for revenge. VortiX was able to bring a little more macro to the volatile matchup, clinching himself the victory and the chance to face off against his sibling in the final. With VortiX coming from the losers bracket, he had to take 2 Bo3s off his brother Lucifron, and instantaneously we saw in game 1 the highest level play of the entire tournament. However, despite a valiantly fought effort, the powerhouse that is Lucifron was able to take the 2-0, securing himself the throne as the Spain Champion.
WCS Spain Nationals: LucifroN and VortiX advance to the WCS Europe Final.
Lastly, for now anyway, we moved on to the Germany Nationals, where one could say that more was on stake than ever before in the SC2 WCS. Not only would there be $15,000 up for grabs, the Germany Champion title and 4 spots at the WCS Europe Final, but there would also be 1 cuvetted spot open for a direct seed into the 2012 Battle.net World Championship. With the caliber of player that Germany breeds, the lineup was incredibly stacked, not only with International phenomenons such as Socke, HasuObs, Delphi and Darkforce, but also young national hopes such as KrasS, Marine and DBS.
Those young national hopes in question turned out to be some of the most impressive stories of the tournament. Firstly DBS outclasses GoOdy with superior preparation to bring the thunder against the Panzer General, analysing him inch by inch in order to pull out the victory and the upset. KrasS moving on to take 4th place via amazing unit control and decision making all tournament long against extremely stiff competition. The 14 year old prodigy Marine being able to make it to the top 8, taking down Protoss after Protoss with his extremely punishing 2 base style. Despite 2 of these 3 players not advancing further, they certainly gained themselves a tonne more fans with their impressive play and determination.
As the final drew closer, so too did the tyrants of the German scene. Darkforce, Socke and HasuObs poised themselves for the top three, but who had the metal to pull through? Darkforce had already been knocked into the Losers Bracket by his teammate, and with Hasu sending Socke plummeting into the Losers Final, they would have to duke it out again. Darkforce was unable to defeat a Socke who was able to vary up his play wildly, making it extremely difficult for our Zerg brethren to pull out the win. As Socke advanced, having to win 2 Bo3s to take the Germany Championship, Hasu’s nerves got the best of him, as well as Socke’s 1 Gate Expand, to secure the trophy and that World Championship seed.
WCS Germany Nationals: Socke*, HasuObs, DaRkFoRcE and KrasS advance to the WCS Europe Final. *Socke placing 1st gains direct seed into the 2012 Battle.net World Championship.
The road for Europe dominance is far from over though. We still have stops in France, the Combined Europe Nationals, the Ukraine, Russia and the Scandinavian countries to determine who will meet the already qualified players in the WCS Europe Final. With players like NightEnD, Beastyqt, WhiteRa, Kas, TiTaN and Happy waiting in the wings, the upcoming events are sure to be as impressive as the rest.
As an Author’s note, it’s been an absolute pleasure to be part of this tournament series, and my love for the concept as a whole led me to write this wrap-up article here at a “mid-point” of the qualification process for the WCS Europe Finals. Thanks for reading guys and you can catch me at @mouzKaelaris on twitter and /Kaelaris on facebook.