At the moment, Creator is probably the favourite to win the global finals. With an impressive win at WCS Korea, and after winning TSL4, he's shown that he is still probably the best online player in the world. The only things preventing that from becoming a reality are his nerves at live events. WCS Asia will take place over 2 days in a bloody gauntlet in China, and if Creator doesn't go in with a calm mind, he could easily be taken out by one of the other top players.
All that said, even with his nerves, Creator is a beast. With his PvZ and PvT hovering around 60% and his PvP considerably higher, he's certainly no slouch and is one of the more consistent players in the Korean scene. His Up and Downs failures have been masked by victory in Code A and he looks to be bouncing back in preparation for another season of Code S. But this isn't the GSL and on foreign ground where he's at his weakest, will Creator have what it takes to overcome his greatest opponent: himself?
Squirtle may not have won WCS Korea, but he came close. He's been konging his way all around the world for a while now, never managing to win the final series. What should comfort him though is that the top 6 players at WCS Asia all get seeds to the finals, so even if he doesn't win, he could still have a shot at the global finals. Squirtle's a really cool guy with consistent play in all 3 match-ups and some of the world's best PvP. Given how Protoss-heavy WCS Asia is, that's a pretty handy skill to have.
Squirtle's shown that he can compete with pretty much any player in the world, the only question is how far can he get at WCS Asia. He goes in as one of the favourites, ready to smash some skulls and fight his way through the bracket. He has experience with the Chinese scene through participation in a couple of their leagues, so hopefully he'll be able to put up a decent showing, even against some of their more interesting playstyles. Squirtle is an all-around solid player, and going in to this he should be hoping for a top 6 placement.
Arguably the scariest player in the world right now with Semi-Finals appearances in GSL and OSL in his first few months of sc2, Rain will be the nightmare that many players need to overcome. But he isn't unbeatable, he's just a different playstyle to learn and to outplay. Given that he'll be preparing for just about every matchup across 3 tournaments at the same time, it's likely that at least a handful of players will be learning his style off by heart and working on ways to stop it.
But on paper, Rain remains one of the favourites, almost untouchable by mere mortals. He has an 80% win rate in PvT, 70% against zerg and only slightly lower against protoss, with great series results in his recent tournament matches. What's steadily becoming clear is that Rain is a master of preparing for opponents in big Starleague style matches. But WCS is no starleague, and he'll be up against an army of relatively unknown Asian players who all have entirely unique styles. If he can use his game sense to get a feel for them, he'll be the bulldozer to watch out for at WCS, because he isn't stopping for anyone.
I debated for a while whether to put Seed or Parting as a Heavyweight here, and I eventually settled on Seed. Both are top players who've shown fantastic play for the past few months, but Parting's specialisms lie in PvT, whereas Seed is becoming known as a Zerg-killing specialist. WCS Asia has very few Terrans, but a sea of zergs for Seed to eat his way through.
Not to say that Seed's PvT is lacking, as it hovers just below 60%, as does his PvP, whereas his PvZ is significantly higher. Seed looks, on paper, to be very strong. Goign in to the tournament he has the potential to go a very long way, but with noticeable cracks in his PvP, he's goign to struggle when it comes to fighting with the other heavyweights, particularly the Korean Protosses that slammed him at WCS Korea.
Comm's a really interesting player to look at. A few months ago, he was fairly unknown, even in China where his results weren't consistently top-tier. In 2011, his only massive results were a Semi-final loss to Marineking in the Gview invitational and Ro8 losses to F91 and Loner in WCG China and G-League. Certainly for most people, particularly those outside of China, he was completely off the radar. Then he won WCS China.
The most interesting thing of all is that, disregarding his WCS performance, he has losing records in every match-up. But that didn't stop him from going 10-1 to win WCS China without anybody really ever touching him, not even the best China has to offer. The only question that remains is whether or not he'll be able to maintain this streak against the top koreans. To them he remains a wild card; they have little knowledge of his playstyle or his power. When WCS Asia comes around, it'll be his time to show them just how powerful he is.
For those of you who've followed Roro's career, you probably don't think he's an underdog. He's pretty good at what he does. (That is, crushing just about anybody he gets close to.) But he's a long way from being at the top just yet, he's got to get a couple more major showings. Roro took fourth place at WCS Korea, and he's advanced the the second round of Code A. But right now he's not inspiring the same amount of enthusiasm that he did when he first exploded on to the scene.
He has relatively few games on record, but he's got a 75% ratio against terran and a 70% ratio against protoss. His ZvZ is the only matchup he's lacking in with a roughly 50% win rate. WCS Asia has a lot of Protosses, but it also has a lot of zergs. If he can master playing against the Chinese style of ZvZ then he should be able to overcome his biggest weakness going in to the tournament, but the question remains: does he still have the power to create the energy he created at WCS Korea?
Toodming's been on fire recently, however you look at it. With second place finishes in G League and WCS China, he's beginning to get a reputation as a Chinese Kong, but his results have been pretty sensational either way. He's consistently at the top of G League (season 3 semi-finalist and season 4 finalist, showing close games both times), and only really loses to Koreans, except for his losses to Comm at WCS China. As such, he's starting to look like one of the most consistent Chinese players.
But Koreans are still his biggest weakness: His 70% ZvT only really matches his against Lyn and no other Koreans, and if he wants to actually make a showing at WCS Asia, he'll really need to topple some of the Korean masters. But with his team, iG, beginning to explode out on to the esports scene with a victory at the international 2, they'll be looking to get him the win here. Taking the WCS global finals would be a massive victory for iG, and there's no doubt that they'll be aiming for it.
Macsed is another iG player with a great track record. Showing potential for a slump earlier in 2012, he's now beginning to get back in to his groove, winning Starswar 7 and managing to make an insane run through the losers' bracket at WCS China, taking down Xigua and Loner along the way. He's certainly one of the top players in China at the moment, but like all the foreigners competing at WCS Asia, will he have what it takes to play with the Koreans?
Macsed doesn't really have much recent history against korea, but he has promising results against some lesser Koreans. If he steps up his game at WCS Asia, and uses the home field advantage to his fullest, he could have a chance at being another strong prospect for iG.
The herO with the little "h" and the big "O" is one of my underdogs to look out for. He's become fairly overlooked since his losers' bracket run at WCS Korea, but he has all the potential to really make a splash at WCS Asia. Many people don't seem to have noticed his smashing of Rain in Proleague, or his insane ratings in every matchup (at least 65% in each but with a small sample size.) There's no doubt that he can grapple with the kings, the only question is if he has the endurance and confidence to run the gauntlet.
With tons of top tier players at WCS Asia, the preparation players will be trying to tackle to big questions: "How do I beat creator's 2 forge style?" "Just what will protect me against Rain?" but they might miss out on this little upstart. herO has all the potential to make a few upsets here, including taking down some of the big names, and he's shown an amazing abaility to bounce back in WCS Korea, so he could well be one of the Asian Seeds; all he needs to do is turn up and surprise everybody.
I really wanted to avoid the archetypical response of only picking Koreans and Chinese players. So I had a good look at the list and looked for a player who really stood out as a potential dark horse. I settled on RedArchon. He's been around forever, and with relatively okay results. That said, he isn't doing amazingly right now. His second place at WCS SEA isn't what he was hoping for, but it shows that he's still capable of fighting the good fight, and his best results have always been in Blizzard tournaments.
His most important asset though is how badly he's been doing. He isn't a GSL calibre player; he hasn't been going to every MLG. As a result, most of the players will know little to nothing about his style, and going in to the tournament as the player who nobody knows can be super powerful, just ask Comm. If RedArchon capitalises on this, he could pull out some massive upsets by taking out some of the best players in the world. After all, most people won't be preparing that heavily for Terran, what with only 4 terrans in the tournament. Most won't be researching the Thai metagame, because there's only 1 Thai player. RedArchon could completely surprise everyone here. He probably won't, but he's poised to be the black horse we deserve more than anybody else in the tournament.
So who's going to win?
I think Creator and Rain are 2 massive contenders here, but any player really has the potential to shock everyone. A lot of the Chinese protosses aren't as competent at PvP as the Koreans, so I think that brackets will play a huge role in deciding the tournament. Chinese protoss want Korean zergs, Chinese Zergs want to dodge the scarier Korean Protoss, Koreans protoss want to avoid each other while utilising their specialisms and Korean Zergs want to avoid the Chinese zergs and their unique play-styles.
I'll post some guesses at the seeds once the brackets have been released, but for now I'd say something like Creator, Sun, herO, Roro, Toodming and Squirtle.
herO drops to losers' bracket immediately and begins sensational run through the best players in the world, one by one. HerO dominates the winners' bracket by taking out the players that then drop to face herO. They meet in the grand finals in a sensational matchup where they both use barcode names. Blizzard fails on the overlay and so nobody has any idea which hero has won the tournament. Both walk out on to the stage and Dustin Browder awkwardly avoids picking one to award the trophy to by making it destructible and destroying it. :D
Note:+ Show Spoiler +
I'm aware I've missed out Sen. The truth is that there are loads of awesome guys at this event, any of whom could make a showing. I feel like Sen's well-known enough that he can't abuse people not knowing his play style but he's also not necessarily good enough to take down the Korean protosses in a straight up battle right now. The same applies for most of the other people I didn't mention, such as HerO, Infi, XY, etc.