IEM Global Challenge
New York 2013
Open Bracket Preview
Four spots into the group stage
Brackets and standings on Liquipedia
The Open Bracket
IEM Day 1 Preview
Countdown to Start:
It is no secret that the North American scene is considered weak and often the target of ridicule. It's hard to know the exact reason why half a billion people combined can't produce better StarCraft players, but there does happen to be a glaring lack of tournament opportunities. With IPL gone, NASL on hiatus and MLG practicing their last hitting, IEM New York's qualifier bracket was the one of the first big opportunities available for North Americans in a long time.
So of course, this open bracket was promptly filled with some of the best players Korea has to offer, with some Europeans thrown in for good measure. The IEM open bracket should provide great games and plenty of entertainment to the general StarCraft 2 fan, but if you're a fan of the NA scene then you should probably go back to crying in a corner.
The KoreansThe Defending Champion: MVP.DongRaeGu
At IEM New York 2011, DongRaeGu would win the first major championship of his career. DRG has been through a lot in the two years since, from winning Code S and becoming the best in the world, to slumping so hard he fell down to Code A. As he returns to New York to defend his IEM title, he appears to have recovered much of his old form.
DongRaeGu played one of the best TvZ's of all time against Innovation in the GSL Round of 32, leading many to believe that he had fully regained his championship-winning form. But while it was true that DRG had regained the dominant ZvT form that made him famous in the first place, his ZvP and ZvZ weren't quite on the same level, and he fell 1-2 to Dear and Soulkey to be eliminated in the Ro16.
Losing to those two is no shame, and doesn't diminish how good a player DongRaeGu is. After dropping out, DRG quickly gave IEM a call, asking if there was a spot for the previous IEM New York champion to come defend his title. And lo, here he is!
Double Elimination Bracket #1: Two players qualify for the Ro16 group stage.
The Uncertainty: ST_Life
”Is Life back?” is a question I've asked myself many times over the last month or so. I remain adamant that he hasn't really returned, but that he's still come a long way since hitting the bottom of his deep slump where he was more likely to win with his hands off the keyboard than on it. By reaching the top 4 at DH Bucharest he showed the world that he is once again ready to steal foreigner money, even if he has to work a lot harder for it than he used to.
Fans of Life still have reason for hope as he's been looking better each time he plays, even after Bucharest. The prodigy stated in an interview that he's back to practicing hard to reach his old level of dominance, and it's been showing in his play. Down in Code A, he dismantled Trust with unique and efficient burrow roach tactics, and swarmed over Aria in ZvP. Also, his wins over the innovative Supernova at Bucharest speak favorably of his ZvT as well.
That still leaves us with the recurring problem for Life: his ZvZ. It's a weakness that's even more pronounced given that DongRaeGu is in his bracket. The two could advance side by side, but a trip to the losers' bracket isn't a risk Life will want to avoid.
The Less-Known but Equally Dangerous: ST_Hack and
San has always been an enigma. He dominates online leagues and qualifiers while looking like the world's premier Protoss, but he tends to bow out quickly to players he would otherwise crush when he's playing live. Perhaps that was all just a years long run of weird luck for San, as he was marvelous at this year's ASUS ROG Summer where he came in second place. He'll be one of the many dark horse candidates to take the title in New York.
Hack is travelling to a foreign tournament for the first time in his career, trying to make himself known to the international scene by coming to New York. But like many of the other Koreans, it's hard to know what level of play he will bring. Hack has carried the banner for StarTale in WCS AM, getting through the Ro32 with wins over aLive and Arthur – but the games were played online. Things might be different for Hack as he plays in the weekend tournament environment for the first time.
Also, Hack has fallen out of the GSTL rotation for Startale, which is never a good sign. We know Hack's level right now is at least decent, and he's probably going to beat the foreigners and advance to the group stage. But if we had to point out a potential weakness in the Korean line-up, it would be Hack.
The Defenders of Freedom, Justice, and the American WayLeading the Charge: ROOT.puCK, coL.Hendralisk*, EG.Suppy
It falls upon these three to carry the flag of everything non-Korean in New York. As the primary line of defense, they are the best North American bets to make it out of the open bracket and deny a Korean a place. Of course, saying they have the best chance out of the foreigners doesn't mean they have a good chance, so don't be surprised if we see MLG-esque results where the outnumbered Koreans take every qualifying spot out of the open tournament.
Double Elimination Bracket #2: Two players qualify for the Ro16 group stage.
While Hendralisk, puCK, and Suppy are the foreigners coming into the open bracket with the best results as of late, they've all taken plenty of losses against some of the weaker Korean players as well their own countrymen. I don't mean to downplay the skills of their recent opponents, but there are even bigger fish in the waters of the IEM New York open brackets.
The way the brackets have been formed, it should be very difficult to make it to the group stage without beating at least one Korean. Whether they do it on the back of jetlagged opponents, coin-flips in mirrors, or just bringing their absolute best play, these guy will have to beat the odds somehow. For puCK, things get serious right away with DongRaeGu as his first opponent. Can the Americans* make something happen like the Swedes often do on their own home turf?
*Ah f*** it, let the Americans claim the Canadians.
Long Shots: DuSt.sWs, c.Shew, coL.Sasquatch, desRow, Siphonn
Yeah, I'm going to have to say things aren't going to go well for these players. Things are particularly awful for Sasquatch, who has been dealt Life as his first opponents. Life's ZvZ issues do give Sasquatch a tiny glimmer of hope, but in truth Life may want to consider switching to playing TvZ if he somehow loses to Sasquatch.
At least two of these guys will be getting a little bit of help. Shew's scheduled opponent StarDust was forced to cancel his participation, while sWs' opponent Hyun was vacated the open bracket as he will be taking Polt's place in the group stage. While IEM is looking for last second replacements, you have to think there's quite a good chance they will get first round byes.
On the other hand, given how things have played out in this tournament so far, it wouldn't be surprising to see INnoVation and TaeJa parachute in at the last second as special, dream-killing forces.
And Some Europeans: Liquid`Snute and EG.DeMusliM
You have to wonder how Snute felt when he saw the full list of open bracket participants. Certainly there couldn't have been that many Koreans who could afford the trip to New York, right? Not after they all spent money to go to DreamHack Bucharest! Alas, his hopes of preying on solely North Americans to advance to the group stage have been dashed as a surprising number of Koreans decided to make the 13 hour flight to NYC. Snute is arguably the best foreigner in the entire open bracket, but even he will be hard pressed to defeat San and Hack to make it through.
As for Demuslim, we really should be counting him as American by now (I mean, we counted SeleCT as American for years), but that adorable accent stops us in our tracks. Also, we'd prefer to be able to make "Englishman in New York" jokes. The last time Demuslim played a tournament in New York he was able to score a massive upset against Nestea, one of the highlights in an up and down career. He has the potential to deliver such an upset again, but we wouldn't bet on it.