Tuesday, Jul 22 10:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00)
AM Challenger: Day 2 Preview
Day 1 of WCS AM proved to be filled with surprises and the second has the potential of doing the same. Today's matches feature 4 Koreans, 3 Chinese, 1 Taiwanese, 1 Canadian and 1 American player. Fan favourite Jaedong will be playing along with one of WCS' youngest players: Arium. We also have Chinese protoss players Top and MacSed contending for another shot at Premier League. Will the Chinese once again prove themselves worthy of playing in the highest division or will the tough Korean competition be too much?
MacSed vs Ryung
Chinese protoss players have built a reputation of being unpredictable and never afraid to use unique strategies. MacSed emerged as one of the first of them all the way back in 2011, placing third at both the WCG Chinese Qualifiers and the 2011 Battle.net Invitational. Since then the Chinese player has placed highly in numerous local events and even made it to the Ro8 twice in WCS America 2013. MacSed still participates in Chinese events, weekly tournaments and cups. We've seen even more of him in ATC as Invictus Gaming were able to qualify for this season. What this has taught us about MacSed is that whilst he may not be invulnerable, he's still a player to fear.
Ryung's WCS record is not as consistent as MacSed. With a disappointing run in Season 1, Ryung found himself having to re-qualify altogether. With little luck the first time during Season 2, perhaps due to the stricter rules on Koreans qualifying for WCS AM, Season 3 turned out to be easier as he went 8-0 in the Ladder Wildcard qualifier. Ryung has not had a noticeable tournament placement since way back in 2013, so this season would be the perfect time for him to redeem himself. Despite the matchup against protoss being his statistically and historically weakest, Ryung should have a good chance at defeating MacSed. Knowing how committed Axiom players are to their game, Ryung will be sure to give it his all. But whether that will be enough, we will have to see.
Prediction: MacSed 3-2 Ryung
Arium vs Courage
At the age of 14, Arium is one of the youngest contestants within all of WCS. This is his first time ever qualifying for WCS after multiple attempts and he did so by taking out two zergs in Jig and JonSnow. He also showed great promise at the MLG Pro Circuit 2014 in Anaheim, beating ViBE 2-0 and iaguz 2-1, not to mention taking out State 2-1 in the qualifier leading up to the event. Showing such potential at such a young age could bode well for his future and it would certainly help if he could gather tournament experience early on in his career. But does he have what it takes to beat the already battle-proven Courage?
After a one sided loss in the round of 16 last year, Courage finds himself with a considerably easier match up than the likes of Polt. Courage is among the Chinese contenders looking for a shot at making it to Premier League and his recent results indicate that he might have what it takes. Whilst most of his games are against Chinese players, players unknown to many, he still boasts a good record, especially this year. One advantage he will certainly carry into this match is the unpredictability of Chinese players. With very few VODs or replays to study them, Arium will need to prepare something himself or be confident enough to deal with every possible strategy thrown his way.
Prediction: Arium 1-3 Courage
Slam vs MaSa
Slam is one of yoe Flash Wolves best Taiwanese zerg players. Although he has never had a considerable placement in any foreign tournament, Slam has always been a key player for the team in the Taiwanese eSports League. This is his third attempt at conquering Challenger League and he has to be itching to finally make the jump to Premier. This has so far only been a dream though as his previous losses have all come with a 0-3 scoreline. Taiwan has a number of solid zerg players, like his teammates Ian and Sen, along with other players from Wayi whom he can share strategies with. He should therefore be in good hands when preparing for MaSa. Perhaps this will be Slam's breakout season but MaSa is not going to give him an easy pass.
Having played in the past two seasons of Premier League, MaSa wants to once again prove that he's one of Canada's top players. Though his previous attempts in WCS have only brought him to the round of 32, that in itself is already an impressive feat considering the competition. MaSa is a great example of a player who has enjoyed sparks of success thanks to the WCS system and he'll want to continue that trend. With support from ROOT Gaming behind him, the Canadian terran will be aiming to at least keep his own standard.
Prediction: Slam 1-3 MaSa
Top vs Seed
After multiple failed attempts at making it to Code S in Korea, Seed finally decided that enough was enough. A move to the America region could only do him good as the competition in Korea is only getting tougher. Seed's consistent struggle to qualify for Code A only to immediately get eliminated by a strong Code S dropout was rapidly becoming a sad tradition. Ever since the KeSPA transition to SC2, players like Seed were removed from the spotlight almost entirely. The fact that Seed is a former Code S champion and in his prime had a firm, dominant grip on the entire scene for a while, might seem surreal to someone new to SC2. Having been distant from the foreign scene for quite some time (except for the odd tournament such as MLG Anaheim this year or a HSC back in 2013), Seed finally finds himself as a contender in the American WCS. He, along with Ryung, qualified through the Ladder Wildcard qualifier. Seed's record however was not as impressive as Ryung's as he barely made it through with a 8-3 record, losing a map each to lesser known players Trace and Hunter. If Seed wants to ever reclaim what he once owned, he needs to perform. After recently being picked up by Dignitas, we're sure to see more of Seed at foreign tournaments. But will we ever see the old Seed again?
Despite all the talk of Seed's former glory, Top cannot be underestimated in this encounter. Top once again finds himself in Challenger League, having been a mainstay in the tournament basically since its inception. Top is another example of the previously mentioned unpredictable Chinese protoss players and was one of the first to use pheonixes efficiently in PvT. Even though Top has never had a breakout result it seems as though he's a killer in weekly cups and tournaments. The great thing about having a WCS system that allows cross-region play is that we see more of players like Top. To prepare for this clash, he surely has a plethora of practice partners in China and there most definitely are VODs of Seed to study for him.
Prediction: Seed 3-2 Top
Jaedong vs KingKong
The last series of the day features the two Korean zergs Jaedong and KingKong. The name KingKong has been popping up here and there as he's a frequent contender in qualifiers and online tournaments. Anyone that watches the SEA Masters Cups/SEACraft or any other online SEA tournament will know KingKong well enough to say that he's a talented player. Being dominant in the SEA region has obviously not proven to be enough in WCS AM however as this is his third time in Challenger League. And unfortunately for him, his opponent is a ZvZ expert and a world class one at that. His chances don't look good this time either.
For being such an excellent player, Jaedong's WCS record is extremely lackluster. Having been knocked out in the Ro32 of both seasons this year, Jaedong comes into this as a player we don't expect much from, as weird as that sounds. He no doubt has excellent offline tournament runs, frequently placing top 4 and making it very deep in almost every tournament he attends, but WCS just does not seem to work out for Jaedong. Last season he came last in his group losing to both Jim and Heart and the season prior to that he lost to both Bomber and the Taiwanese protoss Has.
But statistics and facts aside, Jaedong is easily favored in this matchup due to his name and skill alone. After all, ZvZ is supposed to be Jaedong's best match up, which means making it further this season may not be a problem for the Tyrant. For now.
Who is the true King of Kongs? Find out today!
Prediction: Jaedong 3-1 KingKong