WCS Season Three
WCS Ro32 Week 1
Group Previews: A/B/C/D
WCS Points Roundup
Brackets and standings on Liquipedia
WCS Ro32 Week 1
When WCS was announced with a few caveats, everyone expected the few remaining Koreans to clean up. For the most part, the tale has followed the script. Polt won season one; Hydra won season two. However, it hasn't been smooth sailing for all the imports. ForGG has managed one Ro8 and one Ro16. viOLet hasn't advanced a single round in Premier. Jaedong and StarDust both reached a Ro8 but it was far from convincing. Even though the title has ultimately gone their way, the gap between foreigners and Koreans, at least in WCS, is closing.
In season one, Bunny came within an inch of reaching the final. He fell 2-3 against Polt in the semi finals, and Captain America went on to win the season in a dramatic best of seven. Bunny Could have been the first foreigner in a WCS final since Stephano all the way back at the start of 2013, but it wasn't to be. During the off season, StarDust and Jaedong announced that they'd participate in WCS in season two. Fans felt aghast. Had our window of opportunity closed? Every additional Korean meant one less spot for a foreigner in the Ro8.
Instead, the gap closed even more. viOLet succumbed to Ret and MarineLorD. TLO trounced Polt in the Ro32. Bunny and GunGFuBanDa bested ForGG in the Ro16. Bunny obliterated StarDust in the Ro8. Lilbow reached the final against Hydra. Yes, a little bit of bracket luck was involved, but finally it looked like foreigners were on an even playing field in WCS. Sadly, Lilbonaparte's magnificent PvZ was not enough to overcome Hydra's red army, and the Frenchman was defeated 2-4. Once again fans were left wondering if that would be a foreigner's best chance for the year.
Without warning, the distance shortened in Challenger Season 3 when Neeb—switching races from terran to protoss—eliminated StarDust in a Bo5. Even though Bunny, season 1's brightest, failed to return to Premier, all the former quarterfinalists are back: Lilbow, Snute, TLO, MarineLorD, and even Kane and ShoWTimE. With all of these players still mathematically in the BlizzCon race, only victory will catapult them into the year's biggest event. At times it has seemed possible, but is it finally likely?
At this point, Polt is clearly the greatest WCS player of all time. He's won it 3 times after all. Even though some fans may still scoff at the achievement for obvious reasons, it's still an impressive feat that very few players have even approached. Only Mvp has won the same Premier tournament 4 times, and that's pretty good company to be in. Considering WCS is pretty much Polt's only cash cow for 2015, he should be in good shape to rake in those points once again. Still, 2015 has been the leanest year in Polt's career mostly due to the fact that he hasn't attended many foreign tournaments. The reason for his sudden hermitry is unknown, but it can only make him more dangerous.
His fellow student athlete, Petraeus, would do well to learn from Polt's ability to balance dual lives. The young Kiwi (yes, I called it right this time) peaked last season, coming close to chopping down Jaedong for a spot in the Ro8. It was not to be, and he has now decided to retire from full time play due to his impending studies at AUT University. We still don't know whether or not this has affected his practice time and preparation, but this season will be his first exam in Polt's School of Double Majors.
Despite his reputation as one of the better foreigners, MajOr has never made it out of the Ro16. While others have gone in and out of form MajOr continues to make it to Premier league only to lose early. He dominates Copa America, but his success has stopped short at major tournaments. We've always expected more from the former ROOT Terran, and with mech the subject of much debate recently, he could reach the Ro16 for a third time in season 3.
At odds with MajOr's consistency is Harstem. The Invasion Protoss is at times a terrifyingly good protoss, at times a frustratingly rash one. He has made it to the Ro16 3 times in the past, but he been unable to stay in Premier league for more than 2 seasons in a row. For the most part 2015 has been an up year for Harstem, as he is still mathematically in the running for BlizzCon due to his Ro8 at DH Tours and Ro16 at DH Valencia. The Selfie Toss has all the tools to make an impact in season 3 as long as he gains more calm and confidence in his long game and minimizes his use of Rotti builds.
Harstem < MajOr
Polt > Petraeus
MajOr < Polt
Harstem > Petraeus
Harstem > MajOr
Polt and Harstem to advance to the Ro16.
With Polt opening up the Round of 32 in Group A, it’s only natural that we turn to our other WCS 2015 champion for the follow up in Group B. While certain Koreans have been a major disappointment so far, Hydra has certainly lived up to his reputation. After three silvers in 2015, finally taking the title in Toronto may be the catalyst that catapults him to further greatness. He possesses a ridiculous 81% win rate against non-Koreans in 2015, and from what we’ve seen so far it’s difficult to see that record dented in the near future. Going into Season 3, the current champion is still definitely the one to beat.
Joining him in the group is another of ROOT’s many representatives in WCS. Kelazhur has been bubbling under the radar for a while, and this season makes it three Premier appearances in a row. He’s been threatening to break out all year—two 3rd place exits so far—and the tough groups he’s been given so far haven’t helped. Fortunately, due to uThermal's forfeiture, Kelazhur won't have to rely on his meek TvT. With set wins against Solar and viOLet within the past two weeks, Kelazhur certainly has what it takes to go toe to toe with both zergs in Group B. However, until the Brazilian shows a touch of consistency at offline events it's difficult to favor him over fellow Premier players.
Replacing the aforementioned uThermal is his Challenger league opponent, elfi. The Finn was crushed 0-3 in their best of five, but lucks his way into Premier due to unforeseen circumstances. Last season, he came close to the Ro16 in the roulette wheel of PvP, but lost 1-2 to GunGFuBanDa in the final set. elfi isn't exactly the most active player in Europe, and with only major qualifiers and offline tournaments on his plate, it's difficult to gauge where he stands in Europe's middle tier of Premier players. elfi is of course known for his cerebral and clever play, but he was easily picked apart in Challenger.
Finally, rounding out the group is Starbuck. The Slovenian zerg has struggled up until now in 2015, with only a single Challenger spot in Season 1 to show for his efforts, and this season represents his first Premier spot since early 2014. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the wacky zerg’s entertaining strats (who can forget the time he beat Dear with a drone pull?), and this season is definitely richer for the uncertainty that he may bring. His reliance on roaches against Bunny was odd but effective, and he will likely use the same style should he meet Kelazhur. We're still unsure what his 'standard' ZvP looks like, but an initial match against elfi could be a headscratcher. Whether he can ride that wave to the playoffs is a different question.
elfi < Starbuck
Hydra > Kelazhur
Starbuck < Hydra
elfi < Kelazhur
Starbuck < Kelazhur
Hydra and Kelazhur to advance to the Ro16.
After his breakout top four finish in Season 1, ShoWTimE’s capitulation against rookie Elazer in Challenger was one of the shocks of the round. Gone were the crisp timings and decisive play of the previous season as he crashed out at the first hurdle after being comprehensively outplayed by the Polish up-and-comer. Well, after a tight 3-2 victory over NaNiwa in Challenger, the German protoss is back in business. HomeStory Cup XI may have been a bit of a disappointment for him—eliminated by Sacsri and PtitDrogo—but a return to the competition where he first emerged as a true contender may be just what he needs right now.
He’s joined in this group by his fellow compatriot HeRoMaRinE. Aside from possessing arguably the most exasperating capitalisation in esports, the young terran has been threatening to break out into the mainstream for quite a while now. He’s amassed quite the collection of minor and major trophies in his local scene, including remarkably a 3-0 victory over HyuN way back in 2013. That promise, however, has remained unfulfilled until now—this is his very first appearance in Premier. From what I can tell, this trip to America marks his first overseas tournament, and it’ll be interesting to see how he performs in the high pressure environment.
From a relative unknown to a mainstay of the scene—Group C gives us a third Korean titan in a row. After Jaedong's no-show in Season 1, Season 2 didn’t really answer any of our questions satisfactorily. While emerging from his ZvP cheese examination may have gone some way to assuaging his cannon rush nightmares, we’re still no closer to determining whether the championship calibre zerg of 2013 still resides within. His run to the HomeStory Cup semifinals was perhaps a touch fortuitous as well; scraping his way through a bunch of tight series. However, even if we’re uncertain about his current championship credentials, he’s banked up enough credit for us to trust him at this early stage.
Rounding out Group C is a perennial fixture of the Starcraft scene. WCS 2015 has been tough on old man Sen—two group stage exits at a 1-8 record so far—and there’s been little evidence that Season 3 is going to be any different. But if there’s one player in the WCS system who does deserve our faith though, it’s Sen. The Taiwanese champion has been in the scene longer than almost anyone, going through upturns and downswings in form with bizarre regularity, but on his day, he’s shown that he’s one of the few foreigners capable of going head to head against the very best that the scene has to offer. After all, he’s still the only foreign premier champion since 2012—a victory which came out of nowhere. It’s not completely unreasonable to imagine that lightning could strike twice.
ShoWTimE > Sen
Jaedong > HeRoMaRinE
ShoWTimE < Jaedong
Sen > HeRoMaRinE
ShoWTimE < Sen
Jaedong and Sen to advance to the Ro16.
With Bunny out in Challenger league, the role of foreign terran hope is up for grabs. Group D will be the first test for three aspiring contenders, and the mirror will likely prove key to their advancement. Yet they'll have to look behind them as one of the most enigmatic protoss in the world might have a few surprises in store.
The most successful terran in the group is MarineLorD. That's a bit odd to say considering season 2 was his debut season in Premier, but he is one of the few foreigners to have made it to the Ro8. To do it in his very first season is impressive, but only continued success will establish him as a true star in the making. He hasn't quite hit that Korean-killer level, but he has proven that he has little trouble taking care of other foreign hopefuls like Harstem, FireCake, and I guess viOLet too. While his micro isn't quite as good as MarineKing in his prime or the Marine Prince right now, MLorD's multitasking is worthy of his name.
His first opponent has had opposite luck. MaSa has reached Premier four times in his career, the most in this group, yet has never advanced a single round. In fact, he has only ever won one series in the Ro32—against MaNa last season. He did look impressive in his crushing 3-0 over Bails in Challenger, but he probably won't be able to use any of that in this group. Not only did he draw 2 other terrans, the only protoss is a riddle. Unless he is able to solve the wrinkles in his play, he'll have a difficult time in one of the harder all-foreigner groups.
The same player that denied MaSa his first trip to the Ro16 appears in Group D. iaguz almost matched MarineLorD's exploits last season, but he fell against TLO in a rematch in the fifth set of their Ro16 group. There are times when iaguz comes close to convincing us that he's the next big terran, but then he drops the ball against unexpected strategies. Fortunately he is the hypercritical type that loves to dissect his play, and the outspoken Aussie isn't afraid to give his thoughts on the game or his chances this season.
I told him not to mech, but we'll see whether or not he listens. At least he's aware that his first opponent can't be figured out.
It's kinda funny how Has fared so poorly in his Ro16 group last season, falling in PvPs against GunGFuBanDa and elfi. PvP has always been seen as the coinflip matchup, and many fans felt like that gave Has an advantage heading into the group. Instead he didn't quite show any of the flair and insanity that had earned him his reputation as the wackiest player in Starcraft. This season, we'll be able to see whether he has more ideas against terran. After all, one of the first games that put him on the map was against MMA.
MarineLorD > MaSa
iaguz > Has
MarineLorD > iaguz
MaSa < Has
iaguz > Has
MarineLorD and iaguz to advance to the Ro16.
WCS Points Roundup
You know the drill. Even though BlizzCon is still a long ways away, everyone's eyes are on the big prize. Season 3 will likely determine who goes and who stays, so there is more than just cash on the line this season.
Likely Point Cutoff: 3500
Minimum Points (to be included in the list): 1000
#6 - Hydra - 4375
Points Needed: 0
WCS Predictor Odds: 100%
Outlook: Even if Hydra falls asleep on the plane and gets rerouted to Aruba, he'll definitely be at BlizzCon. Of course, who doesn't want more WCS money? If Hydra tears through another season he'd not only take cold hard cash away from foreigners, he'd likely crush a few dreams as well. Hail Hydra.
#10 - Polt - 3375
Points Needed: 125
WCS Predictor Odds: 99.94%
Outlook: If Polt advances to the Ro16 he'll be able to book his ticket to Anaheim. That means a lot is riding on this round, even though Polt is almost guaranteed to get in anyway. He won't have to wait long since he plays on the very first day of the Ro32.
#24 - Lilbow - 1725
Points Needed: 1775
WCS Predictor Odds: 19.93%
Outlook: Lilbow improved his chances a little at IEM gamescom, but not significantly. He failed to make it out of his group, though you can't really blame him for losing to INnoVation and FanTaSy. He's going to have to go much further in WCS, as only gold will ensure his participation at BlizzCon. Another 2nd place wouldn't be so bad either.
#29 - ForGG - 1625
Points Needed: 1875
WCS Predictor Odds: 15.57%
Outlook: ForGG came very close to reestablishing his name atop the TvT hill when he went the distance against INnoVation, but he fell short in game 5. He benefited from an easy group at gamescom so it's difficult to tell whether he'll improve on his shockingly disappointing WCS output so far this year.
#31 - TLO - 1500
Points Needed: 2000
WCS Predictor Odds: 1.64%
Outlook: Only WCS gold will bump TLO all the way up to the Top 16, and though no foreigner has ever managed it, TLO is about as consistent as they come in the tournament. He'll have to elevate his play beyond what we've seen so far, but the fan favorite still has a chance.
#32 - Snute - 1500
Points Needed: 2000
WCS Predictor Odds: 8.21%
Outlook: Much like his TL teammate, Snute still has a small chance of making the grand event. A win sounds too much to ask, but if there's one foreigner that has long looked likely to do it, it's Snute. He's been overtaken by the likes of Lilbow lately, but he did beat TRUE and BlinG before falling to DeParture at Gfinity Summer Masters I. Unfortunately, that event didn't give WCS points.
#37 - Jaedong - 1325
Points Needed: 2125
WCS Predictor Odds: 7.26%
Outlook: Considering Jaedong only started competing in Season 2, it's pretty surprising he even has this many points. That means he can still make his miracle happen with a win in WCS, even though we're still not sure about his play. He lost twice to TRUE at Gfinity to get knocked out at the first hurdle, though he did get to the semi finals of HSC XI.
#41 - MarineLorD - 1075
Points Needed: 2425
WCS Predictor Odds: 4.19%
Outlook: 2015 has been the year of France and MarineLorD could add to his country's reputation as the best foreign country with another strong outing in WCS. He needs the point to even have a remote chance of qualifying, and season 3 will be his test of consistency.
#42 - Harstem - 1075
Points Needed: 2425
WCS Predictor Odds: 0.95%
Outlook: Yup, Harstem is still in it. Not many probably expected this, but he still has one last chance to make this the #yearofHarstem. He's going to have to win the tournament to do it, but hey, no one said it would be easy.
#43 - ShoWTimE - 1050
Points Needed: 2450
WCS Predictor Odds: 2.21%
Outlook: The last foreigner with enough points to still kinda maybe have a realistic chance of getting to BlizzCon, ShoWTimE really needs to make up for his S2 rejection in Challenger League. He has what it takes to go deep, but is the German still among the best in Europe?