Welcome to Serral-Con 2019:By: Wax
ASUS ROG Tournament at Assembly Summer
On August 1-3, thirty-two progamers will gather in Helsinki, Finland to compete for $25,000 and 3200 WCS Circuit points at ASUS ROG Summer 2019. The origins for this surprise, mid-year WCS event can be traced back to a few months ago, when ENCE founder and Assembly esports head Petri Hämälä asked Serral what he wanted for his 21st birthday. "Vengeance upon my enemies" said Serral. "Say no more." replied Hämälä.
And so, the tournament known as Assembly was restored to its full glory for the first time since 2015.
Alright, I don't have proof that's how it went down, but that's the only logical conclusion I can come to. I mean, just check out the Liquipedia participants section for the tournament. That's not a roster—that's a goddamn hit-list of SC2 pros who have upset, defeated, or otherwise made fans doubt Serral in the past. What a coincidence that Assembly was able to entice those all players into attending by holding its first major-tier SC2 event since 2015.
So, ahead of the tournament, I've decided to go through some of the more notable and interesting names on Serral's death ledger.
Reynor: A rival, like it or notSerral may not care for out-of-game storylines, but could he really blame anyone for calling Reynor his rival now? The WCS Circuit championship has gone to the winner of Serral vs Reynor in four consecutive events: WCS Montreal (2018), WCS Winter: Europe, WCS Spring, and WCS Summer.
WCS Montreal was where we found out there was substance behind the Reynor hype, with the young Italian nearly beating Serral in his very first Circuit finals appearance. If not for a ridiculous throw/comeback on Cerulean Fall, Reynor may even have won his first title.
Reynor made up for letting the Montreal title slip away by defeating Serral 4-3 in the finals of WCS Winter: Europe, but the split-region nature of the tournament left it feeling a step short from a complete, unconditional victory. Unfortunately for Reynor, his next attempt to take down Serral in a 'full' Circuit event at WCS Spring ended in disaster, losing 0-3 to Serral in the semifinals.
However, Reynor finally achieved his no-strings-attached, completely validating triumph at WCS Summer, toppling Serral 4-2 in the finals. In a mirror move of the Montreal finals, Reynor threw in a clutch comeback game to put his stamp on the series.
Though Reynor has been shockingly good against Serral, he hasn't transcended foreigner status in the same way. His record against Korean players in offline matches shows some wildly erratic results, ranging from eliminating Classic in Code S, getting eliminated by Creator and GuMiho in the IEM open bracket, to being totally overrun by Maru in WCG. So, while Serral vs. Reynor will be one of the most anticipated matches of Serral-Con, the stacked, open-region roster could get in the way of this feud.
INnoVation: Absconding with $110,000I can't think of two players who would care less about fan lore and narratives than Serral and INnoVation. However, I'm pretty sure they both care about cold hard cash.
INnoVation might not have as complex a history with Serral as Reynor, but he has a legit claim to be his greatest nemesis. Reynor has taken more championships away from Serral but INnoVation has taken away more money. WESG 2018 saw INnoVation win the $150,000 grand prize for defeating Serral 4-3 in the finals—an absurdly lop-sided $110,000 difference over Serral's second place winnings of $40,000 (the 1st/2nd place at WCS Circuit events pays out $20,000/$10,000).
Beating INnoVation at ASUS ROG won't get Serral any of that money back—in that regard, INnoVation gets to win this head-to-head forever (or at least until Serral returns the favor at another super-major tournament). But in the meanwhile, a crushing victory would at least shut up Serral's critics and haters in Korean-elitist circles, as well as strengthen his case to finally be #1 in the TL.net Power Rank. And that's something money can't buy (well, I'd listen to offers).
soO: The streak-breakerSerral's run between June and November of 2018 was one of the most dominant stretches in StarCraft II history, where the Finnish Phenom went six-for-six in major tournaments (WCS Austin, WCS Valencia, GSL vs. The World, WCS Montreal, WCS Global Finals, and HomeStory Cup 18).
Thus, it felt like an act of cosmic rebalancing when soO ended up being the player to end Serral's reign. In the quarterfinals of IEM Katowice 2019, Serral was reminded about the bitter taste of being a NOT-winner by the player who had lived with that feeling for most of his professional career. That's poetry in StarCraft II form.
Ever since then, Serral has been forced to live in the world of mortals, merely winning SOME of the tournaments he chooses to participate in. While Serral got a modicum of revenge back at HomeStory Cup 19 by sweeping soO out of the playoffs, it wasn't totally satisfying. soO attained some form of StarCraft nirvana after winning his career-defining championship at IEM Katowice (he said he can finally see "in color" now), and nothing seems to be able to change his perpetual good mood. However, there's one way Serral just might wake soO from his blissful reverie: by handing him a tenth second place finish...
Stats: 'Dude, I said GG no re'This isn't so much a revenge match as it is a 'stop bothering me' match. During the aforementioned, god-like run in 2018, Serral defeated Stats in the finals of his two biggest tournament triumphs: GSL vs. The World (4-3) and the WCS Global Finals (4-2).
While some would say there's nothing left for Serral to prove against Stats, STATSBOYS would disagree. Here's the case for Stats: he fought Serral to a near standstill at GSL vs the World, put up credible resistance at BlizzCon (arguably the peak of Serral's power), and he recently took a cheeky series off Serral during the HomeStory Cup 19 group stage (somewhat meaningless as Serral went on to win the championship, but interesting nonetheless). It's time to give this faux-rivalry one more shot before we decide to put it to rest.
ShoWTimE and Neeb: Just for good measureI'm not quite sure what kind of scam Serral is trying to run on Neeb and ShoWTimE. He's always rushing to compliment them as his most dangerous Circuit opponents in interviews, but all of their significant tournament matches invariably end with Serral running a lawnmower over their faces.
What gives? Is this some sick ploy to get more credit for winning? As if we didn't heap enough praise on Serral already for being the greatest foreigner of all time and the savior of competitive StarCraft II? For the love of god, Serral, you made us have to tolerate Maynarde trying to get 'God-king' over as a nickname. Please, just chill, and let ShoWTimE and Neeb lose to you in peace.
MarineLorD: Settling the scoreHere's a morsel of SC2 trivia: Among the players at ASUS ROG Summer, Bomber is the player with the best head-to-head record against Serral at 1-0 (an online match played way back in 2016).
The player with the second best record? It's mother-fungalling MarineLorD.
Newer fans might not know that MarineLorD was kind of a big deal back in 2015~2016, looking like he was on track to become the best foreign Terran ever. At the time, Serral was just a Finnish schoolboy with far off aspirations of becoming a full-time pro, so it's no surprise that MarineLorD whooped him to the tune of a 6-1 head-to-head match record (with a stinging 12-2 map score).
Incidentally, MarineLorD's two odd years in semi-retirement largely overlapped with Serral's rise, and he's also somehow managed to avoid meeting Serral since his return to active play. This bill is long overdue, and it could be time for Serral to finally teach the MarineLorD that bullying kids doesn't pay (I mean, unless they're Italian and you really wanna win that WCS Circuit title...).
[Besides Bomber and MarineLorD, Serral is still slightly trailing against TaeJa, soO, Neeb, and INnoVation in terms of head-to-head record (according to Aligulac.com).]
GuMiho: Because I'll use any excuse to put him in a TL articleSerral first broke out as an elite foreigner during the 2017 WCS Circuit, finishing as the #3 seed overall and earning a spot in the group stage of the Global Finals. Unfortunately, that's where Serral's WCS season ended, as GuMiho upheld his solemn duty as a Korean Terran by crushing the upstart foreigner and cruelly denying him a chance at standing on the BlizzCon stage.
How the tables have turned! Serral could repay the favor by sending GuMiho hurtling out of ASUS ROG Summer in the group stages, relegating him to the LAN area and preventing him from ever stepping upon the venerable stage of the Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre (previously graced by the likes of TaeJa, Jaedong, and elfi). That'll show him!
On a more serious note, these two always seem to find a way to entertain, so I'm cheering for them to meet no matter the result.
Dark: How dare you not attendLook, I don't know what Dark's deal with Gosu Crew is, what kind of summer vacation he has planned, or whatever other circumstances he has going on in his life. I don't care—he NEEDS to be at this event.
A huge part of Dark reputation has been built on dumpstering foreigners both inside and outside the game. He doubled down on running his mouth during Serral's ascent, but was humiliated when he couldn't walk the walk on THREE different occasions. Sure, Dark might be a bit of a pro-wrestling heel, but pro-wrestling characters are often described as reflecting your true persona—just amped up to 11. There's real pride-turned-arrogance burning inside Dark, and the corresponding shame of getting so thoroughly beaten by Serral must have been intolerable.
Lately, Dark has been playing the best StarCraft II of his career, finally winning the Code S trophy he's desired all this time. He's $30,000 richer and has the money to self-finance a trip to Finland. GSL is on a month break, and he'll be playing one of the easiest Ro16 groups ever when it resumes. Serral, while still incredibly good, is no longer the invincible juggernaut from 2018. All things considered, Dark at least owed it to himself to go to Finland and try and ruin Serral's homecoming.
Well, that's Dark's loss. Who knows, maybe someone else in Finland will steal the ultimate revenge from him?