EPT points were restored to the ESL Open Cups in week 65, which marks the unofficial start of the 2021-22 ESL Pro Tour. The round of cups in the new season saw Zest win 'back-to-back' cups in the Asian server tournament, having won the last point-giving tournament back in week 53 (RagnaroK actually won the previous week's cup). In Europe, another familiar victor grabbed hold of the first available points in Clem, while the American region once again succumbed to foreign rule with MaxPax claiming the crown.
Protoss completely dominated the Korean Open on Sunday with all four top positions being filled by four elite representatives of Aiur. Zest showed his prowess in the mirror match-up throughout the entire tournament, only playing PvP from start to end with Zoun, Trap and PartinG standing in his way. The Big Boy felled mighty Protoss opposition himself on the way to the finals, defeating Has and Stats to reach the deciding series. Coincidentally, Zest and PartinG had mirroring map-scores in all the rounds of the cup until the finals. There, PartinG took the lead with a win on the first map, was subsequently beaten three times in a row by the IEM Katowice 2021 runner-up.
Participation in the European edition remained healthy even during the off-season when no EPT points were on the line, so it's no surprise another long list of players signed up to take part in the 2021/22 Season's opening. Familiar faces and match-ups greeted the viewers, with traditional powerhouses Clem and ShoWTimE clashing in the semis—in this event, the Frenchman emerged victorious with a 3-0 scoreline. More surprising were the results in the other half of the bracket: HeRoMaRinE suffered an upset at the hands of MarineLorD, but the French Terran wasn't able to capitalize on the upset. Instead, it was Germany's GunGFuBanDa who earned an unexpected finals berth, cutting a path through Neeb and then MarineLorD. Unfortunately for GunGFuBanDa, the finals was more than a bit unevenly matched: Clem dismantled his underdog opponent without dropping a map.
Some things just don't change and one of them seems to be the domination of the American ESL Open Cup by players from outside the region. Zest gave the famous Korean double-dip a try (made easier this season by the Korean cup moving a day earlier) and made it into the semis, where he was stopped by the eventual victor of the tournament: MaxPax. The Danish Protoss had been eliminated by ShoWTimE in the European edition, but tried his luck a second time in the American cup, just as he had many times in the previous season. The Dane went through his fellow Team eXoN member Nina before defeating Zest to access the finals. A fellow European waited for him there in the form of Gerald, who had overcome old man ForGG and then narrowly survived an encounter with Has in the semis. Playing both the Taiwanese magician and then MaxPax one after the other must have been an experience bringing him close to madness—only facing sOs before or after could've made the situation any more ridiculous. In any case, Gerald took the first bout against the MaxPax in the finals, but that would be the only point he scored as MaxPax took control of the series and closed it out 3-1.
ESL Open Cup winners earn $200 in prize money and 10 ESL Pro Tour points. Players who finish second earn 5 ESL Pro Tour points and $100. A top 4 finish guarantees at least $50.
European Server Cup #65 (Click for full bracket)
Americas Server Cup #65 (Click for full bracket)