The second week of the ESL Open Cups for the 2021-22 ESL Pro Tour (and 66th overall) have come and gone: On Sunday, Stats marked his first win of the second season in Korea, while Clem defended his title in the European showdown on Monday. In the American cup, Solar celebrated his first successful overseas campaign of the season.
The top echelon of Korean Protoss players seem to have thing for EPT points. Their participation in these cups has been steady week after week, while their colleague's spirits seem lacking in this regard. No wonder, then, that once more the warriors from Aiur dominated the competition on Sunday by taking three out of four top spots in the Asian cup. Stats had a pretty comfortable way to the finals, with MacSed and SpeCial being the only notable opponents he had to overcome to gain entry to the decisive bout. There, he clashed with PartinG, who had already stood in the finals in the previous week (eliminating Stats along the way). Unfortunately for PartinG, he had his hopes thwarted once again. Just like in Cup #65, the Big Boy won the first map, only to be crushed in the three subsequent games. Having defeated Has and Trap along the way, his PvP mojo seemed depleted.
While 'the Clem Weekly' really doesn't have the same ring to it as 'the Big Gabe Weekly', the Liquid player seems to have the will to make the new unofficial title for the tournament series a reality, having already secured the second win in the new season and laying a foundation for a long streak of victories. It was a hard-won triumph, for Clem had to contend with souL and HeRoMaRinE to reach the finals. But with his reputed weakness in TvT really not being as much of an issue anymore, the two Terrans were nothing the Frenchman couldn't handle. On the other side of the bracket, another heavy hitter cruised through the bracket without breaking a sweat: the reigning world champion Reynor graced the cup with his presence and reached the finals without losing a map, disposing of GunGFuBanDa in the semis—already the second top four placement for the German this season. The Italian and his opponent from France rekindled their rivalry from last season, Clem winning the first map after a series of Bio pushes. Reynor struck back by taking a page out of Dark's book and opting for Roach-Ravager, transitioning into Lurker-Viper and eventually winning the macro game in the second match. He followed this up by showing his range on the third map, taking a win with Muta-Ling-Bane. A wonky base trade scenario on Blackburn equalized the series, with Clem closing things out in another Bio-Mine vs. Muta-Ling-Bane match on the final map—it wasn't the most exciting series these two have played against each other, but seeing this duel in a weekly cup sure is a fantastic thing for the fans.
After crashing out of the Korean/Asian cup early on, Solar made up for it with a dominating performance in the American ESL Open Cup one day later, going through Vanya, Has and SpeCial without dropping a map to claim the win. Has had already reached the semi-finals in the previous week, seemingly gaining some consistency. The same goes for Polish Protoss Gerald, who had appeared in the finals of Cup #65 and only narrowly missed out on repeating this feat, being eliminated by the Mexican Terran with a 2-3 score after himself defeating the defending champion MaxPax and Korean player NightMare. Taken together with his very solid performance in the World Team League on the weekend, the eXoN player's form seems to be quite good at the moment, so another finals appearance or perhaps even a win look like they're in the cards for him.
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. Edition #67 of the ESL Open Cups will take place on the 18th (Korea) and the 19th of April (Europe and America).
European Server Cup #65 (Click for full bracket)
Americas Server Cup #65 (Click for full bracket)