Edition #88 of the ESL Open Cups featured a double-victory for Zest who won gold medals in Korea and America. While the ESL Open triple crown eluded him once more, his GSL quarterfinals victory in between the AM and KR cups makes him worth of some kind of honorary award. Meanwhile, in Europe, Clem managed to take back the crown for the first time since July.
Creator had dominated the ESL Open Cup in Korea for the past three editions, but his impressive streak was finally broken in week #88 by Taiwanese Protoss Nice who managed to eliminate the Korean with a 2-1 score in the Ro16. The Good Game Gaming player could not catapult himself to a top finish with the momentum of this victory, however, as another Protoss in his bracket stole his thunder. Military returnee herO made a solid run, taking down Nice, Zoun, and then uThermal on his way to the finals. Speaking of uThermal, it's not that strange a sight to see Europeans venturing into the Korean cup these days, with the Dutchman taking out MaxPax and SpeCial to make it into the top four.
In any case, the cup marked a noteworthy milestone for herO, with the Dragon Phoenix Gaming player reaching his first ESL Open Cup finals since returning from military service. The other side of the bracket was also dominated by DPG players as well, as Zest and Cure tore their opponents apart to clash in the semis. Alas, Cure couldn't end his losing streak against Zest in the ESL Open Cups, opening the path for Zest's seventh ESL Open Cup Korean victory of the season. herO was not quite ready to take on a PvP player of Zest's caliber, and ceded the victory to the online king.
Bored by all the oppressing Protoss dominance in Korea? Don't worry, Terran stood strong in the ESL Open Cup Europe once more with the two usual suspects carving their ways through the opposition for another classic TvT showdown. Clem defeated ShaDoWn, his Liquid brother-in-arms uThermal and MaxPax to reach the finals, where he faced his eternal ESL Open rival HeRoMaRinE. Big Gabe ran into a few more problems than Clem, dropping maps to Hellraiser and Kelazhur before having a too-close-for-comfort brush with death at the hands of Zest. The Protoss once again pulled an all-nighter to play on EU and NA, making the semis in Europe only to be foiled by Big Gabe in a close 3-2 series. HeRoMaRinE took the first map against Clem in the finals, but after having to overcome Zest in a tough battle, whereas Clem had stomped MaxPax with a 3-0 score, the German lacked the stamina to keep up with the French Terran and lost 1-3. This marks Clem's eighth gold medal in Europe in the running season, so he's trailing Big Gabe by one victory.
You really have to hand it to Zest, uThermal and MaxPax: this trio plays in every ESL Open Cup at the moment, and they dived into the NA cup together to close out the week. For most of the bracket, the NA cup felt like uThermal's event. The Liquid player managed to enter his second finals overall in the current season by overcoming NightMare, SKillous, his fellow adventurer MaxPax and the slayer of Creator, Nice. The Taiwanese Protoss once again put together a very solid run including a victory over his former Alpha X colleague Astrea, the best American of this edition with a top eight finish. Unfortunately for uThermal, Zest once again let loose and was really eager to secure his first three-peat of the season on the American server. Eliminating TriGGer, Creator and ByuN, the DPG Protoss confidently brushed aside any resistance the Dutchman mustered and added another gold medal to his collection—a fine addition for sure, especially as we look at the all-time ranking, where Zest is very steadily closing in on record holder HeRoMaRinE. Big Gabe still sits on top with 35 gold medals, but the Korean is now only three victories behind him—equalizing the scores by winning the fabled triple next week would be an amazing feat.
Thanks to the partnership with Shopify, ESL Open Cup winners earn $250 in prize money and 10 ESL Pro Tour points. Players who finish second earn 5 ESL Pro Tour points and $150. A top 4 finish guarantees at least $100 as well as 2 ESL Pro Tour points, reaching the top 8 pays out $50. Edition #89 of the ESL Open Cups will take place on the 19th (Korea) and the 20th of September (Europe and America).
European Server Cup #88 (Click for full bracket)
Americas Server Cup #88 (Click for full bracket)