The 100th edition of the ESL Open Cups was a celebratory event, with participation spiking in the American and European events. EU went up to 140 participants from the usual 110, while NA was up to 85 from the typical 55 or so players. Also, RotterdaM offered bonus awards such as game of the day, play of the day, etc. for the European server cup.
As for the results, Dark participated once more in the Korean cup and asserted his dominance with his third victory in a row, MaxPax won his second ever EU cup with an impressive performance against Reynor in the finals, and herO closed out week #100 by winning his first American cup.
KR cup: The Korean cup did not have noticeably more players than the previous week (27 compared to 23 in cup #99), but the roster was still deeper on the whole. Indeed, Dark joined once more, while Code S winner Cure and runner-up Zest signed up as well. Zoun and herO gave the Protoss line-up some depth, while DongRaeGu and Solar made sure Zerg was well-represented as well. On the Terran side, ByuN, Percival, and SpeCial decided to try their luck (SpeCial participated in all three server cups).
While his performances in the WTL have been relatively poor for a player of his stature, Dark has not disappointed in the EPT Cups since he recently decided to rejoin the fray. After a double victory two weeks ago (KR and NA), another KR victory last week, Dark took his third KR Cup in a row in week #100.
Dark only participated in the Korean cup but made a statement by being completely dominant once again. DongRaeGu beat both Chance and Has 2-0 before meeting Dark, who shut his hopes with a 2-0 like he did with ByuL the previous round. Zoun won against both Percival (2-0) and SpeCial (2-1), but was doomed to meet Dark in the semifinals. He did win the consolation prize of being the only player to take a map off Dark in this cup.
Cure made a solid run to come out of the other half of the bracket, even though it was only a path to a beating at the hands of Dark. ByuN and Cure eliminated Cyan and MacSed before meeting yet another time in the cup, and this time the reigning Code S champion won 2-1. Creator showed off his recently strong PvZ by beating Solar 2-0, but couldn't keep it up against herO who took 2-0 victories against both Zest and Creator. Unfortunately for herO though, Cure is still monstrous in TvP and beat him 3-0 with ease in the semifinals.
Cure’s TvP might seem unstoppable at the moment, but it seems like Dark is destroying every Terran nowadays but Maru. The finals against Cure was a demonstration of Dark's might. He took game one on Glittering Ashes with a Nydus attack, exploiting a corner of Cure's base that wasn't covered by any buildings. Game two saw Cure go for a Banshee opener that couldn't do much damage, and Dark was able to take his gold base and fifth expansion without much resistance. This strong economy let him spawn a powerful Ravager-Ling-Ultralisk swarm that killed Cure in one big attack. The last game on Hardwire was closer than the previous ones, with Cure going into five-base turtle mode while Dark took his whole side of the map. Dark used his BL-Infestor-Queen to make sure Cure couldn't get to a true 50/50 expansion split, thus keeping the resource advantage on his side. He then used a huge number of Banelings combined with Neural Parasites on Thors to break through the Terran defenses head on. With the 3-0 victory, Dark hit an absurd 3475 ZvT rating on Aligulac.com, trailing Serral by less than twenty points in the standings..
Upset(s) of the day: There weren’t many noteworthy upsets in the Korean cup. The most surprising result was Creator beating Solar 2-0, which is less of an upset than it might have been a few weeks ago considering the solid PvZ Creator has played in Super Tournament and TSL8 (albeit in losing efforts). herO beating Zest is another result that would have previously been a surprise, but herO's rapid improvement and Zest's recent inconsistency made it par for the course.
EU Cup: The European cup usually has too many notable participants to list, but even by those standards, cup #100 was exceptionally well attended. On top of pros who are regulars in the EPT, streamers like Demuslim, Wardi or Ogaming's TKL participated, and even Clem’s father GrosPapa tried his luck in commemoration of #100 EU Cups.
While MaxPax and Reynor clashed for the cup title, they also won multiple bonus awards offered by RotterdaM. MaxPax won the longest game (after RO8) award, as well as performance of the night. On the other hand, Reynor won the shortest game (after RO8), as well as game of the day alongside Gerald. The play of the day award is still pending (at the time of writing).
There were several interesting storylines going on throughout the cup. HeroMarine and Clem, the winner and runner-up of cup #99, both failed to reach the finals this time. Although HeroMarine finally managed to beat ShoWTimE after 4 defeats (1w-11l combined map record in DH:EU winter, TSL#8 qualifier EU, EPT cup EU #95 and WardiTV League), he subsequently got obliterated by Reynor in a very short semifinal match. Notably, he lost a game on Blackburn in just a few minutes, losing several SCV's to a pack of Zerglings when he sent a Medivac with all of his troops across the map. Prior to that, Reynor had ended ByuN's European excursion in the quarterfinals (ByuN had defeated Kas and Creator 2-1 previously). After getting Baneling busted in game two, ByuN cheekily asked Reynor if he was doing good at the moment for some banter.
On the opposite side of the bracket, MaxPax dominated the competition much like Reynor took care of business on his own half. Both players put up 9W–1L records from the RO32 until the finals, with Reynor only dropping a map to Gerald while MaxPax gave up a map to Rattata (formerly Vanya). Clem seemed to be MaxPax's likely semifinals opponent, but he shockingly lost 0-2 against Lambo in his best match-up of TvZ, deepening concerns about his current form. MaxPax had no trouble taking out Lambo, however, beating him 3-0 to set up a finals clash against Reynor.
Game one on Curious minds saw MaxPax inflict a lot of early economic damage with an Adept opener, followed by an Immortal + Adept timing to put Reynor even further behind. With the advantage firmly in hand, MaxPax won with a head-on attack a few minutes later. The second map of Hardwire developed into a very long macro game that lasted for almost forty minutes. MaxPax used a mix of skytoss and ground army while Reynor went for mass Corruptors in the air and Ultralisks and Zerglings on the ground. The two players mined the map almost completely barren as they lost an enormous number of units. Ultimately, MaxPax was able to retain a stronger army after multiple battles, which allowed him to pry the GG from Reynor's hands. The last game on Berlingrad was another macro game, albeit shorter, this time with MaxPax using a ground-based army with Gateway units, Disruptors and Colossus. Reynor tried to overwhelm MaxPax with a flood of Roach-Ravager-Bane, but MaxPax's defenses held up and he eventually assembled an unstoppable army and won with a counter-attack.
MaxPax's impressive 3-0 over Reynor gave him the honor of the becoming the EU Cup #100 champion. In the following interview with Rotterdam, MaxPax once again provided unintentional comedy for the viewers with his extremely laconic answers.
Upset(s) of the day: Given the high number of participants of the EU cup, there were bound to be some big upsets. Lambo beating Clem 2-0 was fairly unexpected, since Clem had been the consensus #1 TvZ player for quite some time. Even though Lambo is widely considered as a top player in Europe, the absurdly good TvZ stats of Clem put him as a 80:20 favorite versus the German Zerg according to Aligulac.com's prediction formula. Another surprise was the nature of MaxPax's victory over Reynor in the finals, dominating the Italian Zerg in a 3-0 sweep.
NA Cup: The American edition also saw increased participation with a lot of top players participating. Zest tried to defend his title as the previous NA cup winner, but he got beaten by herO 1-2 like in the KR edition. In fact, herO was absolutely on fire that day, and eventually went on to win the entire cup. After defeating Zest, he went on to also beat ByuN 2-0 and Cham 3-1 to qualify for the finals. Cham actually had a strong underdog run of his own before losing to herO, taking out both Scarlett and Solar in earlier rounds.
Trap seemed like one of the top title contenders at the outset, but suffered a surprise 1-2 loss at the hands of DongRaeGu—not the most imposing ZvP player. Looking at the initial bracket, one might have expected Zoun to take advantage of this opportunity, but instead he was taken out by SpeCial who played great TvP on the day (he also defeated last week's star Hellraiser 2-0 in an earlier round). That set up a very close semifinal match between DongRaeGu and SpeCial in the semifinals, with SpeCial going 3-2 against DRG at the Zerg's best match-up to advance to the finals.
On the first map of Berlingrad, SpeCial used a Liberator in herO’s main as an early distraction while pushing with 2 Cyclones, a Tank, and several Marines. While Stasis Ward bought herO some time, he still couldn't muster the forces needed to stop this deadly push. On 2000 Atmospheres, SpeCial went for a later two-base push (around the 8:30 mark), sending four Tanks backed by plenty of Marines and SCV's. herO had to pull his Probes to defend but ultimately managed to deal with the attack, leaving SpeCial with no choice but to surrender after sacrificing his economy for the all-in attack. SpeCial then tried a proxy 1-1-1 on Curious Minds, but herO scouted it just in time to have some prior warning of the Widow Mine drop and pulled off an effective defense. He also dealt with the follow-up Marnie-Medivac-Cyclone push as well, sealing 2-1 lead. In the final game on Pride of Altaris, herO went for a Phoenix build while SpeCial tried an early attack with some SCVs, Cyclones, and Marines that was deflected by herO. The counter-attack from herO was too strong for SpeCial to stop, and he surrendered the 100th NA cup title to herO.
Upset(s) of the day: There were several upsets in the American edition of cup #100 as well. Cham beating both Scarlett and Solar 2-1 was a notable series of wins, reminiscent of the Mexican Zerg's upsets over Dark and Rogue in the first week of WTL. SpeCial also performed very well, beating Zoun 2-0 in quarters and then DongRaeGu 3-2 in the semifinals.
If that was not enough, PattyMac beat fellow countryman Astrea 2-1 with only around 10: 90 odds of beating him according to Aligulac. An honorable mention goes to ForJumy for beating Rattata 2-1, which was about a 15:85 chance according to Aligulac as well.
European Server Cup #100 (Click for full bracket)
Americas Server Cup #100 (Click for full bracket)