Last week featured the first of the 'off-season' ESL Weekly cups, which do not award EPT points but still pays out the same prize money to competitors. Though the stakes aren't quite as high as before, the cups are still useful to check up on which progamers are in good form.
In week #106, Zest managed to win both NA and KR cups while ShoWTimE won the EU cup for the back-to-back victories. With these two victories, Zest now ties HeroMarine with 40 gold medals across all three EPT cups, ahead of Clem (31 golds) and Solar (28 golds).
[ESL Open Cups are no longer awarding points for the EPT 2021/22 season. Cups will continue to be held and award prize money as before, but will only resume awarding points once the EPT 2022/23 season begins.]
KR cup: The Korean cup once again did not feature many participants, but the level of competition was still respectable with strong representatives for all three races: Dark and RagnaroK for Zerg, ByuN, SpeCial and Ryung for Terran, and Zest, herO and Creator representing protoss, to name a few.
The round of 16 mostly featured strong players beating out clear underdogs, except with Creator versus Ryung where the Team GP terran managed to edge out Creator with a 2-1 victory. Unfortunately for him, he was rewarded by facing Zest right after, and Ryung lost 1-2 against the DPG protoss. Other results include SpeCial beating ByuL 2-0 before losing against RagnaroK on the same score (the Zerg had beaten Prince as well), herO beating Percival 2-0 but eliminated the next round by Dark on the same score, and ByuN beating MacSed to qualify for the semifinals.
Demonstrating his strength in the TvZ match-up, especially online, ByuN was able to win a close series against Dark 3-2 to qualify for the finals. Facing him was Zest, who eliminated RagnaroK without much trouble in a 3-1 victory. The finals match between ByuN and Zest was super close, with the terran taking a 2-0 lead over his protoss opponent, before Zest proved to be clutch with the reverse sweep to win the series 3-2.
Upset(s) of the day: There was one glaring upset on the day, with ByuN defeating Dark 3-2 even though the Zerg is currently one of the best in the world in the match-up alongside Serral and Rogue.
EU Cup: Even though the race for EPT points is over, there were still a lot of participants in this EU cup. Notably, the favorites Clem, ShoWTimE, MaxPax, Reynor and HeroMarine were all there to duke it out after a poor European performance in DH Last Chance.
Clem managed to get to the semifinals rather predictably, although not that easily: he beat among others DnS and Rattata 2-1 each to qualify for the semifinals. ShoWTimE was his opponent there, after Die Mauer beat DisK 2-0 and especially MaxPax 2-1 in their now regular encounter. The German protoss was on fire that day and was able to beat Clem relatively easily with a 3-1 victory to qualify for the finals.
On the other side of the bracket, HeroMarine destroyed all of his Protoss opponents one after the other: notably MaNa, GungFuBanda and Skillous (respectively 2-0, 2-0 and 3-1). Even though Reynor participated, he was unable to get past Skillous and lost 0-2 in quarterfinals.
All of that TvP practice did not prevent HeroMarine from almost getting sweeped, with ShoWTimE getting a 2-0 lead, before HeroMarine managed to tie the series 2-2. Unfortunately for Big Gabe, his momentum was stopped by ShoWTimE who closed out the series with the 3-2 victory to take the gold medal, in back-to-back fashion from the last cup.
Upset(s) of the day: Usual caveats about server issues aside, GungFuBanda made a nice upset with the 2-0 victory over ByuN. The korean terran can be fearsome even on the european server so it was a nice victory. The biggest upset for me though was Skillous winning 2-0 against Reynor.
NA Cup: This American edition featured a lot of strong players, namely Astrea, ByuN, Zest, Dark, Trap, Clem and herO among others. This resulted in a pretty fierce competition, with Zest beating ByuN 2-1 and Trap beating Astrea on the same score to qualify for the semifinals. The bottom side of the bracket saw trigger (formerly known as the more annoying to type "TriGGeR") pull off an impressive upset by beating Dark 2-0, before losing against Nice 1-2. herO eliminated fellow protosses NightMare and Has with 2-0 victories before narrowly losing 1-2 versus Clem in quarters.
In the semifinals, Zest showed how strong he is in these online cups by eliminating Trap with a comfortable 3-1 victory, while Nice pulled off another PvT upset by taking out Clem 3-2, to impressively qualify for the NA finals for the second time ever. The finals did not feature an upset, as the big favorite Zest won with a clean 3-0 to achieve the double victory in both KR and NA cups.
Upset(s) of the day: This cup was very rich in upsets! Indeed, trigger managed to take out Dark without even dropping a map (although in bo3) with the 2-0. On top of that, we also saw Nice taking down the French Terran 3-2 in the semifinals, which was another big score for Nice after also taking out ByuN lately.
European Server Cup #106 (Click for full bracket)
Americas Server Cup #106 (Click for full bracket)