This week, herO accomplished the first ever 'four-peat' in the Korean cup with yet another victory. MaxPax had to cede the NA title for a second straight week, but made up for it by winning a rare EU cup with victories over HeroMarine and ShoWTimE. With MaxPax losing his grasp over NA, Cure came through to seize first place. After a period of stepping back from his online dominance, it was his first NA cup since week #84 in August of 2021.
Korean Cup: As usual, the total pool of players wasn't that deep in the KR Cup, but there were still several strong players toward the top end: Classic, herO, Nice and trigger for Protoss, ByuN, Cure, and KeeN as Terran representatives, and Dark, Solar, and soO for zerg. The return of soO and the increased participation of Dark allowed this cup to be more balanced in terms of races with at least three notable players for all three races.
On the top side of the bracket, ByuN was able to take his revenge on soO who defeated him in the last cup, this time winning 2-0 after defeating protoss ReBellioN in the previous round. Classic beat KeeN 2-1 but couldn’t do much versus Dark in the following round, nor could ByuN as Dark beat them both respectively 2-0 and 2-1 to reach the finals.
The bottom side of the bracket also featured strong competition, as trigger beat Nice 2-1 in the PvP mirror before losing 0-2 against Cure in the ro8. Other than that, herO had a pretty rocky path to the finals: he narrowly defeated Coffee, Solar and Cure 2-1 each.
It looked like the finals was gonna be far easier for herO as he initially went up 2-0 against Dark, but Code S semifinalist wouldn't take the shame of losing in a sweep and tied the series 2-2. herO was able to stop the momentum of his opponent and win the final map for the 3-2 series victory. This makes him the only player to have won 4 cups in a row in the Asia region, as the previous record was 3 consecutive wins (achieved by multiple players).
Upset(s) of the day: I feel like there wasn’t any upset in this cup, but herO was a slight underdog against Dark in the finals. Also, kudos to Coffee for at least drawing blood from herO, as he was a huge underdog with a 10~15% chance of winning a single map.
European Cup: This week's cup had some notable absences in Reynor and Clem, who were presumably taking a break after making deep runs in King of Battles 3. This made it seem even more likely that HeroMarine might win his third EU cup in a row—and maybe even achieve it with his third perfect run. But instead, the king of the NA Cups abruptly stopped Big Gabe.
Indeed, HeroMarine beat arrogfire 2-0 in TvP, but only won 2-1 Coffee in the mirror so the perfect run was already out of the equation. Not only that, but he also lost in the quarterfinals 0-2 against MaxPax (who previously beat Rattata 2-0), giving the Danish player his first head-to-head win in 2022 after five consecutive losses. uThermal and Spirit met each other in the quarterfinals after beating MaNa and Harstem respectively, without dropping a map. The former TL terran was able to beat Spirit 2-1 to get a shot against MaxPax in the semifinals, but he could not do more than HeroMarine and also lost 0-2. The bottom side of the bracket was a bit less stacked and ShoWTimE was the clear favorite there; he beat Elazer and Gerald 2-0 and 2-1 among others to qualify for the finals.
Alas, while ShoWTimE is almost dead even with MaxPax in career head-to-head record, the Danish Protoss has shown he's the clear favorite in more recent duels. He proved it again on the day, winning the finals with a dominating 3-0 to complete his own perfect run. Even if HeroMarine wasn't the star, the EU cup actually did end with a third consecutive loss-less winner.
Upset(s) of the day: FightingFrog beating Kelazhur 2-0 was the biggest upset for me that day, alongside MaxPax beating HeroMarine: the latter is not that big of an upset although MaxPax has trouble versus Big Gabe, but the form and recent runs of HeroMarine in EU made him the clear favorite, so this qualifies as a nice upset.
American Cup: The NA cup saw more Korean involvement than usual, making this a particularly strong cup despite Clem missing out. Gerald, MaxPax, ShaDoWn and trigger were the notable Protoss representatives, ByuN, Cure, GuMiho, and SpeCial turned out for Terran, and Dark and Solar represented Zergs at the top end.
The top side of the bracket saw Dark beat Golden and Gerald to face the previous winner ByuN in the semifinals. ByuN had notably defeated GuMiho (who himself beat SpeCial 2-0 the round before) 2-1 in quarters and was strong enough to also beat Dark 2-0, reaching the finals and getting a shot at a back-to-back victory.
The bottom side of the bracket was dominated by Cure, who beat two difficult Protoss opponents in trigger and MaxPax 2-0 each. The EU cup winner had a good run up to that point, defeating ShaDoWn and Solar 2-0 each (but dropping a map to US player 'Reaper,' who is weirdly not a Zerg player and not a Terran).
The final between ByuN and Cure was very close, and Cure had the upper hand at the start winning the opening map, before ByuN caught up and won the next two maps. However, Cure pulled off the good ol' ESL Open Cup comeback, earning the come-from-behind 3-2 victory. After a bit of a lull in cup competition, Cure was able to overtake Clem as the 5th winningest NA cup player with 8 total victories.
Upset(s) of the day: This cup did not feature many upsets, so I will probably pick ByuN beating Dark 2-0 as the biggest upset. Reaper taking a map off MaxPax was a nice, smaller upset as well.