Week #123 saw Protoss dominate in every region and achieve a clean sweep. herO won both the KR and NA cups (winning five out of the last six Korean cups), while SKillous managed to grab the title in EU after finishing as the runner-up in cups #119 and #120.
Korean Cup: The KR cup had a decent field of players with DRG and Rex as main Zerg representatives, ByuN, Cure, and KeeN as notable Terrans, and Astrea, Classic, Creator, and herO playing for Protoss. Amid this limited pool of players, we had a few surprising results. Indeed, ByuN got beaten 2-0 by KeeN (who also defeated Rex 2-0 in the prior round), while Creator lost quite early against herO 1-2.
Other than that, things went mostly as predicted: Classic beat Jieshi 2-0 in the PvP mirror before losing 0-2 against Cure, and DRG beat both fork (2-0) and Astrea (2-1) in ZvP The upper semifinal between Cure and herO was quite close as both players were tied 1-1 until herO managed to take game 3 and advance to the finals. DRG had less trouble defeating KeeN, winning the match 2-0 to face herO. Unfortunately for him, the DPG Protoss proved far stronger that day than fork or Astrea, and won 3-0 in dominating fashion to get his 5th victory out of 7 KR cups in the 2022-2023 season, cementing his status as the EPT king in Korea.
Upset(s) of the day: As mentioned previously, KeeN beating ByuN 2-0 was the biggest upset to me. Aligulac seems to agree as KeeN had less than 22% chances of beating ByuN in a BO3, which is pretty long odds. herO beating Creator would be an upset in a GSL setting given their recent performances there, but Creator does not seem to perform as well in the small online cups (which is probably better than the other way around) so I don't think this result is quite as notable.
European Cup: Top seed Reynor decided to off-race for the second straight week, this time trying his hand at Terran. He joined more experienced Terrans in Clem, HeroMarine and SpeCial, while the Zerg contingent had to make due with new TL signee Elazer as their highest level player. Of course, Europe had plenty of Protoss representatives as usual, with MaxPax, Neeb, and SKillous at the forefront.
The top side of the bracket was hard to predict with Reynor playing Terran—he went out early in the RO32 after a 0-2 loss to MindelVK. One could have expected the most likely semifinals to be [MaxPax / Elazer] against [Neeb / SpeCial], but there was a surprise result as Strange was the one who emerged from the bracket to face SpeCial for the right to play in the finals. Strange had defeated the Reynor-slayer MindelVK, and then gone on to win a huge upset against MaxPax in the quarterfinals (MaxPax had defeated Elazer 2-0 in the previous round). SpeCial had a good run as well, beating BabyMarine, MaNa, and Neeb to reach the semis. Unfortunately for Strange, that was where his underdog run ended, with SpeCial winning 2-1 to advance to the finals.
The bottom side of the bracket was a complete bloodbath, with the huge favorites Clem and HeroMarine both losing against the same opponent: SKillous. Clem seemed in form in TvP with victories against ShaDoWn and Gerald without losing a map, but ultimately lost 0-2 versus SKillous in the semifinals. HeroMarine beat Coffee 2-0 and managed to take a map off SKillous but could not win the deciding game.
The finals between SpeCial and SKillous started well for the Terran player who won the first map, but the Protoss was in great form after taking out several of the best European Terrans beforehand. He proceeded to win the next 3 games to take the series 3-1 and get his first gold medal in EU.
Upset(s) of the day: SKillous entire run was very impressive but he managed to reach the finals several times already and looked ready to win the cup, therefore I will reward Strange for his solid run until the semifinals with an impressive 2-1 victory over MaxPax. He had less than 20% chances of beating him in a BO3 according to Aligulac, but somehow pulled it off for the upset of the week.
American Cup: The NA cup was particularly stacked in my opinion, with a lot of strong players from each race: ByuN, Cure and SpeCial for Terrans, while Armani, Solar and soO stood out as Zerg representatives among others. Creator, herO, MaxPax and trigger were the most notable Protoss, and they were joined by an off-racing Reynor as well.
The 2021 Katowice champion was once again the top seed and actually managed to go far with Protoss. Not only did he beat ForJumy 2-1 in the PvP, which is already impressive, but the next result was simply mindblowing. Armani started his cup very well, with a 2-0 victory over MaxPax, but lost 0-2 against Reynor offracing. Even though Reynor is obviously more potent in PvZ as a zerg player himself than in PvP or PvT, this is almost as impressive as Scarlett beating DRG with Protoss a few years ago.
Other than that, ByuN beat Jieshi and SpeCial without losing a map to qualify for the semifinals, and had no trouble beating Reynor in TvP. The bottom side of the bracket had fierce competition, with Solar beating Creator 2-1 in quarters, Cure beating notably soO 2-1 before losing 0-2 against herO who managed to defeat Solar 2-1 in the following semifinals.
ByuN had not lost a map until the finals, while herO lost 2 maps against Nina and Solar, but it did not matter and the DPG Protoss simply dominated ByuN with a 3-0 win to achieve the double victory in both KR and NA cups, tying ByuN and SpeCial in the process with 5 gold medals in NA.
Upset(s) of the day: Reynor beating Armani 2-0 was an even bigger upset than Armani beating MaxPax 2-0, and is that much more impressive given the result of this Armani vs MaxPax ZvP. It is hard to gauge the exact Aligulac rating of Reynor as an offracer since he did not play many matches as Protoss, but he presumably had less than a 5% chance of winning according to the stats site (since it gives him a 6% chance now that he's already won the match).