Week #124 saw Dark finally grab a Korean cup win, regaining some face after several failed attempts in the last few months. In Europe, Clem won his third cup to take a temporary lead over his rivals after eight weeks of play in the 2022/23 season. Finally, ByuN came out on top in the Americas, defeating the cup monster herO in the finals.
Korean Cup: There were exactly 16 players participating in the KR cup this week, ensuring no one got a walkover victory. The cup had a mix of Code S players and lesser-known players from outside of Korea—the notable participants included Dark and soO for Zerg, ByuN for Terran, and Classic, Creator, Jieshi, and herO representing Protoss.
As the top seed, Dark had an easy path up until the semifinals, defeating amateur Terrans CHAO2 from China and fork from Korea without losing a map. The other semifinalist from the top side of the bracket was Classic, who had to battle it out a bit more: he went 2-1 against both soO and Creator before losing 0-2 against Dark.
The bottom side of the bracket was filled with more foreigners than KR players: herO beat Aussie Zerg Sunshine 2-0, HHQuanTa beat Chinese Terran Chao 2-0 in TvT, and Jieshi beat US Terran Slip 2-0 to face herO in quarters. This DPG teamkill went in favor of herO who won 2-0 to keep his sheet clean and meet ByuN in the semifinals, after the Terran beat HHQuanTa 2-0 in the mirror. After game one, it looked like herO was going to win another KR cup, or at least get a shot in the finals, but ByuN got his nerves in control and tied up the series 1-1 before winning the third map to qualify for the finals.
Unfortunately for the Shopify Terran, Dark was hungry for victory after being denied for weeks since cup #100 in December 2021. He proceeded to dominate ByuN, winning the series 3-0.
Upset(s) of the day: The closest thing to an upset would be ByuN winning against herO 2-1, since the Terran was a minor underdog with around a 40% chance of winning the BO3 match according to Aligulac. However, given the fact that herO dominated the cup in recent weeks, I think it was a bigger upset for ByuN than it may seem at first glance..
European Cup: The European cup was once again stacked with strong players, though the Zerg representation was once again left a bit thin as Reynor chose to off-race for yet another week (this time picking Protoss). That left Elazer as the primary stand-out player for Zerg, while Terran had a much deeper pool of players with Clem, HeroMarine, Kelazhur, and Spirit at the forefront. The Protoss contingent was quite numerous as always—even without MaxPax and ShoWTimE playing this week—led by the likes of Neeb, SKillous, ShaDoWn, and trigger were there.
Reynor’s Protoss run in the top side of the bracket was short lived as he lost 0-2 versus ForJumy in the RO16, but Elazer carried the Zerg banner all the way to the semifinals with 2-1 wins against BabyMarine, GunGFuBanDa, and ForJumy. Elazer's semifinal opponent Neeb also had a tough path, going 2-1 against Strange and Spirit (he did take a 2-0 against ShaDoWn in the ro16). Elazer finally managed to get a 2-0 against his toughest opponent yet, defeating Neeb to qualify for the finals and meet his new teammate Clem.
The French Terran also had a difficult bracket with several narrow wins, going 2-1 against both trigger and SKillous in TvP before meeting HeroMarine in the semifinals. Big Gabe had notably defeated WTL fan-favorite FightingFrog as well as Kelazhur in the lead-up. After struggling a bit in TvP, Clem demonstrated his TvT and TvZ mastery with a 2-0 victory against HeroMarine to qualify for the finals, and a strong 3-1 win against Elazer in the ultimate match. This brings Clem overall gold medal count up to 40, slightly behind #1 spot, shared between HeroMarine and Zest at 44 gold medals.
Upset(s) of the day: Europe tends to be the wildest of all the cups, but this week it was very hard to find any result that could really be called an upset. The closest thing might have been Elazer winning 2-0 against Neeb—a player he's fared poorly against historically—but he was actually a favorite according to Aligulac.com.
American Cup: This was an especially Korea-heavy version of the Americas cup, with neither MaxPax nor Clem present to provide any international flavor in the top eight. In general, it was a relatively poorly attended edition of the cup, with just 35 players compared to 53 last week.
This allowed some lesser known players to go relatively far, for example StephenCurry beating Golden 2-1 (which is actually pretty funny for any basketball fan) before losing 0-2 against Zest in the quarterfinals. Creator struggled a bit to beat Bioice 2-1, before losing 0-2 against herO who went on to beat Zest 2-0 as well and get a shot at the back-to-back NA victory.
The bottom side of the bracket was dominated by both SpeCial and ByuN, the first notably defeating Gerald in the semifinals 2-1, while ByuN beat the Canadian representative for Nation Wars 2-0 in TvP, among others. The TvT semifinals saw ByuN win without much trouble at least score-wise, keeping his sheet clean for the finals.
It looked like ByuN was gonna make a perfect run as he was up 2-0 versus herO, but the DPG Protoss would not go down without a fight and managed to win a map. Still, ByuN was in good form that day and ultimately won the series 3-1 to get his 6th gold medal in NA, thus surpassing both herO and SpeCial who have 5, after defeating them in the same cup to do so.
Upset(s) of the day: Similarly to the EU cup, there weren’t any real upsets on the week. Therefore, US Zerg Oddjob taking a map off Zest in the round of 32 will be my pick for upset of the day.