In week #127, ByuN won the Korean server cup once again to achieve the back-to-back, MaxPax achieved his own consecutive victory in the Americas cup, while Clem supplanted HeroMarine as the king of Europe. However, the most impressive performance of the week didn't come from one of the champions—instead it came from Reynor, who off-raced as Protoss and beat several top-tier players on his way to a runner-up finish in EU.
Korean Cup: Participation was down in the Korean cup after a spike in week #126. Armani and Rex were the main Zerg representatives, ByuN and KeeN were the most notable Terrans, while Protoss had the deepest pool of players including Classic, Creator, herO, and NightMare.
The round of 16 brought some notable eliminations earlyon, such as Chinese terran Coffee beating Rex (2-1) or Chance upsetting Keen (2-1). However, the overall even seeding made sure the best players met later on. The RO8 went mostly as expected: Creator won against Coffee (2-0), Classic beat NightMare (2-0), and herO took out Chance (2-0). ByuN beat Armani as well, but that was due to a forfeit.
The semifinals were where the Code S-class competition began, beginning with Creator taking down Classic (2-0). That may or may not be surprising depending on if you mostly watched GSL where Creator performed superbly well in Season 1, or online cups such as EPT where Creator has struggled as of late (particularly in PvP). The bottom side semifinals between herO and ByuN was close as expected, with ByuN taking the 2-1 victory to face Creator in the finals.
ByuN made it look like it would be an easy title defense after winning the first two games of the finals (VOD), but Creator managed to claw his way back into the series and tied it 2-2. However, ByuN was able to close out the series in the final match, locking in his back-to-back KR cup victory.
Upset(s) of the day: None of the big names suffered upsets, but Chance defeating KeeN was a big surprise in the earlier rounds. Aligulac.com currently gives the Protoss player a 13% chance of beating KeeN in a BO3, so his chances were probably 10% or even lower at the time of the match.
European Cup: This European cup was quite stacked, with almost all the big names present. MaxPax, ShoWTimE, trigger, SKillous, and an off-racing Reynor were some of the notable Protoss representatives; Clem, HeroMarine, Spirit, and SpeCial fought on the Terran side; and Elazer and Lambo were the most high-profile Zergs Zergs alongside. Zerg also had the retiree Nerchio returning for one of his infrequent visits—as it turned out, it wouldn't be a token appearance.
Nerchio produced one of the biggest upsets of the top side of the bracket, defeating Lambo 2-1 in the RO32. That's already a pretty insane result, but there would be more madness to come in the lower bracket. In any case, everything else went relatively as expected on the top side. Clem burned a path to the semifinals by defeating MaNa and SKillous 2-0 each, where he was met by Spirit who had defeated SpeCial and Gerald (who had previously ended Nerchio's run) to get there as well. The TvT semifinals between Clem and Spirit was dominated by the French Terran Clem who managed to qualify for the finals while maintaining a perfect record.
The bottom side of the bracket was very stacked with HeroMarine, ShoWTimE, MaxPax, and Reynor having to battle it out quite early. MaxPax had a good start with a 2-1 over BabyMarine and 2-0 against Elazer, but could not survive his encounter with HeroMarine (who won 2-1 vs GungFuBanDa beforehands). ShoWTimE was the favorite against both Firefly Firefly and Harstem, but struggled a bit with 2-1 victories each time (maybe this was foreshadowing what was about to come). Reynor defeated CuKu 2-0 in PvT, which is already impressive, but also managed to win 2-1 against Canadian Protoss trigger. Sure, he had the server advantage, but this was still impressive as trigger is a strong NA player. Yet, that wasn't the end of Reynor's story.
Reynor receiving high seeding even when off-racing has negatively affected the competition in the past, but this week, but he proved he was truly worthy of the #2 seed at the bottom side of the bracket (with Clem taking #1 after winning DHM: EU last week). After beating trigger, Reynor went on to beat one of the top non-Korean Protosses in ShoWTimE by a clean 2-0 scoreline (VOD). Spectators and Protoss players who find the match-up too volatile will have a good laugh about that result, but Reynor wasn't content with one upset. Indeed, he went on to beat HeroMarine with Protoss as well, taking a 2-1 victory (VOD). In my opinion, this run surpasses the previous best off-race performance in a competitive tournament, which was achieved by a Protoss-playing Scarlett who beat DongRaeGu 1-0 during a live MLG event in 2014 (albeit, ESL weeklies have lower stakes than the old MLG majors).
After such an impressive performance, we can forgive Reynor for losing against another one of the best Terran players in the world in the finals. Clem took a comfortable 3-1 victory in the finals (VOD), but even then Reynor still managed to take a map. This victory is the 34th one for Clem in Europe, and across all regions he is ranked #3 with 41 gold medals, right behind #2 Zest with 44 and #1 HeroMarine with 46.
Upset(s) of the day: Nerchio beating Lambo, even 2-1 in a mirror match-up, would have taken the upset of the day title in almost any other week as his chance of winning was below 30% according to Aligulac. But Reynor’s run is so ridiculously impressive that it might not just be the upset of the day, it might be 'the upset of the entire history of ESL Open Cups.'
Keep in mind, these Aligulac percentages are calculated with his Protoss rating after it's been significantly boosted from the wins: 1.88% chance to beat HeroMarine, 4.02% chance to beat ShoWTimE, and 16.68% chance to beat trigger. The upset against HeroMarine, especially given the score, seems to easily qualify for the 'biggest upsets in SC2 history' list.
American Cup: After such a crazy EU cup, the NA one that took place a few hours later was obviously calmer. ByuN was the lone top Terran representative, Zerg had Bioice, Golden and Mixu, among others to contend for the title, and Protoss had a few more players with notably DisK, Gerald, Maplez, MaxPax, Nina, ShaDoWn, SKillous and trigger.
Nina managed to defeat Maplez 2-0 (the 2nd canadian player in Nation Wars) before losing 0-2 against ByuN in the ro16, RockEr beat ShaDoWn 2-1 and SKillous beat Jason 2-0. Other notable results include MaxPax 2-0 against Golden in the PvZ, trigger 2-0 vs Bioice in a canadian PvZ and DisK 2-0 against Spatz in PvP. The top side quarter finals were one-sided, with ByuN and Gerald winning 2-0 against Exostriker and Mixu respectively, as the favorites. The bottom side of the bracket was full of PvP and closer on paper, although the scores ended up being the same: SKillous 2-0 against DisK, MaxPax 2-0 vs trigger.
ByuN won 2-0 versus Gerald to qualify for the finals while MaxPax was able to beat SKillous 2-1 to get a shot at a back-to-back victory. The final ended up going the distance (VOD), with MaxPax overcoming a 1-2 deficit to win yet another NA cup. He's now at 13 total gold medals in NA for his career, ahead of PartinG and just behind #2 Solar who had 16 (#1 is still Zest with 23).
Upset(s) of the day: The biggest upset for me was RockEr beating ShaDoWn, and Aligulac definitely agrees as the Protoss had around 7% chances to do so on paper. He achieved a similar upset against Creator not too long ago where the cannon rush was his tool of choice. My bet would be that he went to that cheesy approach again, though I couldn't find a VOD to confirm.