Week #131 featured fierce competition as usual, with Europe and NA getting especially heated. The week started off with GuMiho having a very good run in the Korean/Asian server cup, winning his third ever cup on the server. Then, MaxPax took gold in the European cup by taking down Clem in the finals for the third time in four weeks. Finally, ByuN won the North American cup, which looked a lot like DreamHack Valencia with four Korean players in the semifinals.
Korean Cup: For once, Protoss wasn't the faction with the most notable players in Korea, making the representation feel much more even across the board. Scarlett, Solar and MeomaikA were the main Zerg players, GuMiho and Percival stood out among the Terrans, while Protoss had Classic, Firefly, and Nice playing among others.
The round of 16 did not feature any major upsets, and the RO8 also went on mostly as expected: Scarlett defeated Percival 2-1, Nice beat Firefly 2-1, and Classic eliminated MeomaikA 2-0. There was one surprising RO8 result, however, as GuMiho beat Solar 2-0 to knock him out. While this would have been quite impressive two months ago, in light of some of Solar's recent tweets and Twitch chat comments regarding his mental and physical health, this may not have come as a shock to some viewers.
The semifinals went pretty much as expected given the fact that Classic is still not back in his former shape. Scarlett beat Classic 2-1, while GuMiho defeated Nice 2-0 as the odds suggested. The finals between Scarlett and GuMiho was very one-sided however, at least scorewise, as the PSISTORM Terran simply swept the Canadian Zerg 3-0 to win his third KR cup (VOD). In doing so, GuMiho completed a perfect run without a single map loss.
Upset(s) of the day: GuMiho’s entire run was the most impressive and unlikely result for me. Not only did he achieve a perfect run, but he also beat Solar and Scarlett along the way. He actually had around 30:70 odds against Solar according to Aligulac—even if Solar has had outside-the-game struggles, those are some hard odds to overcome.
European Cup: As usual, the European cup had the most stacked roster among the three regions. Clem, HeroMarine, and Kelazhur were the Terran standouts, Lambo, Elazer and Denver were the main Zerg representatives, while Protoss had a lot of strong players including Astrea, Neeb, MaxPax, ShoWTimE, SKillous, and Reynor off-racing yet again.
Clem had a relatively straightforward run to the finals, beating Brat_OK, trigger, Harstem, and Lambo while losing only a map to trigger in the process. There were some interesting results elsewhere in Clem's side of the bracket, with Harstem eliminating ShoWTimE 2-0 before losing to Clem and BabyMarine taking a map off SKillous before losing to Lambo. Also, HeroMarine was thrown into the Clem half of the bracket, but he didn't get to face off against his frequent cup rival. After beating Spatz and Gerald 2-1, he lost 1-2 to Lambo in the quarterfinals. Big Gabe was actually leading in the deciding game, but was caught unprepared by a clever tech switch to his most hated unit in the Lurker.
The bottom side of the bracket was competitive as well. Strange managed to defeat MaNa before losing versus Neeb in the following round, and Kelazhur beat Astrea 2-1 as early as the round of 16 before US Nation Wars teammate Neeb avenged Astrea by eliminating Kelazhur 2-1. MaxPax defeated Elazer and the off-racing Reynor (who managed to beat Denver 2-1 in PvZ the previous round) to face Neeb in the semifinals. Not surprisingly, the PvP king showed his strength once more and proceeded to beat the American Protoss 2-0.
The finals between MaxPax and Clem was very close (VOD), and even though Clem got a 2-1 lead, each victory from the players seemed hard fought for. Ultimately, MaxPax found a way to win the series 3-2, winning his third finals in a row against Clem. This seems like quite the shift in their relationship, considering that Clem used to have the edge in the match-up. Maybe the new map pool was the change MaxPax needed to beat his nemesis in Europe?
This victory brings MaxPax to 24 gold medals overall (6th), just behind Cure who has 25 (5th).
Upset(s) of the day: Kelazhur beating Astrea is a nice upset in terms of Aligulac stats, with Kelazhur only having around a 25% chance to win. At this point, Reynor beating Denver with Protoss doesn't feel like a surprise anymore—you have to wonder where his PvZ Aligulac score will settle once he plays enough matches. Lambo beating HeroMarine was another good result, as Lambo only had around a 35% chance to win the match according to Aligulac. Even though Aligulac doesn't think it was the biggest surprise, I'm still picking Lambo's win against Big Gabe as my upset of the day because of how hard fought the series was.
American Cup: The NA cup had a pretty strong field of players as usual. DRG and Solar stood out for Zerg, ByuN, GuMiho, and Future repped Terran, and MaxPax, Gerald, NightMare, SKillous, and trigger led the way for PRotoss.
One could have expected a double victory for MaxPax as he is known for performing particularly well in NA, but trigger managed to upset him in the RO16. Trigger was unable to capitalize on that surprise win, however, as he lost 1-2 to ByuN in the quarterfinals. NightMare also had a good underdog run, notably beating Gerald and Eiger to reach the semifinals before losing to ByuN.
On the other side of the bracket, DRG made a rare appearance but forfeited after reaching the RO16. GuMiho fought his way to the semifinals, notably beating SKillous 2-1 and taking out Exostriker who was the beneficiary of DRG's forfeit. However, it was Solar who actually managed to reach the finals from that side of the bracket, defeating Future and serial cheeser RockEr before getting his revenge on GuMiho for his KR cup loss.
The grand finals between Solar and ByuN (VOD) began with Solar drawing first blood, but ByuN found his footing and took the next three maps for a 3-1 series victory. The win gave ByuN his 15th gold medal across all regions, tying ShoWTimE for seventh place overall.
Upset(s) of the day: trigger beating MaxPax is my obvious pick for upset of the day. The post-match prediction from Aligulac only gives trigger an 8% chance to win, so it was probably in the 6~7% range at the time of the match. This upset probably played a big part in this week's cup outcome, opening the door for ByuN to win.