World team league winter 2022 qualifiers
After a short absence SC2’s most premium team league is back in business this weekend and with it my favorite event of the year, the WTL qualifiers.
With 26 teams lining up to get a shot at a WTL participation, this qualifier is already the largest in league history and one of the largest line-ups for a team league ever. On top of that, if one accounts for the new “Code A” structure, it’s 31 different teams that are signed up, considering that each team will have to play, at minimum, 3 players each, that means we are bound to see at least 99 players field in prime time matches in the next few days.
Tired of seeing Serral win tournaments? Used all your GOAT arguments? Feel like you have seen every match-up dozens of times? Well, you’ll have none of that here! So, take a seat, kick back and get ready to watch some of the bravest teams in the world slug it out for the chance to one day get 6-0 by DPG
But to help you enjoy the WTL qualifiers to the fullness and make sense of the two dozen teams, here’s a little dive into all their potential in the form of a power ranking. And keep in mind that I don’t have any insight into any of these players, so feel free to disagree if you want!
The teams unbeknown to the great recipient of all knowledge that is Liquipedia
As a consequence of having a record number of teams signing up, we are bound to have a couple of absolute unknowns on the starting block. Since those teams have entirely no Liquipedia pages nor prior recorded results for their player, we have nothing to judge their potential and as such they can only surprise us positively
26 - LittleFairy: JOJO, littlefairy, 动感超人, 河科大李培楠
First opponent: InFernales eSports
With no LP pages the little fairies are either building up to a 12 years plan of 10 hours a day secret practice or a couple of Chinese college students, my money is on the latter.
25 - Garden Baby Gaming: Jochun, Maka Baka, and Upsy Daisy
First opponent: Team GP Owls
While I desperately want Upsy Daisy to be the next breakout stars of Starcraft 2, a squad of three unknown Chinese players without liquipedia pages is hardly menacing. Unless they have some gems hidden in their back pocket, the WTL looks more like a good time between friends for this gang.
Why they are above LittleFairy: I like the name of their players better
24 - PKU&THU: DarkMushoom, JerryYu, lifesphysics, Papillon
First opponent: KaoDa
Despite the WTL having clear rules against mercenaries and joint team ventures, the SCBoy crew seems to have allowed some Chinese crews to enter as an alliance. Luckily for them, I don’t think anyone will mind too much the fusion of “PKU” and “THU” neither of which are known to Liquipedia.
Why they are above Garden Baby Gaming: Well two teams of nobodies together are probably better than one team of nobodies
Would be happy with a single win
The WTL qualifiers have long been populated by Chinese clan and semi-professional teams that each have a few players that are just good enough to have some name recognition but not good enough to lose to pretty much anyone. Joining the Chinese, the CIS regions and Western Europe also are sending out a good number of those teams this time around showing the attractive power of the tournament. For all those teams, a single win would already be an accomplishment.
23 - KaoDa: Ghost, Kinm, madeinheaven, moonlight, ReStart, TurN, WinterZerg, ivy
First opponent: PKU&THU
Our first team with a majority of players with a liquipedia page, KaoDa nonetheless has very little interesting information to show for it. WinterZerg and Ghost seem like their most active player but outside from a lone victory from Ghost against Alka, hardly a great scalp, I can’t recognize the name of anyone they beat in the last year or so.
Why are they above PKU&THU: They have a Liquipedia page but they start to qualifier versus them, so we will put my power ranking to the test early.
22 - Platoon: Nikich, Chelser, Microchelick, Riper601, scout, Sickness, SolarianGG, Tretea, cbc
First opponent: Juggernaut
The Russian-Belorussian squad returns one more with a hefty lineup of players, but like last season none of their players are remotely menacing, and it will probably be up to Nikich, the lone player to win a map last qualifier, to play the role of the ace, as he does have a couple of nice wins this year over the likes of CuKu, Gogojoey or Spear. While it’s hard to imagine him carrying his team far, especially since they are starting against the Juggernaut, he could maybe hope to steal a couple of maps.
Why they are above KaoDa: While only one of their players has a liquipedia page and it’s an all-right one, the rest of the team being unknowns brings them down in the ranking though.
21 - 3D!Family: Astra, DefMars, Lightweight, Oquendo, Starnnik
First opponent: CranKy Ducklings
The 3D clan is as old as the Internet itself, but the days of Androide, White-Ra, and Strelok are long past for the Russians. DefMars and LightWeight stand out as the most promising players of the team, the first one having finished 4th in the “under 17” circuit organized by Alpha X last year, while the second has been a regular face of the Kazak scene (and has won over 6000$ doing so, quite an impressive amount). Nevertheless, neither of these players has scored major upsets recently.
Why they are above PLATOON: Both DefMars and LightWeight are roughly in the ballpark of Nikich and two’s better than one.
20 - Senthex: HolyHit, FrisK, Dronehard, luke, NoMercy, Soon, VeNTure, Winckel
First opponent: GdA-Team
Despite being a Starcraft powerhouse, Germany has not had a flagship team ever since the disappearance of the legendarily OP Team Acer, Senthex look to take that place as the premier German team and let’s just say they would probably take a couple of INNovation right now. Despite being a face known to many HolyHit has fewer results than one would assume, having won only a couple hundred bucks in his career. He did score wins against the likes of Vincicta, uthermal, and Fightingfrog this year, but the row of losses is also quite long. An opening match against GDA could be a golden opportunity for him to show his form. As for the rest of the team, your guess is as good as mine.
Why they are above 3D!: While HolyHit is not as successful as I thought he was, he plays with the best of EU considerably more often than the 3D! squad.
19 - GDA-team: Blutmilan, Damrud, Déca, JEROS, Quantel, Rail, vaisravana, YellowFox, ZAN
First opponent: Senthex
The team revived by French caster Legend in 2020 is trying its luck again coming in with an eclectic amalgam of players from all over the world. While Rail (aka Verdi) is the name that caught the eye first, the protoss has hardly played to the level of his former glory since the start of the year (one could imagine real-life events could have disrupted his practices), being more used to the early round of CIS cup than deep ESL competition. If he can’t carry the team forward, the pressure will be on Quantel (the Indonesian champion) and the Ukrainian terran JEROS.
Why they are above Senthex: Just like Kaoda GDA will have the chance to defend their rank right off the bat against Senthex. For me, it mostly goes down to the fact that I know the name of a couple of their players while I only know HolyHit and that Rail always has potential.
18 - Houkago Tea Team: Angryfrog, ART, EnigmA, Fallenger, NukeLar, pan1x, Replicant, Rime, Shameless, Toundra
First opponent: CSO eSports
I quite honestly don’t have much to say about this team, it’s a squad of a fairly even Russian and Kazaks semi-professional, EnigmA and Replicant are somewhat more notable historically but in the last few months, there’s nothing extraordinary. But at least I can tell you that “Houkago tea” roughly translate as “After school tea, and that’s a neat name.
Why they are above GDA: Huhhhh, well I had to put them somewhere, and here feel right
17 - Team GP Owls: control, Glow, Sandcastle, StephenCurry, ThebarTV, universe
First opponent: Garden Baby Gaming
Last season Alpha X academy team, the “Drakes”, was a single map away from qualification, the idea seems to have inspired another WTL team to try for the double in the form of the GP Owls. Sadly for GP fans, it’s hard to see them have the same kind of run as the Drakes, but if there ever was an opportunity for the Korean “up-and-comers” to make a splash, that would be it.
Why they are above Houkago Tea Team: Korean bias
16 - Team Super: Chance, HighDrA, LunaSea, ReBellioN, TheZergLord
First opponent: Bye
Last season Team Super was considered by experts to have a good outside shot at a qualification (Yes, the expert is me, screw you I’m the one doing those power ranks). A couple of months forward the team is almost unrecognizable, out with Rhizer, Pattymac, and especially trigger, in with a couple of Korean amateurs. In a strange twist of history, we live a world where NA ladders heroes are probably more desirable than Koreans. While a deep run is not quite out of the question, it’s hard to envision who will step up to the task.
Why they are above GP Owls: Anyone who rocks this pick cannot be behind GP
15 - THPJ&SK: Daydreamer, Doll, naxiN, PsGay, RainG, Remilia, SCV, Takanashi
Our third alliance reunites Touhou Project with team “SK” (not that one, and not that other one either). Like with TNL, SK doesn’t have a Liquipedia page so they are an unknowable entity, but Touhou is not. They won a match in the last qualifiers on the back of wins by Takanashi and SCV, but PTB stole SCV from under their nose just days before the event so they will have to turn to someone else. Daydreamer should lead the charge, having come second in the last Chinese College Star League, a result worthy of a not-to-shabby 2000$.
Why they are above Team Super: They have a guy who won a 2000$ tournament, and their squad won a match last qualifiers.
14 - PTB&TNL: Alka, DespeRado, expect, Ivy, Qike, Star, WB, 宅肥, 小金者
Our second Chinese alliances see team Protoss The Best join with Team “NL”, now since the latter doesn’t have a liquipedia team, it’s hard to evaluate what exactly they bring to the table, but one thing is for sure it probably won’t be enough. Last season, PTB only managed to score a single map through “star”, but with ESL Taiwan regular Expect joining them, he should be taking ace duty. Alongside these two, the protossAlka looks to be the looking out for. The player 宅肥 also seemed to be quite active in the last few months but he was dramatically poached by “Mystery team” just two days ago, clearly, there’s some drama to dig out in the Chinese Mercado.
Why they are above THPJ&SK: While the TH/HK region is not the hardest, Expect has managed to stay in the top 8 of the region for a good while and is considerably more accomplished than anyone we’ve talked about yet in this power rank. With a supporting squad that we at least know they are not diamond 3, they seem a cut above the lower-ranked teams.
13 - Golden Aqua: Eternity, Kevenliu, LittleWolf, mysteryman, yoger.
First opponent PTB&TNL
Hailing from Taiwan, Golden Aqua is essentially one Has away from being one of the favorites. Without their central piece though, they just field of background actors for avid ESL Taiwan/HK viewers. Their players have proven they could hover in the top 10 of their regions, but they will need to bring their A game I they want to defend their national pride.
Why they are above PTB&TNL: While no one stands out the overall level of the team is quite high while the precedent team will mostly have to rely on Expect.
With the unexpected qualification of PH and SSLT last season we have been reminded that once you leave the comfort of the highest tier of professional SC2 everything can happen. A couple of teams are looking to cause another surprise by going on a surprise run through their bracket, but they will need the stars to align for them.
12 - Team STARCOM: Ashbringer, BRAT_OK, Kas
First opponent: Team Rotti
Our penultimate eastern-European team mixed a (relative) newcomer with two grizzled veterans. Despite their 15 years of progaming experience neither Brat_Ok nor Kas seems to have lost their passion for Starcraft, still playing quite regularly in tournaments and still cruising to their success. Kas has the scalp of Shadown, Vindicta, BattleB, and Krystianer in the last two months while the venerable TSL 3 semi-finalist has beaten the likes of Maplez, Gerald, Mana, and BabyMarine over that period. Ashbringer has been a little less successful, but maybe he will be inspired by his teammates.
Why they are above Golden Aqua: More experience, more success in the past, and as a whole just better players.
11 - Starlight Twinkle: ReWhite, MajinBu, Joliwalove, and about two dozen others.
First opponent: ROOT Gaming
Starlight Twinkle sees the biggest jump in my power ranking, ranked in the bottom 6 team last season, I now considered them to have a realistic shot at a Code A participation. That jump is mainly due to their impressive run in last season’s qualifiers on the back of ReWhite as they beat the Cranky Ducking 4-2 and were 1 map away to eliminate Platinum Heroes. While ReWhite will probably still be the ace this time around, he has somewhat adequate support around him in the form of Joliwalove and MajinBu that can maybe take a map here and there.
Why they are above STARCOM: ReWhite impress me last season and I think they have a shot at a major upset versus ROOT if he plays as well as last time.
10 - InFernales eSports: Eiger, GunGFuBanDa, Hopt, PAPI, Spacymazy
First opponent: LittleFairy
A brand-new team to the WTL qualifiers, InFernales has reunited quite a promising group in the last month. The potential of the team edge mainly on GunGFuBanDa, ever since his impressive comeback in 2019 he has lived the same fate as so many returnees to SC2 has he never been quite able to take the next step to tango along the best in Europe. However “best in Europe” and “WTL qualifiers” don’t go together so it may be enough to beat most teams, especially with the young PAPI alongside it.
Off course, it doesn’t matter at all since it will inevitably end in a beating at the hand of Onsyde.
Why they are above Starlight Twinkle: The supporting crew of Gungfu is better than the one of ReWhite and he’s more proven.
9 - CranKy Ducklings: Dolan, Erik, Oreo, PattyMac, Ryu, StarDuck, Vindicta
First opponent: 3D!Family
The friendliest of tournament organizers have reunited a group of sleepers that have been around the Starcraft scene for years which could create a few surprises. In Erik, they have a finalist of the ESL Latam, with Starduck a top 6 finisher in ESL Oceania, and with Vindicta a two-time top 8 finisher in ESL North America.
So on one hand I want to believe that I have a hipster darkhorse pick, but on another hand, Vindicta got a chance to play a WTL showmatch and got brutally 4-0 by Macsed of all people, so maybe they won’t be beating DPG anytime soon.
Why they are above InFernales: I just want to believe that NA and Latam are good, leave me to my delusion
These are the team with a real shot at a code A spot, but they will most likely need to upsets the favorites in their quadrant of the bracket to do so.
8 - License to Kill: Binsky, Maplez, Nina, Percival, Reaper, RockEr
First opponent: Bye
Last season I said that LTK’s most glaring problem was that they were devoid of anyone that could pull off a major upset, and predictably they were quickly all killed by Meomeika. They have done their homework though and they enter this qualifier with two very interesting addition in the form of Nina and Percival. While glancing at the TL page of both of them, there’s not a massive difference between their online results these two and the rest of the team, Starcraft 2 has proven time and time again that form is temporary, but class is permanent and these two simply belong to a better class of player from the time being. With this new upset potential on their mix, LTK is now a serious contender to move into code A.
Why they are above the Cranky Duckling: I quite like their team at the moment, Percival, in particular, could maybe restore the reputation of B-tier’s Korean Terran
7 - CSO eSport: EastToss, Milkicow, YoungYakov, Trifax
First opponent: Houkago Tea Team
Our final East-European team is the youngest squad of the bunch but also the most promising right off the bat. We can discard EastToss, whom I don’t know, and Trifax who by all accounts has an adequate but not remarkable result, but the two Russians we’re left with could do some wave. YoungYakov has steadily climbed the rank of the EU ladder and is now starting to compete with the Gerald and Kristianner of the world. It’s still left to see how up he can go, but he’s definitely on an upward spiral. One step in front of him is his teammate Milkicow. He won the Championship of Russia 2022 and the 4000$ it held, confirming his rapid rise in the world (it should be noted that Skillous and Rattata did not partake in the event, for obvious reasons), and also secured his very first top 16 results in EPT Europe. He has not quite left the sphere where he can lose to many people with less success than him, but he’s slowly getting there, and leading his team to a code A spot would be an important step toward that direction. A probable duel against Has will probably be his time to prove himself.
Why they are above LTK: I have gone back and forth quite a lot on this one, I feel like Milkicow is the player with the most momentum now.
6 - Hist&Toss: Blueming, BreakingGG, Has, Number, TATP (Sakura)
First opponent: Bye
Has was at one point the best foreigner in the WTL, leading a weak PREP squad through adversity, but in the last season’s qualifiers, he couldn’t shake Vindicta and Future splitting 1-1 with them while the rest of his team did nothing. Following his release (or departure) from PREP, one could have hoped that Has, as one of the best free agents on the market, would go on to a good team for the qualifiers or even get drafted by a team already in the league. Instead, we have him playing alongside a couple of Chinese players that seem in no shape to help him at all, BreakingGG has been the best one historically but hasn’t played a match in over a year while Sakura also isn’t too hot at the moment (also they both have been involved in match-fixing affairs in the past which doesn’t exactly make me want to cheer for them to get into a team league). So it will be Has versus the world yet again, but he did take PREP through the qualifier all by himself once before, he very well could do it again.
Why they are above CSO: If every match goes according to plan, Has should have a realistic shot at all killing every team all the way to code A.
5 - ROOT Gaming: Amaryllis, CatZ, Creature, DnS, KingCobra, NaNiwa, Railgan, RoB, SortOf, Ziggy
First opponent: Starlight Twinkle
After an unsuccessful run last season, this ROOT squad is at a bit of a crossroad, with SortOf, Rob (aka Tesla), and Creature having taken a step back from competitive SC2 and DNS also not getting the result he used to this time is probably their last shot to get to the once-dominant NA team to the WTL. If they can’t do it this time Catz will probably have to find some reinforcement between now and the next qualifier. Nevertheless, the density of talent on the team and the fact that DNS is arguable still a top 2 non-Onside player in this whole qualifiers made the team a serious challenger for a code A participation.
Why they are above Hist&Toss: While DNS is arguably not quite at the level of Has, the rest of Root is just much more impressive than the rest of Hist&Toss
With four mini brackets the actual 26 teams ranking doesn’t really matter as much as your chance to go through your bracket to the end, so since you made it to the end of this Power rank here’s the team I expect to make it to the end and get the WTL Code A spots.
4 - Team Rotti: BabyMarine, CuKu, fjant, Goblin, RotterdaM
First opponent: Team STARCOM
People had high hopes for Rotti’s passion project last season, but the team ended up falling short as the old farts at IG squashed their hopes. With the new format, the field is a bit weaker this time around and they got blessed with arguably the easiest quadrant (although not the easiest opening match) and should be considered the favorite to move on. If they make sure to stay on their guard against the veteran on STARCOM, the most important obstacle will probably be LTK for a classic NA vs EU confrontation. In the end, I think Goblin will make the difference though.
3 - Juggernauts: Bistork, EnDerr, GogojOey, MeomaikA
First opponent: PLATOON
The SEA super-team has been through some heartbreak since the very first WTL qualifiers. They lost in a close 5-3 to the then favorite Has-lead PREP Esport that went on to the WTL, last winter it was the Platinium Heroes miracle run that cost them a chance for a qualifying match, as they beat the Juggernauts 4-3 on the back of a clutch 2-0 from Rodzyn. Nevertheless, I still pick them as the favorite to move on from their quadrant. Matches against Juggernauts and probably the ducklings should be quite easy to navigate, while the final match, either a revenge match versus Has one-man-army or a duel of the old veteran versus a young CSO squad promise an enthralling duel. It will be hard either way, but I want to believe that the third time will be the charm.
2 - Berserker eSports: Aristori, BattleB, DIMAGA, ForJumy, Pheonix, ShaDoWn, SoulSpirit
First opponent: THP&SK
I expect a good number of people to see Root gaming as the overwhelming favorites, the old American team has never quite been able to live up to its former glory since it got re-launch, and while it struggled to get back to the top of the “b team”, Berserker has gathered a lot of strength in the off-season. With BattleB and ForJumy they have two of the most promising talent in Europe and players that have started to take maps from more established pros here on there and I ShadoWn and SoulSpirit they have two established French players that have shown in the past they can have a series of victory in a row if needed. As a whole, they have a balance
The party poopers
1 - Onsyde Gaming: Maru, Solar, Neeb, Rex, CranK
First opponent: Bye
Well look, with the three best players in the qualifiers, by a whole lot, it would take a miracle for them not to qualify to the WTL proper and Onsyde could very well be starting their royal road. Now that doesn’t make for the most exciting pitch or the qualifiers, (plus you know Maru is gearing up to play an hour-long turtle mech best of two against like Spazymazy) but there’s still hope!
Will they lose a match? No.
Will they have a close match? No.
Will they lose a map? Oh you know of these fools is gonna mess this up, and we better be there to roast the shit out of him.
And that’s why we should be excited for Onsyde because there’s no way a team made out of Maru, Solar, and Neeb, three players with a well-established history of embarrassing losses doesn’t at least produce one meme wordy results.
Poll: Who will choke?
Maru - Low ground CC first, up 2000 MMR (28)
Neeb - NA lololol (23)
Solar - Nuke rushed (14)
65 total votes
Neeb - NA lololol (23)
Solar - Nuke rushed (14)
65 total votes
Your vote: Who will choke?