Reynor Wins HomeStory Cup XXIIby Wax
Reynor claimed the last major championship of 2022, going through a playoff gauntlet of GuMiho, Zoun, ByuN, and finally Astrea to win HomeStory Cup XXII. The victory ended a lengthy dry spell for Reynor, who had earned several runner-up finishes but no championships since he won DHM Summer in 2021.
HSC XXII was one of those peculiar cases where a player with lowered expectations goes all the way, as Reynor initially didn't think much of his chances. He cited reduced practice due to poor internet as his reason—though some viewers may have balked at him saying 70ms latency constituted conditions under which it was "too frustrating to practice."
In any case, Reynor's joke about "accidentally" walking into a championship turned into a reality, as he got to show off his airtight, macro-oriented style of Zerg against all-comers. In a tournament that was marked by numerous upsets, Reynor was the only favorite who refused to be taken off guard by his plucky opponents. After finishing on top of his RO32 group with a 5-win/2-draw record (HSC introduced a best-of-two group stage for this event), he continued his undefeated streak though the playoffs to reach the grand finals from the winners' bracket side. Reynor made sure to finish the job without any complications, taking a 3-1 victory over Astrea in the grand finals. In total, Reynor finished the tournament with a 9 win-2 draw-0 loss record in series, and a hugely impressive 24W-5L combined map score.
Going back to the subject of upsets, that may have been just as big a story from HSC XXII as Reynor's 'comeback.' The most startling result was Serral's 6th place elimination, with the Finnish Phenom coming in as a tournament favorite after winning the previous four HomeStory Cup events. However, he fell short of winning the "H5C" after consecutive losses to ByuN (2-3) and Zoun (2-3). The Korean duo finished top four as a result, getting some of their best results of the year after mediocre campaigns in GSL Code S.
Astrea's entire run to the finals was another major takeaway of HSC. The American Protoss had gone on a breakout, third place run at the previous HomeStory cup in July (he beat Reynor in the playoffs that time), but failed to perform up to that level in subsequent events. However, returning to Krefeld seemed to inspire him, and he tore through players like Clem, ShoWtimE, Zoun, and ByuN to finish in second place.
Alongside DreamHack Masters: Atlanta and GSL Super Tournament II, HSC XXII completed a trio of chaotic, unpredictable tournaments in the final quarter of 2022. Maru and Serral had their auras of invincibility significantly dimmed, while players like Dark, herO, and Reynor reminded us of their championship quality. On top of that, Solar, ByuN, Bunny, Zoun, and Astrea put in performances that reminded us we're in the era of greatest parity under the EPT system. If this trend holds until IEM Katowice 2023, we might witness the fiercest, most closely contested world championship yet.
While ESL have not made an official announcement, the EPT standings have now been finalized ahead of IEM Katowice 2023 (February 8-12). Liquipedia now lists what are likely to be the final player rosters for the round of 24 and the round of 36 (there may still be last-minute cancellations due to visa issues or other reasons).