HomeStory Cup 23 - Info & Previewby Wax
IEM might be StarCraft II's oldest institution and GSL its most prestigious, but there's a good case to be made that HomeStory Cup is its most beloved. The wacky, freewheeling tournament out of Krefeld is back for its 23rd event, this time with a music festival theme. I'm not exactly sure what this will entail. Are we in for another live rendition of Hey Kappa Kappa? Will we get some awful/amazing progamer karaoke? Will the TakeTV crew unveil a new hit a la O'Gaming's Desplancito? Whatever is in store, TakeTV have given us every reason to hope that it's amazing.
Unfortunately, even HomeStory Cup isn't immune to the StarCraft II/Esports contraction of 2023, and the number of players has gone down to 24 from 32 while the total days have been reduced to 3 from 4. Also, with only two Korean players in GuMiho and Solar attending, this tournament definitely has a throwback feel from the mid 2010's HomeStory Cups.
Still, HSC is the one tournament where the actual quality of StarCraft being played matters less compared to the circus around it. Whether RotterdaM telling a newly declassified esports tale or Big Gabe setting the studio on fire again, it's often the outside-the-game moments that end up being the most memorable.
Streaming ScheduleJune 30-July 1 start time is 11:00 GMT (+00:00) // July 2 is 12:30 GMT (+00:00)
- June 30: RO24 Groups A & B (6 player round-robin)
- July 1: RO24 Groups C & D (6 player round-robin)
- July 2: Playoffs (8 player single elimination)
Day 1 (June 30)
|Main Stream||CatZ (B Stream)||Steadfast (C Stream)|
|Group A||Lambo vs Harstem||Reynor vs ForJumy||Kelazhur vs BabyMarine|
|Reynor vs Harstem||Lambo vs BabyMarine||Kelazhur vs ForJumy|
|Lambo vs Kelazhur||Reynor vs BabyMarine||Harstem vs ForJumy|
|Reynor vs Kelazhur||Harstem vs BabyMarine||Lambo vs ForJumy|
|Kelazhur vs Harstem||Reynor vs Lambo||ForJumy vs BabyMarine|
|Group B||Solar vs Gerald||HeroMarine vs Fjant||SKillous vs trigger|
|HeroMarine vs Gerald||Solar vs Trigger||SKillous vs Fjant|
|SKillous vs HeroMarine||Solar vs Fjant||trigger vs Gerald|
|Solar vs HeroMarine||SKillous vs Gerald||trigger vs Fjant|
|Solar vs SKillous||HeroMarine vs trigger||Gerald vs Fjant|
Day 2 (July 1)
|Main Stream||CatZ (B Stream)||Steadfast (C Stream)|
|Group C||Clem vs Elazer||DnS vs PtitDrogo||GuMiho vs RiSky|
|GuMiho vs PtitDrogo||Elazer vs RiSky||Clem vs DnS|
|GuMiho vs DnS||Elazer vs PtitDrogo||Clem vs RiSky|
|GuMiho vs Elazer||Clem vs PtitDrogo||DnS vs RiSky|
|GuMiho vs Clem||Elazer vs DnS||PtitDrogo vs RiSky|
|Group D||ShoWTimE vs uThermal||Serral vs Mixu||Spirit vs ShaDoWn|
|Spirit vs uThermal||Serral vs ShaDoWn||ShoWTimE vs Mixu|
|Serral vs uThermal||Spirit vs ShoWTimE||ShaDoWn vs Mixu|
|Serral vs ShoWTimE||Spirit vs Mixu||ShaDoWn vs uThermal|
|Serral vs Spirit||ShoWTimE vs ShaDoWn||Mixu vs uThermal|
Preview & PredictionAt first glance, the story of this tournament seems to be Serral vs the field. The Finnish Phenom has put up a ridiculous 54W–2L–1D match record since IEM Katowice and looked dominant on his way to winning ESL Masters Summer two weeks ago.
However, I think the race for the HSC 23 title will be much closer than some may expect. Serral, for all the championships he's won in his storied career, has had a relatively tough time in inter-European competition. This year, he won only his second EU regional in the EPT system, having ceded the other championships to rivals Clem and Reynor. The reason—if I was to make a sweeping generalization—is that there's a peculiar rock-scissor-paper relationship between Serral, Clem/Reynor, and the top Korean players. Clem and Reynor are actually the biggest threats to Serral in major tournaments, but they're frequently taken out by the top-tier Korean players before they can imperil him.
With very limited Korean attendance at HomeStory Cup 23 (just Solar and GuMiho), this tournament is much more like an EPT Europe than an EPT Masters event. Depending on the brackets, there's a good chance this turns into the classic EU-three way for the title (before MaxPax started mucking things up this year), where any member of the triumvirate could win.
Still, I wouldn't discount Solar and GuMiho's chances of throwing a wrench in the works, especially after their strong showings at DreamHack: Summer. GuMiho's runner-up finish felt more like an aberration than a reflection of his current skill-level, but it did show how dangerous an unorthodox player can be in a single-elimination bracket.
I'm actually eyeing Solar as the darkhorse title contender. Compared to how overpowering he can be online, he definitely does fall off in offline events. However, Solar's championship run at last year's GSL Super Tournament 2 was an encouraging sign that he could perform well in HSC's laid-back, intimate setting. He's definitely good enough to coin-flip against Reynor and Serral in ZvZ's, which might be enough to win him the whole event.
As with any EU-centric competition, one of the highlights will be seeing which player outside of the big three will make a deep run. There's plenty of players in Europe who could crack the top four if they're on their A-game: ShoWTimE, SKillous, Elazer, Lambo, HeroMarine, and Spirit are the ones that come immediately to mind.
At the moment, it feels like Spirit is leading the pack after finishing top four in EPT Europe with a win over Reynor in the quarterfinals, but the balance of power can shift quickly. Personally, I'm interested in how Elazer and Lambo will do after their strong showings at ESL Masters Summer. Lambo went all the way to the top 12 (a fantastic result given how disadvantaged open bracket players were), getting a great 3-2 victory over Bunny along the way. As for Elazer, he pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament with a 2-1 against herO, but it went largely unseen because the Open Bracket was relegated to the community streams.
I'm not going to namecheck every single player at the event, but I'll leave off with a shoutout to sole North American player trigger. The Canadian Protoss recently rescued BASILISK in the World Team League after both Serral and Reynor went 1-1 (against Scarlett and Lambo), taking a huge 2-0 victory against ByuN. If you believe in momentum in sports, that's definitely a great wave to ride into this tournament on.