Two weeks of TSL qualifiers are now over, and we have a second set of spots filled with players from around the globe. Quantic.SaSe was the first to grab a slot, winning EU/NA #3 on the European server the day after DreamHack ended, apparently in spite of a party-filled night before. The DreamHack champion mouz.MaNa won the following day, crushing through TL Open competition in a similar manner to that which let him take home the trophy in Stockholm just days before.
On Thursday the Korean competition had a surprising end when rarely-heard-from HoSeo member Sting marched through ST_Virus, Empire.VINES, Sanzenith, TSL_HyuN, SlayerS_CoCa, and finally IMFirst to become the first Terran to win a TSL qualifier.
#4: EU/NA Qualifier 3
Being held the day after DreamHack, this tournament had the most notable lack of star-presence that many other events have been privy to. The Ro8 was still full of familiar faces – LaLush, DarkForce, VortiX, and Sheth – but ultimately SaSe was the only known pro of that group to make it to the finals. The other half of the bracket saw a battle between players that are largely unknown, Pink, Matiz, and a man named ToXiC who knocked out Sheth in a drawn out three games series.
When the finals came, SaSe cruised through Pink 3-0 despite being behind in build order in several points during the series, showcasing his Korean honed micro.
Interview with Quantic.SaSe
Congratulations on making it into the TSL! There are always people out there who might not know about you. Could you introduce yourself?
Some people know me by Kim. A lot of people know me by SaSe. Nice to meet you however you choose to call me.
You made it in to the TSL in your second qualifier, having previously lost to Nerchio in the one before. You were seeded first for both. Were you always confident in your ability to make it through?
I try to focus on skill rather than confidence and I guess I was skilled enough.
Your run through the qualifier was very solid, with only one game dropped. Tell us about how you felt while playing.
I asked my friend to come over since I just wanted to get some points so I was talking to him about life and other stuff than just playing. Sad I made him wait like three hours but he was happy to watch since he likes Starcraft anyway. I didn't really feel anything special. ^^
Who was your toughest opponent?
Haven't thought about that yet. No one was really hard. Only thing that matters for me is that I qualified.
In the semifinals you met a stiff challenge from VortiX, especially in the second set where he sniped every single one of your nexii, but you won the game by all-inning immediately. What were your thoughts on that game?
I had a nexus and 14 probes or something then he pulled all drones, he allinned me.
In the finals, you faced a surprising opponent; the Danish Protoss Pink, who emerged from a part of the bracket that included Socke, LucifroN, Sheth, TheMista, BlinG, GoOdy and others. Were you surprised to see that result, or had Pink been on your radar before?
I asked who I face in the finals and admin told me pink/toxic. I thought it was one player hahaha. It doesn't matter who make good results to me so no I was not surprised. I rather see people play good and impress me that way. Pink played well actually but I think he was nervous. I would have lost all these games to a top Korean. Best of luck to Pink anyway I hope he makes it. ^^;
You seemed to have an easy time of it in the finals, even with disadvantageous positions on paper, you were able to completely out-micro Pink. Was it as simple as it looked?
If micro looks simple I guess it was.
Your qualification came the day after DreamHack Summer, and an after party that led to at least one notable name having perhaps too much fun. Any fun stories about the night before?
Pretty much like a normal gamers party. I got smashed, started to look for girls, realized it's a gamers party, went to sleep, woke up, could barely walk, somehow made it back to my home, played TSL qualifier, dropped a map, no problem! ^_^
You attempted to qualify for TSL3 in some of the later qualifiers, but weren't much of a big name in the scene at the time. What did it mean to you to make it into TSL4?
I watched TSL3 last year and I liked the system a lot. Fair servers, fair maps and it's being streamed from replays. So everything is perfect for a player. The drawings from last season was pretty cool so I wanted one myself as well. It doesn't mean much for me to make a qualifier. It's time to win something!
Is there anyone else you'd like to see qualify for the TSL?
Before we let you go, tell us one thing about yourself that the community doesn't know yet!
I collected all the stars in Cut The Rope and Cut The Rope Experiments. ^.^vv
Thanks so much for your time, any last words/shoutouts?
Thanks to my team Quantic for all help and our sponsors Razer, DB Vision, Twitch, Machinima VS and ASUS RoG. Startale I miss you all!
#5: EU/NA Qualifier 4
Qualifier #4 was a return to the star-studded lineup that tends to mark TSL qualification events, and with a Ro8 that had MaFia as the least known player it did not disappoint.
HuK blew through most of the tournament in style, finishing each of his matches long before his prospective opponents, and without dropping a game. Then he met MaNa in the semifinals who took him out in two straight, and equally quick, games. SeleCT brought back the marine control that made him famous years ago, and proxy 11/11 rax'd both Morrow and Ret twice. Winning both of them against Ret and one against MorroW was enough to bring him to the finals where he continued his aggressive streak.
After dying in the first game to a hellion-drop 1-1-1, MaNa regained his composure for the subsequent skirmishes and came out on top, 3-1, to win over SeleCT.
Interview with mouz.MaNa
Congratulations on qualifying for TSL4! It may be a dumb question for someone who's been in the news so much recently, but could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Grzegorz Komincz, usually known as MaNa from team mousesports. I am 19 years old and currently living in Połczyn-Zdrój in Northwestern Poland.
Tell us about your path to qualification. This might have been the most difficult EU/NA TSL4 qualifier yet; who did you beat and who gave you the toughest time?
I've beaten couple of good players, the best ones would be Sheth and HuK. The toughest opponent was Sheth for sure. It was hardest for me because I was a multitasking while playing game and chatting with friend at the same time about some important stuff, I even had to pause the game few times, hope Sheth forgives me . The games were really entertaining, even though I couldn't play my 100% best I am happy that I could have won vs Shawn. The rest of the tournament was rather easy.
Any memorable moments from the tournament? Any games people should go back into the replays and watch?
Nothing really special, I think the game on Entombed Valley vs Sheth was the most exciting one for me, it was pretty long and I think its the only one worth watching.
In the semifinals of the open, you faced HuK, who was that day's #1 seed and needs little introduction. Did you expect the series to go into your favor so quickly?
I was expecting to win vs HuK, but I didn't know it will go that easy. HuK did one mistake in both of the games and it cost him the series. I know that HuK is really tricky player so I wanted to do the safest possible play with a possibility to push at the same time, and it worked perfectly.
At DreamHack, you defeated another extremely well known Protoss, Liquid`HerO. Did that win give you a lot of PvP confidence?
Not at all. I think I should have won the series 2-0, but HerO with very good decision making could win the game 2 even though he was behind quite a lot, because of build order win (I did blink build while he was doing phoenix build). Still I believe that PvP is much coin flipping and the whole series didn't give me that much confidence overall.
Your opponent in the finals was SeleCT, who had just cheesed Ret out in the semifinals. In fact, a tremendous percentage of his games in the open were cheeses or all-ins. Did you expect him to go for strategic plays in the final, or were you in the dark?
After I saw him cheesing on stream vs Ret I knew that I have to scout a lot. Also I feel very confident going to lategame PvT against Select. I usually win vs him every time we go into later game so I thought that the only way he can beat me in the finals was cheese, and that's why I kept on scouting for some cheesy stuff. It was hard to find something, but fortunately I could defend the all ins convincingly.
Still, you've always been known as a strong PvT player. Were you comfortable with the finals match-up, and confident you would get through?
Yes, of course. I was actually really happy when I found out that Select won against ret to face me in the finals. I think I was as happy as Stephano was when I won over HerO @Dreamhack.
What does it mean to you to qualify for TSL4, especially after coming close on points for TSL3 and having played in TSL2?
After huge success of TSL3 I really regretted that I didn't take part in it. Now, since I am already qualified I will do my best to become the champion of this tournament, especially when the first one was won by the freshly recruited mousesports ThorZaIN.
This win obviously comes on the heels of your triumph at Dreamhack, which was your first major tournament win after several second place finishes. How big was this win for you?
Definitely a bust of confidence for me, winning tournament that big while not doing much practice because of lack of time during exams and drivers license means that I can compete with the best players already, and if I can practice more I hope I can become the new foreigner, if not the overall, champion.
It was also your first big win as a full-time pro. How has the experience of focusing on starcraft gone for you?
I didn't have much time as a full-time pro to practice for DreamHack because I was by that time making my drivers license on bike and I had only few days of real practice. Now, since I am done with every exam and other stuff as well I can practice more and become even better player hopefully.
With the momentum from DreamHack and direct TSL4 qualification, how do you think you can do in the main TSL event?
There's still lot of time until the main TSL event, a lot of changes may happen. I don't want to predict any result but I just want to perform really well and be happy of my result.
Who else would you like to see qualify for the TSL?
More Terrans, please? My teammate Hasu, biGs and MorroW, they deserve it and it would give bigger chance to mousesports player win the tournament.
Thanks so much for speaking with us! Any shoutouts?
Thanks a lot for the interview! I'd like to thank my fans who support me that much nowadays, hope I will not let you down. Also huge thanks to support that I got from mousesports and our sponsors (Razer, Intel, Medion, Thortech, CardCoaches, Sansibar, GEIL). See you in TSL4.
#6: Korean Qualifier 2
The second Korean qualifier started much as the first, a host of GSL notables and champions being knocked out in the early rounds. Polt at least made it to the second round this time, before losing 2-1 to Yoda. The most famous player to go deep was Squirtle, who made it all the way to the semifinals before being defeated by IMFirst. Those who follow Brood War may remember him as Anyppi.
Thought he lost to the eventual winner, SlayerS_CoCa made quite an impressive run, taking out MarineKingPrime in the Ro64 and GuMiHo in the Ro32, followed by wins over TeriusPrime and MVPMonster before his tournament came to an end.
When all was said and done, however, Sting stood on top after a string of nice wins. Though the finals saw him mostly opting for highly aggressive single base play, his TvZ in particular all day showcased solid decision making and intelligent game sense as he directed the play from start to finish in a matchup that is all too common to complain about these days.
With ten qualifiers and only eight qualification spots, some people might have worried about second place finishers dominating the ladder. Four qualifiers into things and it’s already very clear that this is not going to be the case this season. At the top of the table is Lalush, who added another 41 points last week after another Ro8 finish. Lalush has signed up for one of the two qualifiers this week and if he adds more points he should have no problem qualifying for TSL4. After Lalush comes Darkforce (153), Morrow (103) and Sheth (103). All three of these players have broken the 100 point threshold without making a final. Their consistency across qualifiers is paying off and if they keep up this pace they will have little problem qualifying as well. Bischu, Pink and Select all have 100 points from placing second in a qualifier, and they round out the seven players who have scored 100 or more points. All three of these guys cannot rely on 100 points to get them through; there are ten players who can overtake them with one Ro8 finish.
In the remainder of the ladder we have names like Goody (83), Beastyqt (71), Cloud (63), Ret (60) and Huk (60) all within striking distance of breaking 100 points. All four are well on track towards qualifying, but still require a Ro8 finish or better to really put themselves in the safety zone. Players on less than 60 points really have to start making some solid finishes, as time is rapidly running out. Players like Fenix (41), Lucifron (22), Grubby (21), Brat_OK (11), Hasuobs (11), Dimaga (11), Socke (11), Strelok (11) and Tod (11) fall into this category. There are even more players lying outside of the points, and while it’s not over until the fat lady sings, instant qualification spots are running out very quickly.
The Korean qualifiers are shaping up very differently to the NA-EU ones. With only 5 qualifiers, every qualifier is really important. Missing one in the NA-EU ones isn’t the end of the world because there are at least nine others and most people are not playing every qualifier due to other commitments. At the top of the Korean ladder is Seed (121), the runner up of the first KR qualifier. Seed might just be able to squeak out a win in one of these qualifiers and end up getting a direct seed into the TSL which would change the ladder situation quite a bit – but we’ll cover that if it comes to it. First (100), aka Anyppi, formerly of KT Rolster, has also propelled himself into a good position after coming second in the last KR Qualifier.
Hyun is currently ranked third and is the first real point of interest about the KR ladder. This is because there are six ladder slots, and only 5 qualifiers. This means at least one non-runner up will qualify, and Hyun has certainly put himself into a place where he could be that person. Long known as an online tournament fiend, his back to back Ro8 finishes cement that status given the sheer difficulty of the KR qualifier field. A Ro16 finish or better would put Hyun at more than 100 points and a strong contender for one of the ladder qualifier spots. Squirtle (71) is a player we know is capable of winning a qualifier, and should be looking to improve upon his Ro4 finish from last week. Annyeong, Coca and Life round out the other semifinalists, and each have 60 points.
Losira (52) and Revival (52) are hanging around the fringes of contention but will absolutely need to grab a strong finish soon, else they’ll miss out on a spot. Remember, with 100 points being the number of points a runner up gets, the magic number for ladder qualifiers is 100. Losira/Revival will need a semifinal finish to make that this week, but another Ro8 finish would put them both within striking distance of the top eight.
The other significant story of the Korean qualifier is how the big names are faring. MarineKing just isn’t getting a break in the tournament. After being 6 pooled, then 7 pooled, in the first week he made an early exit last week as well. He’s had a really strong run in IPL5 qualifiers, so we know that he is capable of doing well – it’s just a matter of when. NesTea is also waiting in the wings for his moment to make a big run in the TSL. Of course we have other strong players like DRG and Jjakji (amongst others) trying to qualify each week, so no one should be sure of their spots just yet. I really look forward to see how this week’s qualifier will shape up.
You can find more information about all invites, qualifiers, and full rankings in the TSL forum.
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