State on StarCraft: WCS Europe Ro16 Analysis & Predictions
State on StarCraft is a weekly column on Game Front by Ryan “State” Visbeck, a pro StarCraft 2 player. Each week State brings you his unique perspective on all things StarCraft, including tips, tricks and stories from the front line of competitive play.
NOTE: “State” is officially sponsored by Game Front.
WCS Europe’s final group stage takes place this week.
Over the next few days, Europe’s top 16 players will compete to qualify for the Season 3 Playoffs in October. The tournament’s $100,000 prize pool is nothing to shake a fish at, but more than money is at stake here. In total, 10,000 WCS Points and five seeds to the Season 3 Finals are up for grabs. With the Global Finals just two months away, every WCS Point matters.
Past champions Jang “MC” Min Chul, Park “ForGG” Ji Soo, and Kim “duckdeok” Kyeong Deok are fighting to retain their Top 16 status in the WCS Global Standings. More players—such as fan favorite Son “StarDust” Seok Hee—are on the bubble of breaking into the Top 16.
These players’ games in the Round of 16 are the first step to securing their positions at BlizzCon.
Group A: StarDust
StarDust has had an interesting 2013. In May, he moved to Switzerland and set a clear goal: to win a major tournament like DreamHack or the WCS. One month later, he was crowned champion of DreamHack Summer. It didn’t take much longer for him to qualify for Premier League.
So—what are his odds of advancing?
His group includes three of Europe’s best—the players Happy, Welmu, and TargA—but StarDust is the clear favorite to win on Tuesday. He’s shown surprising resilience in all match-ups, PvZ in particular, and impressed at both DreamHack Valencia and Bucharest. With all his recent success, he has reason to feel confident.
StarDust is not just a contender to win Group A — he’s a contender to win WCS Europe.
Group B: MC
MC is the most successful player in StarCraft 2 history. Over the course of his career, he has won seven major tournaments, earned over $387,000 in prizes, and has developed Protoss strategy more than any other player. The transition to Heart of the Swarm may have been hard on him, but he’s on the verge of a comeback. His play at IEM Shanghai—where he placed Top 4—was solid, and his second-place finish last season in WCS Europe was even more impressive.
That’s not to say that it will be easy. Vortix, ThorZaIN, and BabyKnight are all very strong players, and each of them has a chance of advancing to the Playoffs in October. If MC’s on his A-game, expect him to advance in 1st; but even if he’s not, I’d be surprised if he didn’t make it out of his group.
Group C: ForGG
ForGG has been around for a really long time. He became famous in StarCraft: Brood War for his calculated, hyper-aggressive playstyle. Though he transitioned to StarCraft 2 in 2011, it wasn’t until last year that he began to put up results. Towards the end of 2012, ForGG placed in the Top 4 of three major tournaments with his trademark style of relentless aggression. He hasn’t been as strong in 2013, but his WCS results have been solid—he’s been in Premier League for three seasons in a row and placed Top 8 at the Season 1 Finals. Though he failed to impress in Season 2, his success at DreamHack Bucharest suggests he’ll finish this year strong.
ForGG’s group—which includes Genius, Nerchio, and ShoWTimE—shouldn’t be much of a challenge if ForGG plays up to his own standards. Historically, TvP has always been one of his strongest match-ups, and ForGG is a player that can take Nerchio’s mechanics head-on. Expect ForGG to advance in 1st.
Group D: duckdeok
Duckdeok took everyone by surprise last season with his apparent mastery of PvP, crushing through NaNiwa, Grubby and MC for his first-ever major tournament win. There are high expectations for the reigning WCS Europe champion, but his group is not as clear-cut as you might think.
If you ignore his PvP, duckdeok’s actually had a tough run through Seasons 2 and 3 of WCS, going only 12-9 in non-mirrors. It’s not that it’s a poor record—far from it—but when you consider that he’s sharing a group with MMA, things might get dicey. Add the up-and-coming European players TitaN and Starbuck into the mix, and anything can happen. Duckdeok should advance, but it’ll be close—MMA might be too tough a contender for him to win his group.
IEM New York is just a few weeks away! If you’re in the area and you’d like to go, you can purchase tickets here. I’m really looking forward to watching the World Championship Series in the meantime. Oh, and Blizzard just announced that they’re considering some new balance changes—you can check those out here and follow me on Twitter for more updates!
This week’s replay pack includes ladder games from the North American server. Enjoy!
Check back every week for a new State on StarCraft post from Ryan “State” Visbeck!