With 1 room packed full of players, another room fitted with cameras and screens for streaming, a third riddled with journalists or affiliates and finally a kitchen which has been transformed into an in-house café the apartment is positively chaotic. Basically, HomeStory Cup is anything but the strongly organized IEM’s or the massive DreamHacks which the world of e-Sports is slowly but surely becoming used to. But that makes this tournament so appealing, so in the end it’s a good thing I guess. Weirdly enough in this preview I’m going to give a walkthrough of my current flatmates. A once in a lifetime thing I guess.
Almost equal to last time, when the entire top 6 consisted of Koreans, there’s a flock of Koreans coming out to Germany to battle for the prize money and the glory. The most prominent two of them are Mvp, arguably the best player in the world and definitely the player with the best record of tournaments so far, and MC, the defending champion. In any tournament these two must be considered the favourites, after all they are amongst the most accomplished and skilful players to grace the game. But as opposed to the obvious I’d like to shed some light on the less prominent Koreans as well, starting with YongHwa.
YongHwa was the surprise winner of the Korean qualifiers for the tournament, a qualifier which was stacked to the brim with all the top Korean talent. Artosis has praised the Korean protoss often enough in the past, but nothing much has materialized in YongHwa’s career up until now. With that said the HSC is of totally different nature compared to Korean competition. Perhaps this is the breakthrough that can bring YongHwa to the next level.
Funnily enough 2 Koreans came through the North American qualifiers as well, namely Golden and Sleep. Both of these players play for some of the “lesser” teams in America, in LighT and CheckSix respectively. Although perhaps they are less in the limelight than many other American players their skills are arguably better. Both of these players are unrated Koreans, but that doesn’t change the fact they are Koreans. With teams like SlayerS, IM and fOu in their history these players have their fair share of experience, perhaps enough to cause an upset of sorts.
Just a few short weeks after their impressive showings both finalists from the latest DreamHack tournament have returned to a tournament together, with an interesting rivalry to boot. Both of them have shown on form performances during and since DreamHack, with especially MaNa going all out on practicing. He’s recently caught the streamer-fever and has since been streaming seemingly non-stop. The guy is a machine since his school has finished and with reinvigorated motivation since his DreamHack win and the decision to delay uni for a year to focus on gaming the Polish has nothing but pure power of will to win.
DIMAGA has taken things a little more relaxed, not streaming as often but still practicing and kind of disappearing off the radar since his DreamHack appearance. I expect though that mTw’s ace will return strongly as he always does at HomeStory Cups, with his recent results just getting better and better after a few months of relative silence.
Nerchio is no guy to joke around with, he’s proven time and time again that he is rightfully to be considered one of the top SC2 players of Europe, and one of the few that can compete with the top-level Koreans. However Nerchio has also shown weaknesses, mostly on offline tournaments. His stress, nerves and perhaps the fact that he’s not in his home environment play their parts in his game and have cost him places in several tournaments now.
Although Nerchio is really Polish I can see however how this more relaxed and unorthodox tournament set up play in his advantage. Without the stress that many big tournaments inevitably induce Nerchio is in his element and able to beat anything that crosses his path. Although he’s not in Poland Nerchio might have a big home turf advantage still.
Socke, our recent rock-star interviewee, is also around and has made a very calm impression. Socke is used to the environment with TaKe, which can be explained by not only his other attendances of HSC tournaments, but also the fact that Take and Socke have often casted and spectated tournaments together right at the spot where he will now be playing.
Socke has shown often enough that his grip over Germany is firm, something that will come back to help him this time around as he’s not only battling in Germany, in a known environment but also against many German players that he’s faced numerous times over the last few years. At MLG he equally showed his excellence against Korean opponents. All the ingredients seem to be there for Socke, all that he has to do is combine them properly.
For any sober thinker SaSe has to be up there with all the foreigner players that rival the skill of the Koreans. With his practice partner and great friend NaNiwa, SaSe has a huge advantage over other competitors, something that SaSe has shown more often than not in the last year or so with his runs in the Redbull Training Grounds, MLGs and at DreamHack more recently.
Yet I always stay hesitant to name SaSe as an absolute favourite, and mainly for the following reason: SaSe, much like NaNiwa, has set his eye on the big stage. Something which you can hardly blame either of them for, they have the opportunity to become the some of the best foreigners of the scene, but it also brings along a big downside. That is, that their play styles are perfected and adapted to Korean playing. The biggest stage indeed, but most Europeans who aren’t of top-Korean calibre play substantially different. This means that SaSe’s play has an inherent weakness against perhaps those players which you wouldn’t expect to stand a chance against him. The big question is whether SaSe can flip the switch from Korea to Europe, because if he can he will definitely be a top contender.
Lastly Kas deserves our mention in the contenders for the title. The Ukrainian Terran has showcased nothing but consistency and decency since he’s been on the top of the scene. Although Kas doesn’t really win much he always performs solidly. As the first invite and the only player to be confirmed before the qualifiers Kas has a heavy burden on his shoulders, but he’s more than able to take it. Although he has far from an easy group Kas is usually able to turn things into his favour.
|Victor Meulendijks // mvicK|
Posted 11 months ago: Thu, 05 Jul 2012 12:32:34 +0100
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