WCS 2015: Year of global StarCraft

av teodice

wcs 2015
Many changes has been done to the WCS for the 2015 seasons. We will guide you through it as well as we can and present which players you should keep an extra eye on for the coming year.

The previous year saw a very fragmented WCS, with challenger and premier leagues all over the place. Many regions having long, drawn out qualifications to get a few players the points necessary for qualifying to the Global Finals event. But for 2015, Blizzard decided to create a whole new Premier League which is to accept globally seeded players from all the different regions. The previous ones, such as America, Europe and Korea remain (Korea creating seeds via the GSL and SSL) whilst a few new regions have been added; China, Latin America, Taiwan/Hong Kong/Makau and Oceania/SEA join the list. This change, together with the quite controversial region lock, ensures a huge variety of players from all corners of the globe to get as far as the premier league at least. No more of having to watch the qualifier of the qualifier of WCS NA to see Chinese iAsonu beat Shana; to discover new players, regions and strategies – one simply has to tune in to the quality coverage of the Premier League.
As the format has completely changed from 2014’s ‘WCS KR Global Finals’ to the 2015 ‘Everyone are included’, a well needed (at least according to those not making it to Premier League) reset was introduced, meaning that everyone have to compete in the grueling qualifiers; this truly goes for everyone – including WCS 2014 Champion Lee Seung Hyun (a.k.a. ‘Life’).

So how does one keep track of all these players and events? To make it easy for you, ESL and Blizzard have made sure that qualifiers and qualifying competitions are not to overlap with each other. Smaller events must have an acceptable stream and medium to large events that grant WCS points must have an English stream in HD together with live coverage, an audience and all this is to be accessible without paying anything. GOMTV decided to set a cap on ‘low’ quality for GSL spectators who do not pay for subscription on Twitch, which generated a global uproar within the community; that being said, all other WCS related events have complete coverage and can all be found on Team Liquid and the official WCS web page.

The total prize pool for this season of WCS is $281 000 and 13 850 WCS points up for grabs.
The GSL will award another 12 250 WCS points for the top 32 participants, and the SSL gives away $67 828 and 10 250 WCS points.

Notable Players

Liquid Taeja
Being one of the most internationally successful Terran players of all time with 4 Dreamhacks, 3 Homestory Cups and a dozen 2nd to 4th place finishes; Liquid Taeja has remained at the very top for little over a year now with very consistent results. Not only has he been dominating the European and American scene, knocking down foreigners left and right, but he has remained one of the most feared players amongst the ‘Foreign Koreans’.

KT Rolster Zest
Having somewhat of a shaky start in StarCraft II Zest struggled to gain a steady foothold in the foreign scene. However, he would turn this around with a crushing victory rush through Code A and in the RO32 of the 2014 GSL Code S Season 1. He breezed through his groups to face soO in the finals, fighting it to a close 4-3 victory taking home the prize of $66 000 and 2000 WCS points. Today he stands as one of the most consistent players out there, boasting both highly aggressive and unpredictable styles, as well as solid macro play. This only leaves the KT Protoss as one of the best players in the world.

SK T1 soO
With four Code S silver medals soO is what some would consider the King of Kongs. He has 6 2nd place finishes in premier events and has yet to claim the gold. Despite all of this, soO is arguably one of the most consistent Zerg players in Korea, showing crisp builds and strong mechanical capability. He is often predicted to make deep runs in whatever tournament he participates in, and he is looking stronger than ever for this WCS.

Wildcard: Red Bull Bomber
Everyone remembers StarTale’s Bomber. With a legendary TvT and strong decision making Bomber is a force to be reckoned with. He is one of the more successful Koreans playing outside of Korea and is known to be a macro beast in the Terran vs Zerg match-up, making him an extremely potent threat, especially into the rounds of 16 and rounds of 8 where things start to narrow down. Bomber’s TvP is however the one thing slowing him down with the rise of players like herO and Zest, but if he can overcome these obstacles he may be able to make the push into the finals.

Tenshi’s thoughts:
This season is packed with a plethora of talent, and with some extremely strong players such as Zest, soO and Taeja, the battle to the top will be long and hard. With 2014 right on our tail we saw some amazing games and series in both Europe and Korea. Flash made his return to the big stage winning IEM Toronto while ForGG won his first premier event at Dreamhack Winter 2014.

I’m very excited for this new season, as the level of play keeps getting better and better and the skill ceiling of StarCraft II seems to climb with each day. As they say: “the sky is the limit.”
Keep an eye out for MacSed and Jim, two of the best Chinese Protoss players out there. Having worked for Chinese Events for little over half a year now I have to say that these boys pack a punch!

Zeweig’s thoughts:
With almost every champion receiving the ‘Curse of Victory’ as the entire world possesses the tools to analyze and pick apart the style and builds of said player after a big event, one would think that Life would take a beating in the following Korean leagues; that, he didn’t. For some reason this young man survives tough groups and is playing extraordinarily considering his region switch. Other players to keep track on are soO, Zest and Taeja, all phenomenal players who are doing exceedingly well at the current moment; soO is the ‘King of Kongs’ of Heart of the Swarm, and becoming a WCS Champion would mean the world to him.

My own hype for WCS 2015 is as great as it gets – a fresh, including format, a point reset and the best players in the world from all the different regions. With Chinese players starting to pick off Koreans here and there, we might see a bit of a power shift between regions.

Written by Alexander ”Zeweig” Lind & Lucas ”Tenshi” Collard

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