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StarCraft II: WCS Valencia Preview

10 July 2018 09:23

The best StarCraft II players return to action for the third World Championship Series (WCS) tournament of the year, this time taking place in the Spanish city of Valencia. It will be the 10th premier tournament of the 2018 season, and only the fifth to take place outside of South Korea.

20-year-old Joona ‘Serral’ Sotala has taken a firm control of the WCS so far, winning the events in Leipzig and Austin, and the Finnish gamer will be confident of adding a third title to his collection. There are $101,000 and 12,600 WCS circuit points up for grabs in Valencia.

The Format

The tournament starts on 12th July with 64 players split into 16 groups of four players in a dual tournament format. Matches are Bo3, with the top two players from each group progressing to the second group stage. The second stage is a repeat of the first, this time with eight groups of four to make up the remaining 32 players. Once again, the top two from each group advance to the third group stage.

The third group stage takes these 16 players from the previous group stages and combines them with 16 qualifiers to form another eight groups of four. Once again, all matches are Bo3 in a dual tournament format, with the top two from each group advancing to the playoffs.

The playoffs are where it starts to get interesting, as all 16 players are entered into a single elimination bracket with a Bo5 format, meaning you’re heading home if you lose. The Grand Finals are a Bo7 format with the winner taking home $20,000, 3,000 WCS circuit points and a seed for the WCS Global Finals.

The Players

Serral is the overwhelming favourite coming into WCS Valencia, with over triple the amount of WCS points compared to any other player. In both WCS Leipzig and WCS Austin, Serral didn’t even lose a game until the semi-finals of the knockout stage, showing his clear dominance over all other players. Playing as Zerg, the only race he has lost to this year consistently in any premier format has been Protoss, so that matchup could potentially cause him issues.

Sasha ‘Scarlett’ Hostyn is a potential threat to Serral. She is the only other winner of a premier event this year after she won IEM Season XII event in PyeongChang, beating Serral in the quarter-finals 3-1 en route to that tournament win. The Canadian is currently ranked 13th on the WCS circuit and has had problems against Protoss players before.

Looking at the qualified known Protoss players, MaNa is the highest ranked on the WCS circuit at 5th overall. The Polish 24-year-old hasn’t had a premier win since 2012, or a major win since 2014, so it’s hard to see him doing better than pushing Serral or Scarlett to a deciding match if he’s lucky.

SpeCial, playing as Terran, has impressed this season, working his way to a 2nd place world ranking on WCS circuit points. The 25-year-old Mexican has had several top four finishes this year in premier tournaments, as well as three major wins in Latin American tournaments. Can he finally win a global premier event for the first time? We will see.

All action begins on the 12th July, with the Grand Finals culminating all the action on 14th July.

Pulished on: 2018-07-10

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