Finally! After 2 months spent discovering what Iron Squid is all about, its players and its magic, the tournament starts with a first group that should be very tight.
The first group is also the Terran heaviest group, with three Terrans who happen to be all Koreans. If you take a look to SC II’s short history, Terrans tend to crush the competition, especially when they come from Korea. In their home land where GomTV was renamed GomTvT at some point or abroad where they won 3 MLG titles in a row, Korean Terrans always come for the gold medal. Even if the trend has decreased with the adaptation of the other races and the nerfs made by Blizzard, they are always a threat in every tournament, therefore it will be a very hard task for the two foreigners of this group: Ret and ToD
A second place up to grab
PuMa the conqueror
Behind MarineKing who stands as a favorite, the four other players can all hope to get the second ticket to the quarter finals. If odds give BoxeR a slight advantage, his three opponents are not to be neglected. First, PuMa - the third Korean of the group - is used to big international events, and has been doing really good in those. The Evil Geniuses’ player won nothing less than three international titles, but is always in pain in Korea for obscure reasons. He has beaten world class players when he was in the USA or in Germany, but he is yet to qualify for Code A. The question is which PuMa will play the Iron Squid: the beast that crushed two NASL or the nervous Terran unable to go big in Korea. He will have to deal with this issue as all the players of the group live in Korea.
Ret, the droning Dutch man
The two European players will also have their shot to qualify. Ret has been doing well lately, with a 3rd at the IEM Sao Paulo and a nice showing this week-end at the MLG. When he is not carried away by his love of drones, the Zerg’s Macro allows him to stand a chance against the best players in the world. With a good preparation for his ZvT, it would not be a surprise to see the Ret send one of the Koreans to the ground. Nevertheless, to get the second place he will need more than one win against a Korean.
ToD, entering as an outsider
The other foreigner of this group, ToD is also the disciple of Aiur. Since he arrived in Korea, the French man has showed a lot of improvement in his game, reaching the final bracket at the last DreamHack, but still seems to have trouble with his PvZ. With Ret as only Zerg of the group, ToD will have the possibility to rely on his good PvT to try to beat the odds and advance to the quarter finals. The Protoss is clearly the outsider in this group and he will need to play his best in each and every game, a complicated challenge, but nothing the former WC3 is afraid of.
A chair for two
The Emperor wants his throne back
One of the lasts invitees to arrive in the tournament, BoxeR definitely got what it takes to reach the final bracket. Yes, because of his age, the emperor is not as fast on the keyboard as the young guns, but he compensates with an amazing understanding of the game and a very sharp game sense. The SlayerS’ founder is able to get his opponent off balance with his bold moves and innovative strategies. With this group, BoxeR can legitimately aim at a second place, if MarineKing seems a bit out of reach, PuMa is beatable in TvT and as he is Korean, BoxeR will be the favorite against the two foreigners. But he will have to play cautiously, as ToD already beat him in an online tournament, and Ret can defeat anyway when on a good day.
MarineKing, a king who wants to become Emperor.
Even if the group is tough, MarineKing seems to be able to end up in the first place. MKP is always doing well when entering a tournament, but was also known to suffer to get the job done when it comes to win it all, an issue he just fixed by winning the MLG Winter Arena. The Korean showed a rather good TvT in his GSL group, which will be an asset in such a group. As good as PuMa and BoxeR can be, MarineKing is the most impressive of those three in Korea. Regarding his games against foreigners, except for Stephano, nobody ever beat him in a major tournament, Ret and ToD will have to try hard. His opponents’ best chance will be to get him off balance as he tends to sometimes play unsafe.
Preview by LeLfe