I EM the Swarm: IEM WC Preview

Posted by Radoslav "Nydra" Kolev 2 years, 6 weeks ago

And we’re here: The first ever premier offline Heart of the Swarm tournament! This week, IEM are bringing the new expansion to the grand stage in CeBIT, Hanover, to test all the known names on one much uncharted territory.

The latter changes everything, of course. This tournament is not about recent results or renown in WoL because, well, this is not WoL. During IEM Katowice, many of the players told us they haven’t played a single game on the new expansion and here they are now, fighting for the World Championship. A month and a half are no doubt enough for an aspiring player to get acquainted with the matter but there are still names at Hanover that have been playing HotS longer than anybody else.

On March 5th, we erase past records. We reboot the counter. We forge the champions anew.

Group A
Nerchio, PartinG, YongHwa, HasuObs, Lucifron, Slivko

skt-partin-iem.jpgParting showing what placement doesn't work for him.

GIGABYTE GosuBet contest highlights: Group A

PartinG vs YongHwa
Nerchio vs Parting
Slivko vs Lucifron
Naturally, we can’t erase everything and Koreans will still be Koreans, that is to say they will enter every group as favorites from now till StarCraft 3 beta. With that being said, YongHwa and PartinG are coming to draw first HotS blood, proving that all this “new battleground” stuff doesn’t mean s***.

Why is that? Firstly, YongHwa’s team just became the first HotS GSTL champions and although YongHwa himself didn’t see any play, thinking that he hadn’t had extensive practice preparing his teammates for the matches is just silly. The protoss will be packing the whole Heart of the Swarm knowledge that IM possess and that’s already scary.

Parting, on the other hand, has nothing to practice for but IEM. He got eliminated from GSL in the Ro8 and can’t play in Proleague until round four so what else he’d do? To the question how do we know he’ll really bring it: There’re still immortals in Heart of the Swarm, aren’t there?

This leaves a big question mark over the foreigners. We know Lucifron hasn’t had extensiv practice in Heart of the Swarm and neither has Nerchio as their focus was on WoL until a month ago. Nevertheless those can’t be counted out. The powerful late-game of HotS zerg will fit perfectly to Nerchio’s style and from what we’ve seen, terran hasn’t changed much so Luci will have an easy learning curve.

All this puts a wild-card label over Slivko and HasuObs. Neither of them have had premier tournament appearance since IEM Singapore last year but if they’ve spent all this time ignoring WoL and practicing HotS then it’s within their power to push the usual favorites out.

Group B
Ret, XlorD, First, Kas, MC, YoDa

399px-MC-LP-MLG20120608-203659.jpgLet's be honest: everybody wants MC to do well if only to see silly ceremonies like that one.

GIGABYTE GosuBet contest highlights: Group B

First vs YoDa
Kas vs Ret
MC vs YoDa
Seeing what First was doing to terrans during GSTL – i.e. choking them with forcefield/time warp/storm combos – I am now fully convinced there is no stopping this protoss. While it’s too early to say if he’ll walk out with another championship after crushing Katowice, have no doubt that he will be in the playoffs, it’s almost axiomatic at this point.

Strong candidates for #2 and #3 are MC, YoDa and Kas. To put it in another way, that’s the most accomplished protoss on the planet, another member of the GSTL champions and one of the few foreigners that can actually handle the terran race. One thing the terrans need to know here is that bio play can be severely punished in PvT (read the “First” paragraph again) so a switch to a new style entirely could be a good move for both if they want to stand a chance against First and MC. Goody has already shown the power of pure mech in PvT, Yoda and Kas only need to follow.

Unfortunately for all fans, this group is almost certain death for Ret and Xlord, neither of whom has been in particularly excellent form in ages. This is still a HotS tournament, true, but much more will be needed for us to consider the two zergs favorites.

Group C
Sting, Socke, Mana, Snute, Vortix, Violet

violet-iem.JPGNew team, new game, new all kill?

GIGABYTE GosuBet contest highlights: Group C

Mana vs Snute
Vortix vs Socke
Mana vs Sting
Had Group D not been in its current form, Group C would certainly take home the prestigious prize of “Group of Death”. Violet, Vortix and Snute come as the zerg trio that is ready to abuse the race to the maximum.

If the foreigners have been somewhat quiet about their HotS form, such is not the case with Violet. The AZUBU ace comes from a fresh all-kill in the GSTL against FXOpen, a deed that clearly indicates he does know his stuff, and like the IM representatives, he’ll have the support of a team that’s been doing nothing else but play and learn HotS.

Fortunately, not all hope is lost for Snute and Vortix. The newest Liquid member boasts one of the most dedicated practice regimes I’ve ever seen (he was playing two online tournaments during IEM Katowice) and Vortix will be happy to know that Mutalisks are even better now!

The non-zerg side of things is represented by the sick nerd baller of Katowice Socke and Polish powerhouse Mana, both of whom either come and impress or come and miserably fail but never do either of those twice in a row (or at least this is what the audience remembers). They’re extremely versed in PvZ, however, kind of elevates their chances.

Lastly, Sting is a player that I wouldn’t usually consider a group favorite. And the last time I did that he won an IEM so I might as well shut up.

Group D
Golden, Mvp, TLO, Grubby, Stephano, Dream

399px-Mvp_MLGProvidence2011.jpgMvp will try to use IEM Hanover to begin forging a new great legacy.

GIGABYTE GosuBet contest highlights: Group D

Mvp vs Stephano
Grubby vs TLO
Grubby vs Stephano
Lastly enters the Group of Death in every sense of the phrase. Every single match in this pool is to be a treat for the sense starting with Dream against Golden (oh boy!), through the revenge match between Grubby and TLO from GD HotS KOTH (oh boy!!) and to Stephano vs MVP (OH, BOY!!!).

I dare not dabble into predictions as they will only taint this pristine selection of players, pitted to battle for our entertainment. Everyone is the favorite here, as cheesy as this sounds, and there is no possible top three that will disappointed.

My advice: make a lot of gold minerals GosuBetting on Groups A-C and save them for the greatest GosuBet challenge of 2013.
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