WCS America Season 3: The last chances, the "third region" and the first playday
Hours before the start of WCS America Season 3, we look at some of the main stories for the new season.
Having written the “Alone amidst the wolves” feature during WCS Season 2 and now running these particular paragraphs, I am on the verge of being labeled a Scarlett fanboy. Although for someone who’s supposed to be a neutral StarCraft 2 writer this is something uncomfortable to confess, do bear with me this time for Scarlett’s story is indeed one worthy of retelling.
Although one can use plenty of words (and one will a bit later) to describe how far the unique North American has gone compared to everyone else from her region, a screenshot from the WCS rankings as seen on the official website on September 16th tells the gist of it:
The story here is that foreigners are thinning out, and dangerously quick to that. WCS Europe was not at all kind to its home-turf players and even manged to get rid of its best performing name in Naniwa. Although the Swede is currently ranked 12th with 2750 points, he's out of Premier league as of September 3rd, meaning he will be unable to acquire points through WCS matches and that his Blizzcon attendance lies exclusively on the shoulders of his IEM New York performance. At the same time, Welmu, Happy and Vortix are way far down the standings, their chances for making Blizzcon are below the 20%.
Where this leaves us is with Scarlett, the foreigner with mathematically the best odds for surviving the top 16 cut off and who's still worthy of the "alone amidst the wolves" phrase we mentioned earlier. Her top four finishes at America S2 and the Season 2 finals have placed her three spots below the line, with 2150 points in the bank and yet to play her very first Season 3 match.
The gods of StarCraft are further generous to the young Canadian. Group H where she'll reside for the Ro32 is poor on Koreans - CranK being the only one - and she is to compete for the top two spot with fellow North Americans Minigun and puCK. And while the ROOT duo is certainly capable of small degrees of surprises - though their team's results in individual leagues have been notoriously poor - neither of them are in any way a match to the Acer powerhouse.
While we're still obliged to ask "Can Scarlett do it?" it is not by any means a question of her skills but of physical form. Until a week ago it was uncertain if Scarlett will play her WCS matches in the first place, her health plagued by wrist pains. From the looks of it, those problems have been solved (or at least contained) for the time being and with the big pauses between the separate WCS playdays, Miss Hostyn should have enough time to rest, both mentally and physically.
Consequently, jumping into the Ro16 would not be considered troublesome but mathematics show that this will not be enough. Scarlett not only needs to reach the top eight but she needs to perform well there as well if she is to break the Korean monopoly in the global standings. Curious of her exact chances? TL.net user Die4Ever has the math for you:
Photo of Scarlett: Kevin Chang / Team Liquid
Although in the past we've used the American circuit to criticize certain aspects of the whole WCS system, sitting on the brink of its third season we can't but admit how this is the one part of the league that underwent the most drastic shifts. Where WCS Europe and Korea kept for the most part a consistent image, WCS America, in a fascinating way grew and changed almost like a masterfully-directed TV series.
The birth of the circuit at Season 1 followed the plotline of Koreans invading the "easiest" part of WCS and the Americans fighting to keep them off the lawn. It ended poorly for the latter, as we now know, and that in turn was brought on to exemplify the cracks and flaws of Blizzard's endeavor.
As it changed studious from MLG to NASL, Season 2 continued the same storyline but also introduced a secondary one: That of the Chinese players fighting to qualify for the highest layers of WCS competition. The struggle which began all the way back during the Season 1 qualifiers and their handling got tougher by the day as governmental bodies continuously brought up visa issues, almost barring two of the players from making use of their rightfully earned playoffs spots.
Jim looking dashing with the G-League trophy. Photo: Titan24.com
Hours before the start of Season 3, the ode of the Chinese is yet to see its second chapter written but the story is already taking shape. This is not going to be a tale of the red flags invading Blizzcon; with all of Top, MacSed and Jim missing season one, their chances are miniscule. What this will be about is China becoming the new main character in WCS America, establishing itself as the third region in the circuit alongside Korea and America and lay the seeds for the 2014 stories to come. It is up to the trio to get interweaved with the league, nurture its own fanbase, color up the competition and oppose the Korean hegemonists whenever possible.
It is their duty to finally, after many years of StarCraft 2, draw attention to their otherwise globally unpopular scene.
Although using a term like "second tier Koreans" is likely to not win me a lot of fans, there isn't anything more suitable to describe Group D of WCS America Ro32. Alongside aLive are three Premier league virgins, thus composing a line-up which is a predisposition towards a possibly very dull opening of the circuit (especially compared to, really, every other option which either had foreigners or household names, or was the freaking Group A with Polt, Revival, Sage and HyuN).
There are only two stories which can possibly develop within Group D. One is who will accompany aLive out of the pool and into the Ro16 and that, unfortunately, is an uninteresting one since whoever that player might be, he is likely to meet his end in the next round.
The second is is there someone among the three capable of upsetting the EG Terran and leave him in the bottom half of the group. The quick answer would be "no" which leads us back to story #1 and towards the dull exit. The longer answer would use the fact that aLive is playing one of his weaker match-ups as opener (though it was in that match-up that he recently beat Ryung, Maru, Lucifron and DeMusliM) and that ByuL is actually decent against Terrans, having defeated Ryung and Major on his way to Premier as well as other notable Terrans in 2012.
Way too long of a shot? Certainly. But for better or worse this is the only way of dressing up Group D as interesting.
|aLive||vs||Hack||0 – 2|
|ByuL||vs||Arthur||2 – 0|
|Hack||vs||ByuL||1 – 2|
|aLive||vs||Arthur||1 – 2|
|Hack||vs||Arthur||2 – 0|
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