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Grubby to defend his ESL Continental Finals title

Reigning champion Grubby will try to defend his title, but with a tougher participation field this time it looks hard. Him, Sky, Moon, Fly100%, Infi, Lyn, TeD and HoT will all eight have a go at the ESL Continental Finals Chengdu title.

Last stop in Seoul

Extreme Masters Continental finals in Seoul included the quad Moon, Sky, Grubby and Lyn. Grubby won his first game with a 2-1 score against Lyn and was sent to play Sky, who sent Moon in the loser bracket. The two great rivals went against each other, but the flying Dutchman quickly grabbed the victory, as he totally outplayed Sky in less than 20 minutes. Surprisingly Lyn ended Moon's performance in the tournament, beating him 2-1, which placed Moon at the fourth place.

The Korean Orc won his next match versus Sky as well, which concluded Grubby versus Lyn in the grand final. The European player was down 0-1, but he snatched up the victory in the next two maps and left the event with the first place and 5,000 USD richer.

However, this time its a different story. Unlike the Seoul event, ESL brought eight players and placed them in a group stage. Tougher competition, but also more interesting.

Photo by: ESL/Julia Christophers

Sky in a good position with good Orc stats

Sky is, without a doubt, one of the most dominant players in the WarCraft scene ever since he joined it. The two time WCG winner's recent performance is a albeit shaky. 2008 was not the best year for Sky, even though the managed to get to the top in the tournaments he partook in - mostly second or third. At the IEF he lost to Moon, at WGT - to ToD and 5 days ago to Fly in the PGL grand final, in a nail-biting 5th game. Sky and Infi performed very good in their 2on2 games in the WC3L finals, but playing solo, Sky was unstable, ending with 2-2 stats, all games against Night Elves. Nevertheless, the Chinese Human player won all of his recent matches against Orc, except the two against Fly. This puts him in a good position to advance from his group.

Photo by: ESL/Julia Christophers

Reigning champion not in his best shape

The winner of the last Continental Finals stop and World Cyber Games does not seem to be in top best shape these days. His performance at the NGL-ONE finals wasn't the finest winning three of five matches before getting eliminated. Invitational tournament PGL started good for the Dutchman, pulling of a great win against his nemesis Check and his former teammate in 4Kings - FoV.

After that, the nightmare appeared - five losses in a row. First two were against two of the attendees in tomorrow's upcoming tournament: Infi and Sky. He was also beaten down by Wulin. On top of that, in the group stage he got thrashed against HoT and surprisingly by Happy. A very bad performance by Grubby, but at the WC3L finals he managed to come back, grabbing wins against both MinHyuk and ReMinD in flat 2-0 scores. But his continued vendetta against Humans was shown once again, this time against Infi. Even though Grubby's recent shape doesn't speak good for him, we've seen that he can make comebacks after having bad times, the only question is, will the Orc King do it this time and win his first title in 2009?

Photo by: ESL/Julia Christophers

HoT, the underdog in Chengdu?

Mykhaylo Novopashyn, also known as HoT, is the second European player who attends this tournament. The 22-year-old and former SK-Gaming player has not shown any good performance in 2008. The last year started good for him, crowned champion of the Samsung Euro Championship, repeating his title from 2007. After that he did not raise that many more eyebrows.

Mykhaylo finished 5th in PGL Season 3 and was the highest placed player from Europe in the event. He also finished fourth in the World Cyber Games, losing to Happy in the consolation final. His performance in this year's PGL was not sturdy. He managed to steal wins from Grubby and suhO in the group stage and go 1-1 versus Wulin and HopeStar.

But just like Grubby, the Ukrainian lost to Sky and Infi. Mykhaylo has always been a tough opponent that no one should underestimate, but will he manage to compete with such high quality players in this tournament?

Photo by: ESL/Julia Christophers

The best Undead in the world right now

The fourth player of this group is probably the best Undead player in the world right now. He is most likely the most feared Undead by the green skins. 2008 was a good year for TeD as he showed a stable performance. The Chinese player got second in the ESWC China Finals and third in the ESWC Grand Finals. Zhuo Zeng added 12,200 USD to his pocket, as he took the win in Make Games Colorful after beating Fly100% in the finals.

TeD was up 1-0 against Moon in the WCG quarter finals, but the MYM starlet turned the games around and won 2-1. Zeng said himself that it wasn't a good idea going gargoyles in the second game. However, TeD's performance in WC3L finals was amazing which took us back to his dominance in the Road of the King tournament. He struck down the slayer of Undeads, Lyn, with a 2-1 score by using towers in the last game, followed by a win over the MeetYourMakers captain Susiria. Then again, Lyn took his revenge, but it was a very close series, and the last map - Lost Temple, was in the help of the Orc player. TeD's last match in the finals was against ReMinD, and grabbed the victory 2-0.

Being the only Undead in this event, TeD will have a hard time, but the Chinese phenomenon has shown that he can take down any player in the world, and he will be a threat for his opponents, and a treat to the onlookers.

Photo by: ESL/Julia Christophers

Highest prize-winning player can start 2009 with a bang

June "Lyn" Park was the most successful player in 2008, shown by high amount of tournaments winnings in 2008. He had numerous top placements in the previous year such as the second and third season of Afreeca WarCraft League, Extreme Masters Season 2, BlizzCon, ESWC Masters of Athens-- the list can go on and on.

Lyn placed second in the latest edition of the ESL Continental Finals, losing to his fellow Orc player Grubby. The illustrious Orc Lyn scored wins against FoV and Check in the NGL-One finals, but only to lose to FoV in a later stage, and twice to WhO.

In the first tournament this year, PGL, Lyn did very good in the team knockout phase, going through the group stage without a loss. But after losses to Sky and WhO, he was eliminated in the individual knockout phase. WC3L Finals turned out to be good for Lyn, but he still seems to struggle with the Human players Sky and Infi. Despite that, June Park is still ranked as one of the best players in the world. And the fact that he was the most successful player in 2008 makes him an opponent every player should not take easy.

Photo by: ESL/Julia Christophers

Master of the towers one of the favorites to win

The 19-year-old World Elite member is the second Human competing in the Extreme Masters event in Chengdu. Xuwen Wang, or more known as Infi, climbed higher in 2008 and improved a lot. He won three tournaments - KODE5, China vs Korea Series Season 3 and World eSports Masters and placed top eight in several others.

The Chinese Human did very well in PGL, only losing one game after the Team Knockout phase. This was in the semifinals, where he was blown out by Sky with a stunning 0-3 score. At the WC3L finals Infi played it out 2-2, but despite that he showed a stellar performance against Orc players. In this tournament there are three of them, which bodes well for the master of the towers. Although the rising Human player has earned the fame of a tower-abuser and the hate of many fans, he is one of the favorites for winning.

Photo by: ESL/Julia Christophers

Moon with the chance to redeem his previous Extreme Masters debacle

As for the next player in this group, words strong enough to describe him are tough to find. You just need to look at his profile, his games and his micromanagement and you will understand why Jang Jae Ho is called "The fifth race". He is the most successful throughout the WarCraft 3 scene - and probably the most innovative. Although 2008 wasn't his best, one would say it was alright. He grabbed the first place in several big tournaments, such as the second season of PGL, Blizzard's own World Wide Invitational, ESWC Masters of Paris and the IEF.

However, the last ESL Continental finals stop, Moon went 0-4 and was first man out. Not very confident in the NGL-ONE finals either, but at the WC3L finals showed great moves and micro. Jang Jae Ho stated that it had been a rough schedule for him and he didn't see his family much, and therefore declined to partake in this year's PGL season. Moon has earned his nickname, often showing astronomical moves.

Photo by: ESL/Julia Christophers

PGL champion Fly100% highest ranked

The fourth and last player in Group B is the in-disputed King of Orc mirrors Fly100%. Just like the majority of the players invited to Chengdu, 2008 was a good year for Fly100% - especially the second half. Winning NGTV All-Star, NGTV League Season 1 as well as top three placements in PGL's third season and Make Games Colorful.

Currently Fly competes in G-League's third season, where he only holds one loss versus TeD. But two weeks old PGL Season 4 was Fly's peak. He lost only one game throughout the whole tournament, which came against his eventual grand finalist opponent Sky. This proves Fly's great shape at the moment.

Even more impressive was his win in the final game fifth game, after a 2-2 score, where it seemed impossible for the Orc player to win after a tower rush by Sky. But Fly never lost hope and amazingly turned the game over to his favor. Currently the Chinese superstar is ranked first in the GosuGamers rankings and strong in all match-ups. Does he have any new strategies up his sleeve after PGL?

Zork's group predictions

Group A
Grubby 2:1 HoT
Sky 2:1 TeD
HoT 1:2 TeD
Grubby 1:2/2:1 Sky (can't really predict)
Sky 2:1 HoT
TeD 2:1 Grubby

Group B
Moon 2:1 Lyn
Fly100% 2:1 Infi
Infi 2:1 Lyn
Moon 1:2 Fly100%
Moon 2:1 Infi
Fly100% 2:1 Lyn

Poll: Who will win ESL Continental Finals: Chengdu Stop?

ESL-World.net - Full tournament information

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