WCS Challenger: Europe and Australia-New Zealand

  • Blizzard Entertainment

The World Championship Series (WCS) Challenger qualifiers came to a close on May 19 and 20, and we have six players guaranteed a spot at WCS Jönköping in June. Joona ‘Serral’ Sotala, Mikolaj ‘Elazer’ Ogonowski, Christoffer ‘Namshar’ Kolmodin, and Artur ‘Nerchio’ Bloch powered through both online cups and the bracket stages to secure their place in Sweden to represent Europe, while Sheldon ‘Seither’ Barrow and Ethan ‘iaguz’ Zugai grabbed their spots as representatives for Australia. Let’s look at how things went down in these awesome matches.

Zerg Dominates Europe

The star of the show this weekend was Sweden’s Namshar. He toppled Jens ‘Snute’ Aasgaard and Nerchio in the upper bracket quarterfinals and semifinals respectively, both of whom had much higher seeding and higher placement in the WCS standings. While his streak ended as he fell to Serral 0-3 in the upper-bracket finals, Namshar’s leveled-up Zerg play took him all the way to the top four.

Speaking of Finland’s Serral, his performance was top notch this weekend. After entering the Round of 16 on Friday, he dropped one map to Anton ‘Zanster’ Dahlström — but other than that, he didn’t lose a single game. He went on to beat Grzegorz ‘MaNa’ Komincz, Tobias ‘ShoWTimE’ Sieber, Namshar, and Elazer in perfect 3-0 matches. Serral has had an incredible presence on the European ladder so far in 2017, and it looks like he’s ready to unleash his best play in a premier tournament setting. If he maintains this level of skill and execution, he may very well take the win at Jönköping and secure his first premier championship.

The Fall of ShoWTimE

As one of the greatest European players since 2013, Germany’s ShoWTimE had a rough go in this qualifier. He started off well — taking out Rickard ‘SortOf’ Bergman and Julian ‘Lambo’ Brosig without losing a single game — but then he fell to Serral in a devastating 0-3 series. In the lower bracket, he fell again to Elazer in a full five-game series.

According to ShoWTimE’s tweets after his matches, his struggle in the qualifier may have something to do with the new map pool. While he admits that Europe has no shortage of talented Zerg players, he also posits that the current map pool may favor Zerg as well. The upcoming North American qualifiers and Jönköping may shed some light on his theory.

Seither Surges Ahead

In Australia, we saw a big surprise from Seither. The favorites to qualify for Jönköping were Sean ‘Probe’ Kempen and iaguz, as they had both previously qualified for WCS Austin and performed well there. Seither surprised us all as he took out Probe in a clean series before moving on to defeat iaguz in the winners’ finals. While he ultimately lost the grand finals in a rematch against iaguz, Seither didn’t make it easy — in a back and forth series, iaguz finally took the win in the fifth game.

With Europe and Australia/New Zealand completing their qualifiers, there are only two more regions to go. North America’s qualifiers begin on May 22-23 and conclude on May 26-27, airing at 5:00 p.m. PDT each night on the StarCraft Twitch channel. The Southeast Asia qualifiers will take place on May 24-25 on the same channel at 7:00 p.m. PDT. Tune in all week to see who will join the six players from Europe and Australia in Jönköping.