Challenging the Champion in Valencia

  • Blizzard Entertainment

With the World Championship Series (WCS) Jönköping tournament in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look ahead to the action coming up at WCS Valencia. Starting on July 13, fan favorites and fresh faces will descend on the Feria de Valencia to compete for a guaranteed spot at the 2017 WCS Global Finals, as well as their share of $100,000 USD and 11,000 WCS Points. Let’s check out some of the most exciting matchups coming up in this event.

SpeCial’s Only Weakness

Few players have been as big a threat so far this year as Juan Carlos ‘SpeCial’ Tena López. In addition to qualifying for Code S in the Global StarCraft II League (GSL) twice this year, he also performed very well in the bracket stages of WCS Austin and WCS Jönköping. In both of those tournaments, he was eliminated by the eventual champion, Alex ‘Neeb’ Sunderhaft. After noticing this during the DreamHack Summer event, caster Yoan ‘ToD’ Merlo speculated what might be possible if Neeb didn’t get in SpeCial’s way during the playoffs. Could anyone else stop SpeCial's overwhelming and aggressive style, or is Neeb the only kryptonite for this extremely talented Terran player? It’s possible WCS Valencia will be the place for us to find out.

A Time for Serral

Joona ‘Serral’ Sotala has been at the top of the scene all year. He first made waves because of his unbelievable performance on the European ladder, and many were touting him as the best player in the region. He fell in the quarterfinals during WCS—in Jönköping, he made it all the way to the finals and took Neeb to seven games. During the post-match interview, Neeb postulated that Serral’s improvement could be due to his getting more comfortable on stage. Keep your eyes on Serral at Valencia—his experience at the past two WCS events may help him secure his first WCS title.

Neeb Goes for a Triple

The best word to describe Neeb is “unstoppable.” While he had a rough start to the year at the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) in Katowice, he has dominated both WCS Circuit events this season. With two back-to-back wins already this year, he’s ready to go for a third win. The competition won’t be any easier this time around, and Serral will be a serious threat. There’s no counting out other crowd favorites, either—SpeCial, Artur ‘Nerchio’ Bloch, and Tobias ‘ShoWTimE’ Sieber are always strong contenders for a big win as well. Neeb must continue to demonstrate impeccable Protoss play if he hopes to take a third victory in a row.

The broadcast at WCS Valencia starts at 7:00 a.m. PDT on July 13 and runs through Saturday, July 15. You can watch all the games here on the WCS website or on the StarCraft Twitch channel.