Masters of the Craft Throw Down at BlizzCon

  • Blizzard Entertainment

The time has come for the best players of 2017 to meet one another on the big stage at BlizzCon for the World Championship Series (WCS) Global Finals. We have eight incredibly skilled competitors taking the stage, so let’s look at some of the possible stories we’ll see come out of this weekend’s games.

Foreign Hope

The biggest point of interest at every Global Finals is what we’ll see from our non-Korean competitors. Korea has always been seen as the masters of StarCraft, and they’ve historically dominated the scene. When the year culminates at BlizzCon, it’s been nearly all Korean players in the bracket. Last year, Mikolaj ‘Elazer’ Ogonowski made history by being the first foreign player to reach the semifinals, but he crumbled under the might of his Korean opponent, Park ‘Dark’ Ryung Woo. Non-Korean competitors have always been the underdogs of the Global Finals, but as Nick ‘Tasteless’ Plott noted during the impressive foreigner performance during Opening Week, “it may be time to re-evaluate our understanding of professional StarCraft.”

This year, we’re fortunate enough to have a guaranteed foreign player in the semifinals at BlizzCon. Elazer will face off against Juan Carlos ‘SpeCial’ Tena Lopez on Friday morning, and the victor will move on to the semifinals. If the winner manages to take that series, then we’ll have our first foreigner in the finals since the inception of the WCS. With the show these two put on for us during Opening Week, there’s even the possibility that we could finally see a non-Korean player win BlizzCon. This, as always, will be one of the biggest stories to watch going into this weekend.

Second-Place soO

Eo ‘soO’ Yoon Su is a fantastic Korean Zerg player, but he has a curse to overcome. He’s been in more Global StarCraft II League (GSL) finals than any player in history, and he’s finished in second place each time. In addition to his six second-place GSL finishes, he also placed in second at the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) tournament at Gamescom in 2015 as well as the DreamHack Open in Stockholm in 2014. With eight runner-up titles under his belt, it’s been a heartbreaking ride to watch him perform so well only to fall short at the last minute.

Going into BlizzCon, soO is in the upper bracket, facing off against Koh ‘GuMiho’ Byung Jae. If he can make it past GuMiho, he’ll need to beat the only foreigner left in the competition in order to advance to the Grand Finals. If he manages to make it that far, we’ll instantly have an incredible story to watch unfold. Either soO adds a ninth second-place finish to his record, this time at the most important event of the year, or he finally breaks his curse and takes home a championship title. With soO and the two foreign players looking to set a new record, the upper bracket is going to be packed with history-making potential.

Man vs Machine

One of the most terrifying forces during Opening Week was Kim ‘herO’ Joon Ho. He made it through the round of 16 and qualified for the quarterfinals without losing a single game, and he complained in a post-game interview that he won so quickly that he didn’t have a chance to really show his best play. If he wasn’t showing his best when he swept Elazer and Dark without any trouble, then we’re in for a terrifyingly good performance at BlizzCon. If you’re a Protoss fan, you’re in for a treat. Even with only one competitor left playing that race, you’d be hard pressed to ask for a better representative than herO.

But as good as herO is, he has some heft competition to wade through if he plans on making the Grand Finals. Most notably is the general tournament favorite, Lee ‘INnoVation’ Shin Hyung. INnoVation has a staggering eight premier championships under his belt, four of which were earned in the 2017 season alone. IEM Gyeonggi, the first season of the StarCraft II StarLeague (SSL), the inaugural GSL vs. The World global event, and the third season of the GSL all saw INnoVation taking first place in commanding fashion. His nickname is “the machine” because his play is so precise and he’s nearly impossible to deceive. It’s very likely we’ll see INnoVation and herO in the semifinals, so we’re in for a furious matchup in the lower bracket to see who will make it into the Grand Finals.

The games begin November 3 at 12:30 p.m. PDT (4:30 a.m. KST).