Starting on November 28th, the 7th installment of the Golden League Series will be hosted in Shanghai.
24 players will compete over a ten day period for what will probably be the last WGL Season before Reforged Beta comes out.
Let's discuss the new structure and whom we believe to be the favorites.
A new, more risky structure
Four groups of 6 players - top 2 qualify
This reminds me of the infamous group stages of WCA 2016, but worse. At that time there were two groups of five players with the top two qualifying for the next round.
The issue with this system is that a strong player can be quickly knocked out after two early defeats and potentially throw games, purposely or not, sense the rest of his tournament doesn't matter. Keep in mind, these games could be important for his opponent who may still be in the race for qualification to the next round. This means that early games are critically important. But perhaps more importantly this could encourage arrangements between players that hurt the competitive spirit of the tournament.
In addition, with 6 players per group, not only will we miss most of the action on streams but we will certainly have many games without any real meaning once we reach the 3rd round.
I would have created a system with six players per group from which the top three qualified for the next stage. The winner of the group would be given a 'bye' for the next round while those ranked 2nd and 3rd battle it out to join them. Since Netease chose to go with a Single Elimination playoffs system, that would have given those more meaning.
Group stage round are played 3 games at a time, I will be in the arena checking on those games not streamed by B2W, trying to give you guys a clearer view of what is going on.
Playoffs - Single Elimination bracket
Quarter and Semi Finals are BO5 and the Final is BO7.
After a group stage during which 15 matches per day will be organized, we will move onto the playoffs phase with only two matches a day for the remaining four days of competition. This seems a little anticlimatic.
I would rather have seen either my suggested system or a Double Elimination system for the playoffs.
Anyway, I will not bite the hand that feeds us with extraordinary Warcraft III content.
I usually like to rank players from Favorites, to Challengers, then Underdogs and finally Tourists. Not only am I usually wrong in my predictions, I think that this classification makes no sense with the current system.
Let's look at the groups one by one. Group A and D were swapped a few days ago without an explanation. This will change the grid for the playoffs drastically.
Group A: the group of Death
Composition : Foggy, TH000, Lyn, WFZ, Neytpoh, Chaemiko
How stacked is this group! TH000 a two time champion with Lyn and Foggy as former finalists.
Moreover there aren't any easy outs as Chaemiko is performing very well the last weeks, Neytpoh rarely disappoints and always has the potential to surprise his opponents. WFZ also has some experience at this level.
The three favorites are not in top shape however. Lyn and Foggy have been regularly under-performing with the new patch while TH000 is doing everything he can not to play Humans unless he has to. This will certainly change the dynamic of the group and lead to some interesting games.
I think TH000 is still the favorite as he can counter his opponents with any race. Foggy is not the strongest in a round robin system as he cannot really prepare well for his opponents so for once, I see him being eliminated in the first round (sorry)!
WFZ was semi retired and probably not in shape.
Key games : R1 Foggy vs TH000, R2 Lyn vs TH000
Prevision : TH000,Lyn, Foggy, 4- Chaemiko, 5- Neytpoh, 6- WFZ
Group B: the group of Life
Composition : Colorful, Sok, Fly100%, Lucifer, So.in, DanGer
I realize this is a bad pun, I just wanted to emphasize how much lighter the competition in this group is compared with Group A.
DanGer is a last minute replacement for Walter that could not come to Shanghai. He is an obvious candidate for the last place in the group.
So.in is not performing well in W-League and has shown little results recently, I see him in 5th place with his roomate Sok taking the 4th position for his first offline tournament in China.
Colorful, Fly100% and Lucifer will fight for the qualification. Colorful is a beast against orcs and Fly has a strong matchup against UD. It could be a 3 ways tie but most likely Colorful and Fly will go through.
Key games : R1 Fly vs Lucifer, R2 Fly vs Colorful
Prevision : Colorful,Fly100%, Lucifer, 4- Sok, 5- So.in, 6- DanGer
Group C: Moon, Infi and the sparring partners
Composition : Moon, Infi, Sonik, pcg_123, Cash, Zhou_Xixi
Moon and Infi are certainly the top players in this group. The rest of the players are of similar skills and we hope for a good showing from our European representatives Sonik and Cash. pcg_123 will try to do well for his first offline tournament ever.
Zhou_Xixi seems to be the one that could create troubles for the two favorites as he is performing pretty well in W-League. He was beaten by Sonik in Shenkui Cup recently so maybe the Ukrainian can surprise him once again.
Cash qualified thanks to Foggy getting points in the Netease race. He will play three to four NE in this group. His chances are minimal.
Moon should take the first place in this group if Infi insists on playing UD against NE.
Key games : R1 Sonik vs Zhou_Xixi, R2 Infi vs Moon,
Prevision : Moon,Infi, Sonik, 4- Zhou_Xixi, 5- pcg_123, 6- Cash
Group D: LawLiet, FoCuS and 120
Composition : LawLiet, Sini, FoCuS, 120, HawK, Hunter
HawK and Hunter will try to get their first victorious BO3 during a Golden League tournament and one is assured to get it. Hunter has never beaten HawK so this match should go in favor of the Russian.
Both of them can hope to beat Sini, especially Hunter as Sini plays Orc against NE and that is a good matchup for the Peruvian.
Those three, however, cannot really touch LawLiet, FoCuS and 120 who will fight for the qualification. 120 is walking on water since he was sponsored by team Newbee, chances to see him fall here are nearly non existent.
Once again LawLiet and FoCuS face off in the group stage of the Golden League. Those encounters usually go towards LawLiet.
Key games : R2 120 vs FoCuS, R3 120 vs LawLiet, R4 FoCuS vs LawLiet
Prevision : 120,LawLiet, FoCuS, 4- HawK, 5- Sini, 6- Hunter
- Official English Casters : Back2Warcraft (on site), Hi2Chaco, SolidJakeGG (tbc)
- Official Russian Casters : Miker, Wolv
- Full match list can be found here
- Reddit Megathread by Neo