It feels like yesterday when I think of GCS Summer 2017, I reminisce 120 keeping his crown, Infi getting the better of 120 with a 6-4 score overall, Foggy getting another 3rd place... But also ReMinD's jokes, beers and late night discussions with a German couple, table tennis with a Serbian basketball player and much more - the list goes on and on.
Sadly, this season Remind, Yumiko and Lucifer did not make it. Same for me, Ugrilainen, missing my first GCS since Foggy beat Lyn in his first live event. Time flies. Since then Foggy looks more like an established pro than a rookie with his two GCS bronze medals.
Ok let's talk about the tournament now!
Orc is the dominant race!
Warcraft nerds, it's time to search the last major tournament when Orc was the dominant race! 6 out of 16 competitors are playing as Orcs!
I feel like none of the Orc top representative players dissapointed. Cash was not far from qualifying either, ending in 3rd and 2nd place of the Western Qualifiers.
I don't want to see the day where all the Night Elf players will play their best in the qualifier; we could have like 12 major NE players in the main event and that could kill WC3 could it not? Now they are down from 7 to 5.
Warcraft has a stable scene
70% of the qualified players where present this summer with only 5 new players joining in this time. Since Europe came from 4 to 2 slots, it is actually only 3 natural player changes.
China is very stable, going from 9 to 8 representatives. China only lost Xixi, who seemed to lose interest a little as we saw him only in the 1st qualifier. Colorful failed thrice to qualify after a disappointing event last summer. Yumiko failed to qualify - perhaps partially due to imbalanced group drawing? I will analyse that with statistics as soon as I have the time as it is a major topic of discussion in China.
Korea benefited from Europe the West losing two slots, and went from 3 representatives to 6. That's much more realistic of their actual level and with Lyn and Lawliet back as offline specialists, we can hope Korea puts on a show for us!
The biggest surprise regarding Korea is not seeing ReMinD in Shanghai this time. Let us hope his NSL WB defeat did not break his momentum.
We lost Rudan and Hawk for Europe. Rudan now lives in China and had little chance to qualify, since he would have to play in the asian qualifier. For Hawk it was in my mind a coin-flip between him and Orcworker for the 2nd slot and after a 1-2 defeat combined with the surprising win of the Belarusian 3-2 against the ultra-favorite, Foggy in Qualifier 1, Hawk was in dire straits for Qualifier 2. Cash finally eliminated Hawk in the LB final confirming his now top 4 Europe status.
- 120: The defending champion will be once again one of the favorites for the title. The signs of a lesser dominance does, however, keep worrying the UD fanbase (that I am part of). Inexplicable losses in Cups (for instance to Imperius in Hols Cup) and an overall unfavorable record against Infi.
He did not have to qualify for GCS which I believe is always bad when you want to stay in shape. He also had an early exit of NSL (Infi again...) and if his Race Wars victory was satisfactory indeed, it was mostly due to WFZ breaking the NE race then winning the decisive game against Infi.
However, let me say that even in a bad day, I cannot see 120 finishing under the 3rd place : that's just how talented he is.
- Infi: How many time did I mention Infi in the 120 chapter? He played at a stellar level last GCS, beating 120 6-4 overal (yeah I know he lost the finals). No one else could touch him. He was focused, played at home since he lives in Shanghai and was the better prepared overall with Foggy. He also has this fighting spirit many are missing. Overall, he is my top favorite for this GCS.
- Moon: What the hell happened last time? I do not know. I will never forget Moon's elimination against Fly on TR with his misbuilt Ancient of War. Since then Moon just kept crushing his opposition and will go to NSL as the WB winner. He is just very impressive and will not do the same mistake twice. Why the hell was not he in the NE team for Race Wars?
- Foggy: Two 3rd places in a row it's time to step up. Foggy will have his magical book of tips against all his opponents. He also beats Happy regularly now and just went berserk in the last Western Qualifier losing no map. He is just very comfortable with this format.
- Lyn: I know, it is borderline blasphemic, that I did not put Lyn as a favorite. He was just not very dominant after his injury and actually even he had a break before it. He is just quite rusty and only qualified as the 4th slot of the last Qualifier. I am sure he will come to GCS after an heavy training.
- TH000: He is always in the top 6 so he is very likely to get there once again. He seems to hit a ceiling when trying to get higher, though.
- Life: This time he qualified through the 1st Asian Qualifier without any struggle. He reached the top 8 last GCS and should go higher now as we all felt he had more to show. He is getting more experience offline.
- WFZ: Sometimes he looks under, then he pulls out magical games like during Race Wars or against Lyn during his GCS Qualifier 3. So maybe he is just flying under the radar. If he can now beat the strongest HU and NE, who - on paper - are his weakest matchups, who could stop him?
- Romantic: I wish i could put him higher in the list after he finished 4th last time with a brand new competitive mindset. Since then, he had few results overall, with the exception of his qualification for GCS. Good thing is that he excels against Orcs and we now have many of those in the competition. He will still be a force to be reckoned with as he does take his preparation very seriously.
- Fly100%: It is hard to imagine the juggernaut not reach the playoffs but as the skill level has raised quite a bit this time, this accident could happen. He brilliantly qualified taking the 1st place in the 1st qualifier, so maybe I worry for nothing.
- Lawliet: He arrived at WCA 2016 with poor results since his qualification, claiming he was just a noob coming there as a tourist. Then he took second place. Im sure he is going to say the same about this GCS. He finally vanquished the "GCS curse" as he never managed to qualify in the past, so well done my friend! He is capable of doing a new WCA trick or taking a goofy early exit. That's Lawliet, nobody knows!
- Focus: When I see him play, I imagine a 2 meter high muscleman being super aggressive. He is just a bulldozer when he plays and I believe he will always qualify. Then when coming offline he is not comfortable: tired and out of his routine, he seems to just take early exits, unfortunately. I hope it stops now with a better mental preparation - he needs his own Rocky Balboa spirit.
The tourists (?)
- OrcWorker: Hard to see Maxim get out of the group. Last time he just went 0-4 in an expedite manner, making many mistakes. He was just not comfortable in a studio if I can compare to what I saw at WCA when he drew with TH000 and Infi in the group stages. I do not think those 4 quick losses gave enough experience for him to create an upset, but I hope to be wrong!
- So.in: He is capable of beating the best, like Lyn 2-0 in the last GCS Qualifier. He did a deep run in Taidu Esport Master and is really progressing skill-wise. He also have very little offline experience and never confirmed a big win by another one... yet! Good luck my friend.
- XiaoKK: First offline appearance for XiaoKK that came close to qualify several times. The least experienced of the roster, came back from a long break in June and already managed to qualify for GCS : that's an achievement. In Shanghai to learn, or to surprise us all. I wish I could have met him, a pretty nice guy to discuss with online!
- Check: He is the "old man" according to B2W, still younger than I am! It would be surprising to see uncle Check go far in this specific event as his worse match-ups are against Orcs and NE, the most represented races in the whole event! That's not me talking, that's warcraft3.info's magical statistics tab.
This starting roster is one of the best we could hope for.
I cannot wait to tune in on Back2Warcraft's stream (though I would prefer being there myself!).
Winter starts early this year, from November 13th to 19th: good luck to all the competitors!