BlizzCon is just around the corner bringing many of Blizzard Entertainment’s esports leagues to a close. Among these is the StarCraft II World Championship Series. The top eight players from both the Circuit and Korea will head to Anaheim, CA to determine who is the best player in the world. While there are plenty of talented StarCraft II players competing this year, two players stand out among the rest.
A StarCraft II WCS Global Finals match between Joona “Serral” Sotala and Cho “Maru” Sung Choo is certainly one much of the audience is hoping comes to fruition. These are the two best players in the league and seeing them clash will make one heck of a match. When speaking to the StarCraft II Esports Product Manager Adrian Harris, he discussed the dream matchup and who he believes would come out on top.
“Maru is this shining example of Korean StarCraft,” Harris states about the top Korean player’s preparation and practices. “What made them so great was that team house superstructure and the way that it developed first in Korea and the way they have sort of mastered it and approached it. They have this whole ecosystem and they know how to recruit practice partners and train,” Harris explained discussing the typical success of Korean players in StarCraft Esports. Maru is at his best when he is able to prepare for his matches. When he knows what is coming, he’s “really tough to beat.”
On the other hand, Serral is an entirely different beast altogether. Harris continues to explain how many non-Korean players have adopted this type of practice space but not Serral:
“A lot of non-Korean StarCraft players where they have sort of embraced that model where there is a team house in Korea where non-Koreans train and practice in this Korean-style environment where Serral is like, ‘Nope. I’m going to hang out in Finland, train by myself.’ Like, go into the hyperbaric chamber and go Super Saiyan. He comes out and be similarly dominating.”
It’s clear that these two have different styles of preparation. Maru is all about that team house prep style where Serral is by himself at home training. It’s apparent that both styles have produced results but who would come out on top if these two top competitors make it to the Finals? Harris gives us his synopsis:
“[Serral] is unpredictable in tournaments; he always seems to make it to the end. It really depends on how much time Maru spends preparing for Serral and how much [practice] time he is able to have. Maru’s training to get past his Quarterfinal opponent and then his Semifinal opponent and I don’t know how much time he’s going to have to prepare for Serral. I would give it 60/40 to Serral in that scenario unless Maru is like, ‘Nope. The only opponent I see in this tournament is Serral and I’m just going to train specifically to beat him.'”
Harris also shared his thoughts on who or what could be potential threats for both players:
“I was looking back through the old WCS systems and there has only been one year ever where a top four player in the WCS Point system that we have — we rank all the players throughout the year and that’s how they make it to BlizzCon — but there has only been one year where a top four player has won it. It was ByuN in 2016 and every other year it was the 12th place player won, the 14th place player has won three times. So, overall with this tournament and this format, it’s going to be very unpredictable.”
He does get a bit more specific naming some “killers” that may give both Serral and Maru some trouble during the bracket stage:
“Now, Maru and Serral have been more dominate this year than in any other season in StarCraft so I think it is highly likely that one of them wins it but killers in the bracket I would say sOs. His nick is dollar sign zero dollar sign because he only seems to win there is a ton of money on the line… He just has the reputation of seeing those cash symbols and being like, ‘I gotta win this thing.'”
“I think there’s a lot of people on the Circuit side. ShoWTime and SpeCial that have been training in Korea this year or just performing really well who can take it. On the Korea side, we have our returning Global Champion, Rogue, who is an amazing player. I think the last player I’ll give a nod to is Stats. Stats has been incredibly solid and consistant in his competitive career so he always is a threat to take it.”
The Finnish juggernaut, Serral, has absolutely dominated the Circuit with 14,090 WCS Points; that’s over four times more points than the second place spot held by ShoWTimE with 3,270 WCS Points. He hasn’t lost a match since May and doesn’t seem like he’ll be slowing down any time soon.
The potential counter to Serral’s reign is Korea’s own Maru, who has also achieved similar greatness. While the Terran player hasn’t had the same win streak Serral has earned, he is a three-time GSL champion which he accomplished just this year. Maru is also ranked first with 14,250 WCS Points with the second place spot, held by Classic, with 7,675 WCS Points.
The StarCraft II 2018 WCS Global Finals will begin during BlizzCon’s opening week, on Friday, October 26 at 9 a.m. PDT, where groups A through D will compete for the top two spots to advance to the bracket stage. The 2018 season will conclude on Saturday, November 3 at 11:30 a.m. where both the Semifinals and the Grand Finals will commence and inevitably crown a champion.