The eight StarCraft II players at the Season 3 America Premier League Finals in Santa Monica this weekend can be roughly divided into two groups: those who are going to the Global Finals, and those who need to win every match to even have an outside shot at the WCS Championship. On the one hand, you’ve got proven WCS America champions like Choi ‘Polt’ Seong Hoon and Song ‘HerO’ Hyeon Deok, along with the Tyrant, Lee ‘Jaedong’, who’s often come close enough to championships to be elite in 2013. They’ll all be at BlizzCon. On the other hand, you’ve got upstarts like Kim ‘Heart’ Min Hyuk, Kim ‘Hack’ Young Il, and Xiang ‘MacSed’ Hu who disposed of strong players like Yoon ‘Taeja’ Young Suh, Ko Seok ‘HyuN’, and Sasha ‘Scarlett’ Hostyn on their way to the knockout stages in America. Their big wins over star players will all be for naught if they can’t keep slaying giants this weekend.
The expanded format in the knockout stages goes to best-of-five for the quarterfinals and semifinals, so mental toughness, confidence, and an arsenal of tricks and strategies will be at a premium. After Taeja fell to Jaedong in their fantastic group stage battle earlier this week, his interest level clearly wasn’t the same as he then dropped games to Heart to end his premier league run and then threw in the towel on Challenger League. It seems he was more interested in keeping his bag of tricks locked up until the Global Finals, when the $100,000 Grand Prize is on the line. This is what championship caliber players do at this stage of a competition. Out of the group of unexpected quarterfinalists, who among them is ready for this level of calculated cunning and mind games? That’s what this America Premier League championship weekend is going to show us.
These players have been on site in Santa Monica all week, so they can dedicate an entire day off from competition to prepping for the final run to a championship. All eight will have to prepare all of their matchups, as there are three Terrans, three Protoss, and two Zerg players remaining. There are no weakly represented races to be found here, as we have an elite player representing each race in HerO (Protoss), Polt (Terran), and Jaedong (Zerg). In the case of Polt and Jaedong, don’t be surprised if their rivalry develops even further. Polt swept Jaedong 4-0 in the Finals to win WCS America in Season 2.
The WCS America Premier League quarterfinal knockout matches begin streaming right here on Saturday, October 19 at 1:00 p.m. PDT. Come back at the same time on Sunday, when we’ll crown a Season 3 America champion and jump start the final push towards the Season 3 Finals and Global Finals at BlizzCon. Catch up with the videos-on-demand of all the WCS America competitors, and then clear your Saturday afternoon for some of the best competitive StarCraft II you’ll see all year. Don’t forget to join the conversation in the comments section below and on Twitter @StarCraft for all of the latest results.