The World Championship Series (WCS) North America Finals are just a couple days away. Over the past few months, players from Canada, Mexico, and the United States have battled it out for the right to represent their countries at this monumental event. Now, thirty-two players have risen above the rest – they will face off in Raleigh, North Carolina at the Major League Gaming Summer Championship for a $60,000 prize pool, and more importantly, seven spots to go to Shanghai, China and compete for the title of World Champion at the Battle.net World Championship. It’s been a long road for these players, and it’s not over yet. How did they come so far? Let’s take a look back at their journey to the North America Finals.
World Championship Series: USA Nationals (June 8-10)
Sixty-four top American players came together at the Anaheim Convention Center to fight for sixteen slots in the North America Finals and the right to be called the greatest player in the USA. From early on, it was clear that this event belonged to the up-and-comers: Infinity Seven’s Sky “Insur” Xu and ROOT’s Dan “ViBE” Scherlong smashed through the upper bracket to meet in the Upper Finals, which ViBE handily took 2-0 to reach his first major Grand Final ever.
In the lower bracket, Greg “EG.IdrA” Fields – one of the tournament favorites – recovered from an early loss to ViBE and made it all the way back to the Lower Bracket semifinal, defeating the promising Chris “Quantic.Illusion” Lee along the way. In the other half of the bracket, Peter “NITRIXdaisuki” Yoo, a player who entered the tournament with very little fanfare, blew up four strong protoss players in a row and exacted revenge on Kenny “x6Mystik” Vu in the lower-bracket semifinals to join IdrA in the Lower Finals. Daisuki would prove more than capable, defeating IdrA 2-0 to earn the second Grand Finals spot.
This was daisuki’s first time on a main stage, and nerves were certainly a factor as he stepped up to face ViBE, a more experienced player with main-stage experience at MLG. ViBE was able to play his standard, solid game and capitalize on daisuki’s mistakes. This carried him to a 2-0 victory, and ViBE became the WCS USA Finals champion, earning his first career title.
World Championship Series: Canada Nationals (July 14-15)
The Canada Nationals took place a month later, alongside the North American Star League Season 3 Grand Finals in Toronto: the first major StarCraft II event to be held in Canada. The Canadian fans came out in force, creating one of the biggest and most passionate crowds to attend any WCS event so far. Much like the USA Nationals, the line up was a healthy mix of both favorites and unknowns, fighting it out for ten spots at WCS North America. However, unlike the USA Nationals, Canada’s results were characterized by a singular display of domination.
There were names on everyone’s lips going into the Canada Nationals: Chris “EG.HuK” Loranger, the de-facto hero of Canada and one of the most successful Western pro-gamers, and Sasha “Acer.Scarlett” Hostyn, a zerg player who exploded onto the scene at her first ever live event a few months prior. These two players met right away, in the second round of the Winners’ Bracket. To everyone’s surprise, Scarlett swiftly dispatched HuK 2-0 and dropped the Canadian hero to the Lower Bracket. She went on to defeat Chris “GoSuOstojiy” Ostojic, the only player to take a map off of her, Drew “ROOTDrewbie” Moysey, and finally Moon “Quantic.DdoRo” Jung Ho to claim the first Grand Finals slot.
HuK was able to fight back through two more rounds in the Losers’ Bracket, but fell to Payam “ROOTTT1” Toghyan, who pushed all the way to the Lower semifinal. Ostojiy met him there after crushing three players in a row with decisive 2-0 victories. The streak continued in the Lower Semifinals as Ostojiy 2-0’d TT1, and then 2-1’d DdoRo in the Lower Finals, earning himself a rematch with Scarlett. However, her domination could not be stopped and took down Ostojiy in a quick 2-0, claiming her first major title: WCS Canada Nationals champion.
Check out the detailed Canada recap.
World Championship Series: Mexico Nationals (August 3-4)
The WCS Mexico Nationals, held as a stand-alone event in Mexico City, rounded out the three nationals tournaments feeding into the North America Finals. Thirty-two players, qualified through a series of open qualifiers across the country, fought for six seeds into the North America Finals. Much like Canada, this was the first major Mexican StarCraft II event, and the crowd showed up in force. Also much like Canada, much of the attention was focused on two players: Juan Carlos “MajOr” Tena Lopez, historically Mexico’s strongest player since Brood War, and Ricardo “Maker” Flores, the winner of WCG Mexico 2011.
Both players would live up to expectations, and the two stars met in the Upper Bracket semifinals without a single dropped map between them. MajOr proved equal to his legend and crushed Maker 2-0, sending him down to the Lower Bracket. In the Upper Finals, he faced Jaime “Jimrising” Duran Silencio – Maker’s teammate and winner of several online cups in 2012, who had also reached this point with a perfect score. Once again, MajOr’s skill and experience led to another 2-0 and a Grand Finals berth.
In the Lower Bracket, Maker first faced a rematch with Dark, a zerg player he had defeated 2-0 early on that had fought all the way back to Round 6. Though Dark’s effort earned him a spot at the North America Finals, he was unable to prevent another 2-0 loss at Maker’s hands. Maker continued on through Zapo and his teammate Jimrising, defeating each 2-1, to claim his rematch with MajOr. However, the Brood War veteran’s warpath could not be stopped: asserting himself as a terran player of the highest caliber, MajOr defeated his rival 2-0 once again and became the WCS Mexico Nationals champion without dropping a single game.
For more details, check out the WCS Mexico Recap.
North America Finals
We now look towards Raleigh for the next stage of competition. Our three national champions join the twenty-nine other qualified players for a weekend of intense competition. Only seven can earn a seed to the Battle.net World Championship in Shanghai. Will one of our national champions claim another title? Or will a different player rise to claim the honor? If one thing’s for sure, it’s that with the best of North America gathered together in one event, the matches will certainly be exciting and unpredictable. You won’t want to miss a minute of the action.