After months of intense qualifiers and national finals across Europe, French pro gamer Ilyes “Stephano” Satouri fought through to a decisive victory at the StarCraft II World Championship Series Europe Finals in Stockholm, Sweden.
Together with ESL and DreamHack, Blizzard hosted 15 national finals in several European locations this summer, searching for the top 32 StarCraft II players in Europe. Nine of them will go on to play in the Global Finals at the Battle.net World Championship in Shanghai, China – and while the 32 finalists were keenly aware of that goal, the weekend of September 15-16 was all about being the best in Europe.
The Europe Finals took place at Sweden’s national indoor arena, the Ericsson Globe, which once hosted the mighty Eurovision Song Contest. The venue now regularly welcomes thousands of spectators for hockey matches and other sporting events, concerts, and more. Our co-organizers, DreamHack, adapted the interior for this show of eSports talent, allowing attendees to view the central stage from a semi-circular seating area. Fans could enjoy the view from the stalls surrounding the extended stage, where pro gamers and hosts regularly sat down to talk about the matches, or up in the gallery for a great overview of the entire spectacle.
The Europe Finals at Ericsson Globe, (right) celebrating Stephano’s win.
There were great numbers of “Cheerfuls” on display during the event, made by the attendees. These included messages (and images) of support for individual gamers, nations, and even the shoutcasters: Nick “Tasteless” Plott, Dan “Artosis” Stemkoski, Shaun “Apollo” Clark, and James “Kaelaris” Carrol. Paul “ReDeYe” Chaloner and Rachel “Seltzer” Quirico also received a lot of love from the excited audience.
Fans and their Cheerfuls. Artosis (left) and Tasteless shoutcast the event.
Unsurprisingly, the Swedish finalists were massively popular with the home crowd; therefore, many were shocked when favorite Marcus “ThorZaIN” Eklöf was knocked out relatively early in the tournament. The last match of day one saw Spanish player Pedro “LucifroN” Moreno Durán take on Stephano, who gave a stellar performance despite lengthy flight delays and lost equipment en route to the event. The Frenchman fought hard and won, taking LucifroN out of the upper bracket with some of the most exciting gameplay of the tournament.
Day two kicked off with popular Dutch player Manuel “Grubby” Schenkhuizen securing a place in the Global Finals by beating Polish player Artur “Nerchio” Bloch in the consolation bracket before being taken out by LucifroN. The Spaniard then went on to defeat Belarusian player Anton “LoWeLy” Plebanovich before facing his brother, Juan “VortiX” Moreno Durán. VortiX had been storming his way through the upper bracket until, like his brother, he too was defeated by the unstoppable Stephano. However, younger brother VortiX swiftly won two games against LucifroN, once again stepping up to face Stephano in the Grand Final.
Winner Stephano with runner-up VortiX, (right) Stephano accepts his trophy.
VortiX put up quite a battle against the Frenchman, winning the first best-of-three round. But Stephano, ever confident, won the next two games and secured his victory and the title of European champion! He’ll face off against the best in the world at the Global Finals in Shanghai November 17-18. VortiX, LucifroN, LoWeLy, Grubby, and Nerchio are also headed to compete in Shanghai, along with Giacomo “Socke” Thüs, Oleg “TitaN” Kuptsov, and Jon “BabyKnight” Andersen.
Many viewers, attendees, and even the pro gamers themselves proclaimed the WCS Europe Finals as the best eSports event they’d ever seen. The stream even had more than 100,000 concurrent viewers during the show – which at one point had a large part of the arena dancing to PSY’s “Gangnam Style”.
Stephano celebrates his win Gangnam Style with Seltzer.
We’ve had a huge amount of positive feedback about the event and the World Championship Series as a whole — and the Global Finals are still to come! Will Stephano manage to win the StarCraft II world championship title for Europe? We’ll see!
If you’d like to see more pictures from the event, check out DreamHack’s Flickr photo stream.