The first day of competition in the StarCraft II Global Finals at the Battle.net World Championships was a day that managed to surpass even its highly promising pedigree. In a tournament format designed to spread out the best of the best pros across all eight groups in the round of 32, the unexpected was indeed unexpected. But throughout group play, surprises and upsets came quickly, and the round of 16 was filled with names that make for a very compelling Day 2.
What follows is chock full of spoilers! You’ve been warned.
Group A: Parting Ways
The first group started with TvT and PvP mirror matches that ended decisively, with the USA’s Illusion taking out Peru’s Fenix , and South Korea’s PartinG overcoming Germany’s Socke. Fenix then saw to it that Socke would not take any games in the tournament, while PartinG assigned Illusion his first loss, winning the group in a walk.
In the consolation match between Fenix and Illusion to determine the 2nd player from Group A to be awarded a slot in the round of 16, Illusion repeated his first performance, eliminating the Peruvian and designating group A as the group in which all five matches ended 2:0.
Group B: Movin’ On Uppy
The all-Zerg group of Spain’s VortiX, China’s Comm, and two representatives of the USA – ViBE and Suppy – was initially considered an easy guess. USA National Champion ViBE defeated European Continentals Runner-up VortiX to start, and appeared to be headed to a quick group win. But fellow American Suppy had a different plan in mind. A replacement for Canadian Ostojiy (who could not attend this tournament), Suppy made easy work of Comm, and then defeated ViBE 2:0 to win the group and force a VortiX vs. Vibe rematch, with elimination on the line.
VortiX was not to be denied the chance to play on Day 2. ViBE never seemed to find the angle, losing two games and exiting the tournament hastily.
Group C: Sen and Sensibility
Another group that featured mirror matchups at the outset, Taiwan’s Sen faced Chile’s KiLLeR in ZvZ and Canada’s HuK took on Netherland’s Grubby in PvP. While Sen had little difficulty in dispatching KiLLeR 2:0, Grubby had to scrape together a 2:1 win over Huk, sending the Canuck off to face KiLLeR in their first elimination match.
It was too much for HuK, who couldn’t figure out KiLLeR and was taken out 2:0. Meanwhile, Sen found a way to beat Grubby 2:1, winning the group outright and setting up a loser-goes-home match between Grubby and KiLLeR. Playing late into the evening, Grubby and KiLLeR pushed one another to the limit, and a tough PvZ match ultimately went to KiLLeR 2:1, making KiLLeR the only player from Latin America to advance.
Group D: Make it Rain, Baby
Coming into the BWC, we knew one thing for sure: South Korea’s Rain was on a roll. After winning the Asia Continental Finals, few expected anything less than an easy advance for Rain in a group with Denmark’s BabyKnight, Australia’s Mafia, and USA Protoss player State. BabyKnight had a different idea.
In his PvP first matchup with State, BabyKnight hinted that he brought his A-game to Shanghai, beating State 2:0 while Rain took down MaFia by the same score. BabyKnight then shifted his focus to Rain, and found a way to win not once, but twice, handing Rain a painful loss and setting up an intriguing match on the other side of the group D bracket. In two powerful wins over top-notch opponents, BabyKnight established himself as a force to be reckoned with in Shanghai.
After State eliminated MaFia 2:0, all eyes were on State vs. Rain. Rain had demonstrated that he could be defeated in PvP, and State believed that he was just the Protoss to send the Asian Champion packing. Nonetheless, Rain regained his strength and cruised past State 2:0, reminding viewers that he is still the Korean to beat this weekend.
Group E: Death Becomes Them
When the groups were first randomly drawn, most observers looked at this and called it “the group of death”. Two South Koreans - HerO and RorO - would face France’s Stephano and USA’s IdrA, who was considered the most unlucky contestant in terms of seeding. Almost no commentators picked IdrA to advance, and his answer to them was first beat RorO 2:0, and then shock Stephano 2:0, setting up an epic matchup with Rain in the Round of 16, and calling into question whether Stephano would get a chance to take his creative Zerg play to Day 2.
Stephano had started group play by defeating HerO 2:0, and spent the middle of the day waiting for the winner of the all-Korean PvZ matchup. He didn’t have to wait too long, as HerO beat RorO 2:0 and then proceeded to end Stephano’s time in the tournament 2:1. HerO will face BabyKnight to start the round of 16.
Group F: Remember the Titan
The other group that included two South Koreans – Curious and herO – also featured Mexico’s MajOr and Russia’s TitaN. Right away, TitaN made a statement by defeating Curious 2:1 and then herO 2:0. MajOr came up just a little short against herO (2:1), and then turned his attention to Curious, coming tantalizingly close to eliminating the Korean Zerg master, but Curious had a little more in the tank today, and sent off MajOr by a score of 2:1.
The arrangement of the final match in Group F meant that one Korean would advance, and the other would not. In a wide-ranging PvZ struggle, herO managed to take a game from Curious, but that was all he took, and Curious was victorious 2:1. In the round of 16, TitaN faces KiLLeR and Curious will meet Sen.
Group G: Ups and Downs
Like Group F, the grouping of Spain’s LucifroN, Belarus’s LoWeLy, USA’s Insur, and Brazil’s Levin included all three races, and the Terran LucifroN put on a show, first defeating Levin 2:1, then LoWeLy 2:0.
LoWeLy had overcome Insur by a score of 2:0 in his first match, and Insur came roaring back in the first of the two elimination matches for this group. After dispatching Levin 2:0, Insur faced LoWeLy again, and looked as though he might have found a way to get revenge. But LoWeLy’s ZvP was just too good, and Insur was sent home 2:1.
Group H: Frankly, My Dear …
The last of the eight groups was certainly not the least, as all four of its competitors had 1st place finishes in the WCS to their names. Nerchio, the Poland Champion, mOOnGLaDe, the Oceania Continental Winner, Scarlett, the North American Continental Champion, and Creator, the South Korean Nationals Champion, put on a show for the ages in a series of tight, strong matchups.
First, it took Scarlett three games to defeat mOOnGLaDe, and it took Creator three games to win vs. Nerchio. This resulted in a Scarlett vs. Creator match that surprisingly was no sweat for Creator. He beat the Canadian Champion 2:0 and advanced to the round of 16, where he will face Illusion. Nerchio then sent mOOnGLaDe packing 2:0, setting up a ZvZ struggle to end the day.
Nerchio and Scarlett repeatedly reached the army cap of 200 units, forcing massive battles that spanned across first Daybreak, and then Cloud Kingdom. The match went on for well over an hour, and it was often hard to determine who was winning, but Scarlett prevailed 2:0, becoming the 11th foreigner to advance to the round of 16, where she faces a challenge in PartinG.
All in All
It was a tremendous day for the foreign contingent. Day 2 is set with five Koreans, five Europeans, four North Americans, one South American (KiLLeR), and Taiwanese phenom Sen. Play gets underway tonight at 6:00 p.m. PST. Between now and then, you can catch up with VODs here, and browse our gallery of exclusive pictures from the event here.