Intel Extreme Masters will kick off its ninth season in Shenzen, China, where 28 players will compete for a US$25,000 prize pool and all-important WCS points. Hoping to join the five players who have earned their spots through the American and European qualifiers are 16 of Asia’s best players. Eight have already faced fierce competition in the Korean and Taiwan qualifier, the South East Asia Qualifier and the Chinese qualifier and emerged victorious to make it to the last hurdle: the Asian Final Qualifier. They will be competing alongside eight invited players, making the complete roster extremely daunting indeed. Take a look at some of the players who will be competing in the qualifer…
The results in GSL Code S, WCS Europe and WCS America all show that Protoss players are dominating right now. As such, the firm favorite to advance will most definitely be Zest. The KT Rolster player made his international debut at IEM New York last season but failed to make it out of his group. Since then he has come a long way, winning a GSL Code S title and the 2014 GSL Global Championship. He took a small stumble in last season’s Code S, falling in the RO8, however, if he makes it to Shenzen he will be a strong contender for the title.
Dear will be an interesting player to watch during the qualifiers. His results are extremely sporadic, going from a first place finish in WCS Korea at the end of 2013 to not making it out of GSL Code A last season. He has faded into obscurity, banished into the depths of Code A. The age of Protoss has not been working to Dear’s advantage as of late, but perhaps now will be the time he will restore himself to his short-lived glory days.
So who will be flying the flag against the current Protoss dominance? Maru is probably the safest bet to head the resistance. Even now, when successful Terran players are so few and far between in Korea, Maru seems to find a way to the top. He made it to the semifinals of last season’s Code S, losing only to the eventual winner, Classic. His ability to adapt to the changes within the game make him one of the most consistently high-performing players ever, and the Terran will certainly have a good chance of making it to China.
Don’t forget to watch the Asian Final Qualifiers tomorrow (July 10th) at 10.00 AM CEST over on ESL TV where James “Kaelaris” Carrol and Shaun “Apollo” Clark will be bringing you the action!