It’s fair to say that last season’s ESL Pro Series final became a question of whether Patience could be stopped. Having made it to the grand final with the minimum number of matches - four in his qualifying cup, two during the group stage and another win in the semifinals - he looked to be a force to be reckoned with. In the end, however, ShoWTimE managed to stop him from taking the German championship title with just eight matches played.
However, this season’s German ESL Pro Series will be attended by big StarCraft names, meaning that this time the the possibility of giving up the trophy to a Korean is more than just passing threat. Next to Patience, who earned a spot in all five cups in the upcoming season by placing in the top eight, nine more Koreans are already in the A-Series and striving for a spot in next season’s cup stage. The attending WCS champions are going to elevate the level of the German championship to new heights, meaning big challenges are ahead for Germany’s StarCraft local heroes.
Big names hit the German scene
WCS and GSL champions MC and MMA are perhaps the biggest names next to YoDa and HyuN, with the latter having the biggest ESL history. Among the best Go4SC2 players in the cup series’ nigh-on four year history, he already knows the playing field and is really looking forward to it:
“For me, the ESL Pro Series is mainly about the honor and new challenge ahead of me. I’m looking forward to taking on some of the best players in Germany as well as the fellow Koreans who are also competing in the summer season. In the A-Series there’s been no real challenge for me so far, and I really want to take this trophy home!” - Ko "HyuN" Seok Hyun
Due to WCS regulations, Korean players who are taking part in the EU version of the tournament need to stay in Europe for the season and, as WCS EU offline events are hosted in the ESL studios in Cologne, a lot of these players have chosen to stay in Germany. For MC, HyuN and their fellow countrymen, competing in the European WCS will give them the chance to acquire even more trophies, honor and fame.
New challenges pushing the Germans to a new level?
When looking at the current top of the A-Series, we see star German players such as Socke, Tarrantius and others who are trying to get into the top eight to take part in the EPS cups in order to make it to the further stages of the German league. Now nine Koreans are also part of this race, and while some are not currently active, others like HyuN, MC, First and YoDa are making the open division into a kind of WCS look-a-like.
For the German players, it’ll get tough to progress if all the Korean competitors start getting into the premier division before the cups start. Only eight spots are awarded to A-Series players, but the Germans who are in currently this position can still work on bolstering their points before the Korean stars hit their region. For Socke and his A-Series fellows, getting into the cups could now turn out to be just as hard as making it to the group stage was last season.
However, even core players like reigning champion ShoWTimE and former champions Marine, HasuObs and others will have a hard time fighting for the trophy. With these big names blasting onto the scene, they’ll need to step up and bring their game to a whole new level to keep their spots in the ESL Pro Series. Michael Bister, chief of pro gaming Germany at the ESL, said the following about the ‘new’ stars coming to his league.
“Even though a lot of people think this might kill the StarCraft II scene in Germany, it’s a big chance for all top players to compete at a higher level on a weekly basis. We're looking forward to seeing some of the best StarCraft II players in the world taking part in the ESL Pro Series, which benefits not only us but also the German scene by drawing attention to it and opening up new possibilities for upcoming seasons.”
What do you think about these new additions to the German EPS? Will these very skilled players joining their league be too much for the Germans to withstand or could we see HasuObs, ShoWTime, Marine and the others step it up and close the skill gap between them and the Korean elite once and for all? Let us know in the comments below!