Season 1 is finished as an old champion rises from the ashes once again. MC, having claimed his first title in over two years, stands as the next great landmark in his career. However, what’s done is done, or ‘done and dusted’ as some may say. Season 2 is rapidly approaching, and even in day two of the Challenger qualifiers we’ve had quite the development already.
Let us cut the pleasantries and get right to the meaty chunks: Stephano has qualified for WCS EU Challenger.
- Previous WCS achievements:
- First place WCS Europe 2012
- Second place WCS Europe Season 1 2013
- Ro16 WCS Europe Season 2 2013
For his return, It seemed almost a trial by fire as he had to face off against friend and teammate DeMusliM for the challenger spot in the final round. While we’ve seen Stephano around at events like the HomeStory Cup since retirement, an attempt at qualifying for WCS is a little more serious than those prior instances of reappearance. Stephano just enjoyed the atmosphere of HSC, as well as meeting up with friends.
I personally always had the feeling that Stephano would never stay away for too long. How could someone like that, like Stephano, stay away from the spotlight, the community and culture that made him a superstar? Whatever the case, if he takes it seriously or not, qualifying now means that he’s one Bo5 series away from the Premier League. I didn’t think I’d be writing that sentence about Stephano half way through these qualifiers, but there you have it.
Next up we have a player who, in my opinion, could absolutely terrorize WCS Europe. First, one of my very favorite Protoss players, after failing to qualify for Season 1 in 2014, is now here.
- Previous WCS achievements:
- Fifth place WCS Korea Season 2 2013
- Third-fourth place WCS Season 2 Finals 2013
- Ro32 WCS Korea Season 3 2013
Previously known as “Anyppi” and having played for KT Rolster during his Brood War days, he was actually a regular during Proleague back when it was Bo7 format. However, as the tournament shifted to Bo5, our Protoss protagonist realised he wouldn’t see much play, thus switched to StarCraft 2 in 2012.
Moving into Wings, First really hit his stride overseas more than in Korea. With a second place to Leenock during MLG in 2012, he moved forwards through 2013 to claim first place at Katowice for Intel Extreme Masters, and finally second place to his teammate YoDa in the first ever HotS Premier tournament, the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship.
However, all these results were what we came to expect from a strong Korean on the international stage practicing in a house like IM. What really made First spring to the forefront for me were his performances during Season 2 last year. Admittedly he actually lost to Bomber during both the Korea Season and Season 2 finals, but the games he played otherwise, across the board, made him look fantastically fierce.
One worry for me on First’s part, though, is that I feel it could be all to easy for him to fall into the ‘Jjakji position’. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s take a look at Jjakji. With Europe’s talent pool ever growing, the number of champion-level players ever increases. Of course, Jjakji always has a shot, but keeps falling short at the last hurdle. Ever the monstrous player but never quite able to round it out, First needs to avoid this pit – people will be expecting great things of him.
Tune in to http://starcraft2.com/wcs tonight and tomorrow at 17:00 CEST for the remaining qualifiers!