Europe’s homegrown talent struggled a bit more than usual this season, with only three non-Korean players surviving to this weekend’s quarterfinal bracket. The upshot is that the championship bracket is wide open, and any one of these eight players stands a good chance of being Europe’s new champion after the tournament this weekend.
MMA vs. Nerchio: Acer’d
Mun “MMA” Seong Won and Artur “Nerchio” Bloch might be teammates, but MMA has been in tremendous form since the end of Season 2 and will be very difficult to beat, no matter how well Nerchio knows him from team scrimmages. MMA is certain to do better than Nerchio’s last Terran opponent, Park “ForGG” Ji Soo, did in the round of 16. Nerchio played solid games, but they were also very conventional, and it was stunning to see ForGG continue to struggle against standard Zerg play.
VortiX vs. StarDust: Zerg fuss
After losing 2-0 to Vesa “Welmu” Hovinen in their first meeting in the round of 16, Son "StarDust" Seok Hee went into beast mode, beating Dmitry "Happy" Kostin before blanking Welmu to go through to the quarterfinals. The trouble for StarDust is that his opponent here, Juan "VortiX" Moreno Durán, is a better and savvier player who has no trouble with the Zerg vs. Protoss matchup.
His series against Jon "BabyKnight" Andersen showed his comfort with this kind of series, and StarDust will struggle to show VortiX something new.
TargA vs. MC: Underdog story
No player has been as pleasant a surprise this season as Kristoffer "TargA" Marthinsen, who overcame Johan “NaNiwa” Lucchesi in the round of 32, then dominated in the Round of 16. He’s been beating the odds all season, and looks like he is in the process of emerging as one of Europe’s strongest Zerg players. He’s well-positioned to take another upset victory over Jang "MC" Min Chul, whose performances in WCS EU have been a bit inconsistent. MC is never to be taken lightly, and he should probably still be the slight favorite over TargA, but TargA arguably beat a stronger (for the moment) Zerg player when he took down NaNiwa. He can surely do it again.
Genius vs. duckdeok: Looking to repeat
Jung "Genius" Min Soo looked like one during his appearance in the round of 16, dispatching both Nerchio and ForGG in quick succession.
Genius doesn’t have a ton of history outside Korea, and Kim "duckdeok" Kyeong Deok has a history of outperforming expectations. This is going to be an interesting matchup, because both these players have a chance to establish a reputation. Duckdeok can prove he’s more than just a long-shot champion who just had a great tournament in Season 2, while the teamless Genius can demonstrate that he’s more than an ex-GSL also-ran.
WCS Europe starts on Saturday at 9 AM Pacific over on Battle.net, and concludes on Sunday with the semifinals and final.