With only three Terrans in GSL Code S to start out the 2014 season, it's easy to start panicking about the state of game balance. A glance at the lineup for Season 1 of WCS America, however, shows that the biggest problem facing Terrans in South Korea is the fact that their biggest stars have crossed the Pacific. The kinds of Terran players you would expect to find in Code S, like Yun "TaeJa" Young Seo or Choi "Bomber" Ji Sung, have taken their talents to North America, creating a huge opportunity for Korea's Protoss and Zerg players.
America: The Celebrity Division
That makes WCS America perhaps the most exciting region in Season 1, thanks to the racial distribution of its players and the all-star Terran lineup who are playing in North America. While the GSL is going to be packed with Protoss vs. Protoss matchups, the American division stands a good chance of showcasing some of StarCraft's signature matchups.
More importantly, WCS America is practically the celebrity StarCraft division. While a lot of younger players have to stay in the more-difficult GSL due to team obligations, the players in WCS America this season are elder statesmen who are no longer beholden to anyone. They have a better chance of success in America than they do in Korea, and it leaves them better-positioned to compete on the rest of the international circuit.
That's great news for fans of the classics, who want to savor the greats just a little bit longer. Bomber is approaching retirement and already thinking about what the next act of his career will be like. Lim "NesTea" Jae Duk has been surpassed by his imitators, and now struggles against his rivals. Lee Jae Dong appears to be StarCraft's Dorian Gray, somehow getting better as he remains preternaturally passionate for a career he's pursued since Brood War. In other words, WCS America is showcasing the absolute best of StarCraft's past and present.
Not Easy For The Locals
If there's a fly in the ointment, it's what all this Korean talent means for the North American and Chinese/Taiwanese contingents competing in the Premier League. While Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn has more than proved her mettle at this point, the fact remains that for most non-Korean players, WCS America is going to be a huge challenge.
If a lot of the non-Korean players make early exits from this tournament, there will probably be some criticism of Blizzard's "soft" region-lock in WCS America (and Europe). Greg "IdrA" Fields predicted that by giving players a grace-period to choose regions before enforcing the region restrictions, we'd see a lot of Korean players being grandfathered in to Premier League where they could dominate their foreign rivals.
Still, it's hard to complain about this from a spectator standpoint. This is a rare chance to see a bunch of all-time greats playing together in one tournament, and ultimately, StarCraft 2 is a sport where the best play against the best. In time, hopefully that will mean it takes on a more international character. But just as nobody complains about regional disparity when the US and Canadian hockey teams take the ice against each other, it's hard to be anything other than thrilled when seeing who will be competing in WCS America when it begins next Tuesday.
As always, you'll be able watch WCS America at Battle Net. It airs every Tuesday and Wednesday at 3 PM PST.
For more news, follow Red Bull eSports on Twitter.