One way or another, Choi "Polt" Seong Hun is determined to win a ticket to Washington, D.C. for the Battle Grounds championship.
He had victory snatched from him by Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn at Battle Grounds North America, and then seemed to be strolling through Battle Grounds Atlanta when Choi "Bomber" Ji Sung ran over him like a University of Georgia linebacker. But Polt was back at it on Thursday at the first Battle Grounds Global Qualifier, trying to earn another chance to play for a berth in Washington this September 20th.
The Gang's All Here
You know you're dealing with a stacked tournament when a player like Park "DongRaeGu" Soo Ho gets knocked out in the round of 128. The carnage was even worse in the round of 64, when players like Manuel "Grubby" Schenkhuizen were biting the dust alongside Korean superstars like Ko "HyuN" Seok Hyun.
It truly was a global qualifier, with the best players of every region getting into the act. By the time the dust cleared on the round of 32, it was down to just a handful of Europeans and Koreans.
There was Kevin "Harstem" de Koning, making another improbably terrific tournament run against strong opposition, and getting painfully close the semifinal before being knocked out by one of the eventual winners, Kim "Impact" Joon Hyuk. Battle Grounds veteran Jens "Snute" Aasgaard found himself facing Jung "Mvp" Jong Hyun, the four-time Wings of Liberty GSL champion, newly-independent after leaving the Incredible Miracle team earlier this week. Snute might be a rising star, but the ruthless old Terran showed that he's still got the moves as he knocked the Liquid Zerg out of the tournament.
But his reward for beating Snute was a showdown with Polt, one of the few Terrans who can still dream of surpassing Mvp's accomplishments. In their first game, Polt flat out crushed Mvp with a Hellion timing. Polt followed up with a more typical Terran vs. Terran victory, and once again earned a spot at Battle Grounds Global and a face-off against Impact.
Impact had scored an upset semifinal win over Kang "Symbol" Dong Hyun, a brilliant Code S Zerg whose career has often been defined by the phrase "close, but no cigar". In terms of heart-breaking silver medal finishes, perhaps only Eo "soO" Yoon Su can boast a more impressive set of losses.
Things started well for Symbol, who beat Impact to the punch with a Roach build in the first game and won thanks to a simple numerical advantage. But Impact bounced right back, returning the favor in the second game. Then, with their interest in Roaches exhausted, the two players put Zerglings at center stage and pushed Roaches into the background. Critically, Impact out-microed Symbol's Zerglings early in Game 3, catching a group of them alone in the open, and that gave him a critical edge that he leveraged into a victory over Symbol.
Though both Impact and Polt were qualified for Battle Grounds Global on August 8th, they still had to fight each other in the final of the first qualifier. With $200 and some pride on the line, Polt got the better of the Axiom Zerg, melting his economy in the first game with another Hellion timing. He gave up the second map to a horde of Zerglings and Banelings, as both he and Impact tried to play some mind games with unusual builds. Impact got the better end of the deal.
But that made Polt start getting down to serious business, as he picked Impact apart with Marauder drops and Hellions, then lured the Zerg into a killing-field of Widow Mines just like he did at Battle Grounds Atlanta when he played Conan "Suppy" Liu. Even though Impact looked like he might break Polt at any moment, Polt's mines and defensive play just obliterated him every time, until finally Polt was able to surge forward to take the victory.
Polt and Impact will face each other again in two weeks at Battle Grounds Global, but for now the action moves to the second Global qualifier on July 27 at 11 AM Pacific. You'll be able to catch the action on the Battle Grounds website.
That's not the only way to get to Battle Grounds Washington, of course. Battle Grounds Detroit starts on August 22, and there's still plenty of time to register to compete at the event. But for a lot of Korea's and Europe's Battle Grounds hopefuls, these Global qualifiers are their most tempting path to Washington.