StarCraft 2 World Championship Series Predictions
Since the WCS Global Finals are run in single elimination format, each initial match-up can be analyzed in advance. Based on those hypothetical results and what we can see for each player’s strengths and weaknesses, this segment will look at who is most likely to win BlizzCon 2015’s $100,000 prize.
After all eight round of 16 matches have been analyzed, some overall bracket analysis will be provided to look at general possibilities.
1. herO vs. FanTaSy (stats)
The top player in the bracket against the bottom player in the bracket, the edge here has to go to herO. His PvT is one of his better matches, and most of his noteworthy PvT losses have occurred in Proleague. In a longer series, his odds look even better.
FanTaSy, on the other hand, is far and away weakest in TvP of the three matches. Recent form would suggest the opposite of both of these statistics - herO has suffered in PvT in his recent games, while FanTaSy has excelled in his most recent TvP - but herO is losing to world-class Terran players like Maru in GSL, while FanTaSy is preying on foreign Protoss players.
Overall, herO is the better player here, and it would be a shock to see him edged out in the first round.
Score - herO 3-1 FanTaSy
2. ByuL vs. Classic (stats)
Classic has never lost a game to ByuL. Starting from that assumption, Classic is the obvious favourite between these two players. Generally speaking, Classic is also the more consistent of the two players in terms of his matchups and win rates.
ByuL, however, has had a pretty much unrivalled year for appearances in league finals. His three appearances across the GSL and SSL beats out the next closest player, who was Dream. Most of the champions had one really great season in one league - ByuL had two consecutive seasons of success in both leagues.
Outside of whatever training he’s been doing, Classic also hasn’t played against a Zerg player in a tournament setting since his SSL loss to Rogue two months ago. That could be a factor in his preparation.
All said and done, though, Classic’s perfect record against ByuL and better overall history suggests it’s his series to lose.
Score - ByuL 2-3 Classic
3. INnoVation vs. Zest (stats)
Easily one of the most exciting first-round matches, the bracket gods have seen fit to grace us with a matchup between the world’s best-ever StarCraft II player (statistically) in INnoVation and the captain of KT Rolster that exploded on to the pro scene during 2014 in Zest.
INnoVation has to be the clear favourite going into this match. He recently beat Zest 3-1 in the GSL Season 3 quarterfinals on his path to the eventual championship. Zest has the upper hand in the history between these two historically, but the INnoVation of present cares not what happened six months or longer ago.
If PvT weren’t Zest’s worst match, it would be reasonable to suggest that he could surprise with well-tailored builds and upset The Machine.
Score - INnoVation 3-1 Zest
4. Lilbow vs. Life (stats)
The only foreign hope is in for a hard fight: He’s drawn into the 2014 world champion and a phenomenal Korean Zerg. As tempting as it is to try and sell the story that the French WCS champion Lilbow could emerge victorious here, it’s simply not likely.
For sake of argument, here’s a link to Life’s record vs. foreign Protoss players. He has a 95% win ratio, having lost once to Jim and once to Welmu. Lilbow is probably a better player than either of those two, but at the end of the day, the current world championship title holder - with the benefit of team training from KT Rolster, where he’s got Protoss players like Zest and Stats to work with - is probably not getting knocked out in the first round.
Score - Lilbow 1-3 Life
5. Rain vs. Polt (stats)
Two Korean pros playing outside of Korea could lead to a very interesting matchup. Historically, Rain might be the favorite here, but both of these guys have strong overall records. Rain’s all-around talent is solid, but Polt has made a name for himself specifically with his TvP prowess.
Most of the meetings between these two have favored Rain, but also occurred years ago - before we entered the Heart of the Swarm era, which is when Polt really started to shine.
All of that said, in looking at their results, Polt hasn’t shown tremendous strength against the range of Korean pros, and hasn’t faced talent of that caliber in nearly a year. Rain, on the other hand, has been actively taking on top tier Koreans in his spring-summer GSL win and summer-fall SSL top four run. That looks favorable for Rain, on paper.
Score - Rain 3-2 Polt
6. PartinG vs. sOs (stats)
Easily the most hilarious pairing in the whole tournament, we get to see the two cheekiest, most creative Protoss pro players in the game go head to head in the first round. Both of these two have shown strong performances this year, but neither clinched a league championship. You see aggressive, unique plays from each, with games that are unpredictable and exciting to watch.
Alas, they must face one another in PvP - a matchup that is, at its core, heavily dependent upon which player’s aggression is timed right, and whether or not either player extends themselves too heavily to reach for better tech or a stronger economy. They will both try - and likely both fail - to pull off epic rushes.
PartinG looks to be on something of a downswing from his near-miss at a championship in the GSL; sOs, on the other hand, he has recently met and defeated numerous talented players, and is (by ELO) in his peak form. If only on that basis, sOs seems poised to advance here.
Score - PartinG 2-3 sOs
7. Hydra vs. Dream (stats)
If there is somewhere that these predictions are going to deviate from the statistics, this is where it is. Hydra looks indomitable when you look at his match history, but he’s barely breaking even against Korean players. His ZvT is certainly his strong suit, regardless, but he has posted meaningful losses to other players coming to BlizzCon.
Not to say he can’t win games, because his Gfinity Spring Masters run clearly shows that he can - but Hydra comes into this tournament looking unstoppable because he hasn’t faced opponents at this level.
Dream’s record looks less impressive, until you realize that he’s beating (and being beaten by) players like Maru, soO, INnoVation, and Classic. These are the types of players he tangles with every time he competes. He looked dominant in cases like blowing herO out 4-0 in the SSL Season 2 semifinals.
The stats say this should be Hydra’s series by all accounts - a better win record, matchup record, and far more recent games to his name with Dream’s unfortunate GSL and SSL eliminations earlier this summer. In the three times they met in 2014, Hydra won them all. This time, though, Dream looks the part of the victor.
Score - Hydra 2-3 Dream
8. Maru vs. Rogue (stats)
The final round of 16 match pits Maru - a player who has done nothing but improve since we started paying attention to him when he won the OSL in 2013 - against Rogue and his so-called curse. Rogue’s spot at BlizzCon could just as easily have been HyuN, or Dark, or Solar, with equally average results - he’s had a great year, but not the kind of inspired growth that Maru continues to see.
Sadly, this Jin Air teamkill looks over before it starts. Rogue will no doubt put up a fight, and his ZvT is certainly his strong suit, but Maru has been the through and through victor when they’ve met this year, and will surely advance over his friend and teammate.
Score - Maru 3-1 Rogue
Armed with all of this knowledge about the players and the initial matchups, here is what we’re expecting for the outcome of the tournament:
Assuming the outcomes above, herO will have to face Classic. Classic looks favored between the two, but herO trains especially hard for major tournaments and has much more experience with travelling and playing on foreign stages - especially big ones. herO will probably advance here.
INnoVation and Life have played against each other an astonishing amount. INnoVation holds the edge between the two, and as awesome as it would be to see Life repeat in the bracket, it’s hard to imagine that he can win the best-of-five series against INno.
sOs looks great in his matchup against Rain, and will advance to face the winner of the Dream vs. Maru mirror - which, unless Dream surprises, is Maru’s series to lose.
INnoVation will beat herO (or Classic, for that matter) to face the winner between sOs and Maru, which would be a super-tough match to call. sOs has the better racial matchup and a ton more recent games played, but they’re both on fire, and haven’t actually met in competitive play since 2013 (since they’re on the same team and never face each other in Proleague). While the heart wants Maru, the head here would have to err with sOs and his thirst for that third $100,000.
If it all comes down to a best-of-seven between INnoVation and sOs, you’re looking at the two highest-ranked players (by ELO) going into BlizzCon facing off in matchups that they’re both immensely good at. INnoVation is the better player on the whole, but his TvP record isn’t as good as sOs’ PvT record. They both have nearly 75% win rates in recent memory, with sOs posting a better PvT record than INnoVation’s TvP just in recent memory.
All said and done, though, these two have met a dozen times before, and INnoVation has won two thirds of those meetings. sOs overwhelmed INnoVation at the MSI Master Gaming Arena, but that was in a best-of-three series - in the long series, INnoVation will get to play his style on maps that he’s comfortable on, and that’s liable to give him the edge he needs to take home the championship.
The 2015 WCS Global Finals will be aired live, for free, in HD over at www.blizzcon.com. The round of 16 plays out beginning at 10:00 a.m. PST on Sunday, November 1, and the rest of the bracket runs at BlizzCon itself (quarterfinals beginning at noon PST on Friday, November 6, and the semifinals and finals beginning at noon PST on Saturday, November 7). Tune in to find out just how wrong these predictions are, as the World Championship Series crowns its third ever true world champion at the Global Finals!
Written by Kevin Hovdestad. Kevin is a full-time video game and eSports journalist from Canada - published on IGN, GamesBeat, RockPaperShotgun, and more - whose work focuses primarily on Blizzard Entertainment franchises and how eSports can grow and succeed into the future.