All eyes in the Oceanic and Rest of Asia Starcraft II scene will be glued to their monitors this week as another Dreamhack season comes to a thrilling climax.
After a round of qualifiers and the ANZ champs two weeks ago we are down to eight players, with Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Vietnam, India and the Philippines still represented in a diverse final eight.
This stage will also introduce the top seeds into the competition, with previous winner Joshua “RiSky” Hayward alongside runner up Sean “Probe” Kempen and third place Sheldon “Seither” Barrow directly advancing to this stage.
It leaves us with a mouth-watering situation, with the eight players split into two even four-man groups, of which only four participants can make it into the final bracket.
Helen “Zepph” Browitt, venerable commentator for the region Helen says that both groups are interesting and provide their own dynamics.
“Group A is going to be interesting since we have the top two [Australian] players and long-time fan favourites in Probe and Seither,” she said.
Zepph believes that Haseeb “TeebuL” Ishaq, a newcomer to the scene this season could pull an upset in the group, whilst Indian Zerg player Varun “Demi” Immanuel could channel his recent good results into a good performance.
“Demi has had a bit of trouble going deep in tournaments for a while now, but it seems that he’s on the upswing after qualifying for the group stages and also taking out the most recent Dare Cup.”
And whilst Group A perhaps has the Australian fan favourites, group a sees one lone Australian Terran, Noah “Piglet” Krensel face it off against three wildly different Zerg players.
“Group B will have some fun matches because we have a diverse set of Zergs against a lone Terran hero,” Zepph said.
“I’ve generally perceived Piglet’s Terran vs Zerg to be quite impressive, so I think his performance will be one to keep an eye on.”
Given Piglet’s recent return to competitive play, his rise has been impressive, mirroring that on Ryan “NXZ” Jones last season.
However, with three wildly different Zerg’s to play against he will have to put on his best bug stomping boots to stand a chance at progressing through to the next round.
Zepph’s picks for advancing are Probe & Seither from Group A, whilst she thinks previous winner RiSky and Piglet will advance from Group B.
The participants all remain very even on skill level, so much so that Zepph thinks no one qualifies as a dark horse, with anyone able to beat anyone in this stage of the competition.
With the action beginning today at 20:00 AEST on twitch.tv/esl_sc2, tune in to see the peak of our region’s Starcraft action, with the group stage taking place over the next two days.
The action will conclude over the weekend in the final bracket, with the crowning of a new champion on Sunday evening, starting from 21:00 AEST.