After all of the online and offline qualifiers, it's time for the main event to unfold in Stockholm, Sweden. We give you a preview of the Starcraft II tournament, looking over the main favorites.
With 70% out of the $21,000 prize pool up for grabs for the first placed player, the players will go with an all-or-nothing mindset in this tournament. Eight participants will be divided in two groups of four from where the top two will advance. Here are some of the players you should keep an eye out for, which by some coincidence are all Zerg players.
Snute looking to prove he is amongst the top foreign players
Coming off a rather satisfying IPL5 performance last weekend is Jens "Snute" Aasgaard who even though finished 13th - 16th out of 72 players, was the highest ranked foreign player together with EG's HuK in the tournament. A big help towards his placement was his high seed which he managed to obtain in the European qualifiers where he placed first after beating MaNa in the finals as well as overcoming Happy, ReaL and sLivko as well as Kas who is also participating in this tournament. In the main event, he got dropped to the lower bracket by the eventual runner-up, viOLet and after overcoming Life he got knocked out by Bomber.
Despite his latest results being better than those of the other participants, he still had a tough time qualifying for THOR Open. His first attempt was in the third online qualifier where he got all the way to the finals beating DIMAGA and LoLvsxD on his way there, only to get defeated 3 to 1 by VortiX who he'll face in his group as well. His second attempt was in the following qualifier where he, after beating Terrans SonG and TheStC, lost to DIMAGA in the quarter-finals.
Aasgaard's next chance was offline, during GameX in Kista where he didn't have any troubles going through the notably weaker and less known competition all the way to the finals where he met Quantic's MaddeLisk, overcoming her 3 to 0 in order to qualify for this tournament.
Can VortiX win a European offline event?
Another player with a chance to taste victory is Juan "VortiX" Moreno Duran, the Spanish Zerg who is currently playing for Karont3 e-Sports Club. Although he has never been on top of a major tournament, he has been providing decent results recently including a 3rd/4th place at the last IEM event in Singapore as well as being a runner up at the WCS European Finals where he got all the way to the WB finals and lost to Stephano, only to defeat his brother LucifroN in order to get another chance at Stephano. In the grand finals he did win the first best-of-three set but didn't manage to keep on through the second one which gave him a second place.
That placement earned him a slot in the WCS World Championships where he finished 5th - 8th after once again defeating his brother, this time in the Round of 16 but losing to the runner-up, Creator in a close 3-2 defeat. Together with Snute, his last tournament was the IGN Pro League where he got an early ticket to the Loser's bracket after losing to Caliber. Down in the LB, he overcame sLivko, ViBE and once again his brother LucifroN until he got eliminated by DongRaeGu and finished 25th - 35th.
His path to Stockholm was a bit easier than Snute's as he managed to get in after his second attempt. His first try was in the first online qualifier where he started off confidently taking 2-0 wins from both elfi and qoyote until he met Bly in the Round of 16, a match he lost in the same fashion as he won the previous ones. After missing out the second qualifier, the third one was his time to shine. Once again he met LucifroN, but this time it was as early as possible in the tournament, back in the Round of 64, a match-up in which he was victorious in yet again. Following a series of wins against relatively unknown opponents, he meets Team Dignitas' DreAm in the semi-finals where he obtained a 2 to 0 win and a chance to qualify with only one more player to beat, Snute. He appeared as a winner in the finals with a 3-1 score and earned his Stockholm ticket where he we will see a rematch of that final as these players are both in Group A.
Is Nerchio coming back in shape?
Artur "Nerchio" Bloch is the only player to participate who hasn't won a qualifier. The Korean Protoss player Sage was the one originally planned to compete because of his win in the second online qualifier, but as he wasn't able to attend the event, so it was only natural for him to be replaced by the second placed player in that qualifier which was none other than the Polish Zerg Nerchio. He had quite an impressive run in the second qualifier on his way to the finals, defeating most notably Bly, Turuk and Bischu without losing a single map. Since he wasn't originally qualified with his second place finish, he did another attempt at earning a ticket to THOR Open in the fourth qualifier. There he crashed out of the tournament immediately after losing 2 to 1 to TheStC in the first round.
Looking at the past results, Nerchio has been on quite an impressive streak for the last 6 months. In July he won the HomeStory Cup V where he, among others, won against the Korean legend MC in the semi-finals and YongHwa in the finals in order to take gold. The following month he attended IEM Global Challenge Cologne and managed to get a second place finish after a shaky group stage where he barely got first place thanks to his map score. The play-offs had a different story though as he had a BYE in the first round and defeated MC and viOLet in the following two until he got to the finals against Mvp and lost that match 3 to 1.
Results weren't any different in the following months where he won Battle in Berlin as well as DH Open: Bucharest which earned him a place in the Winter Championships where he finished 3rd/4th after losing to TaeJa in the semi-finals. Although, he wasn't as convincing in every single tournament; He struggled in the WCS European Championship where he lost in the first round to SortOf and fought his way through the loser bracket beating ThorZaIN, Bly, DeMusliM and Grubby in close matches only to get in a tie with Russian Terran Happy for a spot in the WCS World Championships. He didn't have a better beginning there as well, as he crashed out of the group stage after losing to Creator and his teammate Scarlett. Things weren't any better at the IPL5 where he lost in his first match to LeiYa and had a very short stint in the lower bracket where he defeated Shuttle and lost to NaNiwa which got him out of the tournament very early. After so many ups and downs in the last period, we can only wait to see if one of the top European Zergs has regained his form.
VortiX photo in courtesy of Eclypsia. Nerchio photo is courtesy of Team Acer.