Up for the Challenge in WCS Season 1

January 17 2015
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It took all seven qualifying tournaments, but when the dust had settled, all five of our Europe based Starcraft II players had broken through to the first season of 2015's [image loading] WCS Challenger League. Only Millenium and Mousesports had any similar success, with three players each.

Now, attention will turn to the challenger matches, which will unfortunately feature a teamkill between Ret and TLO. However, the odds are good for four Liquid players in Premier, and everyone will be practicing hard to make that happen. Before the action begins again next week, we sat down with the squad to hear their reflections on the grueling qualifier process, the changes to WCS this year, and their current form.

Congratulations to all of you on qualifying for WCS Challenger. How did it feel to make it?

Liquid`Snute: The first qualifiers were troublesome but after some practice it was easier!

Liquid`Bunny: I guess I felt a bit relieved. I haven’t been practicing a lot lately so I wasn’t sure how I’d perform, however I felt I played pretty well in both the 1st and 2nd qualifier. I really like these types of long grinds where you’re just playing opponent after opponent. After I qualified I was almost annoyed that I couldn’t participate in the next ones.

Liquid`MaNa: It felt good. I was a bit disappointed that I qualified through 4th qualifier, but I was on a big monthly break right before the qualifiers and I had just couple of days to be in shape for them, so this makes it up for that.

Liquid`Ret: It feels like qualifying is just a small step. There was a huge sigh of relief when I made it in, but, without making premier league, what is it really worth? So I think I'll wait to see if I make it into PL before I get overly excited.

Liquid`TLO: I never struggled as much to qualify for WCS before but because of that making it through at the very end felt better than any time before. This was maybe the most stressful week of my life, I was so afraid I'm not going to make it. Making the cut so closely almost gave me a heart attack.

Where do you see your skill compared to the rest of the field?

TLO: We'll see obviously it wasn't as high as it should be so I'll have a lot of work ahead of me now to get fit for challenger and premier league. But you know I feel quite good now, motivated to get in shape again not discouraged by the bad play this week.

MaNa: I feel rather high, but not on the highest level yet, I am still coming back from the break, but my form is rising rather quickly. It was a long time without tournaments so I can't base my skill on anything just now, we will see after season one.

Bunny: That’s a very hard question. Since I’ve been low on practice my speed and awareness might have lowered a little, however I still have a very good idea of how to play the games from a strategic standpoint. I think I’ll simply say that I still rate myself as the best European terran, but we’ll see whether that’s true or not.

Snute: My average skill and performance is one of the best in Europe. Other players are very confident against me, though. I'm excited to see what they will be able to pull off against me and how my overall approach will fare in the EU system.

Ret: I'm pretty sure I can beat anyone on a good day. But there's a lot of strong players who probably feel exactly the same. It's really hard to say but I think there's only about 3 or 4 players that I would feel are favored against me. I know that probably doesn't coincide with public opinion but I know I've been playing rather well in recent times in my practice games. So long as I can bring the same form and confidence to challenger and possibly PL, I should be able to do well. It was hard to do it in the qualifiers.. they are so stressful.

How has region lock and the new format changed your outlook on the competition?

MaNa: I don't care about the region lock to be honest, I am sad that the ladder is Koreanless now and is a worse practice environment. The good thing is that the actual qualifiers aren't terrifying but, I like tough competition nonetheless.

Snute: Definitely the Korean players leaving makes practice and competition a bit less interesting. But I think it's easier to place higher and make prize money from WCS now. The global premier league seems really cool. I'm confident in the EU region putting up a great fight against the other regions there.

Bunny: Well it obviously got a lot easier. I’ve always been good at playing vs other foreigners. Snute told me a few weeks ago that my winrate vs foreigners was the best for any foreigner in 2014. I believe I was at 83% winrate in series. Seeing those numbers I’m feeling pretty confident going into WCS 2015. It's funny, I heard a lot of foreign pros say they're feeling more motivated to play because of the region lock though, so in a way the average level might get tougher.

Ret: I think the qualifiers have been an amazing experience. Both to play in and also to watch. So many really good players that the public almost never saw anything of were able to battle their way through the qualifiers. You have up and comers, old school pros like myself, and then top favorites like Snute, and it was a totally even playing field with lots of exciting and close series. Really loving the new format.

This semi-pro level of competition is the really cornerstone of any healthy competitive scene and it's a damn shame that we've been totally deprived of it for the past 2 years thanks to WCS and the heavy influx of Koreans. I'm really glad it's back and I hope to see more chances for Europeans to compete, because the quality of games and the amount of competitors deserves a platform in my opinion. As the qualifiers have showed there certainly is interest for all these players as well.

TLO: I don't really think about it to be honest. I just play, I don't care if it's vs Koreans or Foreigners. I don't have any influence over who I play anyway.


January 22nd
pl [image loading] Liquid`MaNa vs de [image loading] mouz.HeRoMaRinE

January 23rd
nl [image loading] Liquid`Ret vs de [image loading] Liquid`TLO

January 24th
no [image loading] Liquid`Snute vs fr [image loading] aAa.PsiOniC
dk [image loading] Liquid`Bunny vs fr [image loading] nB.PtitDrogo


How do you think your teammates will do?

TLO: The fact that we all made it through is great start, I think we have the most strongest and most well rounded team outside of Korea. We'll help each other go as far as we can. I predict at least 1 Liquid player in the Ro4!

MaNa: Snute and Bunny have potential to go very far in the tournament, I think Ro8 is not unexpected from them, but we will see if they will have enough passion and patience to raise their skill that high. Other than that I see at least 3 Liquid players in the Premier league.

Snute: Ret in particular has improved a lot by practicing hard. I think the team has improved overall so we should be able to do better than last year.

Bunny: I think it’ll be a good year, everyone has potential to do really well. I know Ret has been playing a lot now, so seeing him compete is going to be interesting. I’m hoping Snute will pull out some big wins in WCS, as long as he doesn’t get kicked out by some terran cheeser! MaNa will do well if he can just avoid “imba swarm host and terran”. I was really happy that TLO managed to get through, after a whole week of grinding qualifiers he should be well practiced for challenger!

Ret: They always do well, I don't think that will change.

Anyone you'd especially like to play?

Snute: Getting to Premier and playing non-Europeans. It's fun to play against people from the other regions.

MaNa: I don't have anyone in specific to choose seriously. I will accept anybody to be my opponent and crush his season 1 WCS hopes.

Ret: Happy.

TLO: Haha, it's irrational cause he's objectively really good. But NaNiwa would be fun to play against.

Bunny: I’m generally most comfortable with facing the best players possible, that way I feel like winning is more exciting and losing more acceptable. As far as European players are concerned I guess the strongest would be my teammates and up & comers like Lilbow and MarineLorD. Also I guess I’ll throw NaNiwa in there, since I basically knocked him out of WCS into temporary retirement last time. I’d like to face him now that he actually has some dedication again.

Writer: tree.hugger
Graphics & Format: shiroiusagi
Photo Credits: Arvid Wuensch
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