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This friday the big dance begins. MLG’s season ending Providence event marks the moment where all of those rank and qualifier points finally translate into an enviable prize pool. While Halo, Call of Duty, and League of Legends have had remarkable seasons in their own right, nothing has expanded MLG’s audience more than Starcraft 2. The introduction of Korean talent and the myriad efforts at community outreach have paid dividends. Marketing maneuvers like acquiring JP McDaniel and his wildly popular State of the Game podcast, recruiting exceptionally popular casters, and producing regular original web content have created a potent hype machine that spells out a singular message:
If you’re an eSports fan, you can’t afford miss this.
That said, MLG is a convoluted beast. Understanding its layers can prove dicey. Here are a few pieces of important information to help streamline your viewing experience.
Here’s the simple version: The top 16 players based on rank point earnings from the regular season will be seeded directly into the championship rounds, while ~ 254 more attempt to battle their way through a brutal open bracket. The top 16 open qualifiers will then be seeded into the championship rounds as well, leaving us with 32 players. The championship rounds are divided up into a winners’ and losers’ bracket, with 20 players starting in the winners’ and 12 starting in the losers’ respectively. As such, the top 20 seeds will have two chances to win, while the bottom 12 are one and done. The tournament then plays out from there in standard double elimination format.
You can find the longer, more detailed version here.
What do you mean seeding is irrelevant? Aren’t the players with the top point values the best?
Not so this year. The international nature of the Starcraft pro scene has created a pretty complex seeding situation. While IdrA has the most rank points, and therefore the top seed, he’s also in the luxurious position of having attended every MLG event. Korean players like Bomber, MMA, DRG, MC, and BoxeR have all broken the top 16 after making only two regular season appearances. The numbers are a lie, these guys are the real favorites.
Meanwhile, the open bracket is going to feature some absolute juggernauts. From Korea, we’ve got names like MVP, LosirA, MarineKing, and Ganzi, any of whom could easily finish in the top 10. Western fan favorites of the open bracket like Tyler, InControl, Destiny, and Sheth are going to have a tough time dealing with that gauntlet.
With only the top 8 players receiving prize pool money, it’s quite possible we’ll see a lot of Koreans leaving Providence slightly richer. Shorter roads for IdrA, HuK, and NaNiwa may be an advantage, but it’s smaller one than it seems.
With a prize pool ~8 times larger than the regular season events, competition at Providence will have extra weight. The top 41 finishers will also receive rank points good for next season.
InControl is probably the king of the underdogs. He comes into Providence seeded 17th, just barely missing the championship bracket. He’s been on a shallow streak, with frankly lackluster performances at Orlando and in the NASL season 2. He has shown sparks of elite play in the past, though. His access to the expertise of his teammates gives him unique potential. He’s got something to prove and nothing to lose, a dangerous combination.
Slush is probably the biggest surprise of the seed chart. He enters Providence with the 6th highest rank points from the regular season. As discussed above, however, rank points don’t mean much this year. Slush hasn’t placed remarkably highly since Columbus. With his reputation for hyper aggressive all ins, he could be considered more of a gate keeper than a contender. That said, he’s got a short path to the money. His ruthless, cunning style may net him enough wins to get there if his opponents underestimate him.
I don’t know if it’s fair for me to call SeleCT an underdog. After all, he recently gave IdrA a run for his money in Finland. Seeded 11th, he’s probably got the surest shot of any of the non-favorites to make the top 8. His drop heavy style is infamous, but lately he’s also learned to play a more frustrating economic style. It could pay off this weekend, keep an eye on him.
TriMaster impressed everyone by forcing his way through a particularly competitive open bracket at MLG Raleigh. A relative no name at the time, he defeated Jinro and KawaiiRice to earn a much envied spot in pool play. He went on to knock both HayPro and IdrA out of the loser’s bracket championship rounds before finally biting the dust against HuK. An impressive run. The logical portion of my brain doesn’t expect him to make the top 8, but that portion didn’t expect him to beat IdrA at Raleigh, either.
MLG Providence begins Friday, November 18th. I will be updating this post with more information throughout the week.