PokerStrategy.com TSL Qualifiers Preview
TeamLiquid.net - The PokerStrategy.com TSL kicks off this weekend when the qualifiers get underway. InsiderEsport's Alex "AGar" Gardner brings you a group-by-group preview of all of this weekend's action.
4th Seed/Ladder #1 Playoff
CJ_IdrA[Media] <Bo5> Liquid`NonY
On-the-line: Winner gets a direct spot in the PokerStrategy.com TSL. Loser is seeded into the Q3 stage of Group A.
The first big action in the PokerStrategy.com TSL qualifiers will be a best-of-5 series between Tyler "NonY" Wasieleski, the 4th place finisher in the Razer TSL, and Greg "IdrA" Fields, the #1 finisher on the qualifying ladder. While NonY isn't going to be a complete push-over for IdrA and he has surely been practicing for this match, IdrA's skill has been improving tremendously in the past months. NonY has a leg up on other players due to his time with eSTRO, but there isn't a single player outside of Korea who can be considered a favorite against IdrA in a best-of-5 series.
Prediction: CJ_IdrA[Media] 3:1 Liquid`NonY
Outlook: IdrA's mechanics and insane amount of practice against top-tier players carry him through with NonY taking a single game off of the progamer.
Q1: mTw.HoRRoR (T) <Bo3> iF.NeMu (Z)
Q2: Winner of Q1 <Bo3> LRM)KenZy (Z)
Q3: Winner of Q2 <Bo5> Loser of IdrA vs. NonY
Assuming Nony doesn't do something amazing and upset Idra, this group is a two-horse race between Nony and Marius "HoRRoR" Overhageböck. Horror was a game away from qualifying for the Razer TSL on two occassions in 2008 - one more win off of either Draco or ALF would have put him through to the Round of 16. Instead, he came up short and was sent packing. However, Horror is a very experienced player, making the last two WCG Grand Finals to represent Germany. In 2008, he made it to the Round of 16 before losing to none other than Nony, while this past year he failed to advance out of a tough group that included Idra, whom he beat in their game, Yayba and White-Ra. His TvP has seemed to hit a rough patch in foreign tournaments lately, although part of that may have to do with his competition. However, his TvZ has looked quite good, only dropping a series to Dinot recently, while beating ret in a best-of-3 series earlier in 2009.
Q1: mTw.HoRRoR 2:0 iF.NeMu
Q2: mTw.HoRRoR 2:1 LRM)KenZy
Q3: mTw.HoRRoR 3:2 Liquid`NonY
Outlook: Horror surely still has the taste of narrowly missing the last TSL still in his mouth for these qualifiers, and takes advantage of Nony's inactivity leading up to the TSL. Nemu and Kenzy pose no threat.
Q1: mouz.Kolll <Bo3> ToT)Naugrim(
Q2: Winner of Q1 <Bo3> LRM)OctZerg
Q3: Winner of Q2 <Bo5> eX-v1o)MorroW
This group, while some view it as difficult, is more of a wide-open group than anything. It opens up with two straight ZvZ series followed by a series where the odds are stacked in favor of two cheesy players going head-to-head for the spot in the TSL. It is my personal opinion that Naugrim is the most talented player in the group and the player most likely to succeed should he qualify for the TSL. He is not a flashy, in-your-face player that you hear about often, and he doesn't partake in many individual tournaments at all. But he is a solid peg that his team can depend upon in clan wars, and I think that success will translate to his bid to qualify for the Round of 16. However, staring him down are two ZvZ series that can be very volatile. If he has one thing in his favor, it is two series wins against Castro, a Zerg player who likes his Zerglings and a similar style to that of Octzerg. Still, anything can, and probably will happen, in those two series. Should he survive, he should have no problem disposing of Morrow in the Q3 stage. Kolll will also potentially do well against Morrow should he make it that far, but the question again remains if he can survive two straight ZvZ sets. The young German Zerg exploded onto the scene earlier this year, and has produced very impressive results. Most notably, he was responsible for eliminating Idra in the WCG Grand Finals, beating him 2-0 in the Round of 8, and eventually leading to a 4th place finish behind the three Korean progamers. His short career has been filled with pressure situations, and if he can make it to Q3, nothing Morrow can prepare will be enough to scrap a best-of-5 series off of him.
Q1: mouz.Kolll 1:2 ToT)Naugrim(
Q2: ToT)Naugrim( 2:0 LRM)OctZerg
Q3: ToT)Naugrim( 3:1 eX-v1o)MorroW
Outlook: Naugrim's experience and better skill come out on top over Kolll, Octzerg and Morrow and propel him to the Round of 16.
Q1: [Pan]CaStrO <Bo3> [Pan]Shad
Q2: Winner of Q1 <Bo3> T.Sqd)Kr
Q3: Winner of Q2 <Bo5> mouz.MaNa
This group is one of the weaker groups in the TSL qualifiers, although it is potentially wide open. The two Pandemic players in Q1 are not god-like players in the foreign scene, but nor are they unheard of. Both players are completely capable of an upset, especially in a group like this. Shad is a former ToT player, so he certainly has great potential to tap into. Kr, a Lithuanian Protoss who often stays dormant, managed to sneak into the Razer TSL last time by beating out Squall in the qualifiers. He matched up against Gosia where he wasn't able to snag a game, but he still came out of a tough group to make it there unexpectedly. Mana is not an invincible player, and while making it to the Q3 stage was tough, he is by no means guaranteed to move on. His results lately have been alright in foreign events, and his matchups can be shaky at times.
Q1: [Pan]CaStrO 0:2 [Pan]Shad
Q2: [Pan]Shad 1:2 T.Sqd)Kr
Q3: T.Sqd)Kr 3:1 mouz.MaNa
Outlook: Kr is able to once again sneak into the TSL in an unnoticeable fashion and make a surprise appearance in the Round of 16 from this less-than-stellar group.
Q1: Avi-Love <Bo3> BW-Datoby
Q2: Winner of Q1 <Bo3> [Pan]KabaL
Q3: Winner of Q2 <Bo5> mouz.Strelok
This group has a few interesting characters. Strelok is a strong Ukranian Terran who managed to take third at WCG in 2007 and carried the foreign Terran banner for a long time. He has been a consistently strong player for a number of years now, and has been looking very sharp recently. Datoby is a Swedish Protoss who shows decent results in various clanwars and can surprise a lot of people. KabaL, also known as TT1, is somewhat infamous in the community, but since he has turned his act around, he has shown some impressive results. The last player in this group is Avi-Love, a Danish Zerg who has been popping up on tournament radars over the globe in the past few months. Strelok looks like the clear favorite to take this group, and is most likely going to. However, Avi-Love's ZvT and ZvP are solid matchups for him, and Datoby has been on a bit of a slide against foreign Zergs lately. Kabal has looked solid for Pandemic, a Division 1 contender in all clan leagues, but his tournament appearances have not been great lately. Strelok is a weak TvZ player at times, and if Avi catches him on the right day, he can have a chance to make it through to the next round.
Q1: Avi-Love 2:0 BW-Datoby
Q2: Avi-Love 2:1 [Pan]KabaL
Q3: Avi-Love 3:2 mouz.Strelok
Outlook: Avi-Love rides his solid ZvP/ZvT to victory over lesser Protoss opponents and a Strelok who's weak in the TvZ department.
Q1: Liquid`Drone <Bo3> mTw.MF-CloseR
Q2: Winner of Q1 <Bo3> osR.KiLLeR
Q3: Winner of Q2 <Bo5> mouz.White-Ra
The fifth group of the qualifiers is a mix of old meets new. White-Ra and Drone have been around forever, while Killer popped up on the scene just recently, and Closer has been around for a couple years himself. Drone, formerly a random player, is now playing for ToT, but wearing the Liquid tag it appears, is still a solid player with a number of tricks up his sleeve waiting to happen. Closer is a German Zerg who plays consistently for teams in clan wars, but he is very rarely seen in individual tournaments. Killer, a Zerg from osR, is relatively new, and has little tournament experience himself. osR, however, has been making waves in a few leagues and he has been a big part of their success. White-Ra has been a man on fire this past year, coming in behind Idra a number of times, and winning a few tournaments as well. The Ukranian Protoss managed to qualify for ESWC and WCG, as well as competing in PGL and IEF internationally. He finished 2nd at ESWC, 4th at IEF, and in the top 8 at PGL. He was third in his WCG group behind Idra and Advokate. Online, he won both the Justin.tv Iccup Invitational and The Highlander tournament while making top 16 for the ESL Major Series' fourth season and currently sitting in the top 8 of the fifth season. His matchups are all solid, but to his advantage, he will be facing a Zerg opponent in the Q3 match.
Q1: Liquid`Drone 2:1 mTw-MF.CloseR
Q2: Liquid`Drone 1:2 osR.KiLLeR
Q3: osR.KiLLeR 0:3 mouz.White-Ra
Outlook: White-Ra is just too good to not advance from this group, especially with only one matchup to prepare for. He should advance cleanly and be ready to make a deep run in the TSL - a strong contender for a top 4 finish, and if the brackets fall right, maybe even to win it.
Q1: inF.ClouD <Bo3> G5[Media]
Q2: Winner Q1 <Bo3> NrT.FlaF
Q3: Winner Q2 <Bo3> ret
*Note: At the time of publication, the Q1 match has already been played. However, the results did not influence this article in any way and were unbeknownst to the author at the time of writing.
This group is stacked with talent. G5, ClouD and ret are all top players in the foreign scene, with ret currently staying in Korea, G5 having spent a stint in Korea trying to make it as a pro and Cloud coming one game short in the Spirit tournament against Nony for a chance to go to Korea and play with eSTRO. Needless to say, all three of these players would have a decent shot at going far in the actual PokerStrategy.com TSL. Cloud has faced a bit of off time recently, although he did come back for WCG where he represented Italy in China and finished third in his group behind Jaedong and Kolll. G5 has been relatively active, finishing third in WCG USA and maintaining his activity in the foreign scene. Ret, meanwhile, has been focusing most of his energy into Korea, but has participated in several tournaments including ESL Major Series Season 5 and IEF 2009. FlaF, a Romanian Zerg player, is the odd man out in this group, as he has not been wowing players left and right lately, and is not a strong contender for the title. A clan-war regular for NrT, most players haven't even heard of him. His coming from the group, or even making Q3 for that matter, would be considered an upset by most, if not all, followers of this TSL.
Q1: inF.ClouD 1:2 G5[Media]
Q2: G5[Media] 2:0 NrT.FlaF
Q3: G5[Media] 2:3 ret
Outlook: G5 has been playing slightly more actively than Cloud, and had to face a tougher field of opponents at WCG USA than WCG Italy could have offered. After taking a close series off of Cloud, G5 should steamroll Flaf on his way to meet ret. Ret has been dominating almost everyone except Idra lately, but G5's unorthodox style may prove difficult for ret, forcing him to a fifth game.
Q1: EG.Nyoken <Bo3> mouz.Dreiven
Q2: Winner of Q1 <Bo3> iG.Casper
Q3: Winner of Q2 <Bo5> RoX.KIS.Fenix
This group is arguably the toughest group in the entire qualifier stage. Nyoken, Dreiven and Fenix are all solid players with a strong chance of taking down any of the other two in a set. Similar to Group F, the Q2 player is seemingly the odd-man out, and it would be seriously shocking to see Casper pull off an upset. Dreiven is a solid Polish Protoss player who recently snapped out of inactivity to start showing up again. He was top 8 in the last TSL, beating Mondragon in the Round of 16 before losing to the TvP machine, BRAT_OK. Nyoken is a long-standing US Terran with a very fun playstyle to watch. He has represented the US twice at WCG and is known for being able to translate poker technique into StarCraft, creatively bluffing opponents' builds and then hard-countering the response he expects. Fenix is a strong Peruvian Terran who had some solid showings in tournaments earlier in 2009, then seemed to fizzle out as time went on. He qualified for WCG, but had a less-than-stellar showing, going 3-4 in his group. His second place finish in the Valor tournament was impressive until the 4-0 sweep Idra handed him in the finals. Nyoken or Dreiven should give him a run for his money and may prove to be too much for the Peruvian Terran.
Q1: EG.Nyoken 1:2 mouz.Dreiven
Q2: mouz.Dreiven 2:0 iG.Casper
Q3: mouz.Dreiven 3:1 RoX.KIS.Fenix
Outlook: Dreiven has the experience of last TSL to guide him through a tough group. Nyoken himself has admitted to having a perceived weakness against Dreiven, who proves to be more than Fenix bargained for on his way to a second TSL appearance.
Q1: [Pan]KawaiiRice <Bo3> eX-v1o)Gamtja
Q2: Winner of Q1 <Bo3> iG.Tarson
Q3: Winner of Q2 <Bo5> mouz.Sziky
This group is one of the more wide-open groups. Sziky played dominantly throughout the qualifier, but not much is known about the new Mousesports acquisition. The Hungarian Zerg first appeared in the ESL Major Series' 3rd season, where he went 1-2 in a group with Mondragon, White-Ra (the eventual champion) and Yosh. He then went under for a period of time before resurfacing for the Valor tournament. He qualified for the Round of 32, but then failed to show up for his match against Strelok and thus lost via forfeit. Tarson has been around for a while, participating in a number of tournaments but never really getting far. This is possibly his best shot at making a large name tournament and maybe shocking some people. KawaiiRice and Gamtja are both somewhat lesser-known. Kawaii is a US Terran who had a bit of drama early on in his Brood War career with WCG USA, but rebounded and qualified for the WCG USA finals this past year. Gamtja is a fairly unkown foreign player from Austria who hasn't shown his face much at all besides for TSL, and has little experience in major events.
Q1: [Pan]KawaiiRice 2:0 eX-v1o)Gamtja
Q2: [Pan]KawaiiRice 1:2 iG.Tarson
Q3: iG.Tarson 1:3 mouz.Sziky
Outlook: This is a tough group to call. Kawaii has some solid skills and should be able to handle Gamtja. Tarson is much more well-versed in tournament play, however, than the young American Terran and should be able to handle him. Still, Tarson is not known as a big-name player, and Mousesports picked up Sziky with little results to show for, so there must be some talent we haven't seen yet.
Q1: eX-v1o)Arew <Bo3> LRM)MikOeL
Q2: Winner of Q1 <Bo3> ToT)XiaOzI(
Q3: Winner of Q3 <Bo5> iG.kogeT
Group I features some known names as well as some unkown names. XiaOzI is a Chinese Zerg who moved to Canada and now represents them, and generally shows strong results in tournaments. He has had some decent online success this past year, being stopped most times by Idra. Arew is a strong Protoss player out of Lithuania who managed to make a number of individual tournaments this year. His PvP is his strongest matchup, but he's nabbed games off of top Zerg players as well. His PvT is somewhat untested, but he shouldn't be hindered too much by it. Mikoel is an unheralded Spanish Terran who LRM picked up when his old team, Sky Gaming, disbanded earlier in 2009. He has been producing fairly consistently for LRM since they picked him up, and he was able to beat Arew in a previous encounter, 2-0. Koget is a fairly old face in the scene, although mostly doing his business in the Polish national scene. However, he made some huge waves recently, going 3-0 in his ESL group of kolll, Morrow and Xiaozi. He has the potential to show solid results and further his impressive results into the Round of 16 possibly.
Q1: eX-v1o)Arew 2:0 LRM)MikOeL
Q2: eX-v1o)Arew 1:2 ToT)XiaOzI(
Q3: ToT)XiaOzI( 2:3 iG.kogeT
Outlook: Koget has been playing very impressively lately. Xiaozi is good enough to beat Arew or Mikoel, but I think Koget is going to have his number once again and move on to the Round of 16.
Q1: EG.iNcontroL <Bo3> LRM)TechnicS
Q2: Winner of Q1 <Bo3> Shaman
Q3: Winner of Q2 <Bo5> ToT)Mondragon(
This group should be a two horse race, but looks to lean one way overall - Mondragon. Incontrol would be the other choice in it, but he has to face a ZvZ in Q1, he stands a chance to do really well, but ZvZ is a complete and utter crapshoot and who knows how he will do. Mondragon, meanwhile only has to survive one series. The odds are for it being a ZvZ, but Mondragon is a well seasoned veteran of the scene who should be able to handle a Bo5 ZvZ. Shaman might be able to pull to the Q3 if Technics manages to luck his way to Q2, but Mondragon will just have it on lock in that case. Everything hinges on Q1.
Q1: EG.iNcontroL 2:1 LRM)TechincS
Q2: EG.iNcontroL 2:1 Shaman
Q3: EG.iNcontroL 1:3 ToT)Mondragon(
Outlook: Incontrol should be able to get past Technics and Shaman with a bit of work. However, mutalisk micro is one of his demons that he hasn't fully exorcised, and in a best-of-5 series against Mondragon, that's going to come back to haunt him big time, giving Mondragon another Round of 16 berth.
Q1: RoX.KIS.Marwin <Bo3> mouz.GhosTa
Q2: Winner of Q1 <Bo3> fOsc.Yan
Q3: Winner of Q2 <Bo5> DuskBin.SEn
Group K is a one-way ticket to the Round of 16 for Sen. He's been around for a long time and is one of the stronger players around, qualifying for WCGs and international tournaments all over the globe. He has had some of the strongest competition in Chinese leagues and has regularly faced off against Koreans. Yan is a well accomplished 2v2 player that managed to sneak into the top 24, while Marwin and Ghosta are solid Terran players, but are nowhere near the level of Sen's play. Anyone else coming from this group will be a huge upset, as Sen is a contender for a top 4 finish with ease.
Q1: RoX.KIS.Marwin 2:1 mouz.GhosTa
Q2: RoX.KIS.Marwin 2:0 fOsc.Yan
Q3: RoX.KIS.Marwin 0:3 DuskBin.SEn
Outlook: Sen dominates this group senselessly on his way to the Round of 16 in the PokerStrategy.com TSL.
Q1: mTw.MF.iNfeRnaL<Bo3> eX-v1o)Sawyer
Q2: Winner of Q1 <Bo3> ToT)Hayder(
Q3: Winner of Q2 <Bo5> GosI[Terran]
The final group is a bit of a tough group to call because of the players involved. Infernal is an old school German Protoss who once played for ToT, but has a history of choking in major tournaments. Sawyer is a decent Polish Terran who never really makes much noise in tournaments, but is always just there. Haypro is sitting in the Q2 spot and is easily the most seasoned of all of the players, playing in a number of tournaments. He was a top 16 player in the Razer TSL, meeting up with BRAT_OK in the first round, and losing 2-0. He finished 4th in the Justin.tv Iccup Invitational as well as a top 8 finish at Dreamhack's Winter 09 edition. He has also been a solid player for ToT in clanwars. GosI[Terran] sits in Q3 with very limited exposure. He came out of nowhere to win WCG Mexico in 2009, but failed to live up to his hype in the grand finals. Since then, he has bounced around between clans and not really had much playing.
Q1: mTw-MF.iNfeRnaL 2:1 eX-v1o)Sawyer
Q2: mTw-MF.iNfeRnaL 0:2 ToT)Hayder(
Q3: ToT)Hayder( 3:1 GosI[Terran]
Outlook: Not much has been seen from the young Mexican Terran, and Haypro is a solid veteran who should be able to cruise past him on his way to the PokerStrategy.com TSL.
The PokerStrategy.com TSL Qualifiers kick off Saturday morning at 9 AM EST. Be sure to check out InsiderEsports for continued coverage of the PokerStrategy.com TSL!