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Name: Alex Gardner
Location: Port Jervis, NY
StarCraft Head of Coverage
ESL.eu - The ESL Major Series' Season 5 StarCraft tournament has reached the Round of 8, and is filled with explosive matches. InsiderEsports Alex "AGar" Gardner takes you through the matches one at a time in this preview.
The ESL Major Series' fifth season of StarCraft: Brood War has reached the playoff stages, with eight players itching for a shot at the final title and prize. Round of 8 play begins on Monday, with some excellent matches going forward.
BVG.Draco vs. mouz.White-Ra
The top match of the bracket is going to be an exciting one, as we have two old-school Protoss gamers going at it in what is sure to be a thrilling series. White-Ra has been on fire this past year, playing internationally on several occasions and raking in tremendous amounts of prize money from podium finishes in most tournaments he entered. Additionally, he has been playing consistently for his team in clan wars, helping carry them to the forefront of all the leagues they are participating in. His opponent in this match is Draco, who needs no introduction. The Polish Protoss has played very sparingly this past year, but when he has, he has been very good. He finished third in WCG Poland and earned the right to go to the WCG Grand Final. He also participated in a few invitational tournaments, but for the most part laid low. However, Draco's skill is never truly out of shape, as he made his Razer TSL run while claiming to be fairly inactive. White-Ra is going to have to prepare well for the ex-progamer.
Prediction: BVG.Draco 2:3 mouz.White-Ra
Outlook: A great series is bound to happen between these two players, and either one of them could advance. However, White-Ra's recent momentum and solid finishes should be able to carry him through to the next round.
ToT)aCe( vs. mouz.Strelok
The match between these two players should be an interesting one. Ace, a young German Zerg who was picked up by Templars of Twilight a few months ago, came out of the toughest group, beating White-Ra, Idra and Aero without dropping a game and using well-crafted builds to overcome stronger opponents. However, he had some glaring weaknesses showing in those games that can be easily abused. His opponent is Strelok, a long-time Ukranian Terran who has a 3rd place in WCG to his credit. His TvZ is often a weakpoint for him, which may factor in against him, but he has a history of doing well in foreign tournaments. Mondragon was able to expose his TvZ in the group stages of the tournament, cleaning Strelok up in two games. Since, Strelok has played solely TvP in the tournament. A close series should ensue between these two players.
Prediction: ToT)aCe( 1:3 mouz.Strelok
Outlook: Ace is able to bring one of his clever builds to the table and make it work, but after that, Strelok is going to be in control of this match, carrying himself through to the top four in this season.
iG.kogeT vs. mouz.MaNa
This match between countrymen is up for grabs. Koget has been around for a while but really started making waves in recent months. Mana is a newer face to the scene, emerging early last year and doing well in a number of tournaments. Both these players are on a very even plane. Both qualified top 12 for the PokerStrategy.com TSL qualifiers, both are solid for their clans and both had tough roads to get here. Mana's PvZ is a potential weakness for this match, as he seems to have difficulty against foreign Zergs. Conversely, Koget's ZvP seems to be possibly his best matchup, only dropping a showmatch in recent months. That showmatch was against Mana, but a close loss in a friendly showmatch doesn't often mean much.
Prediction: iG.kogeT 3:1 mouz.MaNa
Outlook: Mana is a solid player, but Koget's ZvP is going to be the key to his win, while Mana's PvZ weaknesses will come back to haunt him. Koget gets to advance to the next round of the ESL Major Series.
CJ_IdrA[Media] vs. ToT)Mondragon(
For the second straight season, these two players are facing off in what has the potential to be the best match of the entire season. A best-of-five series between these two is must-see-TV. Another Round of 8 matchup between Idra and Mondragon will have everyone paying attention. Idra has been playing phenomenally in his foreign tournaments, and is likely to be fresh off of a thrashing of fellow countryman Nony for the TSL qualifiers heading into this match. Mondragon, meanwhile, hasn't been the most active player, but is still a heavy favorit against most, if not all, opponents outside of Korea. This old-school Zerg player has what it takes to take Idra down. Last time they met in the Round of 8, Idra handed Mondragon a sound 3-0 thrashing, but with the TSL looming, players are in better shape than ever, and Mondragon's chance for an upset is at it's highest. Look for an exciting best-of-5 between these two players next Monday.
Prediction: CJ_IdrA[Media] 3:1 ToT)Mondragon(
Outlook: Mondragon is bound to be in great shape, and could potentially pull of an upset. But Idra is hot right now, and is going to be well practiced coming into this match. Idra should take this one in four to move onto the next round of the ESL Major Series.
That's it for the preview. Be sure to check out the ESL Major Series on Monday at 1:45 PM EST to see some great matchups!
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