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Name: Alex Gardner
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ESports International Season 2 Update

ESPORTS INTERNATIONAL - Alex Gardner brings everyone up to speed on the second season of Esports International.

The second season of Esports International is well underway, with three weeks in the books. Several top teams, including Templars of Twilight, Los Reyes del Mambo, Expertise, ESC.ICY-BOX (former MYM squad) and Fnatic are taking part in the 10 team league.

Last season, LRM won the league, then known as North American StarCraft Clan League (NASCL for short), over Lzuruha, 4-3, with the Peruvian Zerg CastrO clinching the ace match for the Spanish team.

The full lineup of teams this season is:

Los Reyes del Mambo - LRM) (Spain) - Season 1 Champions
Lzuruha  - LzH. (Japan) - Season 1 Runners Up
ESC.ICY-BOX - ESC. (Germany) - Invitee
Templars of Twilight - ToT) (Europe) - Invitee
FnaticMSI - Fnatic. (China) - Invitee
eXpertise - ]eX[ (USA) - Invitee
mTw 360 Degrees Gaming - mTw (Germany) - Invitee
Zajebiscie Zjebany Zespól - ZZZ (Poland) - Invitee
Sky Gaming - Sky.G) (Mexico) - Qualification Division
Old School Reborn - osR- (Chile) - Qualification Division

The league began with a qualifier tournament between 8 teams, including fOsc, Get- and NaW. Sky.G) had the easier half of the bracket, playing Russian team Fellowship of StarCraft and then the Ukranian based SaintS Team. On the opposite half, Old School Reborn had to play against IMP PRO TEAM (from Poland) and then the strong Nerds at Work, who feature's players such as Kr, Napoleon, Ptak and Tarson. osR-'s ability to overcome NaW was very impressive.

With the two qualified teams settled, it was time for the league to kick off. The first week was fairly predictable. ESC.ICY-BOX started off very strong against the freshly qualified Old School Reborn, sweeping 3 of the first 4 matches and winning set two with a score of 2-1. The final 2 sets are still yet to be played, but the best osR can hope for is a 4-2 loss. Week 1 also showed the dominance of two more strong teams, Templars of Twilight and FnaticMSI. ToT destroyed the other qualifier division team, Sky Gaming, 5 to 1, the sole win coming from MikOeL over ClouD. Fnatic, meanwhile, pulled a near clean sweep of Lzuruha. The only mar on their performance was a single win by LzH.Terran over Fnatic's LBH.

To wrap up week 1, eXpertise and ZZZ showed strong performances. For eXpertise, the victims were mTw 360 Degrees Gaming. A 4-2 victory and a Louder sighting made the match a great start for the only American team in the tournament. ZZZ, meanwhile, started off with a 4-0 run over a weakened Los Reyes del Mambo. One can only believe that the results would have been different if some of LRM's top starters like OctZerg and CastrO had been present. Also, two games have yet to be played.

After the first week, Fnatic was on top of the leaderboards, followed closely by ToT and eX. ESC and ZZZ were also going to sit in the top half of the league; their position will be determined by the four missing matches.

Week 2's matches were headlined by a clash of two of the league's most potent teams - Fnatic and ESC. However, the results were depressing, to say the least, as Fnatic slaughtered ESC, 5 sets to 1. The only hope for ESC was Ukranian Protoss White-Ra, as he took his set from Jaystar. The massacre just went to show how dominant the Fnatic squad really is.

In the other sets, we saw absolute dominance from two squads - Templars of Twilight once again, and eXpertise. The Templars of Twilight match was marred by controversy, as oSR-GoTuNk was receiving help from a teammate observing his matches against ToT)AeriALs(. However, a strong Templars of Twilight lineup featuring the best they have to offer in Mondragon, ret and XiaOzI wrecked the rather helpless osR squad. eXpertise, meanwhile, pitched a strong outing against Lzuruha, also pulling off a 5-1 victory. While OsToJiY was able to overcome Praetor for LzH, nothing else seemed to go right for the squad, and the superior eX squad took almost every set in a sweep.

Rounding out the weeks matches were mTw topping ZZZ and LRM bouncing back and punishing Sky Gaming. mTw stands ahead of ZZZ 4-1 right now, waiting the match between ZZZero and Pidgin. NarutO, DarkGamer and iNfeRnaL all stepped up to the plate after the week 1 loss to eXpertise, securing the victory for mTw regardless of the outcome of Pidgin's game. For LRM, they pulled out almost all the stops against Sky Gaming, bringing Fenix, hanniGan, Rondo, and their feared 2v2 duo, babo and Drewbie. The result was a 4-2 win over Sky Gaming, who has shown some potential in this league.

Week 3 happened this past weekend, and it featured another major showdown and some other happenings. Not all of the results are in yet, but I'll give you the rundown on what is going on so far.

The match of the week for week 3 was surely Fnatic vs. ToT. The ToT squad is right up there with ESC as the best non-Korean, non-Chinese squad in Brood War. Their lineup features a heavy heavy Zerg presence, all of whom are capable of running the tables on any given day. Fnatic, composed of some of the best Chinese players available, has dominated everyone they've faced, and is undefeated in clan wars since their inception.  The match lived up to the hype, with it boiling down to the ace match. In the end, Fnatic remained undefeated, with Never beating out one of the best Zergs to play the game, ret.

Week 3 also had it's first walkover, with ESC getting a free pass from LzH. LzH issued a formal statement shortly afterwords, but also hinted at a possible disbandment. More information is currently unavailable.

The only other match completed so far was LRM taking the 4-2 win from osR. CastrO, Fenix and aSyOhI (also known as Chaipzor) picked the team up and pulled them to victory with Kashu. osR-KiLLeR had a great day, however, sweeping LRM)Sweeper and also carrying half of the weight in the 2v2 team, where they were victorious 2-1.

The two remaining matches hang in the balance of a single 1v1 each. eXpertise finds themselves in a 2-3 hole, with TellMeWhy lined up to play Zero. Gretorp and the 2v2 squad did their parts, and it's possible that eXpertise might even be ahead, as one of their top players, Praetor, was online during an earthquake in his home country of Romania, and thus was disconnected. For mTw, they need DarkGamer to pick up his torch again and pull out a win over Sky Gaming's LuLu in order to force an ace match with the Mexican squad.

That's where the ESI stands right now. Week 4 will be bringing more great matches, including ESC vs. ToT and Fnatic vs. LRM. Be sure to keep an eye on the league. There have definitely been some surprises in the league, and even more great games. All of the results are available, along with replays, at their website, http://esportsi.net/.

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