ICCUP Clan League Division 1 Preview
ICCUP.COM - Season 8 of the International Cyber Cup (aka ICCup) Clan League is ready to once again get underway.
Last season the ICCUP Clan League's top division was stacked with teams like ESC, ToT and RoX and the Russian based RoX took home the title. This season, the face of the division is a little different, but the top contenders are the same. Read on for a team-by-team breakdown of the ICCup Clan League Division A.
RoX.Kis - Season 7 Finish: 1st (Division A) - The defending champions are back, and are as strong as ever. RoX has a powerful lineup when all of their top players are playing at their maximum potential. They sport a strong roster of players including A2, BRAT_OK, DIMAGA and ALF, among others. Their supporting cast includes good players like Marwin, Pomi and fraer. If there is one issue that might hinder RoX, it is their lacking Protoss depth. Pomi and fraer are their only Protoss players, and if one or two of them hits a slump, they may have an issue.
ESC.ICY-BOX - Season 7 Finish: 2nd (Division A) - ESC.ICY-BOX is fresh off of a great win in the now seemingly defunct WGT Clan League championships over Templars of Twilight. As I stated, they have one of the deepest rosters, carrying top names like IefNaij, White-Ra, DinOt, Strelok, Dreiven, Arew and Yayba. Their recent acquisition of Drewbie and Babo, an extremely talented 2v2 squad only makes them stronger, allowing the afformentioned players to focus on solo games. On top of that, they are developing a deep support staff with the likes of GhosTa, Kolll, and Raven among others. ESC.ICY-BOX has no visible flaws if all of their players show up for a match, and are a deadly threat to win the league.
mTw 360 Gaming - Season 7 Finish: 3rd (Division A) - mTw was a shock, in my opinion, taking 3rd place last season. Their purely German roster is not stacked with talent like that of RoX or ESC, yet they managed to overcome many top teams on their way to a 3rd place finish. Their top player has to be HoRRoR, the top Terran who most recently made a splash when he played IefNaij in Liquibition #26. However, like RoX, they have a depth issue. Their Zerg lineup is hurting with the departure of Gan for Templars of Twilight. Other players like Naruto, Pidgin and iNfeRnaL have the talent to get their team into the top if they push, but the lacking Zerg lineup is somewhat scary.
Templars of Twilight - Season 7 Finish: 4th (Division A) - Templars of Twilight had to be disappointed with their finish in last season, finishing behind mTw among others. With a lineup as deep and talented as theirs, they were probably expecting to finish top 3, maybe even win it all. Instead, they were relegated to a fourth place finish. Their roster runs deep with the swarm, sporting names like ret, Mondragon, ParanOid (GOsia), XiaOzI, SquaLL and Naugrim. The lone non-Zerg players occupying spots on the roster are Canadian Terran player AeriALs and the Italian Protoss player ClouD. Unlike the other teams, even if their non-Zerg players start slumping, they have so much stacked talent in their Zerg department that they can still succeed. Look for Templars of Twilight to make a strong case for their title in this season.
Los Reyes Del Mambo - Season 7 Finish: 5th (Division A) - Los Reyes del Mambo are always a middle of the pack team with the talent to win it all. Last season is a perfect example. The team finished 5th out of 10, but with players like MistrZZZ, Fenix, OctZerg and Castro, they could have easily finished much much higher in the standings. The Spanish based team has a good all around roster, with high profile names like the above. Losing CaStrO to eX surely isn't something they wanted to see, but they are still a top contender, especially with the 5 newer (and lesser) teams coming into the division.
International Federation of Untouchables - Season 7 Finish: 6th (Division A) - iFU, known as NiceAff last season, is a fairly underrated team in the division. They have a strong roster, sporting players like spx, YOON, Rise and Real. In addition to having strong 1v1 players, they have a very strong 2v2 depth, with Valio, Baga and Real all being B+ or better in the match. They lost a strong Zerg player recently in Ahzz when he departed for French based D4, but they should still be competitive in the division this season.
Going Effective Together - Season 7 Finish: 1st (Division B1) - Going Effective Together is a team that possesses good, but not great, talent, and the division shows. Rarely do they actually match up toe-to-toe with top teams like ESC and ToT, while they manage to beat other teams like fOsc, SL and even eX. Their strength lies in a few players, namely Oystein and Shauni. They also have good support from ETBrood and Duduk, as well as some other lesser-known players, but they are not generally a team that has the fire power of the big guns of Brood War.
Team Speedlink - Season 7 Finish: 1st (Division B2) - Speedlink is another team like GeT, sporting the name only of aCe. Their roster is not an in-your-face squad. Rather, they have solid players who rely on their ability to occasionally take a game off of a top player here and there to succeed in the league. However, that approach usually doesn't lead to success in the top divisions, and they will have it rough if that's their game plan this season.
Fellowship Of StarCraft - Season 7 Finish: 2nd (Division B1) - fOsc is another team that got in primarily because of the fact that Iccup switches out the bottom four teams from Division A every season, and should have an interestingly rough time in this season. Their main forte will be 2v2, with top players Lee and Yan (Both A/A+ level players in the art) on the squad. However, 2v2s don't win clan wars alone, and some of their 1v1 players will have to step up to the plate if fOsc wants to survive.
fiRe StarCraft Team - Season 7 Finish: 2nd (Division B2) - fiRe is a relative unknown in the foreign BW scene compared to other teams. They do not sport any "known" 1v1 or 2v2 names, and they don't seem to have much of a diverse roster. The mostly eastern European squad finished 2nd in the weaker of the B divisions, so they aren't a really proven team. They will have a tough time ahead of them if they want to win big in the big boys division.
Now for some predictions and a few other side notes:
My Pick to Win: Templars of Twilight
Templars of Twilight have one of the strongest rosters around, and are always adding more strong players. As long as all of their guys show activity and show up for their clan wars, their 4th place finish this past season should be a distant memory.
Least Deserving Team: fiRe StarCraft Team
This team has absolutely no one that I see saving them from the jaws of these other top teams. fiRe, unfortunately, will probably fall at the hands of the other top teams in this division and get bounced back to the B divisions.
Dark Horse Team: Los Reyes del Mambo
Like I said, these guys have the talent to win it all if they put their minds to it. I see LRM making a strong play this season and maybe even finishing ahead of ToT or ESC. Only time will tell, but watch these guys as the season progresses.
Unfortunately MIA: Tie between ZZZ, eX, Fnatic, EG and NaW
The five listed teams above all bring something to the table that I feel could be more interesting than the four transfer teams this season. ZZZ is always known for having talented players and can always go toe-to-toe with some of the top squads. eXpertise is a top North American squad that always brings a lot to the table with their talented players, and now that they have CaStrO and TT1, it's a shame to see them out of the limelight. Fnatic are dominating EVERYONE that they face and have yet to lose, and seeing them in the top division would be an exciting affair. The newly formed Evil Geniuses squad is the best North American squad, and are right on par with an LRM or iFU type team, easily capable of scraping wins off of ESC and ToT with the right draw. Finally, NaW has a deep, talented roster, but they don't partake in ICCup's Clan League. Their roster would provide excellent games between many top gamers in the foreign Brood War scene.