WCS Challenger Sets the Stage for Montreal

Blizzard Entertainment

The World Championship Series (WCS) Montreal is coming in early September, and 16 players have made their way through the brutal Challenger bracket to secure their seeds. Here are some of the highlights leading into the final WCS Circuit event of the year.

A More Even Split

At the last two Circuit events, Zerg players have dominated the qualifiers. Among the players who qualified to WCS Valencia, nine of them were Zerg players. At WCS Jönköping, 10 qualified players were Zerg. With the two Challenger series for those events being so close together, it’s unsurprising that the meta was consistent and produced similar results. If we look all the way back to the first Circuit event of the year at WCS Austin, the spread of the three races was much tighter, though there was a small amount of Terran representation there. With the map pool changing and players having had nearly two months of practice and preparation, Montreal looks much more even again with five Protoss, four Terran, and seven Zerg.

It’s ShoWTimE

One of the best players in Europe is undoubtedly Tobias ‘ShoWTimE’ Sieber. He’s made a name for himself since 2013 as a Protoss powerhouse, and he performed well at the 2016 WCS Global Finals—going all the way to the quarterfinals before finally falling to Mikolaj ‘Elazer’ Ogonowski. This year, however, has been an off one for the German player. In Austin, he fell in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Alex ‘Neeb’ Sunderhaft. In Jönköping, he failed to qualify via Challenger, then got knocked out in the group stages. Finally, in Valencia, he once again had to enter via open sign-ups, but didn’t even make it to the final group stage. With this persistent decrease in performance at each subsequent event, it looked possible that this may have been the end of ShoWTimE’s reign as the top European StarCraft II player. But in the Montreal Challenger, he looks back and as good as ever. He took the finals from the upper bracket, only dropping three games in his entire run. If he continues the top-tier performance in Montreal that he showed us during Challenger, he may be a frontrunner to take the whole tournament.

Namshar Cleans House

Christoffer ‘Namshar’ Kolmodin is a remarkable player. While he fell early in the Valencia group stages, he’s been a dominant force in both Austin and Jönköping. As he prepared for the Montreal Challenger tournament, he had his work cut out for him: Three of the best Zergs in Europe stood in his way. He managed to take out Ilyes ‘Stephano’ Satouri in a convincing 3-0 series before crushing the Valencia champion, Elazer, in a similar 3-0 mirror match. After these two powerful opponents, he also managed to bring down the prolific Jens ‘Snute’ Aasgard in a full five-game set. As if that weren’t impressive enough, he also came out on top in his match against Artur ‘Nerchio’ Bloch in the lower bracket. While he didn’t take a single game off ShoWTimE in either of their matches, Namshar showed he’s comfortable handling these big-name Zerg players. If he takes the lessons he learned when playing against ShoWTimE to bring his Zerg vs. Protoss play up to his Zerg vs. Zerg levels, he’ll be a strong contender for the Montreal trophy.

WCS Montreal begins on Friday, Sept. 8 at 12:00 p.m. PDT.