After two months of online competition the QLASH StarCraft 2 Invitational came to an end during the weekend of September 22nd and 23rd with the QLASH House hosting the offline finals. The 4 players that qualified from the online groups flew to Italy to battle it out in a single elimination bracket with the semi-finals played in a Bo7 format, while the final was an unorthodox Bo9.
The group stages themselves brought a lot of emotions, with the last 7th round deciding the fate of the ones to make it to Italy.
The last round in Group A saw Hellraiser, Snute and Zanster all having a chance to go through as Serral had already guaranteed a spot with 7 wins out of 7 matches. Snute lost chances early after losing his series. However,, it could have not been any more dramatic for the other two as the last series to be played in the group between Hellraiser and DnS ended with an ace match. This in turn decided whether Hellraiser would qualify or it would be Zanster to somehow navigate to the second qualifying position. Earlier that day Zanster had a dominating performance against Lambo to keep hanging and at the end this proved pivotal as Hellraiser could not make it past DnS and was left disappointed. After all Serral and Zanster progressed to the offlines.
Group B was more straightforward as Elazer had already guaranteed the first place. Both Nerchio and Reynor had a real shot at making it to Italy though and what better way to have a decider than the two of them playing against each other. The map score in the group meant that Reynor had to win 3:0 or 3:1 in order to overcome Nerchio. The Polish player had completely different plans though and actually closed the series comfortably in his favor. With this conclusion the two Polish zergs Elazer and Nerchio were to travel to the offline finals.
After a long week of preparation the stage was finally set. The skill level in the offline finals was definitely top level with the above mentioned Serral, Elazer, Nerchio and Zanster to compete and our own players Lambo and Retjah lurking around. Additionally, we had a guest in the face of Reynor who came by to say hello and take a closer look at the QLASH House.
On top of all that talent, we had the amazing casters Rotterdam and Wardi, as well as Traidos providing his experience adminning the tournament. Everything and everyone was ready to take on the challenge of making a great production where both fans and players would enjoy themselves.
Even though proper competitive spirit is very important, we also wanted to create a chill out atmosphere for all our guests, where they can enjoy themselves and feel at home. Our relax area proved very likeable and the ping pong table seemed to be an instant hit as it was constantly used throughout the weekend. Some of the guests also got hooked to our pinball machine with lots of banter flying around around the highest scores achieved.
Saturday was the semi-finals day and the first official match on stage was Serral vs Nerchio. The series went 4:1 in favor or the Fin who’s season has been nothing short of incredible and he continues his unbeaten run. Second on the stage appeared Elazer and Zanster which proved an extremely close series full of comebacks. At the end a dramatic 4:3 win for Zanster meant he eliminated our own pro player a second time in a row after WCS Montreal.
The final was to be played on the next day and it was time for some fun. What better way to explore the Italian culture than a local Pizzeria! We got everyone involved to a our favorite pizza place where they treated themselves to a proper lunch. Morale was high and we were ready to set-up for the final day of the competition.
Instead of a 3rd place match which we believe is not the most exciting one, we decided to do some showmatches. First, the finalists had to play a Bo3 offrace and even if you think Serral is a monster of a player only with Zerg, think again, as he again claimed victory against Zanster. Next, we put Serral to the ultimate test, putting him against Lambo, Retjah, Elazer and Nerchio in an archon match. This essentially means that all 4 players were controlling the opponent. Astonishingly, Serral managed to hold his ground against a combined APM of above 1,000. At the end though the 4 players managed to coordinate themselves in a good way taking down Serral in what can be considered an unfair matchup. The last showmatch was a 6-way FFA with random races which lasted more than 30 minutes. The audience seemed to enjoy the showmatches but it was now time for the serious part - a Bo9 final between Serral and Zanster.
The match started in an exciting manner with Serral taking down the first map but then Zanster pulled off a great game to equalise after a long macro-game. Winning against Serral in this manner is by itself a great success. We would definitely like to tell you about how close the finals were after this but unfortunately this was not the case. The insane skill of Serral proved to be too much of an uphill battle for his opponent and he won all remaining maps, closing the series with a 5:1 score. It was time to award the trophy, have a few words from one of our co-founders Eugene Katchalov about the whole event and a short interview with the winner. Congratulations to the undisputed champion Serral, who keeps on breaking records in the StarCraft 2 scene!