Our top StarCraft 2 Pros Mikolaj “Elazer’’ Ogonowski and Julian “Lambo” Brosig went to compete in Montreal, Canada with the single goal in mind of getting a spot at the most prestigious tournament of the year - the WCS Global Finals to be played during BlizzCon 2018. This was the last stop of this year’s WCS circuit and everything was to be decided there. No more second chances, no more excuses, when the event had finished everyone would know for sure if they got past the cutoff line or not.
Both Elazer and Lambo had qualified for Montreal by winning the Challenger series earlier, which enabled them to start directly from Group Stage 3 and leapfrog a lot of opponents. This meant that there would be no easy games and that they would need to bring their A-game from the very start.
Before going to Montreal, Elazer was at the 8th spot in the WCS Standings which is the last one giving access to the BlizzCon dream. A tricky position to be in, as it deceitfully promises that no miracles need to be performed to keep yourself afloat. However, with so many great players lurking between 8th and 20th place, Elazer knew he had to do yet another deep run in the unforgiving StarCraft 2 scene if he was to succeed.
His opponents in Group Stage 3 were Zanster, DnS and Probe. Not the worst possible draw considering the other groups at this stage.
And so we were off. First match - first win. Elazer quickly started his engines and went through Zanster 2:0 getting a lead in the group. Next up was DnS who showed that an underdog is never to be underestimated. A 2:1 victory for DnS meant that Elazer had to already fight for his tournament life. And the match was versus… Zanster again. You would expect that after beating someone 2:0 you would be happy to face him again. And our Zerg star probably was, but this time Zanster switched gears and went on to win 2:1 against Elazer, quickly knocking him out of the event.
As you might now understand, this was not a happy ending story for Miko. The hard work he had put throughout the year did not materialize into BlizzCon and he had to swallow a very bitter pill. Competitive eSports is not the easiest of careers and sometimes you need to be able to get up from the floor which you will inevitable fall to every once in a while. Having mentioned that, we are sure that Elazer will come back stronger next year!
On the other side of the fence was Lambo, who was 13th in the WCS Standings before Montreal and was one of the players that was hoping for the stars to align so that he can even have a chance of qualifying. Of course, winning the event outright would guarantee any player a spot, but with the three times WCS trophy holder Serral participating, well, let’s just say that’s not easy.
Lambo’s group consisted of Namshar, Kelazhur and TIME. Once again a good start for the QLASH Pro with a win against TIME. This time though, the second opponent - Kelazhur, was also defeated and given they were both Terrans it was a relief since this is the least favorite match-up for Lambo. We now had a player in the playoffs phase.
Ro16 brought a familiar face with Zanster again in the way of our dreams. Julian did not flinch for a second and showed why he is considered one of the best players in ZvZ match-ups right now with his roach and macro play completely on point. A clean victory and going through to the quarterfinals.
During all these, a lot of calculations had started. Who needed to do what to get to the magical 8th and qualifying spot for BlizzCon. If Lambo loses, but another player wins. If Lambo wins but another player loses. If everyone wins or everyone loses. Countless scenarios which could lead to so many outcomes we decided that we should just watch and see what happens.
The quarterfinal opponent for Lambo was ShoWTime. On one hand this was good for Lambo who loved playing against Protoss, but on the other, ShoWTime had been crushing this year with successes all over the world, including some notable victories in the GSL vs the World.
The first two maps were taken down by our Zerg and the series was looking great for us. A player as experienced as ShoWTime had other plans though. He changed strategies and started betting on double stargate builds, producing mass phoenixes and taking quick control of the map. In the 3rd map the response of Lambo was corruptors with which he unsuccessfully tried to counter the powerful air Protoss army and the score after the game was now 2:1. Seeing how well this build performed, ShoWTime repeated it on the 4th map. For the astonishment of both casters and viewers, this time the answer of Lambo was to produce more than a dozen swarm hosts complemented with hydras. This very unorthodox approach seemed to be failing, until Lambo took a very good fight in the middle of the Dreamcatcher map and then very wisely pushed his way to his opponent base, striking in one of the few moments when he could catch the Protoss off-guard. A top shelf play which guaranteed Lambo a spot in the Ro4 and more importantly, he still had his BlizzCon fate in his own hands.
The upcoming semi-final opponent was as the WCS casters put it, the ‘legendary god king’ Serral. In the short interview before the match, Lambo showed great confidence, saying he had seen some flaws in the game of the Fin and that he feels now is the time to finally beat him. Indeed, Serral had dropped at least one map in all other playoff series so far in the tournament, something uncharacteristic for his usual unbeatable level.
Initially Lambo tried to beat Serral at his own game, with straightforward roach builds and playing a macro game. This proved to be inefficient and the result was a quick 2:0 lead for Serral who showed the ZvZ masterclass he is well-known for. Julian now had to rethink his strategy if he wanted to overcome this obstacle. His response was really good, as the next two maps he risked skipping a big part of the zergling phase and going into a quick lair. This allowed him to surprise Serral with strong roach pushes in the early stages of the game. It was now 2:2 and the Ace match was to be played.
The map started standard with both players gearing up for that macro game with a quick 3rd hatchery. Neither player took early advantage and then Lambo made the very brave decision to commit to mass mutalisks and zerglings. The amazing scouting skills of Serral once again proved pivotal in the game as he managed to see the finishing spire building just before it was completed. He quickly reacted with many spore crawlers and switching to hydralisk tech. With the production of the first mutas, the German Zerg took control of the map, but he knew he had to do critical damage if he wanted his strategy to work. He started his siege and made some progress, sniping the 4th base of Serral. However, the roaches of the multiple WCS champion made their way to the mineral lines of the QLASH Pro and left him with a crippled economy. A last and very strong attacking attempt from Lambo followed, where his banelings made good connections with the hydras of Serral, opening him up to more damage. The battle was fierce but at the end Serral managed to hold on to his most important positions and the game was now heavily in his favor. This was enough for him to close the series and Lambo had to walk off the stage for good this time. A well-deserved semi-final and Lambo was keeping his head high no matter what happens next. Well played!
Although reaching the Ro4 in a WCS event is by itself an incredible feat that also brings 900 WCS standing points, Lambo now had to hope that Serral finishes the job and wins the event so that he can get the last train to BlizzCon. The Fin was to play the young Italian prodigy Reynor in the final in a Bo7 series.
An epic final
The final by itself was an instant epic. The skill at what is considered the chess of eSports the two player showed was just out of this world. Reynor took the lead multiple times, getting to 1:0, 2:1 and even to two match points at 3:2 in his favor. Serral had his back against the wall and in the 6th game Reynor seemed to have finally slayed the StarCraft 2 beast when he took a huge lead, both in worker count and army supply. What we witnessed next was one of the greatest comebacks ever, with Serral utilizing every possible micro-management skill he had, hanging on by a thread for more than 15 minutes. When he somehow equalized the situation he was again caught in a very bad fight in the middle of the map. And again, his genius shown, with just several hydras flanking the army of Reynor that made all the difference between a champion and a runner-up. Serral took down the game and took the final into a 7th deciding map.
The last game of the series, the Fin countered Reynor’s mutalisk play in the biggest map of the pool by playing a decisive nydus build. Reynor did not realize what was happening until the multitude of roaches and queens started popping out next to his bases. Serral finished the job and became the first ever player to win all 4 WCS stops in a single year. After winning the GSL vs the World earlier this year, we can only say that he is already a true legend of the game. Congratulations!
BlizzCon 2018 here we come!
Everyone at QLASH was watching nervously the breathtaking final series, sweating and rooting for Serral so that our own Lambo could debut in the WCS Global Finals at BlizzCon. At the end, everything came down to one single map and this time around, Lambo was on the right side of the equation finishing 8th in the WCS Standings and acquiring that invaluable last spot.
As such, we are more than happy to announce that QLASH will be represented at BlizzCon by our German Zerg - Julian ‘’Lambo’’ Brosig. Only he knows what emotions he went through to get here, but we are super excited about him and that his huge efforts paid off! Now off to California, where even higher peaks can be conquered! Let’s gooooooo!
You can see Lambo's raw emotion here: LINK