By Galen Andress
In Columbus, Pool C was dubbed the “Pool of Death.” In Anaheim, history might be repeating itself. With some of the best talent from Europe and North America, as well as defending Champion MMA, Pool C is sure to give us some of the best games over the course of the weekend.
The Columbus Champion has returned to defend his title in Anaheim. After running through his Pool with a perfect 5-0 record, MMA showed nearly flawless TvZ and took out Losira twice in the Bracket stage to become the first Korean MLG Champion. Just after Columbus, he continued to play well and took home 2nd Place in the GSL Super Tournament.
MMA has recently hit a bit of a rough patch, however, losing his Code A status with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the eventual Champion, Puzzle, in the first round of the most recent GSL Season. Anaheim will be the first Pro Circuit Competition where the winner can earn a spot in Code S; can MMA repeat and earn his way back into the GSL, or are a disappointing finish and a run through the grueling GSL qualifiers in his future?
Slush's 5th Place finish in Columbus was one of the most surprising and impressive results over the course of the weekend. After finishing 3-2 in Pool Play, a run that included a win over the defending Champion Naniwa, Slush defeated Ret before falling to Idra in the Losers Bracket to earn his Top 6 finish. Although one of Slush's most memorable moments from Columbus was enduring one of the sickest Baneling landmines in the history of SC2, his Top 6 finish in such a deep tournament means he isn’t exactly a dark horse heading into Anaheim. Will he be able to impress us again?
Ret had a very solid performance in the Pool of Death in Columbus, posting a 3-2 record with wins over Thozain, Select and Tyler. Although he lost to a frankly wacky strategy from Slush in the Losers Bracket, leaving Columbus with a Top 8 finish showed us that Ret has what it takes to compete with the best players in the world.
Since Columbus, Ret played in both the Homestory Cup 3 and Dreamhack offline tournaments. At Dreamhack he made it out of the group stage, but fell to Socke in a close 2-1 series in his first match of the bracket stage. At HSC3, Ret was unable to make it out of his group, despite posting a 2-1 record. Ret has been known to get off to a slow start at MLG Events and finish strong; with a bit more consistency, he could be in contention for the title.
After a 6th Place finish to kick off the 2011 Season in Dallas, Socke didn't make it back for Columbus. However, he has been very active in the European tournament scene during his time away from MLG. He took 1st Place in an ESL Pro Series Event, 2nd in the Black Dragon League online tournament, and 2nd Place in the Gadget Show Live and Torneo ESL offline tournaments.
Socke also participated in both Dreamhack and the HSC3. He was able to make it out of his group in both tournaments, and take a few games in the bracket stages as well. He is one of the most seasoned competitors in Europe, and has always performed well at MLG Events. Will he be able to post another Top 8 finish in the deepest MLG Event to date?
After a solid 11th Place finish to kick off the Season in Dallas, Drewbie had a disappointing 23rd Place finish in Columbus. Wins over Gretorp and the red-hot Slush got him out of Pool Play with a 2-3 record, but he was unable to make it past KawaiiRice in his first round of Losers Bracket play. Drewbie is known as one of the best Terrans in North America, and has placed well at every Event before Columbus. Will he be able to regain his footing in Anaheim?
While Pool C may not be quite as daunting as it was in Columbus, the lineup is certain to make for some intense games. Check out the previews of Pool A and Pool B, make sure you’ve got a Membership so you can watch all the action in ad-free HQ, and then tune in July 29-31 to see if anyone can dethrone the defending Champ!