By Galen Andress
Think the Open Bracket in Columbus was tough? Think again. The Open Bracket in Anaheim is the most talented field to date on the Pro Circuit. With five Korean pros, several Europeans, and hundreds of the best players in North America, the Open Bracket is almost a Championship bracket unto itself. Let's take a look at some of the best players and teams that will be fighting through this gauntlet.
Slayers: Alicia, Ganzi
Evil Geniuses: Axslav, DeMuslim, LzGamer, StrifeCro
Liquid: Jinro, Tyler
Complexity: Catz, Cruncher, FireZerg, RSVP, Ryze, Stalife, TriMaster
FXO: Anthony, Boss, Choya, OptikZero, Oz, QXC, Slog, Tgun
Sixjax: Cocoa, DDE, Major, Mihai, Skew, Vibe
4K: Gerbil, Lost, Warden
CheckSix Gaming: Mystik, Shadow, ThisIsJimmy
Fnatic: Fenix, KawaiiRice, Rain, TT1, Xeris
Gosu Gamers: Ajtls
It's Gosu: Ascension, Bubbles, Daisuki, Linko, Gatored, Namhcir, Pokebunny, STX, Wbc
Quantic: Agh, DarkCell, Inka
Reign: Future, Perfect, Spades
Vile: Ddoro, Hashe, Hawk, Spanishiwa, State
VP: PainUser, Chance, Cry, Cursed, Dopa, Faith, Suppy
vVv: Hasuu, MileyCyrus, Murder, Ngry, Rickter, Time
Free Agents: Destiny, Zelniq, HDStarcraft
With such an impressive list, it's hard to say who will make it out of the Open Bracket. There are sure to be upsets along the way, and the matches will be world-class in the later stages of the bracket (and not too shabby in the earlier stages, either).
The Korean Favorites
Slayers.Alicia – Alicia is one of the best Protoss players in the world. He currently holds a spot in Code S, and finished in the Top 8 of the GSL Super Tournament. Alicia should make his way into Pool Play, and has a good chance to make a deep run in the Championship Bracket.
Slayers.Ganzi – Ganzi is one of several talented Terran players on Slayers, and one of three Slayers Terrans competing in Anaheim. He has a Brood War progaming background, and has SlayersBoxer as a mentor. Look for Ganzi to tear through the Open Bracket.
FXO.Choya – Choya gained a lot of notoriety for perfecting the 1 Gas 4 Gateway rush, but has recently incorporated a much more macro-oriented style into his play. Once a regular participant in Code S, Choya recently lost his Code A status, losing in the first round of GSL July to Check. Can he prove that he has what it takes to place highly in a foreign tournament?
FXO.Oz – Oz was the first Korean progamer to join forces with FXO, and played very well for the team during their stint in the GSTL. Oz is a former Brood War progamer, and it shows in his solid mechanics and multitasking.
Fnatic.Rain – Rain made the Finals of the GSL Open Season 3. During that run, he eliminated the best Starcraft 2 player in the world, Nestea, and earned a negative reputation for favoring highly-aggressive strategies. Since his run to the Finals, Rain hasn't made it past the Round of 32 in Code S, and recently declined his Code S spot, earning him a two-season suspension from GOM. Will he prove he's still Finals material in his MLG debut?
The Foreign Favorites
TT.White-Ra – Widely considered one of the best Protoss players in Europe, White-Ra is making his second MLG appearance. His debut in D.C. last Season was spoiled by a red-hot PainUser in the Losers Bracket. Since then, White-Ra has won a handful of tournaments, and proven that he has what it takes to hang with Korean progamers, taking MC to a deciding 5th game in the Dreamhack Stockholm Invitational Finals.
Liquid.Jinro – The 2010 MLG National Champion is finally returning to the Pro Circuit. Once considered one of the best Terrans outside of Korea, the buzz around Jinro has died down a bit since he was knocked out of Code S. He still holds a spot in Code A, however, as he was able to advance to the Round of 16 this Season.
FnaticFenix – Fenix took home a very impressive 11th Place finish in Columbus after coming out of the Open Bracket. He was seeded into Pool A, where he went 4-1, and beat Cruncher and Sheth in the Losers Bracket before being eliminated by Slush. Fenix is one of the strongest Terrans outside of Korea, and will be heading to Korea to participate in the GSL as a member of F.United.
FXO.QXC – It's really amazing what a few months in Korea can do for an SC2 progamer. The improvement in QXC's play during FXO's stay in Korea for the GSTL was very noticeable, culminating in an all-kill of one of the best teams in Korea, Incredible Miracle, in FXO's final GSTL match. QXC also nearly qualified for Code A during his stay, playing an epic series with DongRaeGu during the qualifiers that included a 65+ minute long game. In short: keep an eye on QXC.
Mill.ToD – One of the cornerstones of Millenium, ToD is making his MLG debut in Anaheim. Over the last month, ToD has won the WCG France Qualifer and the ESL Pro Series tournament in France. He will definitely be a tough out for anyone in the Open Bracket.
LiquidTyler – Although Tyler took home his worst finish on the Pro Circuit since Raleigh 2010 in Columbus this Season, he is still considered one of the best Protoss players in North America. If he is practicing regularly and playing at the level he was at when he took 4th Place in Dallas last Season, he could make a strong run through the Open Bracket.
Sixjax.Major – Major was very impressive in his MLG debut in Columbus, earning a spot in Pool Play from the Open Bracket and taking down InControl and TLO in convincing 2-0 series. He also eliminated Tyler in the Losers Bracket before falling to Ret.
Sixjax.Vibe – Vibe has made it out of the Open Bracket in both Events this Season. In Columbus, his Championship Bracket run was even more impressive, as he took out TLO and Morrow in the Losers Bracket before being eliminated by Tyler in a very close 2-1 series.
The Dark Horses
Destiny – Destiny has been on an absolute tear recently. His trademark Infestor-heavy playstyle has gotten the best of Korean progamers Ace and Bomber in recent tournaments, and he has been getting in a ton of practice on the Korean ladder. If there's one player that could come out and make a shocking upset of the favorites in the Open Bracket, Destiny could be it.
CheckSix.Mystik – Mystik made one of the most impressive under-the-radar runs in the Open Bracket in Columbus. He sent TT1 into the Losers Bracket early on, and eliminated DeMuslim and Stalife in the Losers Bracket. Mystik has proven he can hang with world-class talent; can he do it again in Anaheim?
Fnatic.KawaiiRice – KawaiiRice also made a quiet but impressive run through the Open Bracket in Columbus. He was one series away from making Pool Play before being bested by Thorzain. In the Championship Bracket, he took out Namchir, Moonan and Drewbie in the Losers Bracket before falling in a very close 1-2 series with Sjow to finish one spot outside the Top 16.
Will the favorites from Korea dominate in the Open Bracket and compete for the title, or will some of the best foreign players from around the globe give us an upset or two? Get a Membership so you can watch the entire weekend in ad-free HQ, and tune in on July 29-31 to see how this all plays out.