This weekend, as many slunk into bed in the wee hours of the morning after MSI had finished, the day was just beginning for the true connoisseurs of esports. That’s because WCS Spring was starting, showcasing the pinnacle of international Starcraft 2 play.
On May 17-19, we got to see 24 of the world’s best SC2 players compete for a seed in the 2019 WCS Global Finals. The SC2 scene has aged like fine wine, especially if you’re a European fan, as what we got to see at WCS wouldn’t have been possible if the game wasn’t nine years old. Veterans against new upstarts, old pros trying their luck after a secret Korean boot camp, and legends powering through to finals to upset all the hopefuls.
The genuine joy of watching Leon “goblin” Vrhovec, a Croatian Protoss player with less than four years experience under his belt make the quarterfinals was fantastic. Or watching Maru “MaSa” Kim take a sneaky game off of eventual runner-up Juan Carlos “SpeCial” Tena Lopez in a tense TvT matchup. Or seeing the heartbreak of Clément “Clem” Desplanches, who played 26 matches in qualifiers just to get to the round of eight, only to lose in a tight series against Tobias “ShoWTimE” Sieber.
In the finals, we got to see Europe’s dominant SC2 ace take to the stage. Joona “Serral” Sotala, took on SpeCial in what promised to be a close five-game series. However, the Finish Zerg wouldn’t allow it, and in sweeping and dominant fashion, he 3-0’d the Mexican Terran player.
While many North American fans might have missed this amazing tournament because of time differences and a stacked list of competing events, around 40,000 viewers still tuned in for the finals. However, the average viewership throughout the tournament struggled to stay above 15,000. In comparison, last year’s equivalent event, 2018 WCS Leipzig, averaged a solid 20,000 throughout, and peaked at 50,000+ for the finals. That’s a shame because if you’re a fan of SC2, this wasn’t one to miss.
If you have some time to kill, I wholeheartedly suggest you dig out the vods of this tournament. In previous years, the WCS has sometimes felt like an exclusive club, where the highest seeded players easily advance, leaving open sign-up players to grind for nothing. The new “Dual Tournament Format” fixed a lot of these problems, letting players fall to a losers bracket, and advance further than single elimination would ever allow. As a result, we got to see a rare showcase of some of the more niche talents in the game, and saw names you wouldn’t normally expect in the higher brackets.
SC2, at its best, is undoubtedly the most enjoyable esports game to watch. And 2019’s WCS Spring was definitely SC2 at its best.