The who's who of Starcraft2 tournaments is underway this week in Katowice, Poland. 76 players are now down to the final 24. With the multitude of competitors still in-play, there are many opportunities to find value and winners.
<h2>Qualifier Notes</h2><p>Out of Bracket #1 the most shocking result was Sos not just dropping from the upper bracket, but being eliminated from the tournament entirely. Two players that haven't been on anyone's radar for some time took 2/3 spots, Ragnarok and Leenock. Leenock had a top8 in 2018 at Code S, but apart from that these two have both been relatively quiet. Depending on which group they end up in, they may be viable as a good dog, particularly Leenock.</p><p>Bracket #2 was relatively straightforward, the two top Korean protoss here, Hero and Trap, qualified through. The one somewhat surprising result was that Canadian Zerg, Scarlett, defeated Showtime in the upper bracket before the German Protoss fell in the lower bracket. These three players can all do damage in the Group stage and potentially the playoffs but we cannot base it on their performances thus far alone. Scarlett, in particular, will have to be at her very best to take series off the field.</p><p>The third bracket was a tough one. Reynor and Hurricane played solid Starcraft but it seemed as though the experience, and composure, won out the day narrowly. No one is surprised to see Gumiho, Soo and Creator in the next stage but it was far from a walk in the park. The jury is still out on what to expect from all three of these players. Gumiho and Soo, in particular, have previously been near the top of their respective races but not recently. Soo is infamous for the numerous second place finishes he has had at premier tournaments. He has been placed in arguably the weakest of the four round-robin groups so I expect him to be in the playoffs provided he doesn't utterly collapse.</p><p>After his GSL debacle, I was pleased to see Stats make it through the upper bracket of group #4 only dropping a single map. That said, the opposition was far from what he will face in the next round. Having watched two of his three matches today, it was clear this is not the same player that ran to the grand final of Blizzcon in November. This could be a meta-change factor, or it could be he has not put in the work to study his opponents the way they certainly have. Solar also did what he needed and went straight through the upper bracket and into the toughest group we've seen for some time, Group C. Even for a player of his talent, he is a considerable underdog to qualify for playoffs.</p><p style="text-align:center"><a href="https://www.oddsmarket.com/tips/more-sports/iem-katowice-champions-stage-betting-preview/89477/" target="_blank">IEM Katowice Champions Stage Betting Preview</a></p><p> </p><h2>Group of Death</h2><p>As frequently occurs with sports, and esports, tournaments there is inevitably one overly stacked group. In Katowice, it's Group C. There are three top 10 players and world current #1, Serral. There is not enough room to comment on Serral's success in 2018 and why he is the favourite to win this tournament. So instead, I will simply summarise it with 'he is the complete Zerg.' The best are often thought to be 'the best' because they perform consistently well at the highest level over a large sample.</p><p>This describes two others in Group C, Rogue and Innovation. Rogue was the Blizzcon 2017 winner, the pinnacle of the Starcraft2 calendar and has remained at the top of his game through much of the 18 months since. Innovation on the other hand also had a great 2016/2017, winning several premier tournaments, before falling off almost completely through most of 2018. However, he may just be out to reclaim the number one Terran title from Maru once more. Rogue, Innovation and Serral could all make a deep tournament run if they are at the top of their game so keep an eye out for this group's matches in particular.</p><p> </p><h2>Outright</h2><p>Serral at @ 2.75 [<a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18" target="_blank">Bet365</a>]</p><p>The Finnish phenom is still the best player on the planet and although he is in the most stacked group I expect him to top it. The format is round-robin meaning that he won't get suckered out of a playoff qualification by a couple cheesy builds. All players face everyone in their group in a best-of-three. First place in each group receives a bye to the quarterfinal. Second and third place will be reseeded into a bracket to play a bo5 before elimination. So although no players are limited to two lives, every single match in the round robin matters.</p><p>I especially like this wager given that every playoff series is a best-of-five. It gives the greatest players the range of maps to demonstrate their skill and ensure a victory. Starcraft betting is still very niche, so if you'd like a list of possible books you can find markets feel free to contact me [@lockeqwerty].</p><p>Action begins Thursday, February 28 at 7am est!</p>