E-Sports @ OnRPG: Red Bull Battlegrounds – Power Rank

 E-Sports @ OnRPG: Red Bull Battlegrounds – Power Rank

By Umar Farooq (Kluey), OnRPG E-Sports Reporter


Editor’s Note: The Redbull Battlegrounds can be viewed at the following link on Saturday, or livestreamed right here at OnRPG!


Watch live video from Redbull Battlegrounds in Austin!


Red Bull’s tournament organizers are brilliant. The major flaw with most tournaments is the lack of diversity in the players. Many tournaments will get the absolute top notch players, throw them into a bracket with a massive prize pool and hope to impress fans. Sure, you’ll get attention post-event but during the event, there’s nothing to look out for. It’s like having two soccer teams play a possession game. There will be one shot every 10 minutes and fans will be bored to hell. What Red Bull has done is put some of those possessive players but has also added the fan favourites, the micro showboats and the dark horses. What you should expect on Memorial Day weekend is nothing less than excellence. We’ve seen Red Bull’s production be world class and the only thing they missed was content. Red Bull Battlegrounds is the full package. You’ve got top players, foreigners fan favourites, and the dark horses that everyone loves.



I’ve done tournament previews or hypes before but they’ve always been bland. This week, I’m going to change things up a bit. Instead of going through the groups and then predicting the brackets, we’re going to use a Power Ranking system. Power Rankings is a system used by professional sports organizers. The teams or players are listed in order of predicted performance or overall skill. Although the order is nothing more than a prediction, there is statistical and subjective influence on them making them a reliable resource in spectating or predicting a tournaments result.












I’m trying not to be too harsh here but, there is nothing better I can do. Ostojiy is on a pretty amateur team, he lives and trains in North America, he’s a foreigner and very inexperienced in a tournament environment. Maybe he has a few builds but there is nothing big to expect from Ostojiy.




The final addition from Red Bull into their player pool was LastShadow. I’m not sure if it a ‘best for last’ situation or if it was the best they could do as everyone else was already taken. Whatever the case, LastShadow practices in Korea so he’s got an edge over Ostojiy. Once again though, LastShadow has no stage experience and is expected to do pretty poorly.






Illusion in my eyes is the future of North America. He’s still in high school and has beaten GSL players at IPL. If there is anything he lacks, it’s free time. Being in school, he cannot attend every tournament and certainly cannot practice a lot. He’s never been to Korea to practice either. This makes him a talented player amongst talented and hardworking players. Although Illusion might cause some upsets, he shouldn’t make it far in this tournament.





Sheth is an online player in my opinion. He’s always been doing well in clan wars and online events. He’s never had his offline breakthrough event. He’s placed 25th – 15th at MLG’s. Although Sheth is a solid player, he’s far and away outclassed by most of the players at this event. Sheth will show some close games but this was the highest rank I could give to him.





HuK recently hasn’t been as successful and his play style is the reason. HuK relies on his control and aggressiveness but regularly falls short on his macro and decision making. This makes him a good ladder player or open bracket player but against players who understand the game so extremely well, I can’t see him doing too well. HuK doesn’t have nerve issues and has been training in Korea and so cannot do too poorly in this event.






I had trouble putting Puzzle on the list. Puzzle is a solid player who recently got Top 8 in Code S. The reason I had trouble putting him is because he’s inexperienced in front of a big audience. This event will have 1,500 live spectators. In comparison, GSL bracket matches have 100 at most. If Puzzle does well, it shows that he’s capable of overcoming his nerves. He’s definitely more skilled than many of the players here but that isn’t that story that tournament performances are based upon.





Ret is just a good player. He has this on/off switch that is completely random. Sometimes he will absolutely destroy people at a tournament and sometimes he will just be an average Ret (take that for what it’s worth). Ret is an extremely experienced player and that plus his talent should get him pretty decent results at this tournament.





Thorzain has had a great few months. He’s won Dreamhack, been granted the title of the king in the north and recently been picked up by the biggest North American team. I’ve said it before and will say it again; competitive Starcraft 2 isn’t just about skill. If you’re confident, have the right mindset and are not nervous at all, you can be less skilled and still win. Thorzain has all this plus extremely high amounts of skill. His approach to the game is very rational. He uses timing and numbers to figure out builds rather than just basing it off of feel. This makes Thorzain an extremely deadly player and inevitably, successful.





SaSe has been rumored to be extremely hard working. Naniwa has said that part of his motivation is SaSe’s ability to just sit down and play for hours on end.  After watching his stream and watching him in real life, he is such a fast player. If you want to explain to your grandmother how Starcraft is a sport, show SaSe’s mouse and keyboard POV. SaSe is just the entire package. He’s a solid Protoss that works hard in Korea. He’s also part of the StarTale team which has the best Protoss players. SaSe should be able to show some nice games and place well at this tournament.





GanZi is one of those guys who get way less attention than they should. He’s one of the best Terran players in the world. The one thing that makes him really easy to beat is his decision making. GanZi is a mechanical Terran and reacts to what he sees. If someone is serious about winning this tournament, you will prepare builds that don’t have standard responses. Because of this, GanZi can sure as hell make a sick run but winning it seems farfetched.





Liquid’s newest recruit and strongest Terran. He’s also 17 years old; he’s a former SlayerS Terran and made the Ro.8 in GSL Code S after people expected him to lose the groups twice. Goes to show how skilled this guy is. There’s no doubt in my mind that TaeJa is one of the most talented individuals here. The only thing that worries me is that he’s new to foreign tournaments and tournaments in general. Still, TaeJa should place extremely high in this tournament. And most importantly, he’s got the special Korean glasses. If you glance down at all the players after TaeJa, all Koreans have these glasses. I’m telling you, there is something going on here…





Obama Toss, President Toss or Kratos Protoss. All those are common nick names for MC within in the community. I, however, have a special name for him. The foreign money stealer Korean master mind Protoss. MC has won the most money in all of Starcraft(with MVP just recently passing him last weekend) and he’s only won two GSL’s. So where’s all that other money coming from? Foreign tournaments. MC just understands how to play these 3-day marathon tournaments. His style fits it well and he’s got no nerve issues. In fact, I think he’s got a ‘too much confidence’ issue. All in all, MC is a favourite to win this tournament. He hasn’t been looking too sharp in the GSL lately so I haven’t ranked him higher.





In the beginning, I really didn’t like vioLet. He moved away from the best training place, Korea, and came to the worst training place, the USA. I expected him to fall off the scene really quickly as he wouldn’t be improving. Lo and behold, vioLet is the best player in North America and recently won an MLG. I really hope vioLet goes back to Korea and trains there a bit more because the skill he’s got at the moment isn’t going to last with practice on NA servers.





Stephano deserves a lot more than he gets in my opinion. He get’s called the best foreigner but really, who wants to be the best of the worst players? Stephano should be recognized as the best strategic player in Starcraft. If there was a World War III, Stephano would lead the USA French army. Stephano can read his opponent like a book and in Starcraft II, that’s the best skill to have. But, he’s not Artosis, who’s just brilliant but has sub-par mechanics. Stephano has the entire package. If someone had come to me and said that Stephano wasn’t a big contender for the first place prize, I’d call them crazy. Stephano is far and away the best Zerg in this tournament.





Recently, Bomber hasn’t been doing too well. Many people had dismissed him and thought that he had fallen off. Recently losing to Sniper in Code A and doing poorly (for his standards) in the team league has put doubt in peoples mind. But, they’re wrong. As with all sports, people like the really flashy, highlight reel players. Bomber isn’t one of them. He’s just a solid, Korean Terran with immense amounts of talent. In the GSL finals, Squirtle didn’t have the coach come in and help him, they had Bomber. This goes to show that Bomber is still a sick good player and has to be a favourite to win.





ST_PartinG… Honestly, I could stop right here and it wouldn’t be a problem. This guy doesn’t need an introduction. Code S, Season 1: PartinG loses to the eventual champion DongRaeGu in Ro. 8. Code S, Season 2: PartinG loses to the eventual champion MVP in Ro. 4. Furthermore, PartinG finished 5th/6th place at MLG twice. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what can be. PartinG is far and away the best player at this tournament.




So, we’ve got the players out of the way. But, that isn’t what Red Bull is about in my opinion. If I want to see the best players play, I’ll watch GSL Code S or MLG. Red Bull is all about the production and the extra content. To get more information on this, I had the chance to do an interview with casters Day9 and djWHEAT.


OnRPG: Could you tell us a little bit about yourselves for the people who aren’t so familiar with the Starcraft II scene? Also, could you tell us about your role at Red Bull Battlegrounds this weekend?

djWHEAT: My name is Marcus ‘djWHEAT’ Graham and I’ve been involved with eSports and video game commentary since 1999.  I’ve broadcasted over 20 games in 15 different countries, but currently spend most of my focus on StarCraft II.  When not commentating I work for TwitchTV and I run OneMoreGameTV, an online TV Network which focuses on content geared towards fans of eSports and competitive gaming.  This is my second Red Bull event and I’ll be serving as a commentator, host, and interviewer.


DAy9: Heyo!  I’m Sean Plott, better known in the gaming world as “Day[9].”  I grew up gaming with my brother Nick Plott, better known as “Tasteless” who now works in Korea.  We both played competitively throughout high school, college and post-college. Our game was StarCraft, an incredibly challenging real-time strategy game often compared to chess on steroids.


We weren’t the only ones obsessed with our game–StarCraft has since exploded in popularity as a spectator sport. Post-college, Nick and I became professional eSports casters and have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel around the world hosting game tournaments. We are hired for our ability to explain the game and convey the excitement of the play-by-play action to our listeners—just like real sportscasters!  My brother is an anchor for the GOM StarLeague and I am probably best known for hosting the Day[9] Daily, a live show about StarCraft strategy. Nobody can believe we make a living doing this—but we do!



Gaming is huge now and the number of eSports fans is growing exponentially!  We are seeing major players like Red Bull come on the scene and help organize events for the fans like the Red Bull Battlegrounds.  This is going to be an amazing event—Red Bull is bringing in superstar players from all over the world to compete live at Austin City Limits at The Moody Theater.


My role is to help Red Bull dream up and put on kick ass eSports events like this all over the country.  I will also be acting as one of four host/sportscasters this weekend for the Red Bull Battlegrounds tournament.  I can hardly wait—the level of competitive play is going to be amazing.  In addition to a live audience at the ACL theater, we expect hundreds of thousands of viewers to tune in live over the internet to watch.



OnRPG: So, this is Red Bull’s first tournament. We’ve had the Red Bull LAN but that was more of a training event for the players. What’s the major difference between the two? Is there anything special we can expect at Red Bull Battlegrounds that we haven’t seen before?


DAy9: The major difference is Red Bull Battlegrounds is a tournament, and the LAN event was more player focused (on 4 players) which lead to a smaller tournament.  I think Red Bull Battlegrounds will bring a new level of excitement to the event as it will focus around the journey of every player who is involved in the tournament.


djWHEAT: Red Bull has always been committed to exploring the art and science of superior human performance.  With gaming, they have been taking an exciting, unconventional approach—they treat pro gamers with the same respect they show pro athletes by helping them optimize their skills.  The LAN was a sports clinic for pro gamers, bringing them together to practice and improve their gameplay.  The Red Bull Battlegrounds kicks up that competitive interaction a notch while at the same time helping eSports fans celebrate the start of summer in a huge, fun way.  This is going to be an exceptional tournament with amazing players—including a few surprise invites.


Keep in mind that there will be even more Red Bull events coming this year and even more surprises for eSports fans.  Red Bull never does the same thing twice and it is never conventional in its approach!



OnRPG: One of the things that Day9 has been very vocal about is the lack of story lines in Starcraft II. This is largely due to the invite-only, three day marathon events that we have. Does Red Bull have any plans to change this?


djWHEAT: Being able to focus on a more concentrated set of players will definitely open up the right avenues to allow us to build the story lines which are typically absent.  When you are trying to focus on a field of over 256 players, you can imagine just how difficult it is to follow even 4 players.  But when you have the opportunity to showcase every player and every match, the primary focus is the story and how the tournament unfolds.

Day9: I think we were able to successfully develop a story arc over the Red Bull Orlando LAN weekend:  we did extensive interviews with the focus players and helped Ret troubleshoot strategic game play, which he then implemented to beat out his competitors and win the LAN.  We deliberately invited several of the focus players from the LAN back to the Red Bull Battlegrounds so we could continue to track their story arcs into a major competition.


In addition, I have been examining the back stories of all the players in detail in my Dailies leading up to the event, so if you want a history of these players, you can tune in there for background.



OnRPG: Thanks for answering our questions! Be sure to check out OnRPG over the weekend as our own JamesBl0nde and new staff writer Brad Baker will be in attendance covering the event personally!

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