StarCraft is a complex game, and that makes it hard to watch for an inexperienced person. It is restricted to a specific meta, and with the usual elimination bracket system, the same players keep getting to the top. This way, same styles and same games get played over and over again. The tournament itself becomes not only difficult but also quite boring to watch for your average Joe. QLASH and its QLASH StarCraft II Invitational tournament are seeking to change that.
QLASH is a professional Italian esports organization, mostly focused on Blizzard games, notably Hearthstone. They also have an Overwatch team and, surprisingly, a team of professional Clash Royale players. QLASH also formed a StarCraft division in the fall of 2017, consisting of Elazer and Lambo, Zerg players. Half a year later a third Zerg player, Ret, has joined the team. None of the players have won any major tournaments in the past, expect Elazer, who took first place in 2017 WCS Valencia.
The QLASH StarCraft II Invitational has an unorthodox format. Since it’s an invitational, it doesn’t have qualifiers and players are invited directly to participate. Instead of the usual group stage, the tournament features a unique round-robin format. In the usual dual tournament into elimination playoffs, only the best emerge on top and compete for the first place. In the QLASH Invitational, two groups of eight players are formed and every player will play against everyone else in his respective group. After that, two top players in each group will advance to semifinals. Group stage matches will be Bo5, with Bo7 semifinals and a Bo9 final match.
Another unconventional idea is to award €50 for every match win, regardless of the final position. Of course, the top four players will also get their prizes, with €1,000 for first place, €700 for second, and €400 for both third and fourth places. A somewhat similar system was present in SHOUTcraft Kings, with a prize for each match win and an added bounty for defeating the current King or Queen.
The tournament features 16 players from Europe, the UK, and Australia. An overwhelming majority of them play Zerg, with only two Terran and four Protoss players (note: DeMUsliM forfeited his spot in favor of HellraiseR). The current top European player, Serral, will participate, as well as both QLASH players–Elazer and Lambo.
Every participant is a high-level player; they all have a unique style and have participated in big tournaments. Even though this tournament will be full of Zerg versus Zerg–a quick and dirty match-up with explosive endings to games–thanks to the unique format, we will be able to see lots of Terran and Protoss gameplay in all three match-ups. Quick math tells us that the event will feature a total of 59 matches, including semifinals and finals. This could result in more than three hundred games! Definitely a big chunk of content to watch and enjoy, and a great boost to SCII pro-scene viewership.
The number of games will surely be a tough challenge to commentate, but this is a common task for our commentator, Jonathan “Wardi” Ward. He regularly hosts small tournaments on his Twitch channel, WardiTV. He will be joined by a professional caster and Protoss player Kevin “RotterdaM” van der Kooi, and Joseph “Ret” de Kroon, a Zerg player in the QLASH team. Some guest commentators might also appear, to spice things up a little.
First games will be played on July 23, and after that, matches will be played every Tuesday and Thursday, except the week of WCS Montreal. The tournament will continue for two months, with the offline finals on September 22 and 23. All online rounds will start at 18:00 CEST. You can watch every match on the official QLASH channel on Twitch.
The tournament is more important than it looks. It provides an insane amount of content for the viewers, tons of games for players to analyze and copy strategies from, and most importantly, it provides exposure for the game. If this tournament is a commercial success, it will also increase the chances of QLASH organizing similar events in the future.
Sadly, up till now StarCraft II has never gotten the attention it deserves, at least not compared to other major esports titles. Minor events like this one can only do good things for StarCraft II. They make it possible to see unorthodox match-ups that we don’t usually get to see due to the standard tournament system. They also draw the community together and bring new players to the game. The more people, the bigger the game becomes. StarCraft is far from being a dead game, whatever people say, and only we–the community–keep it alive. This tournament promises to be more entertaining for a general public, so call your friends over, get some beverage of your choice, and watch it together.
An avid fan of space exploration, owner of many dogs, and an independent video game developer. Drinking, dreaming and the other one are a definite yes.