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NASL Grand Finals preview

By Robert 'InzTTP' Wylie
Jul 14, 2012 01:36


ImageWith $100,000 up for grabs, the 8 finalists are set to go head to head in Toronto, Canada this weekend! In depth preview of the players and match ups inside.

Two seasons ago the North American Starleague set out to be the biggest tournament in North America. Season 1 and 2 were plagued with errors through-out the regular season but the playoffs always delivered some of the best action so far in StarCraft 2.

45 players have gone through rigorous group play against some of the best players from around the world as well as hundreds competing in the open bracket, but only 8 players remain.

With its third season NASL has stopped off in Toronto, Canada were these 8 players will battle it out for their share of $100,000. Let's dive into it and preview what's ahead of us this weekend.

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Image courtesy of WellPlayed.

KR Kim 'Puzzle' Sang Jun Vs NL Joseph 'Ret' de Kroon

Getting one step further than he did last year, Ret has made it to the round of 8. He had a tough run through the regular season and in the playoffs, narrowly beating out Demuslim in a close 3-2 series to claim his spot in the Grand Finals. It's clear Ret had got his head back into the game and has been working hard recently. Placing top 4 at DreamHack Summer as well as making it to the round of 8 at HomeStory Cup. If he continues to keep his current form up he will become an even scarier player than he already is.

Puzzle on the other hand has been dropping off recently, the former Code S Protoss was seen as one of the best Korean Protoss players only a few seasons ago in the GSL. His recent fall to Code A saw his time in the spotlight fade very quickly. However this could be good for Puzzle, his creativity is his biggest advantage and coming into NASL with his skill level in question it could allow him to catch some people off guard.

One of Ret's biggest weaknesses was early aggression, in the last few tournaments we've seen he has been working on it and it paid off big time for him at DreamHack and HSC, his late game is one of the best in the world so the goal will be to cripple him early or end it out right. If there is any player who can take advantage of this it's Puzzle. The creativity and work ethic Puzzle and Team Slayers puts into these types of match ups is unparalleled by anyone and I feel it will pay off for him. I can see Puzzle taking this series quite convincingly 3-0.



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Image courtesy of GameZone

KR Yang 'Alicia' Joon Sik Vs CA Chris 'HuK' Loranger

Making his debut in the North American Starleague, Alicia is what most people considered only a few months ago to be a fading player. His results in GSL were non existent and his team league performances were less than acceptable but MLG Spring Championship showed a new Alicia. Time away from the spotlight allowed the once Code S Protoss a chance to change up his game. His 2nd place finish was something that shocked a lot of people and was the confidence boost he needed.

This tournament is more important for Huk than for anyone else attending, the once foreign king is suffering from a major slump, his recent performances have sparked a lot doubt as to whether he still has the ability to compete at such a high level. DreamHack Summer and the MLG Spring Championship are two tournament Huk won't want to remember in a hurry but after some time back in Canada this will be the boost he needs to return to his past form.

PvP is not the match up it once was. It has shifted from a coin flip to a very tactical and mechanical match up. Both players are known for both their incredible mechanical ability as well as creativity which makes this series very hard to call. Alicia showed he was able to with stand a player such as SaSe at MLG but Huk will be a different beast. Being on home turf it will be an even bigger challenge to defeat him. I feel this will be one of the closest match ups of the tournament but I can see Huk advancing 3-2.


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KR Ho Joon 'PuMa' Lee Vs KR Min Chul 'MC' Jang

Season 1 runner up and SK's own MC made his return to the NASL this season and with a impressive regular season under his belt. MC is playing phenomenally right now, recently qualifying for the round of 4 in GSL and placing 3rd at HomeStory Cup it's hard to find any weakness in MC. His newly adapted playstyle is causing problems for anyone who faces him. His travel schedule has been insane recently but if anyone is capable of handling it then it's MC.

His opponent is non other than the reigning champion Puma making his third appearance at the NASL grand finals and looking to continue his championship run. The three peat is a very possible outcome for Puma. Like his team-mate Huk, Puma has been experiencing his own drought. He hasn't had a very stellar 2012 season, DreamHack Summer was disappointing for him but for a player of Puma's caliber he's very much a contender regardless of recent form.

The season 1 final is still held by many as the best series of StarCraft 2. With so much history piled into one it's sure to attract the biggest audience and for good reasons. Although MC has been travelling a lot recently he has shown in his GSL results that he is one of the best Protoss players in the world. Puma has been training hard in the Korea and will have some answers to his recent results and more importantly have something ready for his opponent. However I feel MC in his current form will be too much for Puma and although it will be a great series MC will take it in 4.


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Image courtesy of TakeTv

FR Ilyes 'Stephano' Satouri Vs KR Song Hyun 'HerO' Deok

Season two's runner up HerO finds himself deep into another tournament. It wasn't too long ago people were questioning whether he could handle the pressure of the big stage. He swiftly answered all those questions with an impressive run in 2012 GSL Season 2 and more recently taking down none other than DRG to win the IPL Fightclub invitational. His PvZ is taking shape and he's quickly becoming one of the best out there.

In what is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated matches of the tournament we will see the best non Korean player step up and show the world why he's the best. Stephano has been under a lot of fire recently, a lot of the community members were sceptical of the effort he was putting into the game. With a few occasions of no shows to scheduled matches people wondered if he was losing it. Unfortunately for his haters he blew all questions away taking WCS France without dropping a single map throughout the qualifier and the national finals.

There is no need to hype this match up at all, it sells itself. Stephano is known for having absurdly good PvZ and Hero is just now making his mark in the match up. This match can go two ways. It'll either be a close 5 game series or a complete blow out. It really depends on how they approach the other player. I'm giving the edge to Hero though, his 2nd place last year was painful to watch and I'm sure he doesn't want that to happen again. It'll be close though, 3-2 to Hero.


With the improvements NASL made this season it is set to be a spectacular event to finish of what has been a staple season in StarCraft 2 history, topping season 1 and 2 even before the finals is something no one expected. But through the efforts behind the scenes they have pulled it off.

The event kicks off at 11am PDT with the pre game show. The action gets underway at 12pm PDT with KR Kim 'Puzzle' Sang Jun Vs NL Joseph 'Ret' de Kroon. So be sure to tune in!

WCS Canada will also be running along side the event, be sure to check out the best Canadian players battle it out for a paid trip to the North American Finals!



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