The Escapist spoke with eSports caster Sean Day Plott about the 128 player open tournament, and who has a chance to compete in the Grand Finals in September.
The Red Bull Battle Grounds tournament series is ramping up with a three day event in Atlanta, Georgia. The 128 player tournament is a new format for the Red Bull Battle Grounds. Previously, the tournaments only featured competition between invited professional StarCraft II players and players that qualified through online tournaments. The Atlanta tournament is the first to offer open registration, pitting the pro players against unknowns. This year is also the first year that the Red Bull series of tournaments offers World Championship Series (WCS) points in addition its cash prizes. The points are used to determine player standings that dictate which players are invited to Blizzard's WCS Global Finals. Competition at Red Bull Battle Grounds Atlanta begins at 11 am EST on July 11, and runs through July 13. The tournament will be streamed live daily with commentary from eSports casters including Sean "Day" Plott. For local fans, tickets are still available to see the event at Center Stage Theater in Atlanta.
The top 32 players at the Atlanta tournament will take home cash prizes, and the top sixteen will add WCS points to their haul. The winner of the tournament will take home $8,000, 750 WCS points, and an invitation to the Red Bull Battle Grounds Grand Finals in Washington, D.C., on September 20-21. The Grand Final is a two day, eight player tournament. Four players for the Grand Final have been confirmed. Last year's champion Won "PartinG" Lee Sak will return to defend his title, as well as runner up Kim Yoo "sOs" Jin. Also confirmed for the Grand Finals are Cho "Trap" Sung and fan favorite Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn, who narrowly missed an invitation to the WCS Grand Finals last year.
Competing this weekend are several big names in professional StarCraft II. Speaking to The Escapist, Plott predicts that world renowned South Korean Terran player Choi "Bomber" Ji Sung will win the tournament. "The fact is that Terran has spent probably two years of no innovation - not doing anything notable, nothing new, sticking to the standards, and trying to just win late," says Plott. "Bomber is the one guy who's suddenly been coming up with a whole bunch of new, creative, innovative stuff. In the last several months, Terran has been losing because the standard, normal, orthodox play has been solved - and Bomber's the guy who keeps pulling out crazy wins." Other players to watch include South Korean Terran player Choi "Polt" Seong Hun, currently ranked 6th in the WCS standings, Chinese Zerg player Huang "TooDming" Hui Ming, ranked 49th, Canadian Protoss player Chris "HuK" Loranger, ranked 53rd, and American Terran player Kevin "qxc" Riley, ranked 79th. Australian rising star and Zerg player Olivia "Livibee" Seeto will also be competing.
In a large, open bracket tournament like Atlanta, players face differ pressures than in a small tournament. "You're not really trying to battle your opponent, you're trying to battle your own emotion," says Plott. StarCraft II games can vary widely in length, so players may find their games delayed, waiting for their opponent to finish a match. "You have to make sure you don't spend too much energy during that dead period so you're not tired for the game, so I think you really get to see who has the most control of themselves as a person."
Plott doesn't expect that unknown player will make to the finals, or even the semi-finals. "The thing about StarCraft is that you can specialize in certain aspects of the game, but to succeed at a top level, you have to be great at everything," says Plott. "There's other games where you might talk about the athleticism of one player who is new, that might outweigh that of an experienced player, but with StarCraft, the pros are the fastest, the smartest, they make the best decisions, they panic the least - everything is going against a new player going against a pro."
Plott will be providing commentary on the tournament along with Kevin "RotterdaM" van der Kooi, Alex "Axeltoss" Rodriquez, Yoan "ToD" Merlo, and Nathan "Nathanias" Fabrikant.
Source: Red Bull Battle Grounds