StarCraft 2 Predictions and Tournament Preview for Intel Extreme Masters Season XII PyeongChang

Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) Season XII PyeongChang is a premier StarCraft 2 tournament scheduled to take place in PyeongChang between February 5 and February 7.  The event is organized by Electronic Sports League (ESL) and has a prize pool of 156,000 dollars.

Tournament structure and prize distribution

Intel Extreme Masters XII PyeongChang features 18 players and will be played in a single elimination bracket format. All matches are Bo5 with the exception of the Finals (Bo7). Before the main event begins, 2 matches will be played (Cham vs Scarlett and PandaBearMe vs SpeCial). The winners of these matches will complete the list for the Round of 16.

The prize pool of IEM XII PyeongChang will be distributed among participants in the following way:

  • 1st place: $50,000.
  • 2nd place: $25,000.
  • 3rd-4th place: $12,500.
  • 5th-8th place: $6,500.
  • 9th-18th place: $3000.

Tournament predictions

Opening matches

  • Cham vs Scarlett (ZvZ): They’re both very strong Zerg players but Scarlett is slightly better and also has a lot more experience. Still, Cham’s record this season in ZvZ matchups is 3W-1L, while Scarlett’s is 2W-2L. Overall Scarlett is favored to win this, but the match will likely go to 4 or even 5 maps. So a bet on the match having over 3.5 games in total and one on Cham winning with a +2.5 games advantage would make a lot of sense here.
  • PandaBearMe vs SpeCial (ZvT): The Terran player will most likely crush the underdog without dropping a single game.

Round of 16

  • Elazer vs Nice (ZvP): The bookies put the odds severely in Elazer’s favor, but the skill difference between these players is actually very slim. In their last match, Elazer barely won with the score of 3-2. So a bet on a Nice victory with a +2.5 or even +1.5 games advantage would be worthwhile.
  • Stephano vs Zest (ZvP): As much as I like Stephano, Zest is extremely likely to crush him either 3-0 or 3-1.
  • Cham/Scarlett vs TIME (ZvT): No matter who wins the ZvZ match between Cham and Scarlett, the winner is very likely to win against TIME. The Terran’s TvZ matchup is quite weak at the moment and I don’t see him winning against either of these two grand master Zerg players.
  • eGGz vs Serral (ZvZ): Serral is currently ranked number 1 in the WCS 2018 Global Standings for non-Korean players, while eGGz is 91st on that list. This will almost surely be a 3-0 victory for Serral.
  • Kelazhur vs HeRoMaRinE (TvT): HeRoMaRinE is a significantly better player and should win this either 3-1 or 3-2.
  • DnS vs sOs (PvP): The Korean player (sOs) will probably crush the French Protoss without dropping a single game.
  • Probe vs Bly (PvZ): This match could easily go either way, so I’d stay away from it. Both of these players are very strong and almost evenly matched, so it’s hard to tell what might happen. In theory Bly does have a slight advantage, as his ZvP matchup has been quite strong so far (2W-0L), while Probe’s PvZ matchup has been quite weak (0W-1L). But the chance of an upset is still pretty high.
  • Demi vs PandaBearMe/SpeCial (ZvZ/T): SpeCial will almost surely win his match against PandaBearMe and then he will just as surely win this match against Demi as well. The skill difference between him and these other two players is quite big at the moment.

Quarterfinals

Based on the tournament’s brackets, the most likely Quarterfinals matches are the following:

  • Elazer vs Zest (ZvP): Zest is heavily favored and should win this 3-1 or even 3-0.
  • Scarlett vs Serral (ZvZ): Serral’s ZvZ record is 3W-0L so far, so if these two players will meet in the Quarterfinals, Serral will most likely win the dispute.
  • HeRoMaRinE vs sOs (TvP): sOs is a much stronger player and I don’t see how HeRoMaRinE could stand up to him.
  • Bly vs SpeCial (ZvT): SpeCial all the way.

Semifinals and Finals

The most likely Semifinals matches are Zest vs Serral and sOs vs SpeCial. These will be very close encounters and honestly anyone could win. The same goes for the Finals.

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