Return of the Hack

The 2016 eSports season is underway and kicked off with the DreamHack Open in Leipzig, Germany

By: Martin Gallogly | Tuesday Feb 09, 2016

The first major eSports tournament of 2016 is now in the books, in the form of DreamHack Open in Leipzig, Germany. The timing also could not have been better for StarCraft 2, which recently released its final expansion, Legacy of the Void. As a result, DreamHack Leipzig could have huge implications for the style and strategy of professional StarCraft play for the foreseeable future.

European players dominated the bracket but the few Koreans in the mix made their presence felt as well, having Violet make the top four. But it was to be the Europeans that got the best of the tournament, with six of the top eight finishers, as well as the champion PtitDrogo, hailing from Europe.

As for the players themselves, some of the younger, more unpredictable players really shone in this tournament. The performance of Team Acer’s Bly comes to mind almost immediately, with his series against Hydra one of the best of the quarterfinals. Down 0-2 in a best of five, Bly rallied back in the Zerg vs Zerg matchup and took the series on the back of incredible Zergling and Baneling aggression in the opening minutes of game after game. As if that wasn’t enough, Bly continued in the semis with a 3-0 match win over Violet, a player who hadn’t lost a single game up to that point in the tournament.

On the other end of the bracket, uThermal produced some wonderful plays from the quarterfinals and the semi’s. The only Terran player to make the top 4 of DreamHack Leipzig, his ghost rush in game 1 was probably the sickest opening play of the tournament, with Showtime being caught completely off guard. Even uThermal’s series with PtitDrogo was amazingly close, uThermal being the player to push the eventual French champion closest to elimination.

As for the Frenchman, PtitDrogo showed that he is in fact the real deal, winning his first major tournament and sealing his winnings of $16,000. His unit control was good, his decision making better, and the levelheadedness that this young player displayed in Germany means he shows real promise as a rising star. The most impressive game from him came when he was up 2-1 in the grand finals. On a map that Bly hadn’t lost on in any major competition, Drogo made him look like an amateur. With the best of seven series all but locked up after that, Drogo capped the tournament with a solid game that barely pushed the 20 minute mark.

The tournament at large saw Terran players go out early and the Zerg vs. Zerg matchup still as volatile as ever. The Protoss players made excellent use of Adepts and Phoenixes, particularly against Zerg opponents who stuggled to keep pace with their speed. Adepts in particular flexed their muscles in the later rounds where the control by Drogo really picked people apart. As for the Terran and Zerg units that were introduced with Legacy of the Void, Liberators felt underwhelming for the most part, and utterly useless in big engagements as uThermal found out to his detriment. Lurkers and Ravagers seemed effective for the most part. Zergs like Bly and Team Liquid’s TLO made life difficult for Protoss players with their great Ravager control.

Going forward, it’s hard to see any Terran playing a large role in professional play if they don’t get a change in the coming patches for LotV. Protoss and Zerg just have too many answers to what the humans bring to the table. But for now it’s only the French with any reason to celebrate.

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