The qualifiers are over and all of the teams are raring to go as the third season of SC2ITL begins this week. With more teams than ever before (around eighty) it is the largest the league has ever been. There are three divisions of separate skill levels, 8 different groups, playoffs for each skill-level and a larger prize pool than ever before! To say that we are excited for the season to start would be an understatement, so let's take a look at what is going on in the first week of the SC2ITL!
With twelve matches a week there is an absolute tonne of Starcraft action to catch in the SC2ITL S3 and we are going to do our best to make sure the majority of it can be seen! The first week always serves well as a sort of proving ground for the teams who are new to the First Division. In Group A Skill Forge and Team Extreme Supremacy are two teams who came through the open qualifier and have been rewarded with fairly tough initial matches against Vega Squadron (2nd place in SC2ITL S2) and Karnage eSports respectively.
Skill Forge's ace player Senin is going to have to play some strong ZvZ to get through the numerous Zerg players of Vega Squadron, who will be driving hard for victory after the only defeat they received in Season 2 was in the finals against AT Gaming. Team Extreme Supremacy were pushed hard in the qualifier with a 4-3 victory over Redbloods but only after Beastyqt opened them up to a 3-0 advantage, meaning it will be interesting to see how the rest of the team perform if Beastyqt has a bad day.
Group B sees a few more new-comers to the First Division. Redbloods go up against Team MiA, APSC2-eStar face off with Derava Kapsa and StarTale play Mistral eSport - one of two teams that advanced from the Second Division in Season 2. StarTale, Redbloods and APSC2-eStar are most likely the favorites in each match, but it wouldn't be SC2ITL without some crazy results & upsets!
Alongside new-comers are also some teams who are well recognized in the SC2ITL. We already mentioned S2 runners-up Vega Squadron who play in Group A. The same group is host to Season 1 champions mYinsanity. They play ECVisualize, who just avoided demotion at the end of S2 and now have to play without their star player Sjaak who recently joined mousesports. It should be a fairly one sided victory for mYinsanity, but they did suffer some unexpected losses last season when they relied slightly too heavily on academy players. It will be up to ECVisualize to try and prove themselves against this titan of a team and show that they will not be near the bottom of the table for another season.
Finally in Group B we have AT Gaming, the defending champions, going up against Team Darkstar who qualified in third place of the invite-only qualifier. AT Gaming's roster has continued to grow and improve in the off-season, but Darkstar have always been an unexpectedly dangerous team taking multiple maps off of very strong opponents in the past. Cascade, Season 1 runners-up, are also back after a disappointing second season for them. The face Gravity in a S2 re-match which saw Gravity defeat Cascade 4-3, a result which was the reason Gravity reached the playoffs and Cascade did not. It will definitely be a match to watch out for.
The Second Division is incredibly tough this Season, with stronger teams than ever before taking part to try and secure themselves places in the S4 invite only qualifier. Imaginary Gaming - the team of TargA - have already opened up the Season with a 4-2 victory over NoN-eSports in Group B. The games really set the standard for the Second Division this season as we saw a mix of cheese and macro in the series.
A couple of matches to watch out for will be LDLC vs Cascade Academy and Redbloods Academy vs London Conspiracy. The Second Division is a great place for teams to really test themselves and see how they fair and in coming weeks we will be providing updates on the results and standings.
While there really isn't much to say about the Third Division right now, it felt unfair to not give them a section in this article. The interest in this division went beyond expectations as we have 19 teams playing over two groups. We hope the league provides an opportunity for lower-league players to have a taste of team competition and to inspire them to compete at a higher level. Throughout the weeks we will be trying to highlight select games on the stream, so keep an eye out if you are all for supporting the lower leagues!
While the streaming schedule is not set for the entire week yet we will do our best to try and update it as we get more information. For a full list of streams we advise checking the match calendar. Click here to visit the official SC2ITL Stream.
Monday 1800 CEST : New ErA GaminG vs Followers Of Extermination
Tuesday 2000 CEST : AT Gaming vs Team DarkStar
Wednesday 2000 CEST : mYinsanity vs ECVisualize
Wednesday 2030 CEST : Vega Squadron vs Skill Forge
Thursday 2130 CEST : Redbloods vs Team MiA
Friday 1800 CEST : StarTale vs Team Mistral
Friday 2100 CEST : Karnage eSports vs Team Extreme Supremacy