The Leifeng Cup returned in April of 2016 with a brand new format. The once daily online cup, held on the Korean server, became a biweekly 16 player event with over $2000 on the line every two weeks. Over the past 6 months it has made for some great games, from ByuN domination through to a Maru vs sOs showdown, but the 156th Leifeng Cup (the 13th edition under the new format) arguable hosts the strongest line-up of the year so far.
The non-Chinese qualifier for this event was already stacked with names such as INnoVation, herO, Stats & soO drawing eyes among many others. You can see the full bracket here or watch the Twitch VOD here (individual YouTube videos will be up in the future.)
GuMiho ended up winning the qualifier with an incredible run through herO, soO, Stats & Ryung, earning himself the $50 which is offered as a prize during the qualifier, to motivate players to play past the point of qualifying. The result will not come as a surprise to many, the 'towel Terran' has been one of the stronger Korean Terrans as of late, especially in an online environment.
aLive made some noise in the Winner Bracket, taking down ByuN 2-1 in the RO8 to move into a qualified position, before dropping to Ryung 1-2 in the next round. Stats joined the three Terrans as the fourth player to qualify for the main event in the upper bracket.
Down in the loser bracket big names were dropping left right and center, Dark fell 0-2 to herO while Patience also went down to KeeN, who was another player viewers were impressed by as we witnessed him taking down INnoVation in a shock 2-0 performance in some incredibly crazy and tense games to qualify for the main event. He qualified alongside soO (2-1 Trust), ByuN (2-0 TAiLS) and herO (2-0 Super) in the lower bracket.
In the Chinese Qualifier it was an entirely familiar set of names advancing to the main event : Nice, Jieshi, Chick, XY, BreakingGG, Silky, iAsonu & MacSed.
Group Stage Preview
Group A - 11th October - ByuN, iAsonu, Nice & XY
There is not a whole lot to mention in Group A - it would be surprising if ByuN were to drop a map, even with what is likely to be continuous waves of aggression thrown his way by the rest of the players in the group. Second place is very hard to call here as well - iAsonu is possibly the favorite but all three of the non-Koreans are aggressive players who on the day can bring strategies which excel or flop.
Group B - 12th October - Stats, GuMiho, aLive & MacSed
Group of death? It's either this or Group C - and it's hard to call. Both have a top level Korean Protoss and two Terrans who have performed very well lately, plus a Chinese protoss player who is unlikely to make much of an impact in the outcome. I would lean towards this group being the most difficult as GuMiho truly looked to be unstoppable during the qualifier, as well as the fact that Stats has out performed herO lately.
Expect GuMiho to crush and Stats to come through in second place. The one way this group could get flipped on its head is if we saw aLive showcasing his TvT which bested ByuN in the qualifier to defeat GuMiho, creating a triangle of wins (aLive > GuMiho > Stats > aLive) which could put everything down to map score.
Group C - 17th October - herO, Ryung, KeeN & Jieshi
The similarities in set-up of this group alongside Group B is uncanny. This group is definitely a bit harder to call with Ryung, KeeN and herO all being players in recent times to show themselves as being both very competitive and very weak. At first glances herO really does look as though he should move through this group, but he was unconvincing during the qualifier. I'm going to call a herO 1st / Ryung 2nd finish, but don't be surprised if KeeN pops up and makes the playoffs.
Group D - 18th October - soO, Cyan, BreakingGG & Silky
soO has not had a very good year, but this is surely a group he can advance from. Cyan will be his main opposition - an opponent who has shown in the past two months that he probably could take a series off of an out of shape soO - while BreakingGG and Silky will have to pull off some upsets if they want to make it out of this one. With how Cyan has been playing lately, I'm going to be brace and say he will advance in first place with soO coming in second.
Playoffs - 19th October
Top two of each group advance to the Playoffs on Wednesday 19th October. Make sure you don't miss it, because if there aren't any upsets we are going to find ourselves with a playoff bracket full of epic matches.