While he may not seem like an obvious pick for making top 8, after looking at the list of participants, SaSe definitely stands out to me as being capable of making it. And after seeing his showing at the MLG Spring Arena, I could see him doing even better than the 8th place I'm giving him.
Since joining the foreign team compLexity Gaming, Ganzi's results have been all over the place; an easy example is the two Arenas from last season, where he placed fourth in the first event and then fell out of the second after winning only two games. Just like his results, sometimes Ganzi plays well enough to win this event and other times top 16 seems like a stretch. I'm choosing to compromise a little and give him seventh, but he can definitely do better.
I feel like putting HerO this low isn't doing him justice. But looking at the other other competitors and having seen some his games this season in GSL, I can't imagine him getting too far past this, unless he gets PvZs until the finals. He's proven his worth -- especially with his recent Dreamhack victory last year and making to the semifinals of GSL last season, even so, I'm not really expecting him to make it the semifinals here.
viOLet has looked strong since joining Empire. He's done very well in recent events (and MLG events in particular), even claiming the last arena as his own and making a strong run in GSL code S, where he pushed to round of sixteen and only narrowly missed round of eight. So I must be insane to not even have him making the semifinals, but this is in large part because viOLet has left Empire and has been in Korea for the last month or so. We'll have to see how much this has affected his play, if at all.
Since making the round of eight in last season's GSL code S, Taeja has presented himself as being nigh-unbeatable, and putting him at fourth just goes to show how close I feel it is between these players. Since then, he has made another Code S top eight, all-killed Prime Clan in IPL Team Arena, and continued to dominate online tournaments. I definitely expect to see a strong performance out of the Heir Apparent.
After winning NASL, well even before that, really, Stephano is probably the people's choice for winning this. Despite having such a strong year and doing well at just about every event he's played in, I can't bring myself to be convinced of a victory. At every turn there's just two or three players I can't see him beating - the next two players have displayed more endurance and have a better chance of claiming the throne.
Alicia's MLG Spring Championship showing and NASL finals have proven his relevance and worth in the current competitive heat; second place at MLG's Summer Arena should be within his reach, if he continues to compete with the same vigor as in previous events. Alicia did, however, get completely demolished by Stephano in the NASL finals, but between getting 4-0'd by Stephano and 3-1'd by DongRaeGu at the Spring Championship, I expect Alicia will have taken advantage of Coca as a training partner and work his way to second place.
After winning IPL4, aLive has certainly not lived up to the very high expectations set for him at more recent events, like Iron Squid and the MLG Spring Championship. Even at GSL and GSTL, he hasn't looked as strong as he did at IPL4 and the first GSL season this year. If aLive plays like he did before and gets back into his groove, I think he's capable of easily crushing this event. However, if he plays like he has for the last month or two, then I may look a bit foolish predicting him winning. Either way I know aLive is capable of taking home first -- moreso than the other 31 players gathering in New York this weekend, anyway, so he get's my vote.
You can watch the MLG event on mlg.tv this weekend.
- Keegan "HornetSting" Gallick.