His legs grow more and more tired, the fear that he might collapse seems to become closer to reality every second that passes by. The last time his stomach had not felt empty seemed like an eternity ago. For a short moment the rainfall reduced to the point where something that looked like a tavern became visible. Once he reached that tavern, someone that seemed to be the owner opened the door and told him to come inside. “Welcome, I hope you don’t mind the mess” the mysterious man said. Mess seemed to be an understatement; chairs and tables were destroyed, smeared with deep red blood. A smell of deceased seemed to fill the air. In the tavern sat exactly sixteen others, staring silently but hatefully at eachother. The bartender leaned in and whispered: “there's an unstoppable marching of time that is slowly guiding us all towards an inevitable and certain death”. He stared at one of the others present. Then the man said, even quieter: “We are just trying to make our suffering shorter here, eventually only one man out of these sixteen will be left standing. If you do not mind, allow me to tell you a tale about these epic heroes that seek to fight. These men of immense skill that fight to determine who is the best player in the world, that seek to end the suffering of those unworthy.”
And thus the bartender announced the beginning of the round of 16 in the ESOC Autumn championship. As was foretold, the participants have been reduced to 16 players left standing. These players will fight eachother to determine who will advance to the quarter finals. Map pool
This round will be played on five interesting maps. The series will start out on Arizona, a map reminiscent of the good old painted desert but distinguished by a rather long TP route with 4 TPs. Surely civs that are good at stagecoach strats like Portuguese and Spain will be high priority picks here. The second map is probably the most interesting one of this round: Indonesia. Loved by some, hated by others, it surely is a controversial map. This map is characterized by huge amounts of water to the point where water play seems to be the only viable way to go about it. Next up is Colorado. This map is characterized by two large cliffs that spawn in the middle and seem to divide the map in two equal halves. Efficient army movement is crucial on this map as it is easy to be caught off guard by a raid passing by one of the openings in the cliff. The series will close out on two rather standard maps: Manchac and Arkansas. These two maps both do not offer wild mechanics and promote standard play most of the time. Thursday, October 20th:Aizamk vs kynesie, 20:00 - 22:00
The first match of the round of sixteen might aswell be the most interesting one. Two very distinct and characteristic players will face off. Kynesie, known for his wall abuse and excellent water play will face Aizamk, possibly the most creative and unorthodox player in this game. Kynesie must be extremely happy about Indonesia being part of the map pool as he is considered to be one of best, if not the best player when it comes to water play. Unfortunately for him, the map pool does not feature any other water maps, which means he can’t solely rely on his skills as a water player. Fortunately, Kynesie’s Japan (ft. walls) is excellent aswell, which means he has at least three games where he can do what he is good at. For aizamk the path to victory can probably be found in figuring out how to beat this japan wall style. If someone can figure it out it has to be aizamk. His starts are often insane, but somehow effective. There are not many people with a deeper understanding of the game than aizamk. This will be a close match for sure. I predict it to be 3-2 for aizamk. Saturday, October 22nd:Mitoe vs SomppuKunkku, 16:30 - 18:00
Mitoe versus Somppu is an interesting matchup. One of our grand leaders, better known as Mitoe, is generally speaking a pretty good tournament player. In the latest esoc tournaments Mitoe has always made a good run and he seems to be in good shape right now. His tournament performances have both been consistent in that he consistently goes far, but also in that he consistently ends up going down through a series of throws. Somppu has had a rather rough tournament so far, unlike Mitoe. In the RO64, he seemed down and out against marco only to make an amazing comeback in game 3. Against Jerom, the series was extremely close and went to a nailbiting 3-2. It seems he has refound some of his shape. Somppu’s style is quite typical. Abusing some of the rushy civs, he tends to rush you balls to the walls and he’s extremely good at it. If Mitoe managed to prepare for his generally predictable style, I think Mitoe should be able to take it. It will not be as easy as it might look on paper. I predict a 3-1 for Mitoe._H2O vs WickedCossack, 18:00 - 20:00
H2O, better known to some as Kim Mank-il, will be versing WickedCossack. H2O is someone that requires almost no introduction. Admired and followed by many, including myself, as the Grand Dictator, he is widely considered to be the top favorite to win this tournament. His play is always extremely solid, and he seems to perform relatively well under tournament pressure. WickedCossack, the man whose voice gives us a peek into heaven, has historically not seemed like someone who fairs that greatly under tournament pressure. He is however a very smart player that tends to follow his own instincts and strategies rather than following the meta. Best known for his India, he masters plenty of other civilizations and has good insight in the various match ups. I’d say that WickedCossack might be able to overcome H2O on a counterpick by picking a favorable match up, but H2O seems like a step too high for WickedCossack. Prediction: 3-1 for H2O.Sunday, October 23rd:Currently unscheduled:Garja vs Yurashic
Garja is another one of those players that does not require an introduction. He’s equally known for his tournament performances as he is for his legendary Aztec guide. He is another one of that players that tend to go with their own style, in Garja’s case sometimes stubbornly so. Garja’s civ pool is very deep as he seems to have spent time practicing basically every civ. Yurashic on the other hand has a clear favorite civ in China. While he does play other civs well too, none of them are of the level of his Chinese. My prediction is that Garja will struggle against Yurashic’s China, but will properly prepare some counters and thus win 3-1.Mongo10 vs Kaiserklein
Two of the players that have been on the rise lately and have achieved 2600+ ELO ratings will face against eachother. Kaiserklein, aka Kaiserclown, is known for his strong Germany and in particular his mercenary FF. Whether or not he uses the merc FF is questionable, given that he has claimed himself that he does not consider it to be a viable strategy. Other than Germany, France is one of the civs he tends to play a lot. Unfortunately for him, none of his other civs are quite at the level of his France and Germany. Mongo used to have a similarly limited civ pool, favoring China quite a lot. Lately it seems like he has greatly expanded his civ pool with many civs. This series might be the closest one of the tournament. I think it’s impossible to call so my prediction is that it is a 3-2 for either Kaiser or mongo.LordRaphael vs Save_Your_Skill
LordRaphael, the runner up of the ESOC Winter tournament, will play against Save_Your_Skill, a newcomer to the round of sixteen. Save_Your_Skill is one of those team players that has managed to develop some 1v1 skills too. As has been shown in the past, team players are never to be underestimated and have managed to surprise us in the past. I used to refer to this as the veni law, and predict team players to win based on that law. It turns out the veni law is not that accurate however, and in this case it might not hold true. LordRaphael is an amazing player after all. He did show signs off weaknesses against Breezebrothers last round, to many’s surprise, however he did managed to eventually win the series relatively well composed. For newcomer Save_Your_Skill, LordRaphael might be too hard to beat and thus I predict a 3-0 for LordRaphael.Umeu vs Goongoon
Umeu, to some better known as Armada, esoc’s own poet, will play against Goongoon. Umeu has the habit to make it seem like he is not practicing and not in shape, however his performance against Cramper seemed to imply otherwise. He tends to prepare well and thoroughly, and is successful in that as long as he does not lose coin flips. Goongoon is a player that has gone under the radar for many, and has yet to play on stream. It’s hard to judge where he is exactly at, but it seems like he hasn’t refound the shape that carried him into the semifinals in the summer tournament. It makes it hard to call this series, but I predict umeu to lose the coinflip
win 3-1.Knuschelbär vs Irishfaithful
Knuschelbär, whose name is the slayer of interjection, will face off against Irishfaithful. Knuschelbär is another newcomer to the round of 16, and is rather unknown to many. People that have been following the team scene closely know however that Knuschelbär has been playing well and improving a lot over the past year. His victory over Goodspeed did not come as a surprise to me, and aside from his struggles against Goodspeeds ‘meta-defining’ Virginia company builds, he managed to win quite comfortably. Irishfaithful was tipped by many as one of the favorites for this tournaments. His playstyle is generally extremely straight up and mechanically solid. One of his weaknesses was exposed by soldier: Soldiers unorthodox playstyle brought Irish to the verge of defeat. Being down 2-0 irish managed to mount a comeback however, and on the back of his best civ France he closed out the series 3-2. Unfortunately for Knuschelbär, and probably fortunately for Irishfaithful, Knusch’s playstyle is rather orthodox and thus doesn’t seem to abuse this weakness of irish. My prediction is that Irish will revenge himself for his shaky performance against Soldier and beat Knusch with 3-1.
As always, all times are in GMT+0 and all games will be streamed on twitch.tv/esoctv. We hope to see you tune in starting this thurday. Also be sure to remember the betting, the first betting match (aizamk vs kynesie) is starting tomorrow so don't miss out on some of those juicy odds. Second chance tournament
In other exciting news, the second chance tournament has begun. For those that were knocked out in the group stage, round of 128 or round of 64 there is another tournament that has started this monday. Be sure to check out the results of that as it seems it is going to be extremely close and will feature many amazing matches.