Team expert revives Team Acer, signs Scarlett and Bly

Thumbnail image courtesy of Navneet Randhawa / theScore eSports

Team expert has signed StarCraft pros Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn and Aleksandr bly" Suvusuyk, the two stars from the defunct Team Acer.

Team Acer shut down in March, releasing Scarlett and Bly, along with their TrackMania, FIFA and League of Legends rosters. At the time, the sponsor stated that its "strategies changed" regarding esports.

According to former Team Acer editor-in-chief Will Judd, Team expert is primarily staffed by former Team Acer employess, including the CEO. The organization is Tweeting from Acer's old account, with a new logo and new name. Other tweets from the organization state that they are entering FIFA, TrackMania and LoL as well, though no players were named.

Bly has been teamless since Acer disbanded, while Scarlett joined Dead Pixels in June. Neither Scarlett nor Dead Pixels have made an official statement about the move.

Since Acer disbanded, Scarlett placed second at HomeStory Cup XIII and 3rd-4th at the NEO Star League 2016 Invitational, while Bly placed 9th-16th at DreamHack Austin and 17th-32nd at DreamHack Valencia.

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Queen of the North: Scarlett on her Kings of the North win and her time in Korea

Thumbnail image courtesy of Navneet Randhawa / theScore esports

Just after her victory at the third season of Kings of the North in Toronto, Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn sat down with theScore esports to talk about her play in the tournament, the Korean scene and the new Team Expert.

First of all, congrats on winning the tournament, how did you feel about your level of play?

Pretty good. I’ve been playing well for a while, but [I've] been having some issues in tournaments with playing as well as I do in practice. But I feel like most of the games today until the finals I played my best, so I’m happy.

How is your training in Korea going? What’s life like there with the small group of foreign players?

Right now I’m back in Canada for a bit, but being there is really fun. Me, Jake [NoRegret] and Alex [Neeb] — Alex unfortunately is leaving soon — but it was fun when he was there, having him experience Korea.

What was your favorite thing you did there together as a group?

We actually didn’t do a lot together because I wasn’t there for long when Alex was there. So it was mostly just practice.

How has the training affected your playstyle?

Partly because I have been practicing in Korea, my playstyle is a lot more similar to the Korean playstyle of Zerg, in some ways, especially in ZvT. The training has mostly made my early game a lot better, because there’s more focus on aggression early game in Korea so it helps with that.

There’s been a lot of talk this tournament about you having confidence in the Korean meta, even when players like Snute and Nerchio have been a bit critical of it. What do you think about that?

A lot of the European games I watch, I feel like there’s some flaws in the play that they’re overlooking. And because the Koreans don’t play the same way, they think the Koreans play worse. I feel like especially in the past they [Koreans] thought there were problems with TvZ, which the Europeans never thought there was, because the playstyle was completely different. But we’ll see, especially at BlizzCon, how people really match up. Because this year, compared to last year, there’s a lot less competition between foreigners and Koreans, so the Europeans have gotten a lot more confident with their play even though there’s no real proof that they actually are better this year.

Scarlett with her crown post winning King Queen of the North.

Two quick points about ZvT meta right now. First, MaSa and Kelazhur seemed to be loving the mass Reaper early game. Are you seeing this a lot in Korea as well?

Yeah I think this became popular again thanks to ByuN, so in Korea first. I practice a lot against him and I feel like my early game defense is almost perfect, but I still end up behind, so… Game 1 in the finals I got really frustrated because of that and I played worse because of that. I feel like I got a little lucky with the defenses in Game 2 and 4. Game 2 I saw what he was doing really early so it was like a free win. And in Game 4, he messed up his micro. Sometimes it feel like a free win against 3 Rax Reaper, but sometimes I feel like I play perfect early game, like much better than the Terran does, and I still end up behind, so I’m not sure what’s up with that.

Second, you preferred Broodlord transitions to the more standard Ultralisks, something I’ve seen Snute do a bunch. Why that choice?

The way it works is that a lot of Terrans try to all-in before Ultras, to try to kill the Zerg before Ultras get out. But I feel if they don’t do that, and its an even game, Ultras are almost useless against a good Terran, so I never really make Ultras, except for in very specific situations.

You mention you were playing a lot with ByuN when you were in Korea, how was that?

It was really good, I usually don’t play custom games, but he asked me to before SSL and I feel like I learned a lot because of that, especially because a lot of Terrans started copying ByuN after that. So I feel like I had an advantage against all the builds that they do, because I played against the person who made the builds. They’re just copying it and playing a little worse with it.

How do you feel about the general state of the game right now? The map pool and balance should be coming under increasing scrutiny before Blizzcon, now that there aren’t that many tournaments left.

I feel like right now the balance is pretty good right now in all matchups. I think people are still figuring these maps out so it doesn’t feel too favored for anyone. The only issue is with Dasan [Station]. I think that map is really stupid, but other than that I don’t think there are many issues. Maybe Reapers are a bit too strong, but that’s the only thing right now.

When we last spoke at Kings of the North, you told us that Neeb was a “literal god". You’ve been proven mostly right -- what do you think are the chances of the foreigners (Neeb, Nerchio, MarineLorD) in the upcoming KeSPA Cup?

I feel like if Neeb plays as well as he does in practice he can do really well. Honestly in practice he plays better than like, Solar, who just won SSL and everything, so I feel like if he plays well he definitely has a shot, if he gets over his nerve issues -- not nerve issues, but whatever’s keeping him back in tournaments. Nerchio, I’m excited to see him play because he plays very different than the Koreans, so he could either do really well or really badly, I have no idea which. MarineLorD, I don’t really watch his play so I don’t exactly know.

A lot of foreigners have been saying that they may be closer in skill to Koreans than ever before. Do you feel the same way?

As I said earlier, we can’t really tell because we haven’t played enough against Koreans, but we’ll see a BlizzCon.

How about for yourself?

I feel like this year I’m worse compared to Koreans than I used to be. Like in 2014, 2013, I was a lot better, comparatively than I am now. I would get like top 4 in tournaments where there was lots of Koreans and now I’m losing to like, lower tier Koreans I guess. So I feel like personally for me, its gotten farther, but that's because generally I’m worse. I used to not lose to foreigners either but now its generally close games.

A big piece of news recently has been the reformation of Acer into Team Expert, which you and Bly have signed on to. How is that going, and can you say anything about whether Expert will be looking for any other SC2 players in the off-season?

Its really nice. Its the same management as Acer was before, so its pretty much what it was like back then, and I really enjoy being on that team, especially with Bly. So its fun being back on Expert. We might pick up a player in the coming months, its not confirmed yet, but its a possibility, for sure.

Have you had a chance to play the balance test map that is live right now? If so, what do you think of the changes?

I haven’t really played it much, I focus on… until I have no more tournaments on the current game I won’t really play it much, so I can’t really say.

What are you planning for the next few months? Are you looking to get revenge at HomeStory Cup, are you planning on going to BlizzCon?

I probably won’t be going to BlizzCon since I’m not playing, but I most likely will be at HomeStory Cup, so I look forward to that. There’s a lot of Koreans going to it should be a lot of fun, HomeStory Cup is always great.

Any final words to your fans?

Thanks everyone for watching. It was nice to win a tournament in Toronto. This is the first time since 2012 I’ve done well in Toronto, every other event here I’ve done poorly, so hopefully I can continue playing well. Its definitely fun and relaxing to play in a place near home.

This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.

Christian Paas-Lang is an esports journalist from Toronto waiting for the "DIE, DIE, DIE" voicepack for SC2 Reapers.You can follow him on Twitter.

Navneet Randhawa does stuff and things at theScore esports. The #QOTN crown somehow ended up in her car. You can follow her on Twitter.

WCS 2017 details released

IEM Katowice 2017 to feature $250,000 SCII tournament

IEM Season XI Katowice 2017 will feature a StarCraft 2 tournament with one of the largest prize pools in recent time, a $250,000 pot, ESL announced on Friday.

The only recent SCII tournaments with bigger prize pools have been Blizzard's 2016 WCS Global Playoffs and Finals, which featured a $500,000 pot, and the upcoming Alibaba event World Electronic Sports Games 2016, which has a $300,000 pot.

The event will take place on Feb. 27 to March 5 and will feature 76 players competing for a $100,000 first prize. Qualifiers kick off on Jan. 25

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Scarlett will be the first non-Korean to play in GSL Code S since 2013

Thumbnail image courtesy of Navneet Randhawa / theScore eSports

Team expert's Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn has qualified for GSL 2017 Season 1 Code S, becoming the first woman to compete in the top Korean league and the first foreigner to compete there since Ilyes "Stephano" Satouri played in spring 2013.

Scarlett advanced out of the final group of the Season 1 qualifier on Tuesday alongside Korean runner-up Kim "herO" Joon Ho. She defeated former GSL champion Ahn "Seed" Sang Won 2-0 to earn her spot, after Seed defeated herO in the group semifinals. herO defeated Seed in their lower bracket finals rematch to earn his spot in Code S.

Scarlett joins a short list of foreigners who have reached Code S over the years, alongside Stephano, Johan "NaNiwa" Lucchesi, Chris "HuK" Loranger and Greg "IdrA" Fields. She is the first foreigner to make it to Code S via an open qualifier since IdrA and Jonathan "Jinro" Walsh beat their way through the 2010 GSL Season 3 Open and were awarded seeds in the inaugural season of Code S in 2011.

Other foreigners that made Code S were given either direct invites or Code A invites, though due to the elimination of Code A in 2017, Scarlett's route from the open qualifiers to Code S was much shorter than in past seasons.

In the Round of 32, Scarlett will be joining the likes of 2016 Code S victors Joo "Zest" Sung Wook and "ByuN" Hyun Woo. She has a long way to go to break the record for deepest GSL run by a non-Korean, currently held by Jinro, who made it to the Round of 4 in GSL 2011 January.

Kristine "Vaalia" Hutter is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find her on Twitter.

GSL increases 2017 prize pool, Code A removed

The 2017 Global StarCraft II League will featured a $48,000 prize pool across three seasons. However, it's not all expansion for the venerated SCII league, as GSL will also be cutting the Code A division to focus exclusively on Code S.

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