The Race for Two
With the Finals in touching distance for the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm players in Sao Paulo, Brazil, two players are in with a chance of making Intel Extreme Masters history.

To date, not a single StarCraft II player has won more than one Intel Extreme Masters event. Left in the competition are two Koreans, MC and herO, both with one IEM win to their name looking to make Saturday a day for the history books. The Quarterfinal brackets have now been drawn with the two contenders on either sides of the competition.


Jang “MC” Min Chul came close to winning his first Intel Extreme Masters title in 2011 when he faced Lee “PuMa” Ho Joon in the Finals of gamescom. Having made it almost all the way through the competition, he would lose out to the dominant Terran player in a decisive 3-0 defeat, but would come back to prove himself barely a year later when the two met again in Hannover, Germany. - The World Championship Finals at CeBIT saw MC take the title after a gruelling 3-2 series.


Season 7 was a bit shaky for the Protoss player, with his best finish seeing him land in the top eight of the competition. This season, the South Korean looks to be back on track, having finished 3rd/4th in Shanghai where he lost out to Kim “Revival” Dong Hyun, who went on to win the competition. In Sao Paulo, MC has yet to drop a single map, but how will he fare in the next stage of the competition where he faces ABomB in the Quarterfinals?


Hoping to battle it through the other side of the Quarterfinals bracket is another Korean fighting for his second IEM title. Kim “herO” Joon Ho, is battling it out for an unprecedented back-to-back Intel Extreme Masters title having won the previous event in Singapore. Will the soft-spoken “Smiling Assasin” be able to pull off the incredible feat of not only winning two Intel Extreme Masters titles, but winning them in a row? First he will have to defeat the Mexican hopeful, MajOr in the third Quarterfinals match.


The two Korean Protoss players have only met once before in competitive play: back when Heart of the Swarm was first released, MC took the series in a 3-0 victory. Since early 2013, much has changed. With MC’s inconsistent recent record, and CJ Entus herO delivering decent results at major competitions this year, it’s not certain that, were they to play each other in the Finals, the results would mirror their first meeting.


But before we get ahead of ourselves, here are the results of the Quarterfinals bracket draw:



The first two quarter finals finished with jjakji and MC moving on through the bracket to face each other in the semi-finals. Jjakji with an incredibly convincing performance, defeated Polt in a swift 3 - 0, knocking one of the favourites to take the entire tournament out of the bracket.

MC then beat ABomB, who had previously beaten Bbyong in a very surprising series,  with three very aggresive strategies, to move out of the quarter final with a clean sweep. MC still has not dropped a single map throughout the tournament - will this change when he faces jjakji tomorrow?

Catch all of the action live as it unfolds over at ESL TV.