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MLG Anaheim Preview: MLG is BACK!

After a very healthy run in 2011 and 2012, MLG seemed poised to continue a running tradition of exceptional pro SC2 tournaments in North America. Talented Korean pros were travelling from overseas to compete in the prestigious events, and fan favourites like Terran MarineKing, Zerg DongRaeGu, Zerg Leenock, Zerg Life, and of course Terran Flash were putting on a hell of a show. Prize pools ranging into the six-figure range attracted competitors and crowds alike.

Fast forward to 2013, with the SC2 scene burgeoning on the heels of the announcement of the newly-minted WCS format, and MLG picked right back up after the always-slow holiday season with their Winter Championship. The games were as high caliber as always, and a Life vs. Flash finals was an absolute treat to watch. By the time the Spring Championship rolled around, however, things were taking a bit of a turn - MLG's investments into SC2 had clearly dwindled, and WCS (as well as other international tournaments, such as Dreamhack) were drawing the spotlight. Even North American competition had emerged, in the form of the Red Bull Battlegrounds. When Polt claimed his trophy that spring, it marked the end of an era, and MLG announced they were moving away from SC2.

Thankfully, that was not a permanent decision. Although the prize pool is smaller than many prior MLG championships, the first MLG event of 2014 in Anaheim, California looks promising: Separate open and invitation-only qualifiers, sorted by regions, have seeded a variety of skilled players - including many North American favourites - for a unique pool play into double elimination tournament format. The qualified players - including our own Zerg ca Sasha 'Acer | Scarlett' Hostyn - are shown below.
Pool Play
Pool APool B
Terran PoltZerg TLO
Zerg ScarlettZerg viOLet
Protoss TrapTerran MajOr
Terran IllusionZerg Miniraser
Protoss puCKProtoss HuK
Zerg PetraeusZerg hendralisk

Holy Zergs, Batman!
In addition to the qualified players, the top four finishers from the Open Bracket double elimination run will qualify for Pool Play, while the next four runners-up will be sent to the first round of the Loser's Bracket in the championship bracket. Some scary talent appears in that list of Open Bracket competitors: Protoss StarDust, Protoss HerO, Terran Bomber, Zerg HyuN, Zerg Jaedong, and Zerg Life, just to name a few (you can see a more complete list on the Liquipedia entry for 2014 MLG Anaheim).

Polt is here to defend his MLG Spring Championship title from last year.

So, what can you expect from this exciting event? Here are a few of our predictions for how things will shake down:

- Open Bracket play could go a variety of ways, depending on the brackets, but we're looking for Zerg HyuN, Zerg Life, Zerg Jaedong, and Protoss StarDust to advance directly to Pool Play. Players like Terran Bomber, Zerg Leenock, Protoss HerO, and Protoss Alicia could feature in the Loser's Bracket by virtue of runner-up status.

- A lot of who goes straight to the Winner's Semifinals from Pool Play will come down to who from the Open Bracket ends up in which pool, but an overall top four of Zerg HyuN, Terran Polt, Zerg Jaedong, and Zerg Life is a safe bet.

Double elimination protects players from an unfortunate elimination to a single bad match-up or seeding issues, so this tournament could go to any one of a number of top tier pros. A quick look at @Die4EverDM's WCS Predictor shows that potential MLG victories would simply be the icing on the cake for Terran Polt or Zerg Life to secure a spot at the 2014 WCS Grand Finals. Those 750 coveted WCS points are a big deal. however, for players like Protoss StarDust or Zerg Jaedong, who could all but cement their appearance, or players like Terran Bomber, Protoss Alicia, or Zerg Revival, who could burst into the top 16 with a big performance at MLG Anaheim (full WCS standings based on earned and guaranteed future WCS points are available on Liquipedia's 2014 WCS portal).

Tune in from June 20 to 22 to see who takes home the trophy from MLG's first tournament of 2014 on the official MLG stream, and good luck to all the players!
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