by Wax

With another year of StarCraft II coming to a close, it’s time for us to observe and celebrate that wonderful tradition: the winter HomeStory Cup.

After one event that was inexplicably Mexican-themed and another that was held in an indoor swimming park, TakeTV seem to have finally accepted the holiday spirit for tournament #22.

I’m delighted to see what they have prepared for us—personally, I’m hoping to see RotterDaM jump out of a giant gift box and give us a sultry rendition of “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Or perhaps Serral will reveal his true identity as the “Yule GOAT?”

Besides the fun, games, and games (the other kind) we can usually expect at HomeStory Cup, this edition of the tournament has an added twist in being the final EPT points awarding event before IEM Katowice (unless AfreecaTV Champions Cup #2 drops from out of nowhere in January). So while some players will be in town for the festivities, others will be going all-out to get the best possible result.

Key Info

Schedule (Dec 15-17 start time is 11:30 GMT (+00:00); Dec 18 is 10:30 GMT (+00:00) )

  • Dec 15:
  • RO32 Groups A & B

  • Dec 16:
  • RO32 Groups C & D

  • Dec 17:
  • Double elimination playoffs

  • Dec 18:
  • Double elimination playoffs

Prize money: $26,000 total, $7,000 for first place
EPT points: 2540 points total, 500 points for first place (standings)

Naughty or Nice: Wax’s Christmas List

After observing an entire year of StarCraft II, it’s come to my attention that certain players were exceptionally well-behaved… …others, not so much. In order to aid Father SChristmas, I’ve compiled a naughty and nice list for him, as well as some suggested gifts and punishments.

ByuN – Nice: For the last few years, Solar seemed like he was cursed to never win a major tournament due to arch-nemesis Maru always eliminating him at some point in the tournament. But in last week’s Super Tournament II, ByuN made the ultimate sacrifice by taking down Maru before losing to Solar in the very next round. As a result, Solar was able to defeat Dark in the grand finals and win his first major title in over six years.

For this incredible act of selflessness, I recommend ByuN receive the gift of not one, but TWO new wrists.

Reynor – Naughty: Those of you who keep up with SC2 social media might know that Reynor is an occasional guest of RotterdaM’s, sometimes playing tournament games from the Dutch caster’s place. Alas, it also turns out that Reynor broke the laws of both gods and men, repaying RotterdaM’s hospitality with malice: he broke Rotti’s favorite mug.

Actually, I’m not even sure this happened this year. Whatever. I recommend Reynor be sent a pizza baked by HeroMarine as punishment.

Reynor – Nice: On the other hand, this year also saw Reynor travel to Korea, apparently just for the challenge of playing in GSL Code S. That’s certainly more than we can say about certain other European Zergs

For this courageous and honorable act, I hereby rescind the above punishment and recommend a gift of one mug for Reynor.

Serral – Naughty: Unfortunately, Serral had the worst year of his career in 2022, ONLY winning the championship in three out of the nine major tournaments he entered into. It was an utterly disgraceful performance, and one that inflicted incalculable amounts of mental distress upon Serral’s legions of fans.

For his abhorrent conduct, I recommend Serral be given a first-class, round-trip ticket to South Korea at some time between the months of March and November in 2023.

Harstem and uThermal – Nice: This year’s Nation Wars was marred by much controversy, including a bait-and-switch by the tournament organizers about whether or not travel-restricted teams would be able to play online. Upon seeing the potentially unfair decision, Netherlands representatives Harstem and uThermal threatened to forfeit their invitations to the live event. While the two rejoined the tournament after the organizers reversed course, it was great to see the Dutch duo take a stand for their fellow players.

For their outstanding moral fiber, I recommend Harstem and uThermal be gifted year-long, Tier 3 subscriptions to Twitch.TV/LowkoTV

NightMare – Naughty: At DreamHack Atlanta, NightMare went on the tournament run of his career, starting from the bottom of the losers bracket and making it all the way to the top eight. For a player who had previously existed on the fringes of Code S, it was a breakout run that portended greater things to come.

However, NightMare’s success came at the expense of both Neeb and Scarlett, who he defeated consecutively in the RO24 and RO16. As we all know, DH: Atlanta was an enormously successful event with a hot crowd—imagine how much more hype it would have been if some of North America’s most popular players had gone deep into the playoffs? Alas, the dream of alivegame was not meant to be.

For killing NA StarCraft II once and for all, I recommend NightMare pay his penance by playing StarCraft II for a North American esports team with a great support system and competitive wages.

Nice – Nice: Obligatory.

Last Chance for Katowice: EPT Standings

*Thanks to hpjα for clarification on parts of the standings.

With DreamHack Masters: Last Chance phased out of the EPT in the 2022/23 season, HomeStory Cup XXII will be the final opportunity for players to earn EPT points before the World Championship at IEM Katowice.

As in previous years, IEM qualification has been mostly finalized by now. However, there are still a handful of races that will be decided at HSC XXII, and a group of players that desperately need whatever EPT points they can get.

Latin America’s #2 seed (qualifies for play-in): Cham (#2, 635 points) vs Kelazhur (#3, 615)


The race for the last IEM qualifying spot out of Latin America will go down to the wire as just 20 points separate Cham and Kelazhur. Who travels to Katowice and who watches from home could actually end up being decided by single-digit points, in which case it would become the narrowest qualifying margin in the history of WCS/EPT (the current record is Spirit qualifying over uThermal by a difference of 18 points in the 2021/22 EU rankings; uThermal still ended up playing as a last-minute COVID replacement for RagnaroK).

The points distribution system at HSC XII makes for many complicated scenarios. To simplify things from Kelazhur’s side, he MUST advance from the group stage (top four in his group) to have any chance of overtaking Cham. From Cham’s point of view, there are a decent number of scenarios where he can finish slightly below Kelazhur at HSC XXII but still preserve his lead in the EPT standings. Barring a complete disaster tournament from himself or an incredible run from Kelazhur, he’s in a good position to hold onto his 2nd place spot.

The Combined Standings Puzzle, Part 1: RO24 qualification

  • Korea: GuMiho (#10, 1232 points), Cure (#11, 1084 points)
  • Europe: ShoWTimE (#5, 1401 points), Lambo (#6, 1386 points), Elazer (#7, 1191 points)
  • Combined standings

While players mostly compete for IEM spots inside their individual regions’ rankings, a handful of ‘wildcard’ qualification spots are given through the combined rankings which compare players from every region. This has led to an international points race at HSC XII.

The way this breaks down at HSC XXII is pretty complicated; for the sake of readers who don’t want to spend hours staring at Liquipedia tables and re-reading the ESL rulebook, I’ve simplified things as follows: The five (5) of ShoWTimE, Lambo, GuMiho, Elazer, and Cure are competing for three (3) RO24 main event spots (group stage) at IEM Katowice.

The remaining two players would have to begin IEM Katowice in the RO36 play-in stage. While all the players involved would have a pretty good chance of surviving the play-in (where four out of sixteen players advance), they would surely prefer to bypass any unnecessary risks. As Maru can attest, ANYONE can lose 0-2 to Meomaika on a given day.

Click below if you want slightly more detail on the qualification rules behind this qualification scenario
+ Show Spoiler [Click Here] +

The RO24 spots at IEM Katowice are awarded to the champions of GSL Code S (3x) and DreamHack Masters (2x), the top EPT point earners in their respective regions (5x Korea, 4x Europe, 2x NA, 1x China, 1x LATAM), and the remaining players who earned the most EPT points regardless of region (the “combined standings”).

For IEM Katowice 2023, three RO24 spots will be awarded through these combined standings, due to rules regarding how qualification spots ‘roll down’ when players meet multiple qualification criteria (herO, Dark).

Depending on the exact point totals and final standings, ShoWTimE, Lambo, and Elazer could qualify from either Europe or from the combined standings. The same applies to Cure and GuMiho, who can qualify from either Korea or the combined standings. But whatever the source of these spots happens to be, ultimately it boils down to a competition for three spots between five players.

There are a handful of players who are above or below this group of five in the standings, but I’ve omitted them because it’s extremely unlikely that they will factor directly into this race.

ShoWTimE and Lambo have pretty comfortable point buffers, and are thus likely to obtain IEM main event spots barring a complete collapse combined with tremendous performances from their rivals. However, we could end up seeing a very close finish between Cure, GuMiho, and Elazer for the last ticket. For the first few days of HSC XXII, fans should just hope these players advance as far as possible. As the tournament progresses and more players are eliminated, it will become clearer exactly how high these players have to finish in order to lock in an RO24 seed at Katowice.

The Combined Standings Puzzle, Part 2: RO36 seeds

  • Europe: Spirit (#9, 718 points), Harstem (#10, 680 points), ShaDown* (#11, 617 points), SKillous (#12, 599 points), Gerald (#13, 556 points)
  • Korea: Armani* (#23, 535 points), Dream* (#24, 430 points)
  • *Not competing at HSC XXII

When a player earns an IEM main event spot from the combined standings as mentioned above, that effectively ‘rolls down’ the play-in/RO36 cutoff for their region by one spot. To simplify a complicated situation once more: Depending on how ShoWTimE, Lambo, Elazer, Cure, and GuMiho perform at HSC XXII, Europe could earn up to three additional spots in the IEM RO36, while Korea could earn up to two.

Spirit, Harstem, SKillous, and Gerald have some say in deciding their destiny. By performing well at HSC XXII, they can put themselves in front of the line to receive the windfall RO36 spot(s) if Lambo, ShoWTimE, and Elazer also get good results.

In the case of HSC XXII non-attendees Armani, Dream, and ShaDoWn, things are completely out of their hands. If their regional colleagues perform well, they could luck into RO36 spots at IEM. If not, I guess there’s always next year (?).