by Wax

There’s no telling what 2023 will hold for StarCraft II, but it’s certainly opening in spectacular fashion with what is possibly the biggest 2v2 tournament in the game’s history.

The World Team League will welcome in the new year with the Winter 2v2 Tour, which features the biggest prize pool ever for a 2v2 event at approximately $9,000, as well as the most stacked line-up. Almost every single solo-tournament champion of 2022 is participating, even the ones that aren’t involved in the regular World Team League. That’s right—Serral is joining the likes of Maru, Dark, Reynor, Solar, and herO in this 16-team event.

Key Info

Schedule: January 3-8—12:00 GMT (+00:00) start

  • Jan 3-4: Round of 16
  • Jan 5-6: Round of 8
  • Jan 7: Semifinals
  • Jan 8: 3rd/4th place match and grand finals

Format: 16-team single-elimination bracket

  • RO16: Best of 5
  • RO8-RO4: Best of 7
  • Finals: Best of 9

Prize money: ¥62,500 (approximately $9,000 USD) total, ¥25,000 for first place (approximately $3,600)
Streams: English streams TBD, but prolly Steadfast and/or Wardi?

An Attempt at Some Very Rudimentary Analysis

2v2 has never been a regular fixture in top-tier competitive StarCraft II, so it’s extremely difficult to say which duos are the favorites or predict how the bracket will play out. Still, there have been a handful of LotV events that involved 2v2’s with high-level 1v1 players, and they might give us a few hints about how the WTL 2v2 Tour will go.

NeXT Spring 2019: This $14,000 tournament featured a best-of-five format, with four 1v1 matches and a single 2v2 (the 2v2 was played as the fourth match, so a team could avoid it by winning a 3-0 sweep in 1v1’s).

The duo of TIME and Dear, then playing for Newbee, completely destroyed the 2v2 portion of the competition by going 5-0 in their games. These wins came against reasonably tough competition, including the teams of Zest-SpeCial, FanTaSy-PartinG, and herO-Solar. Ultimately, this dominance in 2v2 helped Newbee win the championship.

While Dear is long retired, TIME will be competing in the upcoming WTL 2v2 Tour alongside Serral. The combination of TIME’s 2v2 success and Serral’s overall awesomeness make them an intriguing team for sure, but they will face teams and players that have more combined experience (and success) in 2v2.

Nation Wars 7 – Main Event: 2022’s NationWars 7 used a best-of-seven format that included five 1v1 matches and two 2v2’s (2v2’s were played in matches #3 and #7).

The 2v2 stars of this event were Team Poland’s Elazer and Spirit, who went 8-2 on the way to the championship. While these two players are split up for the WTL 2v2 Tour—required to play as a part of their professional squad (Elazer will team with MaNa while Spirit will play with Reynor)—you have to give them credit for winning the last major event where 2v2 was a component.

Like Team Poland, most of the NationWars teams have split up to join their professional squad teammates in the WTL. However, one duo is carrying over directly: Team Peace’s SKillous and Rattata. This is due to some lucky circumstances—GGG is sending out Nice-Cyan as their team, which frees up Rattata to team with SKillous as one of the invited ‘outside’ teams. In any case, the duo put up a modest record of 5-4 in NationWars, but many of those were played against strong China and Poland teams. They should have a chemistry advantage over many of the other teams involved in the event, and are my darkhorse pick to go far (unless everyone agrees with me and they’re not underdogs at all).

Going back to the TIME-Serral, the two had contrasting 2v2 results in NationWars. TIME partnered with Cyan to go 6-2 for Team China in 2v2’s, keeping up his reputation as a strong 2v2 player. Things weren’t so rosy for TIME’s new partner Serral, who went 1-4 for Team Finland alongside Mixu. While it’s easy to blame the lesser-known Mixu in this case, it could also be the case that Serral doesn’t dominate every form of SC2.

Nation Wars 7 – 2v2 Tour: NationWars 7 also featured a smaller 2v2-only tournament as the prelude to the main event, which allowed players to break their national ties and team up with whoever they pleased.

The eventual champions were the duo of SpeCial-Astrea, who triumphed 3-2 over MaxPax-Kelazhur. While neither of those exact pairings is competing in the WTL, one half of each finalist team will be representing PSISTORM Gaming in the form of the SpeCial-MaxPax duo. While we’re on the topic of SpeCial…

Kylin Cups: Held briefly in April-May of 2022, the Kylin Cups were a series nine, King-of-the-hill style 2v2 show-matches. The duo of SpeCial-Cham totally dominated this event by winning eight straight matches (cups #2-9), taking down the likes of Harstem-Lambo, MaxPax-Spirit, and TIME-MacSed. While Cham won’t be playing in the WTL 2v2 tour, (Team GP will field Prince-DRGLing instead), SpeCial will be playing with MaxPax as mentioned above.

PiG’s Subathon 2v2 Tournament: The 2022 PiG Subathon included two pairings that will be competing in the WTL 2v2 tour as well: Prince-DRGLing (TeamGP) and trigger-Nina (invited).

The Prince-DRGLing team went all the way and won the finals, putting up a 8-1 map record along the way. While the overall name value in the Subathon was quite a bit lower than it is in the WTL, it’s worth noting Prince-DRGLing scored a 3-0 over SpeCial-Cham in the finals (avenging their loss in the aforementioned Kylin Cups). On the other hand, the Subathon doesn’t bode well for the future of the NA duo of trigger-Nina, who were eliminated 0-2 in the first round by the combo of LoadBlaster and Wade.

In general, Prince-DRGLing is probably the team in the WTL Tour that has the most experience playing together. The two have been a semi-regular duo since 2020, when they were regulars in the Sugar 2v2 Cups. Even if those competitions didn’t include many players who had great 1v1 success, they were still players known inside the 2v2 scene. The performance of Prince-DRGLing in the WTL might offer some insight on how much 2v2-specific skills like teamwork are worth compared to more universal SC2 mechanics.

Olimoleague Invitational #16: Played in October of 2022, this was the most recent 2v2 showmatch featuring top-tier players. It was a pretty small event, which saw the team of Dark-ByuN triumph over Scarlett-Astrea and Ryung-Maru.

Besides the result, the biggest takeaway from this event was the willingness of players to off-race. Maru actually mained Protoss for this event, occasionally switching back to Terran for a handful of games. On the other hand, Dark started as Zerg, but switched up as Protoss in a handful of games. While I’m not sure what the rules regarding race-picking will be for the WTL event, we may get to see Maru play more of his vaunted Protoss off-race.