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Road to Worlds: Korea's Circuit Points Race
Now that Champions Summer 2014 has entered the Bracket Stage, we can begin to look ahead at the different scenarios for filling Korea’s three slots at the Season 4 World Championship. Assuming the format stays the same as Season 3, the top 2 teams in Circuit Points automatically qualify, and the 3rd-6th place teams will play in a playoff called the Regional Final, the winner of which will qualify as well. After Winter, Spring, and the first half of Summer, there are ten teams remaining with a chance at making the Top 6 and the Regional Final.

We can break them into three groups:

  • Teams that have clinched Top 6 spots
  • Teams that are currently in the Top 6
  • Teams that can jump in to the Top 6


How does the Regional Final work?

Teams are seeded into a bracket based on their circuit points. So even if a team doesn’t finish in the top 2 to earn an automatic bid to Worlds, every point is valuable. The higher the team's finishing position, the fewer rounds that team has to play in the Regional Final. The structure is somewhat similar to the Masters playoff bracket.

  • Round 1: 5th place vs 6th place (Bo3)
  • Round 2: 4th place vs Round 1 Winner (Bo3)
  • Round 3: 3rd place vs Round 2 Winner (Bo5)


THE LOCKS: Teams that have clinched Top 6

Each of the four teams below have already clinched a bare minimum top 6 finish. With a few wins in the Bracket Stage, any of these four teams can secure one of the two automatic bids to the World Championship.


Samsunglogo std.pngSamsung Blue (Tie-1st, 450 points)

Samsung Galaxy Blue secured their Top 6 spot with their Champions Spring title win, and now are almost locked for Top 2 and Worlds qualification. As long as they take care of business against surprise Quarterfinalist, the Jin Air Green Wings Stealths. They can finish no lower than 4th place, and are in excellent position because the two teams directly below them play each other in the quarterfinals.

Clinch top 2 with:

  • Reach OGN Finals (675-850 points)
  • OGN 3rd Place AND Najin Shield does not win OGN Championship (SSB 600, NJWS 550 points max)
  • OGN 4th Place AND Najin Shield does not reach OGN finals (SSB 550, NJWS 475 points max)

Clinch tie for 2nd with:

  • OGN 4th place AND Najin Shield OGN 2nd place (SSB and NJWS tie with 550 points)


SK Telecom T1logo std.pngSK Telecom T1 K (Tie-1st, 450 points)
Samsunglogo std.pngSamsung White (3rd, 375 Points)


SKT K and Samsung Galaxy White meet in the Quarterfinals of Champions Summer, with the winner immediately having the points advantage, guaranteed 100 circuit points. A loss for Samsung Galaxy White sends them to the Last Chance Qualifier, but there’s a scenario where SK Telecom can back into the second spot with a strong showing in the consolation tournament (NLB), provided Samsung White loses in the semifinals of OGN.

SK Telecom T1logo std.pngSK Telecom T1 K Clinch top 2 with:

  • Reach OGN Finals (675-850 points)
  • OGN Third Place (600 points)
AND EITHER
  1. Najin Shield does not win OGN Championship (NJWS max 550 points) OR
  2. Samsung Blue OGN Quarterfinal Loss (SSB max 525 points)
  • OGN 4th place (550 points)
AND EITHER
  1. Samsung Blue OGN Quarterfinal Loss (SSB max 525 points) OR
  2. Najin Shield does not reach OGN Finals (NJWS max 475 points)
  • NLB Championship (525 points)
AND AT LEAST TWO OF
  1. Najin Shield does not reach OGN Finals (NJWS 475 points max)
  2. Samsung White OGN 4th Place (SSW 475 points)
  3. Samsung Blue OGN Quarterfinals Loss (SSB 510 points max)


SKT T1 K Clinch Tie for 2nd with:

  • OGN 4th Place AND Najin Shield OGN 2nd Place (550 points each)
  • NLB Championship AND Samsung White 3rd Place (525 points each)
AND EITHER
  1. Samsung Blue OGN Quarterfinals Loss OR
  2. Najin Shield does not Reach OGN Finals


Samsunglogo std.pngSamsung White Clinch Top 2 with:

  • Reach OGN Finals (600-775 points)
  • OGN Third Place AND Najin Shield does not reach OGN Finals (SSW 525 points, NJWS max 425 points)
  • OGN 4th Place (475 points) AND Najin Shield OGN Quarterfinals Loss (NJWS Max 400 points)
AND EITHER
  1. SKT T1 K NLB Quarterfinal Loss (SKT K 470 points) OR
  2. Jin-Air Stealths beat Samsung Blue AND
Samsung Blue NLB Quarterfinal Loss (SSB 470 points)
  • OGN 4th Place (475 points) AND Najin Shield OGN 3rd Place (NJWS 475 points)
AND BOTH
  1. SKT T1 K NLB Quarterfinal Loss (SKT K 470 points)
  2. Jin-Air Stealths beat Samsung Blue AND
Samsung Blue NLB Quarterfinal Loss (SSB 470 points)


Samsung Galaxy White Clinch tie for 2nd with

  • OGN 4th Place (475 points) AND Najin Shield OGN 3rd Place (NJWS 475 points)
AND EITHER
  1. SKT T1 K NLB Quarterfinal Loss (SKT K 470 points) OR
  2. Jin-Air Stealths beat Samsung Blue AND
Samsung Blue NLB Quarterfinal Loss (SSB 470 points)


Najin White Shieldlogo std.pngNaJin White Shield (4th, 325 points)

Despite being in fourth place entering the Quarterfinals, NaJin White Shield is in a position of power. All three teams above them have been drawn into the other half of the bracket, meaning only one can make it to the finals. This means that Shield have a much easier path to the Finals, and can pass multiple teams above them due to SKT K, and both Samsung Blue and White having to go through each other to get points. If Shield make it to the finals, they will at worst clinch a share of 2nd place, allowing them to play for a Worlds spot.

Clinch Top 2 with:

  • OGN Championship (725 points)
  • OGN 2nd Place (550 points) AND Najin Sword (150) / SK Telecom S (180) / Jin Air Stealths (170) / Samsung White (525) OGN 3rd place
  • OGN 3rd Place (475 points) AND Samsung White OGN 4th Place (NJWS and SSW Tie for 1st with 475 points)
AND BOTH
  1. SKT T1 K NLB Quarterfinal Loss (SKT K 470 points)
  2. Jin-Air Stealths beat Samsung Blue AND
Samsung Blue NLB Quarterfinal Loss (SSB 470 points)


Clinch tie for 2nd with:

  • OGN 2nd place (550 points)
AND
  1. SKT T1 K OGN 4th Place (SKT K 550 points) OR
  2. Samsung Blue OGN 4th Place (SSB 550 points)
  • OGN 3rd Place (475 points) AND Samsung White OGN 4th Place (NJWS and SSW tie with 475 points)
AND EITHER
  1. SKT T1 K NLB Quarterfinal Loss (SKT K 470 points) OR
  2. Jin-Air Stealths beat Samsung Blue AND
Samsung Blue NLB Quarterfinal Loss (SSB 470 points)

The two automatic berths are guaranteed to be two of these four teams, but that doesn’t mean the drama ends there. That leaves two open slots in the Regional Final, and six teams vying for them. Most of them require deep runs in Champions Summer, as well as luck, to pass the current teams in fifth and sixth position. Before diving too far down the table to look at the contenders, let’s take a look at the two teams currently holding on to fifth and sixth place: two established teams whose disappointing Group Stage performances have them in very real danger of missing the Regional Final altogether.


THE SURVIVORS: Teams trying to stay in the Top 6

KT Rolsterlogo std.pngKT Rolster Bullets (5th, 190 points. Next Opponent: NLB Platinum League Round of 12)
CJElogo std.pngCJ Entus Blaze (6th, 175 points. Next Opponent: NLB Platinum League Round of 12)

Bullets and Blaze are out of Champions Summer and have dropped in to the consolation tournament NLB Summer 2014, which runs alongside the premier OGN Champions tournament.

The first round of NLB, called “Gold League,” has already happened. Four teams from Gold League advance to Platinum League and are joined by the eight teams from Champions that got knocked out of groups. These twelve teams will play in four separate brackets of three teams each (Gold League vs 4th place in their OGN group, winner vs 3rd place in their OGN group), and the winner of each bracket moves to Diamond League.

Those four teams are joined in Diamond League by the four losers of the OGN quarterfinals, and play a standard bracket with single-elimination best-of-three quarter finals and semifinals, and then finally a best-of-five final.

The winner of the Diamond League Grand Final wins the NLB and collects 75 circuit points. Points are paid out all the way down 10 points to the four teams that lost in the Round of 12. The journey is long from over for KT Bullets, and CJ Blaze, who still face multiple matches in order to try and preserve their standings and sneak into the Last Chance qualifier.

KT Bullets and CJ Blaze could face each other in the Diamond League semifinals, which could be trouble for the loser of that match. They would no longer control their own destiny, and would have to see which teams made the OGN Champions Finals, and possibly even the 3rd place match, to see if they progress. If they dodge each other in Platinum, they could still be in the same half of the Diamond bracket and meet in the NLB Semifinals. Needless to say, it will be a stressful month for these two.


THE DREAMERS: Teams trying to break into the Top 6

KT Rolsterlogo std.pngKT Rolster Arrows (Tie-9th, 40 points)
SK Telecom T1logo std.pngSK Telecom T1 S (Tie-11th, 30 points)
Jin Air Green Wingslogo std.pngJin Air Stealths (Tie-13th, 20 points)
Najin Black Swordlogo std.pngNaJin Black Sword (18th, 0 points)

The four teams currently on the outside looking in have their work cut out for them. All of them can advance by reaching the final round of OGN Champions, although some need extra assistance. KT Arrows is the first team to have an opportunity to help themselves and others, as a win over Najin White Shield in the opening quarterfinal would guarantee one of the finalists would be either Arrows, SK Telecom S, or Najin Sword. SKT S and Sword meet each other in the second quarterfinal, meaning one of their dreams will be over swiftly.

Because these teams have several more factors to deal with, their scenarios are more complex.

KT Rolster Arrows Clinch Top 6 with:

  • OGN Championship (440 points)
  • OGN 2nd place (Tie-5th KTA 265 pts.Tie-5th KTB maximum 265 pts, 7th CJB maximum 235 pts.)


SK Telecom T1 S has what might be the most straightforward route to the Regional Final. First up is crushing the dreams of Najin Sword, in a must-win Quarterfinal. After that, if they win their semifinal, they are almost a lock for Top 6, as long as Jin-Air Stealths or KT Bullets lose a single match in OGN and NLB respectively. It's simply "Finals or Bust" for SK Telecom T1 S.


SKT T1 S Clinches Top 6 with:

  • OGN Championship (430 points)
  • OGN 2nd place (5th 255 points)
AND EITHER
  1. Jin-Air Stealths does not win OGN (420 points) OR
  2. KT Bullets do not win NLB (if both: 6th KTB 265 points, 7th SKT S 255 points)


While Sword, Arrows, and SKT S are all together in one half of the bracket, Jin Air Stealths are on their own. Top-ranked Samsung Galaxy Blue drew them in their quarterfinal, and it gets no easier than there. A win over Blue, which would be considered a massive upset, puts them against the winner of Blue’s sister team Samsung White and Faker’s SK Telecom K. Even if they make it to the finals, they could still finish second and not qualify for the Regional Final depending on the performance of other teams.


Jin-Air Stealths Clinch Top 6 with:

  • OGN Championship (420 points)
OR If Najin Shield wins OGN Championship:
  • OGN 2nd place (5th 245 points)
AND EITHER
  1. KT Bullets do not make NLB Finals (250-265 points) OR
  2. CJ Blaze does not win NLB (250 points)
OR If KT Arrows / Najin Sword / SK Telecom S wins OGN Championship
  • OGN 2nd place (6th 245 points)
AND BOTH
  1. KT Bullets do not make NLB Finals (KTB 250-265 points)
  2. CJ Blaze does not win NLB (CJB 250 points)

Najin Sword surrendered all of their circuit points when they made massive roster changes before Champions Summer. Whether they progress to the Regional Final this season and earn back to back World Championship berths all comes down to this bracket. A Championship secures their Regional Final berth. A Finals appearance leaves them watching NLB to see if Blaze and Bullets will perform well enough to pass them in the standings. Anything short of that, and the only way Sword will be at Worlds is in the stands.

Najin Sword Clinches Top 6 with:

  • OGN Championship (400 points)
OR If Jin-Air Stealths wins OGN:
  • OGN 2nd place (6th 225 points)
AND BOTH
  1. KT Bullets do not make NLB Semifinals (230-265 points)
  2. CJ Blaze does not make NLB Finals (235-250 points)
If Jin-Air Stealths does not win OGN
  • OGN 2nd place (5th 225 points)
AND EITHER
  1. KT Bullets do not make NLB Semifinals (230-265 points) OR
  2. CJ Blaze does not make NLB Finals (235-250 points)

Najin Sword Clinches tie for 6th with:

If Jin-Air Stealths wins OGN:
  • OGN 2nd place
AND BOTH
  1. CJ Blaze NLB 3rd Place
  2. KT Bullets do not make NLB Semifinals (Sword and Blaze tie for 6th with 225 points, forces Tiebreaker Match)

So there you have it! Every eligible team’s path to the Top 6 and the chance to continue playing in Season 4, all the way up to Worlds itself, which just so happens to be hosting the final in Busan, South Korea. While SK Telecom K haven’t been showing the form needed to repeat as World Champions, it’s a very strong year for Korean teams to have an excellent showing, once they’re done beating each other senseless for position.


Written by David “ReleaseTheAnts” Stull @GKstull
Edited by RheingoldRiver @RheingoldRiver


Published on 15. Jul 2014