From Gyeonggi to Katowice - can INnoVation lift his first Intel® Extreme Masters World Championship trophy?
No stranger to winning IEM tournaments, INnoVation is still missing the World Championship trophy. Will he claim it this year in Katowice?

If you want to make it a good year right out of the gate, winning at Intel® Extreme Masters Katowice to secure your spot at the WCS Global Finals and a $100,000 USD pay day is one way to go.

Today, there are 12 positions still available in the group stages, and with big names like Stats and Snute still in the running to advance to that Round of 24, there's a lot up in the air. But what we do know - given the past few months of play and the server qualifiers that landed the 12 confirmed Katowice attendees their spots - is that we've got an exciting tournament ahead.

Let's start with the story of INnoVation. The Machine's story is a remarkable one not just because he's on top right now, as he comes off the back of a GSL advancement into the quarterfinals (which he'll play just three days before Katowice). It's remarkable because he's on top all the time. For five years. For three iterations of the game.

In fact, over the course of his career, INnoVation has one of the highest win rates in all of StarCraft II. That's a threat in itself, and we should always have the utmost confidence in his ability to qualify for a major tournament. But for this tournament, though he was on form and very often winning, it took him a few tries.

After losing to Snute and PtitDrogo, both 2-0, in the European Qualifiers, he took on the American Qualifier, playing five matches only to give in to herO in the end. That left the Protoss to smoke top Zerg Nerchio 3-0 and claim his place in the Katowice bracket.

Then (we're saying then, but really these server qualifiers offered some serious overlap from January 25 to 30, making INnoVation's commitment even more ridiculous), he competed in the first of two Korean Qualifiers, where he tore through the likes of Stats, sOs and Trust before falling, at the last minute, to Dark, 3-1.

Next up was Korean Qualifier 2. Though INnoVation had already been invited to compete in the Katowice Ro64 (due to his Gyeonggi win), he stuck it out through all four server qualifiers for that deeper seeding and prize cut that accompanies the group stage placement. In this final go, The Machine took on Seed, Trap, Dear, Patience and GuMiho before finally clinching his spot alongside Zest and ByuN as an IEM World Championship Ro24 player. What we really need to understand going into Katowice is right here: INnoVatioN played a total of 22 best of 3 matches - which came out to be about 55 games - to clinch this spot.

Next time, we'll talk about BlizzCon winner ByuN and his prospects next week as he enters a group with Solar and herO.

General admission to IEM Katowice is free of charge, however, there are still some tickets available which guarantee early entrance and seating in the premium area. For all the latest updates, follow IEM on Twitter and Facebook.

Article by: Karin Krisher