Two former Intel Extreme Masters champions were in the tournament. Both made it out of their groups, both ended up on opposite sides of the bracket, and both defeated everyone in their way to face each other in the Grand Final.
With a lot on the line, history was set to be made by none other than former Intel Extreme Masters World Champion and Boss Toss, Jang "MC" Min Chul, and CJ Entus Kim "herO" Joon Ho, who had previously taken the title in the very recent Intel Extreme Masters Singapore and dubbed the “Smiling Assassin”.
The Grand Final itself saw herO take the first three maps in a convincing fashion. With viewers on the edge of their seats, the two players went into the fourth map. What looked to be a close match at first quickly turned into MC’s favour, delaying the inevitable by just one map.
The fifth map saw herO do what he does best - turn the game into his favour with very aggressive play and well-executed blink micro. Though constant counter-aggression from MC made it look quite even, herO ended up winning the 5th map and thus taking out his opponent 4 to 1, making him the champion of Intel Extreme Masters Sao Paulo, the first ever StarCraft II player to win two Intel Extreme Masters events and, even more impressively, win them back to back.
Besides the impressive feat of herO winning with a 10 - 0 clean sweep through the playoffs, the tournament saw quite a few upsets. Juan Carlos "MajOr" Tena Lopez and Alex "ABomB" Thomas denying Jung "Bbyong" Woo Yong his spot in the quarter finals was the first of them. Although both players ended up losing their quarter finals against finalists herO and MC, respectively, they showed an impressive performance and surely gained themselves new fans across the globe.
Also a surprise to many was Dario ‘TLO’ Wünsch’s outstanding performance in his quarter final match against Choi ‘Bomber’ Ji Sung. In one of the most incredible series of the week, the German Zerg defeated the RedBull Terran in the most impressive fashion. Aggressive play toppled with top-notch control had the Zerg come out on-top , winning 3 - 2. This positive surprise got the attention of many a StarCraft II fan, earning him the title of Sao Paulo’s Sick Nerd Baller.
The action here in Sao Paulo may be finished, but we have exciting weeks ahead of us. With the return of the Intel Extreme Masters crew to Germany, we will be hosting the qualifiers for the $100,000 World Championship in Katowice through the next week (February 6th to 9th), with shows produced by ESL TV. With a great field of players looking to qualify, these three days are certain to be full of exciting games.
After those qualifiers, Intel Extreme Masters Cologne will take place on February 13th to 16th. With players such as jjakji, Polt, Rain and Classic quaified, and two spots in the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship promised to the two players that make it to the Grand Final, Cologne is set to become one of the most exciting Intel Extreme Masters events in history.