Welcome to Shanghai - The Gold Series International 2016 preview

Théo "PtitDrogo" Freydière Adela Sznajder/DreamHack

Throughout most of StarCraft II's history, China and Taiwan have been closed off regions. The only player anyone saw play internationally pre-2014 was Yang "Sen" Chia Cheng. The only time we saw Chinese players face off against international competition in any significant way was in the World Cyber Games, and later on, the World Championship Series in 2012. The few games Western and South Korean players had with them gave little information as to how they have played as a whole, so no one really understood what exactly they were doing.

Then WCS opened up in 2013. Chinese players were given a chance to participate in the WCS North America. And then the world learned the truth: the Chinese players were almost, to a man, insane. Both by circumstance and choice, objectively the players produced in China were view worse than their European counterparts. But they were also more insane and more likely to upset a player that was better than them. All of the Terrans in China were never good enough to get out of the region so no one really knows how they would play to this day.

Players like Cao "Jim" Jinhui and Hu "MacSed" Xiang created a Phoenix Colossus PvT styles in Heart of the Swarm solely because it was impossible to reliably land storms on 400 ping. The classic Immortal-Sentry push, more affably known as "The Soul Train" due to Won "Parting" Lee Sak saying the secret to winning with it was to put in your soul, wasn't fast enough for the Chinese. Instead they proxied the Robotics Facility in a forward position so they could hit even faster with the Soul Train. Two lesser known Protosses are Kim "TOP" Jung Hoon and Wang " Shana" Yulun. TOP beat Kim "vioLet" Dong Hwan in WCS NA in one of the most comical games of all time, which was partially due to TOP making a hilarious mistake and vioLet making the right read assuming it wasn't a mistake. Shana beat Choi "Crank" Jae Won in another hilarious game where he proved that you could in fact 2-base forever against another 2-base Protoss and win.

The most famous Chinese Zergs are Huang "Toodming" Huiming, Wang "Xigua" Lei and Zhou "IAsonu" Hang. Toodming is known for defeating Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn in WCS with max Roaches against Roach/Hydra/Infestor. Scarlett's army composition was better by a huge magnitude, but Toodming pulled off a Hannibal maneuver, completely surrounding and killing off her army. He then wasted multiple maxed armies of Mutalisk/Zergling/Baneling against Choi "Bomber" Ji Sung's Marine/Tank before running out of steam and losing the game. Xigua is most famous for almost beating Kim "Heart"Min Hyuk and then having Heart pull one of the craziest comebacks seen in professional SCII. IAsonu is most known for getting his revenge on David "Lilbow" Moschetto and bringing justice to Lilbow for the foreigner world by skipping out on practice at BlizzCon 2015.

The Chinese players as a whole may be worse than EU players, but they are so weird, so insane, so unique that you have to pay attention to every game because you never quite know what kind of weird trick they'll pull out next.

And this is a unique event. While there have been multiple events in China (Mostly Intel Extreme Masters Shenzhen), they were populated mostly by the top South Korean players, so both EU and CN players were easily destroyed in the early phase. With the WCS barring Korean players from entering, this will be the largest face-off of Chinese players against EU players we will ever see and the EU participation is fairly strong with players like Mikołaj "Elazer" Ogonowski), Artur "Nerchio" Bloch, Théo "PtitDrogo" Freydièr), Kevin "Harstem" de Koning, Jens "Snute" Aasgaard) and Alexis "MarineLord" Eusebio. The biggest threats to look out for are the EU Zergs specifically, Nerchio and Snute as both did extremely well at WCS Winter (round-of-4 and finals respectively).

In addition to that, players from other regions will be playing, most notably Scarlett, Juan "Major "Carlos Tena Lopez, Sioras, Yoo "KingKong" Chung Hee and Ke "Has" Yu Feng. This will be Scarlett's first event in 2016 and may be the only one for a while; she failed the WCS NA Challengers as she decided to watch a TV show on the last day, letting other players get ahead of her on the ladder and qualifying ahead of her. Major played one of the best TvZs at WCS Winter against Snute, and his play against the Chinese should be entertaining. Sioras is the best Mongolian player to have ever played SCII, and he's a player who doesn't belong to any WCS region, allowing him to participate and play in every WCS qualifier. Finally, KingKong, a Korean who moved to Australia to become a fry cook and became one of SEA's most beloved players. After qualifying for the event, he was denied by Blizzard and Exile5 decided to pay so he can play there in the bracket anyway.

And then there is Has of the House Yoe, First of his name, the most forward of proxies, the Lord of the pylon walls, the most sanctified oracle, the great wolf of the east, breaker of Kaelaris, Humbler of Tyrants, son of InCa, Brother to sOs, the holy light of the void ray, the King of Cheese and Protector of the Faith. There is never a boring game when Has is involved and though it is impossible to now cannon rush in PvZ, if anyone can find a way to cheese Zergs as a Protoss, it will be Has.

The Gold Series International 2016 event takes place March 21 through March 26.