Despite not having the best start of the year, former Cloud9 player Jan “Ekop” Palys returns with a championship run in Birmingham.
It’s been a rough year for Ekop. One of the best performing players of 2014, the German had only a handful of high place finishes in the years that followed, most notably taking the bronze at Gamegune 2015 and then getting another top four finish at ASUS ROG’s 10th Anniversary Tournament. In 2016, he remained out of the HCT campaign and was unsuccessful at beating the swiss stages at the biggest non-Blizzard majors of the game: DreamHack. Earlier this month, he was also left team-less, having parted ways with Cloud9 after staying with the organization for more than two years and being among the founding members of its Hearthstone division.
Ekop’s luck turned around this weekend at the i58 Truesilver Championship 3. The tournament featured a system of partial invites selected through a closed qualifier and an open swiss stage to determine the 16 players to compete on stream on Saturday and Sunday. Ekop came from the latter, finishing in the top eight of the swiss rankings and earning a spot in the group stage where a pair of victories over EU Winter champion Ole “Naiman” Batyrbekov sent him to championship Sunday.
Although his run started with matches against lesser known players in Vincent “Vinz” Ralambomiadana and Christopher “Fire” Smith, Ekop eventually came to face one of year’s best performers Sebastian “Xixo” Bentert, someone who had already bested the would-be champion in the round of 16. It took Ekop five games to topple the Natus Vincere headliner and bank the $10,000 first place prize.