2018 is coming to an end and it’s time to look back to what was achieved during the year by Serral who went above and beyond. Having spent 2017 finding his footing and coming close to a few major titles, this would prove to be the Year of Serral as he not only claimed his first major title, but almost every single one of them.
2018 WCS Leipzig
Map score 17-4
Winning percentage 81%
The year began with the first of four WCS circuit events in Leipzig, Germany. Serral started his run in the tournament in the Third Group Stage in an all-Zerg Group A, including Namshar, Scarlett and Stephano. By taking down Stephano 2-0, and Namshar 2-1, he advanced to the Playoffs. He continued to impress by defeating both MaSa and Nerchio 3-0. He only dropped one map in the Semifinals against SpeCial.
In the Grand Finals, Serral faced ShoWTimE. Despite the home field advantage of his opponent, Serral took the series to a 3-0 match point with long macro games. ShoWTime was able to defend against the aggressive openings two games in a row. On the sixth game on Acid Plant, Serral's roach hydra lurker forces tore down the Protoss army. With a final score of 4-2, Serral won his first Premier title, $20,000 and a guaranteed spot in the 2018 WCS Global Finals
IEM Season XII - PyeongChang
Map score 4-3
Winning percentage 57%
ESL organized IEM PyeongChang in February in South Korea. The event had the full support of the International Olympic Committee since it coincided with the 2018 Winter Olympics. In the Round of 16, Serral played against the Colombian Zerg eGGz. Serral took the series with a clean 3-0 sweep. Sadly, his life in the event was short because Scarlett took down the Finn with a 3-1 score in the Quarterfinals. Serral returned home with a 5th-8th placement and $6,500.
IEM Season XII - World Championship
Map score 13-5
Winning percentage 72%
At the beginning of March ESL organized another event, IEM World Championship. It was held at the Spodek Arena in Katowice, Poland. The Group Stage had groups of six players played out in a round robin format. Serral’s group consisted of Rogue, Impact, Neeb, Zest, and Nerchio. He advanced first from his group with a 5-0 score, only dropping 2 maps, one to Rogue and one to Neeb. Serral advanced straight to the Quarterfinals where he faced Trap. He had a very close series against him, ending with a 3-2 score. Unfortunately, Serral was unable to advance past the semifinals ending his tournament run with a 0-3 result against Classic. Nonetheless, he took home prize money worth $26,000.
World Electronic Sports Games 2017
Map score 21-4
Winning percentage 84%
There was no rest for the players as WESG started right after IEM Katowice. Serral travelled to Haikou, China to compete in the First Group Stage against ShoWTimE, Minato and Has. The first Group Stage went smoothly for Serral, and he advanced to the second one without dropping a map. The pattern continued there, and he ended up taking three 3-0 victories against Elazer, Bly and Lambo. In the Quarterfinals Neeb also fell 3-0 to Serral. The tables were turned when he ran into Maru in the Semifinals, knocking Serral down to the Third-place Match with a 0-3. Serral took home $40,000 after getting revenge against Classic by winning 3-1. Additionally, this event also marks Serral's last loss in an offline Bo5 series during the year.
2018 WCS Austin
Map score 17-3
Winning percentage 85%
The second event on the WCS circuit was held in Austin, Texas. As people were now starting to expect, Serral advanced first from his group in the Third Group Stage. He took down TLO, Clem and Jieshi with a perfect score. 3-0 victories turned out to be a repeating theme for the whole tournament. After defeating Kelazur and HeRoMaRinE, Serral dropped his first map in the tournament in game 1 against Lambo. It was MaNa's turn to go up against the incredibly strong looking Finn in the Grand Finals. Serral took the first map, but after that, it seemed like MaNa might have possibly figured out his weakness, by setting the score to 1-2. However, Serral recovered quickly and took the next three games in a row in a decisive manner. Serral claimed his second WCS trophy and $20,000 with a 4-2 final score.
2018 WCS Valencia
Map score 17-3
Winning percentage 85%
The third WCS Circuit event was held in the sunny city of Valencia, Spain. Serral had qualified straight to the Third Group Stage from the online challenger. With already two WCS trophies on his shelf, he was a clear favourite to win the whole tournament. He took down both Bly and MaNa with a 2-0 score.
Scarlett, who was his opponent in the Round of 16, seemed to be the only person to pose a threat to the two-time champion. Serral dropped 2 maps but managed to defeat her 3-2. After that, he beat both Reynor and HeRoMaRinE 3-0. In the Grand Finals, he went up against Has. Everyone was eager to see if the unconventional playstyle of the Taiwanese Protoss could catch Serral off-guard. That didn't happen, and Serral won his third WCS Championship with a 4-1 score, receiving $20,000 and yet another trophy.
GSL vs the World
Map score 13-4
Winning percentage 76%
After dominating the WCS Circuit, many fans were curious about how Serral would do against the best players from Korea. They were able to get their first taste of it at the GSL vs the World event in Seoul, South Korea. Serral quickly made it clear that no player, foreign or Korean, could defeat him easily. He took quick 3-0's against Kelazur in the Round of 16 and against INnoVation in the Quarterfinals. The first map he lost was Catalyst in his second game against Dark. He took the two following maps and advanced to the Grand Finals to play against Stats.
Things started off a bit shaky as Stats took a quick 2-0 lead, but Serral was able to claw his way back and tie the series to 2-2. After losing one more map Serral managed to take the last two and claim one more title to his name, ₩ 30,000,000, and the biggest achievement of his career. By winning GSL. vs The World he became the first foreigner ever to win a GSL. At the same time, Serral became one of the ten players to have collected a "triple crown" - a championship title on every region.
2018 WCS Montreal
Map score 17-8
Winning percentage 68%
The final event of the WCS Circuit before the Global Finals was held in Montreal, Canada. Everyone was eager to see if Serral would be able to claim the trophy from every single stop. Serral's group consisted of Denver, Stephano and TooDming, from which he advanced first without losing any games. His Playoffs run proved to be more difficult. In the Round of 16, he defeated JonSnow 3-1. He faced Scarlett next and managed to grab a victory with a close 3-2 series. He had the same score against Lambo in the Semifinals. His final opponent was the young Italian Reynor, who proved to be a formidable opponent. The Grand Finals were one of the closest he had had during the year. However, Serral claimed his fourth WCS Championship title with a 4-3 score.
2018 WCS Global Final
Map score 14-3
Winning percentage 82%
Serral entered the tournament with an unbelievable WCS Circuit score of 14 090. To put that in perspective, it is more points than ShoWTimE, SpeCial, Neeb and HeRoMaRinE had combined. Serral's tournament run couldn't have started off better. He 2-0'd his first opponent sOs, who everyone thought to be one of the few able to give Serral a hard time. Afterwards, he faced Zest in the winner's match of the group, defeating him 2-0. These two solid matches resulted in Serral advancing first from his group to the Main Event.
In the Quarterfinals, Serral took a convincing 3-0 over Dark and headed into another ZvZ against Rogue in the Semifinals. Rogue managed to take one win against Serral on Para Site, but otherwise, the series went in Serral favour, ending with a 3-1 result.
In the Grand Finals, we got to see a rematch from the GSL vs The World as Serral and Stats were matched against each other. Everyone rooting for the Finn was ecstatic as he took a 3-0 lead and put himself on match point straight away. After losing 3 games in a row, Stats seemed to recover and spot weaknesses in Serral's play. His Protoss forces took down Serral's swarmhost armies on both Acid Plant and Fracture. In game 6, both players went on to build massive armies, but Serral managed to wound Stats' economy while having a massive bank himself. Stats was unable to recover and he conceded the game. Serral wrote his name in the esports history and became the 2018 WCS Global Champion.
There has never been such a dominant player in the StarCraft 2. Serral truly became the Finnish Phenom. We look forward to following him in 2019. The question on everyone's lips is if he can continue his massive success in the next WCS Circuit.