The 2020 DreamHack Masters final season is about to begin! This season could bring us some of the fiercest competitions yet, with the Masters Championship at IEM Katowice 2021 now looming on the horizon. While there are still ESL Weekly Cups remaining, although there is still an EPT Global “To Be Announced” event in January, and although there may still be third-party tournaments to come, it is still a chance. unique for players to earn a large chunk of ESL Pro Tour points in one go (and, let’s face it, only a few non-Korean players can really earn points at a global event). Europe, in particular, seems to have a bloody frenzy for points, as it is essential for mid-tier players to perform well in this tournament if they want to secure a place at IEM Katowice (reminder: the new EPT system allocates places at IEM Katowice by region, so a player’s point ranking in their region is what matters, not their overall ranking). * Top four in each group advance to Double Elimination Playoffs Already it seems inevitable that we will have some intense, do-or-die games for EPT points in the playoffs. Europe may be the deepest SC2 region outside of Korea, but only seven players can earn places at IEM Katowice 2021. The current top seven are: Reynor, Serral, Clem, HeroMarine, ShowTimE, uThermal and MaNa / PtitDrogo (tie) While it seems safe to say that the top three players are safe in their place, the history of European competition tells us anything can happen lower in the rankings. Remember WCS Montreal 2018 and that desperate five-a-side BlizzCon race between Nerchio, Lambo, uThermal, Reynor and Elazer? Considering the latest ESL Open Cups and the potential for third-party points-awarding events (a Winter HomeStory Cup has been a must-see in competitive SC2 for a while now), the standings at the end this season of DH Europe will not have the same sense of purpose. But for now, everyone has reason to be hopeful and thinks he’ll be the one to do a miracle race and soar in the standings. * The top four in each group advance to the double elimination playoffs Unlike Europe, the North American looks like it’s almost a wrap. Neeb, Astrea, and Scarlett make their way to the three Katowice IEM spots in their area, with Future and Nina having a very limited chance to disrupt the proceedings. Still, the difference between a direct seed for the group stage (RO24) and having to survive the play-ins (RO36) is substantial, so there will always be a competitive race to avoid third place in the NA standings. in the future. * Top two from each group qualify for the double elimination playoffs The stakes are pretty straightforward in Latin America. SpeCial is locked in as the No.1 seed with a huge surplus of points, leaving Kelazhur and Cham to fight for the region’s other place at IEM. Last season, Cham knocked Kelazhur out of second place at LATAM for the first time in over a year, and if he can repeat that feat, he will likely be the one to travel to Poland (ESL plans regarding live competition are pending). * Top two in each group advance to double elimination playoffs Similar to Latin America, China receives two spots at IEM Katowice, and this race is about who takes second place. TIME is virtually locked in first place – to be supplanted, another player would have to win this Masters China season, AND win a currently non-existent third-party tournament on top of that. China doesn’t have the same three players who finish on the medal stand at every tournament, so there is actually a wide range of possibilities in terms of who gets second. Cyan and Jieshi are following TIME for the moment, but they could easily be supplanted. Oddly enough, China could be the region where the small number of points available in the ESL Weekly Cups could make a huge difference. The five points for second place? That could very well decide things in the end. * The top two from each group advance to the double elimination playoffs We can probably call the race here, even without knowing the details of the remaining EPT / third events: Has and Nice will represent Taiwan at IEM Katowice. However, if a bookie somewhere is willing to give me 100,000,000 to 1 odds on Rex winning this season of Masters Taiwan, HomeStory Cup 21 and the next ten ESL Open NA Cups to reach IEM Katowice, I will take that bet. Two from each group advance to the double-elimination playoffs With only one IEM Katowice spot up for grabs (in the play-ins, not even in the main group stage), OCE is the smallest region in the EPT. But in a certain sense, it also means that the stakes are higher in this competition. Probe has a tenuous grip on the top spot for the time being, but drama fans will surely be encouraging dual UK / New Zealand citizen RiSky to take the upper hand and fan the protectionist flames. Seither can also claim the IEM ticket with a first place – considering he has won WCS Challenger OCE tournaments before, that wouldn’t be a particularly surprising result.