SSL Premier Week 2
A week ago Maru took down his teammate sOs 2:1, ByuL dispatched aLive in convincing 2:0 fashion, Patience fell to Dark 0:2, INnoVation outplayed Zest 2:0, and Solar made quick work of Stats with a 2:1 score. This Monday, however, we might only get to see four matches instead of five. Conflicting information can be found on the Internet, with Liquipedia listing a total of five bouts, whilst the official video clip teases four matches only. The affair will be cleared up tomorrow, but for now enjoy the short previews of four of the potential five games.
Match 1: Zest vs ByuL
If Zest takes a page out of Stats's book and tries to utilise double Warp Prism builds to abuse the Zerg's need to spread units evenly across all bases due to the mobility of Adepts, I do not see him losing this match. Being a former teammate of the current GSL champion, their amicable relations allow them to share strategies and practice custom games against one another. During their days on KT Rolster their styles were somewhat similar. Now, though, it seems that Stats has become more meticulous in everything he does, whilst Zest has been making novice mistakes in televised matches every now and then. Getting past the defences of Byul might be tricky, but one successful Adept shade in can trigger a domino effect, no matter who is on the receiving end. The differentia specifica of a harass-heavy style calls for top-notch multitasking, and as long as Zest stays abreast of ByuL's army movement, he should be able to secure a win in the series. ByuL has showcased immaculate macro capabilities in recent months, so throwing a wrench in the works early on might be crucial to the Kingslayer's victory.
Match 2: Maru vs Stats
Combined, the two competitors have won one instalment of each StarLeague on the Korean StarCraft II scene; Maru with one OSL and an SSL to his name, Stats, the victor of the first season of 2017's GSL. On paper it looks like a proper slobberknocker is in the offing. Granted, Stats's main concern for the past week was getting ready to face soO, a Zerg, so there might be a chance of Maru having the upper hand right off the bat. Hopefully, that will not be the case. The Protoss player is known for versatile style and his ability to adapt on the go, so once he gets his eye in he should have no trouble keeping up with the Jin Air Green Wings Terran. And rightly so, nobody should expect any less of him. The thing to look out for is how Stats decides to approach the matchup. Currently in PvT the most common openings include a Stargate and a quick third Nexus, followed up by Adept and Phoenix pressure. I am curious to see how Maru deals with this particular style, as he has always had a unique way of dispatching Protoss in effective fashion. Remember that time he had demolished MyungSik so hard the latter cried?
Match 3: INnoVation vs Dark
When given matches like Maru vs Stats and INnoVation vs Dark, naming the main event of the evening is a tall order. One thing is certain - if you look to these two for entertainment then you can rest assured they will deliver. Knowing one another from their time on SK Telecom T1, the former teammates are as evenly matched as humanly possible. Some might argue that statistically INnoVation has had more success than Dark, which is true to a certain extent, yet anytime they play the matches are down to the wire. Mind games are abundant, macro play is favoured over cheeky shenanigans. Everything you would expect from a pair as accomplished as these two. INnoVation in particular seems to have stepped up his game, after having a number of top eight finishes in various tournaments since achieving victory at IEM Gyeonggi last December.
Match 4: sOs vs Solar
Rumours have been circulating online forums, stating that sOs was a source of inspiration for Stats when he prepared to go up against soO in the grand final of the GSL. The Jin Air Green Wings Protoss had fallen to soO himself, but I doubt the same will come to pass in this particular match. Solar, although an accomplished player himself, has had very few memorable games since last September, when he took first place in the 2016 SSL Season 2. Last week, the Zerg player managed to beat Stats in a best-of-3, yet I cannot help but feel that was not the most remarkable feat of strength, considering the circumstances. The Protoss player had to conceal his train of thought as much as possible, so as not to let soO in on any strategies the former had had to engineer for the GSL final. One must not forget sOs still has the luxury of living and practicing in a gaming house with his JAGW teammates, so overall I am inclined to think the two-time BlizzCon champion has a slight edge going into this match.
Headline image: SpoTV