SSL Premier Week 4
With the GSL Super Tournament taking place this past weekend, some players will not even get a day's rest before having to go down to a TV studio again. As they say, no rest for the wicked.
Match 1: Solar vs INnoVation
Solar's recent TvZ results speak for themselves; a 3-1 and a 2-1 win over Bunny, another 3-1 victory over Maru, 2-1 against NaTuRal, 2-0 against Kelazhur. The only Terran who seems to be able to hold a candle to Solar seems to be aLive, who has just reigned supreme over the Splyce Zerg 3-2 in the GSL Super Tournament this past Sunday. With a very distinct style which relies mainly on utilising the aggressive potential of Roach/Ravager compositions in the early game, the Zerg has often attempted to make use of Lurkers as games progress towards tier 3 tech. This specific approach to ZvT has hitherto only been present in the metagame once, during the summer of 2016, when European Zerg players experimented with said strategical choice. The fact that Terran players are somewhat unfamiliar with this rather underused style certainly plays into the hands of Solar, but ultimately Lurkers serve as a defensive tool to buy time before Broodlords or Ultralisks enter the fray. INnoVation, on the other hand, might not even allow the Zerg to get to that stage. Known for his aggressive, meticulous approach to the game, the Terran has sat comfortably at the top of the standings table for three weeks straight, currently with a 3-0 score in matches, 6-0 in maps.
Match 2: Zest vs Patience
Zest was one of the hard-hitters missing from the GSL Super Tournament. Likewise, Patience did not manage to get through the qualifiers. Considering the fact both have had plenty of time to focus specifically on their SSL match, I am looking at these two to deliver the most refined series of the evening. And though there is a noticeable discrepancy in skill between the top of the Korean scene, Zest, and Patience, I doubt their performance will turn out to be a damp squib. Yes, Zest is limping along, wallowing in the mud right at the bottom of the standings table. That is exactly the reason I am inclined to believe the series might bring prime entertainment. PvP has always been one of the most technical mirror matchups in terms of openings, so the players' mind-sets should become apparent right from the get-go. And, as I have mentioned, the onus is on Zest to bring something to the table if he wishes to remain in the Premier stratum of the SSL.
Match 3: Maru vs aLive
aLive has just 3-0'd INnoVation. If I were Maru, I would be petrified. What is more, after beating Hush 3-0 to get to the semi-finals of the GSL Super Tournament, aLive stated he would rather face Maru than Solar, his would-be opponents in the semis, as he feels much more confident in TvT than in TvZ. Despite all that he still reigned supreme over Solar, who had made quick work of the Jin Air Green Wings Terran, and was only stopped in his tracks in the grand final of the tourney. aLive seems to have finally found his stride in Legacy of the Void and if this dominant trend continues I see him taking a championship title in the coming months without a doubt. The two players are currently occupying the 8th and 9th positions in the standings table with an identical score of 1-2 in matches, 2-5 in maps. They have yet to face a number of competitors during the season and the sooner they start winning the better.
Match 4: sOs vs ByuL
Though some might be overly critical of ByuL's series against herO in the GSL Super Tournament, a semi-final finish in an offline Korean event is a big step up from the performances he has hitherto shown in Legacy of the Void. Give the man a bit of time and he might just turn out to be one of the scariest Zergs on the Korean scene. Of course, his current form is still a far cry from what it used to be during Heart of the Swarm, but there is a certain consistency to his improvement. I am particularly pleased about the prospect of him going up against sOs. The trademark innovative style of the Jin Air Protoss is so unpredictable it often feels random, yet $O$ is so precise and crisp in his execution, the builds seem like standard metagame strategies. Basically, if one can defend against the 2015 BlizzCon champion, they can defend against anyone.
Match 5: Stats vs Dark
It is not entirely uncommon for players to subsequently slump right after winning a championship. Of course, a single tournament does not provide sufficient data to draw conclusions from, but Stats's round of 16 finish in the GSL Super Tournament after being beaten by GuMiho 3-1 was not a result many had expected. A short-lived dip in performance does not justify it being called a slump, but should Stats continue to struggle, we will have to look back at the two weeks following his GSL victory to see what went wrong. Perhaps he just needs time to collect his thoughts and compose himself before once again skyrocketing to the top. Luckily, the SSL spans a number of weeks and the format is less taxing than a weekend tournament. Dark should by now be familiar with Stats's approach to the PvZ matchup, but the fact his style is quite similar to soO's, I fear he might still be caught off guard. The two Zergs used to be teammates back on SK Telecom T1 and have since then developed a sturdy style of ZvP, relying on solid execution of all the macro tools at a Zerg's disposal rather than trying to catch their opponents with their trousers down. They will hit all the injects and spread all the creep possible whilst taking almost no damage in the process. We will have to wait and see if Dark is just as waterproof against Stats.
Headilne image: SpoTV