SSL Challenge Week 3
With but three match days remaining, a number of players need to step up their game if they wish to remain in the SSL. And though advancing to the post-season play-offs does not in itself guarantee a spot in the upcoming season later this year, standings after the first stage of competition have a solid impact on players' mentalities. Inconsistency means you are out, and if the bottom two pro gamers from each group continue to disappoint, we might have to part ways with four Terrans.
Match 1: Ryung vs Classic
Classic's win over TY in the inaugural match of the season leads me to believe the now team-less Protoss knows how to approach this match-up. What is more, he seems to have a deep understanding of PvT without having to rely largely on Phoenix / Adept compositions, the likes of which are now prevalent mainly due to herO and Stats. If I were to summarise the former SK Telecom T1 player's style in a few words, the most accurate description would be that I see him as a 'middle-of-the-road Protoss'. He may not be the most innovative player out there, but neither can he be called a slave of the meta-game. And as such, he has not had any significant results in recent months, nor has he settled down with a new team after KeSPA stepped away from StarCraft II. Given some time he might bounce back and come out as the strongest Protoss on the scene yet again. The SSL would be a good start, and his remaining matches in the first stage are all against Terrans. If I were him, I would start getting ready for the post-season play-offs.
Match 2: jjakji vs Dear
Two GSL champions past their heydays. Calling them washed-up superstars would be harsh to say the least, but knowing how much more they could have achieved somehow creates a glimmer of hope. Perhaps it is not over. Perhaps they will manage to deliver results this time. No matter how much one believes in their resurgence, I find it hard to believe jjakji or Dear can have some impact on the scene in the long run. Sure, they might stick around for a couple of years. They are the background characters of Korean StarCraft II - not the guys to follow, but you would notice if they went missing. And I would not want them to go away. Not everyone gets to become a Bonjwa, and coming to terms with that makes a pro gamer's life easier. Hopefully these two have realised that.
Probably 2-1 for Dear, by the way.
Match 3: Losira vs Bunny
Losira has so far turned out to be the biggest surprise of the tournament. Having beaten Ryung and Classic in convincing fashion, the Zerg now occupies the number one place in his group, and, if my calculations are correct, has a guaranteed spot in the play-offs bracket. Considering the peak of his career was in 2011, when he won a GSL Code A and placed second in the subsequent season of GSL Code S*, I would say advancing out of a group this stacked would not be a shabby result. Bunny, on the other hand, has never got anywhere near the podium of a major tournament. Is it finally his time to burst out onto the scene?
*The GSL used to be split into two separate competitions back in the day, Code A and Code S.
Match 4: GuMiho vs ByuN
Go to GuMiho's aligulac page and you will find solid results across the board. 3-1 against Stats, a 2-3 loss versus herO, 5-2 with Neeb, and a 4-0 victory over aLive. Last time ByuN and the Towel Terran met, the score went 3-2 in favour of the 2016 BlizzCon champion. Contrary to what some might think, I view these two as equals. I find it hard to make any meaningful predictions, with the two Terrans being as evenly matched as they are. Having said that, I favour GuMiho, if ever so slightly. He has never been one to conform, and a unique approach to the game is sometimes called for in a mirror match-up. Being predictable is another story, though. ByuN had better be ready for the PSISTORM Terran's 2 Raven 2 Cyclone 4 Hellion push.
Headline image: SpoTV