SSL Premier Week 5
After four weeks of regular competition the picture is becoming ever so clear. With a few names springing up to the top of the standings table, a number of participants are struggling to secure a foothold within the league. And even though no players have guaranteed themselves a spot in the playoffs just yet, as there are still five game days remaining, most of them appear to have so far been consistent in their results. That does include Zest, who has been adamant in maintaining a downward trend over the last few months. Hopefully this week turns out to be the long awaited wake-up call for at least a few of the participants.
Match 1: INnoVation vs Patience
Patience is yet to win a Korean championship and, for a number of reasons, I think that might just be possible. Known for his ability to perform well in overseas tournaments, the Dead Pixels Protoss started making inroads into winning a StarLeague last year. Finishing in the top four of both seasons of SSL 2016, Patience seems to have slowly matured as a player. If he continues to deliver results, I expect him to at least reach the semi-finals of the first season of SSL Premier and to get a similar finish in the second one. So far, he is 3-1 in matches, taking out Zest and ByuL, getting a walkover win over aLive, and falling short of beating Dark. Perhaps the opponents so far have not been as demanding as the rest of the competitors are likely to be, getting a few wins on the board undoubtedly serves as a good morale boost. Patience has some momentum going on and needs to be careful not to crash into the sturdy concrete wall that is INnoVation. The Terran player has an identical match score, albeit with a better map win/loss ratio, but is certainly the more decorated pro-gamer out of the two. Will the former SKT competitor stop the Protoss in his tracks? Truth be told, he should.
Match 2: sOs vs aLive
aLive is wrecking face. Second place in the GSL Super Tournament 1, top four at Intel Extreme Masters Katowice; the mYinsanity player still presumes the year is 2012 and he is one of the strongest Terrans in the world. If that really is the case, he is not alone in thinking so. If you have not been keeping up with StarCraft II forums in recent weeks, comments regarding the top Terrans in the world follow a certain trend - perhaps the line-up of the Four Horsemen (TY, INnoVation, Maru, ByuN) should actually include aLive? I have said it before and I will say it again - Han Lee Seok will win a major tournament this year. And if he is as ardent as a player as I am as a believer in his success, there should not be any doubt about that becoming reality.
Match 3: Zest vs Stats
When all the players have already done a few laps around the circuit, Zest is still fiddling with his key fob, struggling to get the car he is in to start. At least that is the impression I am getting from seeing him perform. Frankly, it is high time the Protoss player woke up. Once you become a two-time GSL champion you acquire a certain reputation, and Zest's recent performance leaves a lot to be desired. Were it anyone else going up against Stats, I would actually be inclined to consider them the favourite. But as it is, even with Stats's PCSTSS (Post-Championship Short Term Slump Syndrome; do not google that, I have just made it up) I find it hard to believe Zest could actually take a game off the GSL winner. I hope he proves me wrong.
Match 4: ByuL vs Dark
ByuL has had somewhat of a resurgence in 2017 and I hope he continues to entertain. Having recently struck up a personal sponsorship deal with BasetradeTV, the Zerg is yet again showing promise after struggling to deliver results all throughout 2016. He is already off to a good start, picking up three wins and losing only against Patience, there is a chance the former CJ Entus player secures another match point, as his adversary, Dark, is known to have shaky ZvZ. The matchup is often compared to a knife fight and for good reason. I will not bother with predictions for this particular match, as, frankly, they would just come back to bite me. Remember that time ByuL lost to a kid called Terror? I bet he does.
Match 5: Solar vs Maru
A proper slobber-knocker to finish off the evening, I expect nothing short of perfection from either player. Solid pro-gamers with established reputations and a number of championships shared between them, Maru and Solar should by all means make this TvZ a match to look forward to. One thing to look out for is Solar's signature Lurker style against Terran. Not commonly seen anywhere else, the strategy allows for much more defensive play that smoothens out the transition between a Zerg's tier 2 and tier 3 tech. But there are two sides to everything. Whilst they might be a convenient alternative to keeping the Terran honest by posturing aggressively out on the map, they are oftentimes a clear indicator of an intended Broodlord / Utralisk switch. That, in turn, could trigger the Terran opponent to try and capitalise on the Zerg revealing their hand. Either way, I am sure these two will not disappoint.
Headline image: SpoTV