SSL Challenge Week 2
With a round-robin format and a league spanning a number of weeks, unorthodox matches are bound to occur every now and then. Players are given more time to prepare for each specific opponent, thus having more room for experimentation. Last week, the inaugural match of the series saw TY and Classic in a bewitching display of late game TvP macro involving Battlecruisers and Carriers on Newkirk Precinct. Though the likelihood of that happening again is rather low, I do not doubt a cornucopia of funky, unconventional plays is in the offing.
Match 1: Losira vs Classic
The current metagame in the ZvP matchup places the Zerg in a defensive position right from the get-go more often than not. With Stats's expert handling of the mobility of Adepts, Warp Prisms, and Oracles, showcased mainly in the recent GSL final, Korean Protosses have become less afraid of being punished for assuming an overly aggressive stance in the matchup. Some have taken a page out of the GSL champion's book and started investing in double Warp Prism harassment in an attempt to pull their Zerg adversaries apart. The style has proven to be effective, as the necessity to split one's forces to defend multiple locations. along with the constant threat of a massive warp-in in two potential places makes most people spread themselves too thin, ultimately allowing the Protoss to find an opening and capitalise on the lack of defence in a specific area.
Having said that, one must not forget Losira is known to be one of the quickest players within the scene of StarCraft. So perhaps it would be wiser for Classic to resort to defensive, macro play in order to reach a steady late game composition, rather than look for damage in the early game. Either way, look out for Stasis Wards, they are a thing now.
Match 2: herO vs GuMiho
With the GSL Super Tournament stacked full of Terrans, one cannot help but wonder how the fabled Phoenix/Adept composition still finds merit in the metagame. There seem to be as many ways of dealing with the style as there are Terrans in the professional scene, yet somehow, someway the strategy spearheads most of the games in terms of build order choices. HerO has shown in the past that he often conforms to the adopted standards, and I would not be surprised if the Root Gaming player resorted to said strategy at least once in the series. On he other hand, if you happen to look for innovative play, GuMiho is your man. The Towel Terran has a unique way of approaching the game, and on top of delivering results, his performance often overshadows that of other players in terms of entertainment. To be perfectly honest, I am expecting this bout to be the main event of the evening.
Match 3: TY vs Bunny
Bunny was one of the two players who did not get to play last week and I bet he has spent every last minute of that extra time preparing for his match against TY. Though the latter fell short of winning against Classic, TvT is by and large a positional matchup, akin to a game of chess, and the WESG World Champion is known for his ability to properly utilise map features to make sure every engagement is a favourable one. Granted, he was almost defeated by aLive at IEM Katowice, but the cause of that is likely aLive's own understanding of the matchup, not TY's flaws as a player. All things considered, one doom drop is often enough to tip the scales and award the aggressor a victory, so not all hope is lost for Bunny.
Match 4: ByuN vs Dear
Dear's remaining matches in the groupstage consist of three PvT series; against ByuN, jjakji, and GuMiho. I think the most reasonable course of action would be to treat this particular game against ByuN as a bit of extra practice, to better understand the matchup before going up against opponents, who are not as superior to the Protoss player as the 2016 GSL champion. Despite ByuN's own recent struggles, I find it hard to believe Dear could even come close to taking a map off the Terran player. In truth I am also expecting both maps to be taken in similar fashion, with ByuN not giving Dear a moment's respite. The former Samsung Khan progamer's chances lie in deception and gimmicks, as the Team Expert representative often skimps on defence in favour of being aggressive himself, so perhaps that is where and how the Protoss manages to find success.
Headline image: SpoTV