Since the day the second season of ASL was announced, there have been many questions swirling around but some of the most important ones were in regards to the participants. Will we see Jaedong make a comeback in time? Bisu stated that he will also participate, is that a fact? Once our questions were answered, it hit us. The realization that this is the BW tournament many of us have been dreaming off for years!
A tournament stacked with some of the greatest legends to play the game. TBLS is back in full force and many other players have also been practicing furiously for this ASL; Last, Effort, Mind, hero and the list goes on. The curtain has been lifted. It's time for the final act with group A starting in and groups B/C taking place on December 5th and 6th respectively.
Read on for a preview of group A written by BLinD-RawR and groups B/C written by FlaShFTW. Then grab that popcorn and get ready to watch some of the best BW in recent years!
Group A: Opening Act
Group A is everything you want in the first group match of the tournament. You got the crowd draw in Bisu, you got the established workhorses in Larva and GuemChi who also have a pretty good rivalry between themselves and a fresh(ish) face like Ample looking to score some upsets.
Bisu has decided to grace the public with his presence once more since missing out on the last ASL. He has been more active recently in events like Nal_rA's Starleague where he made it to the semis but got crushed by flash. He returned the favor in the KT GIGA Legends Match and subsequently won the whole thing after beating Jaedong in the finals. While Bisu is the most likely to come out of this group without a scratch considering his impeccable PvZ and his PvP/PvT are better than that, he still failed in getting top 5 streamers in November and has to face one of these streamers in this group.
Back by popular demand
Larva has had an interesting period since going 0-3 in the Ro16 of the last ASL. He didn't get invited to the Nal_rA starleague and opted out of playing in the Thrill starleague. Iinstead, he chose to tear up the streaming and sponmatch scene in practice for this season of ASL. This has paid off well as Larva just made the cut to gain the 5th position on the Top 5 streamers list. He even holds a winning record of 5-4 against Bisu making him Bisu's biggest threat.
Larva :I'm going to lull you into a false sense of security
Now, we all know what GuemChi has been up to these days. With that said, at this time last year, he was one of the hottest protoss players making a surprise appearance in the Ro8 of the VANT National Starleague and has shown us all throughout this year some incredible games against Larva in particular. He might not have the spark that he did last year but he might give us another good game against Larva to remind us of what a good midcard level rivalry is like.
This has the power to become a great twitch meme emote
Ample has been absent for almost the entire year in every way. His qualification to the ASL, however, is a sign that he is ready to take on the big league. Having two protosses in his group, even if they are Bisu and GuemChi should help ease the practice for the TvP sniper. That said, this is quite a tough group. For an inexperienced offline tournament player, it's unlikely he'll make an impact.
Game to look forward to:
Larva vs GuemChi
Who will Advance?
Group B: Redemption
Group B is fronted by powerhouse, EffOrt, who is looking for some revenge from his disappointing Ro16 exit last ASL. He is matched against a couple of returning faces in Light and Rain, and the amateur, force[Name].
Game 1: EffOrt vs Light on Benzene
EffOrt has been the trendsetter for how ZvT should be played after the mech switch, and there’s no doubt why. EffOrt has been really the only Zerg to go toe to toe with FlaSh once those factories start producing. He’s definitely hungry to get back into the Round of 16 and anything but a Finals appearance would be a disappointment for him. Still, EffOrt has been looking rather shaky, getting knocked out by Bisu in the first round of the Nal_Ra Starleague, as well as surprising Round of 16 exit in the Thrill Starleague. There are definitely holes in his game, but I still feel like he will be able to defeat Light.
EffOrt > Light
Game 2: Rain vs force[Name] on Benzene
Rain is a returning member of the old staff, having retired from SC2. He’s looked like a rising player, but needs more games under his belt before we can really give him a solid answer. However, Rain has impressed, doing surprisingly well at the Thrill Starleague, placing 3rd. While he defeated s2 multiple times, he lost to ZerO 0-3 in the semi-finals. However, ZerO is a fantastic player and Rain is still an ex-pro. Compared to this, force(name) has not been in a single tournament since September 2015. No doubt he’s been practicing but at the end of his tournament string, he was on a 7 game ZvP slide. I expect the ex-pro to be able to defeat the amateur here.
Rain > force(name)
Game 3: EffOrt vs Rain on Circuit Breaker
Slump or no slump, EffOrt is still a beast in ZvP. His 72.5% ZvP win rate speaks for itself and Rain showed that he isn’t able to stand up to the top Zergs like ZerO. And if he can’t even pick a game off of ZerO, then he’s going to be extremely unfavored against EffOrt. That being said, it is a Best of 1, so we’ll see how it goes for Rain. Otherwise, I think EffOrt should be able to pick this game off.
EffOrt > Rain
Game 4: Light vs force[Name] on Circuit Breaker
Light was renowned by many as the TvZ sniper back in the BW Proleague days. Light’s previous TvZ win rate during the KeSPA days was at an astounding 66.86%. His post-KeSPA win rate has been a more modest 58.82% but he’s still an excellent player. With the TvZ sniper against an amateur Zerg who only has a 28.57% ZvT win rate, and knowing how reasonably safe the TvZ matchup is now for Terrans, I don’t see a way for force to take this game off of Light.
Light > force(name)
Game 5: Light vs Rain on Eye of the Storm
While Light was an excellent TvZ sniper, Light was known to get sniped in the PvT matchup. With an abysmal 44.83% TvP win rate against a Protoss who is known for his PvT sniping, Light is definitely going to be in for a rough matchup. Rain had a 61.90% PvT win rate in the KeSPA era, and even with his return, he’s already blasted himself to a 6-1 win rate against Mong, Sharp, and Mind. By no means are those Terrans TvP slouches either, so Rain still has the magic to do well in the PvT matchup. For this one, I have to go with Rain.
Rain > Light
EffOrt and Rain will advance to the Round of 16!
Group C: Dragons Rise Again
Group C headlines two old Dragons with one being the most recent and notable return, Stork. free is the other Dragon in the group and the two Protoss will look to advance from this group over the two lower ranked players, Rush and MisO.
Game 1: Stork vs Rush on Benzene
Stork might look very rusty, given the games we saw him play at the Giga Showmatch. However, we know his potential and we know he’s going to take this seriously, given by how close he pushed FlaSh to the edge in their game on Destination. Many players have praised Stork as second-to-none in instinctual situations and praised his work ethic and dedication. Stork’s KeSPA PvT win rate was an impressive 65.94%, his specialty. Rush is merely a rising B-teamer back during the KeSPA era, with a measly 10 games played. He’s 5-5 TvP in the post-KeSPA era but lost most games to stronger Protoss like Movie and Shuttle. Expect Stork to come out firing.
Stork > Rush
Game 2: free vs MisO on Benzene
The other Dragon in the group, Free comes into this ASL after getting knocked out in a heartbreaker against the champion, Shuttle, in the Round of 16. Definitely look for Free to come back stronger this time around. And while his PvZ is by far his worst matchup, at only 40.32% post-KeSPA, he’s been practicing a lot, having a 3-6 record against hero, and a 4-9 record against EffOrt in the month of November. Those two players are renowned for their amazing ZvP so being able to take 33% of games against them is an impressive feat for someone who isn’t good at PvZ. MisO is going to have his work cut out for him, as the only Protoss he’s beaten are Luna, Olympus, and Tyson, all of which are poor quality Protoss. Free should be able to walk over the amateur in this game.
Free > MisO
Game 3: Stork vs free on Circuit Breaker
While their previous record in the KeSPA-era favored Stork, 6-3, he’s nowhere near the skill level he used to be, and Free has been in the scene for much longer as well. Note though, that Stork will most likely be practicing with Bisu, as Bork power will lead to good PvP practice. However, even with this practice, Free has already been back in the scene for far longer and he still has a decent 53.19% win rate. I expect Free to be able to edge out Stork.
Free > Stork
Game 4: MisO vs Rush on Circuit Breaker
The battle of the amateurs is here. Rush actually started to make a splash in the 41 Starleague, where he defeated both hero at his peak and ZerO. Even in the month of November, he actually had a winning record against hero, 4-3! But with low game pool from both players, it’s hard to give a clear favorite. Judging from what we have, MisO seems to be one of the weaker/weakest players in this Round of 24.
Rush > MisO
Game 5: Stork vs Rush on Eye of the Storm
The classic rematch, and yeah, Stork should be able to take this over Rush again. The maps don’t really make too much of a difference, and EotS isn’t a map that Terrans can gain that much of an edge over Protoss.
Stork > Rush
The two Dragons, free and Stork will advance to the Round of 16!
Writers: FlaShFTW, BLinD-RawR, BigFan
Photo Credits: Liquipedia, Kongdoo, Sinbal Farms