Welcome back to our September Edition of the SC:R Power Rank! Some housekeeping topics to discuss before we head into the actual list. I received a lot of criticism and feedback from people that I rewarded participation over actual talent and ability to win games. After looking through what people had to say, I agree with the comments, that I should reward talent over activity.
That being said, extended periods of inactivity will still be punished. Sponmatches will also be factored into the grading; however, I will not grade them at the same level as tournament or KCM results. Ok, with that out of the way, let’s dive in!
#1: Flash (New)
Ok so here’s the thing, FlaSh by all rights should have been on the PR last time, and easily at least in the top 3. So don’t be alarmed that I brought him someone that didn’t make the PR last time to #1. Second, the only player I could make arguments for putting over FlaSh are Rain before his match against Jaedong, and Jaedong after his match against Rain. Seeing as Rain lost, he can’t be #1, and Jaedong’s ZvT still needs to be proven before I can make an argument for Jaedong over FlaSh.
Besides that, FlaSh absolutely crushed Shuttle in the ASL6 wildcard match for the 4th seed. The one-sided affair signals to me that FlaSh hasn’t lost much of a step, and that he’s definitely back this season to get some revenge on his ASL5 Ro8 exit. The timings and decision-making are all still there, coupled with new found motivation to get back to his throne. FlaSh will be scary in ASL6, and if his ASL3 run was any indication of how much he hates losing, everyone will need to be on their best guard against FlaSh.
#2: Jaedong (New)
Yes, there’s a lot of hype right now, and maybe he’s placed a smidge high. But god damn if most of us aren’t screaming “HE’S BACK!!!” and drooling over the sight of his zergling control. For a guy who’s highest finish was the semis at ASL2 all the way back in early 2017, and now in the finals of a very prestigious offline tournament, it has been an incredible ride for Jaedong as well as his fans. It’s like the Tiger Woods effect, Starcraft is better and more fun to watch when Jaedong is playing well.
His games haven’t been pushovers either, coming back from the loser’s bracket in the group stages after getting knocked down by Light, only to trounce Shuttle and then get sweet revenge on Light in the final match. That was where people started to feel that maybe something special was happening, especially after his crushing ling runbys against Shuttle. His series against Light was also masterfully played, his immaculate game sense carrying him through to the victory, with still some holes in his play. His match against Snow was just a glimpse of the Jaedong of old, the infamous LLWWW to take the series with brilliant adaptation and BoX preparation.
And he read Snow like a book in Game 5, sniping the first shuttle not even 20 seconds after it was completed. And a one-sided sweep of Rain, who many thought would be the next best player, cemented himself as my #2 player in this PR. With seemingly no holes in his play, Jaedong seemed to show the old tendencies, cracking wrists after Game 2, and licking his lips after Game 3 when he could taste victory, gave me flashbacks of his play nearly a decade ago in 2009. Welcome back Jaedong, it’s been too long.
#3: Rain (-2)
Rain’s weakness was finally exposed after going up against the Tyrant, Jaedong. A series that almost seemed too fast to believe, Rain quickly tapped out each game as he sunk deeper and deeper into a hole. What was his forte in PvP and PvT, his early-game micro and rapid decision making, was all but useless against Jaedong. In fact, he looked completely out of his element right from the start, moving out zealots and allowing Jaedong to run through with lings to destroy cannons before his hydra bust in Game 1, and allowing a simple ling attack to kill him in Game 2, and some questionable attacks in Game 4.
With that being said, I think Rain is still in the top 3 for a few reasons. His PvP is like the combination of Stork and Bisu in their primes, and his PvT is by no means a slouch still. He beat Mini 3-2, and then crushed BeSt who looked like a nervous wreck the entire series. For me, like what I said about BeSt and Snow in the last PR, they need to improve their vZ matchups before I can start putting them back at the top, because especially with a hoard of Zergs waiting for them in the ASL, they won’t get far if they can’t fix their weakest matchup.
#4: Last (New)
I don’t understand Last. He went from getting smashed against Mini in the KSL opener, to barely winning an absolutely garbage series against Movie (seriously, that series was one of the worst Bo5 matches I’ve ever seen), and then gets revenge against Mini in a very scrappy, excellent series to advance to the Ro8. From there, he played another great scrappy series against Horang2 and upset Soulkey, 4-2 in the semis. Much like Jaedong’s drought and recent surge, Last had not made a significant splash in the scene for a very long time, so seeing AlphaGo play like AlphaGo to advance to a finals is impressive.
His scrappy defense against Mini in their final series had me on the edge of my seat the entire game, which culminated into a beautiful Game 4 that let many of us speechless. To cap it all off, he ended a surging hero’s KCM run to seal the deal for the Terran vs Zerg race war. Against Horang2 it was much of the same, he had a bit better success against carriers but overall still forced the series to play to his pace, scrappy and tight. Soulkey couldn’t manage to break his pace either, with a barrage of 1-1-1 coming out of Last that seemingly gave Soulkey almost no answers. Even Game 3 where Soulkey narrowly held on felt like another Last victory that would have pushed him up 3-0. The only unfortunate part is that he gave away much of his style and strategy to a waiting Jaedong in the finals, so he’ll have to go back to the drawing board to prepare for another Bo7.
#5: Soulkey (-2)
Soulkey had been on a ZvT tear, beating Light and Sharp on his way to what appeared to be another finals appearance. Until AlphaGo mode turned on and down went Soulkey in the semifinals. What frustrated me the most about Soulkey wasn’t that he lost, but how he lost. Games 1 and 3 were nearly identical, and it seemed like he was going to suffer the same fate as before until he narrowly swung the tide with a 3rd that wasn’t killed like Game 1. Still, it seemed like he was completely unprepared for the 1-1-1, even after all the times he played FlaSh in sponmatches when he first unveiled the new and improved 1-1-1 build.
That being said, he still managed a top 4 finish in the KSL, and will now look towards the ASL6. His ZvP is still top notch, especially with how he handled Shuttle in the group stages, and he’s still a consistent high performer in the KCM. We just need to see him adapt better in BoX series and see if he can improve his ZvT, otherwise he won’t ever have a chance against FlaSh.
#6: Larva (-4)
Larva’s choice to not participate in ASL6 leaves us disappointed. That being said, family does come first and we hope that he spends valuable time with his kid and unwinds from a stressful Starcraft season. Perhaps his failure to qualify for the KSL helped influence his decision. Regardless, Larva is still one of the scariest players to face in a BoX series, and if he were in the KSL right now, I would have full confidence for him to tear his way through the groups and bracket. Hopefully we see more Larva in online tournaments for September, but keep a close eye on his sponmatches to gauge is progress.
#7: Snow (-3)
Here’s the problem with Snow. His PvT, phenomenal, arguably the best right now among all the Protoss players. Better than BeSt and possibly better than Rain (haven’t seen enough PvT from Rain). His PvP is also solid considering he managed to beat Mini in the semis of ASL5. The problem comes from his PvZ. When he managed to take a 2-0 lead over Jaedong, it just seemed like he fell apart. You could tell he was playing scared and nervous as soon as he sent his probes back to the main and had them all destroyed by one lurker. It was more evident when he didn’t scout thoroughly with his corsair in Game 4 which made him instantly lose to a hydra bust, and then lost his first shuttle without scouting the area with corsairs.
With all that out of the way, he’s still a fearsome Protoss player that must be respected, and expected to at least make the Ro8 in ASL6, but with a weaker PvZ that was evident in his series against Jaedong, he needs to be more diligent with his practice to feel comfortable making a deep run.
#8: BeSt (-3)
I’d like to start BeSt’s section by saying if you haven’t watched the Pimpest Play of 2018, go watch it right now. https://clips.twitch.tv/IcyWimpyAlpacaNinjaGrumpy Ok, with that out of the way, here’s why BeSt drops a few places in the PR. Of course, with the introduction of FlaSh, we expected pretty much everyone to drop down a slot if they maintained their play, which BeSt rightfully has mostly done… MOSTLY. His series against Mind showed that he’s still one of the strongest PvT players, albeit Mind looked like hot garbage out there. On top of that, his 3-1 scoreline over Stork makes the series look a lot closer than it really was, but he proved that Stork’s 3-2 win was a fluke.
But he got manhandled by Rain in the Ro8, so badly beaten that he just looked out of place out there. Forgetting to attack with a dragoon when Rain was inside his base on Roadkill? Definitely showed that nerves got to him. But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, I don’t think there’s a single Protoss that can stand up to Ran right now. So his PvT is solid and his PvP is mostly good, but his PvZ looked shakey once again, after getting eliminated in the Seoul Qualifiers by MIsO. After taking Larva to a 5th set in the DanJJING finals, I would have expected BeSt to be able to at least take the series. There are still inconsistencies in his PvZ that definitely need to be shored up if he’s to hope for a podium spot in the ASL, considering he’ll have to deal with a stacked ZvP lineup of Soulkey, EffOrt, MIsO, and a resurgent Jaedong.
#9: Mini (-2)
Mini played a very good series against Rain, merely making one critical error in Game 5 by pushing up without vision and losing all of his dragoons. Sadly, what most felt like should have been a routine stomp over Last ended up in disappointment as he was eliminated from the KSL. He played quite well in the series though, nearly managing to break Last’s push multiple times. Alas, close isn’t good enough in the game of Starcraft. His PvP and PvT are still solid matchups, but we’ll need to examine his PvZ to see where he’ll line up in the coming ASL. Being seeded directly into the Ro16 will play a huge advantage for him though, and he’ll be able to have more time to prepare.
#10: Horang2 (New)
If you told me Horang2 would make it to the Ro8 in this KSL, I would have laughed at you. But he proved me wrong and played a tight series against Stork to victory. His play in the series looked solid, albeit it was only Stork who has seen better days. His series against Last was quite close as well, with him managing to defend an early expo against marine vulture rush and using carriers to claw himself a victory on Blue Storm. Horang2 only earns a 10th spot here because his group was overall easy to advance from and he failed to beat Last. But he also qualified for the ASL6 in the Seoul qualifiers, taking the group over Sascri 2-0 so he’ll round out our PR for the month.
-- Close But No Cigar (CBNC) ---
Sharp: While he did manage to make the Ro8, Sharp needs to prove to me that he can play a matchup besides TvT. His TvP looked completely in disarray against Snow, something most Terrans would say, and his TvZ did not look that clean either against Soulkey. I like Sharp, but he needs to improve his other matchups if he hopes to make it back into the spotlight and the top10 of the PR.
Shuttle: Disappointing is really my only word to describe Shuttle’s August. Knocked out first in his KSL group (albeit in two straight PvZs), and clobbered by FlaSh in the ASL Wildcard match. He always seems so close yet so far from breaking through to becoming a top tier Protoss but he’s consistently behind Rain, Snow, and BeSt.
Light: Light played two incredible TvZs in which he barely lost in the 5th and final set each time. After beating Jaedong 3-1 the first time around, I thought he would have been in prime position to move out of the group until Jaedong turned his zerglings into Devouring Ones. Light did make it back into the ASL6 by qualifying through the final qualifiers.
Hero: If you haven’t please go read the article of hero, written by our lovely Bigfan. Hero is sadly leaving for military service, severely weakening our already faltering Zerg line, and taking with him some incredible talent. He will be sorely missed, a consistent high tournament performer and was surging in the KCM Race Wars with a Protoss AK and a Terran 2k. You will be missed Prince of Zerg. o7
Photo Credits: Blizzard Entertainment