Table of Contents
Group A, Day Four
SlayerS-EG vs ZeNEX
Liquid vs NSH
Check out the GSTL on Liquipedia
A Hard Day's Night
Ah, the GSTL we know and love is back. With a large number of series going all nine games last season, it was disconcerting to see the action end so quickly on the first two days. ZeNEX and SlayerS-EG fought fiercely in a series that was decided in an ace-match, where unexpected Ace, EG.JYP took down ZeNEX's Extreme.
Next up is an elimination match, as Liquid takes on NSH!
GSTL kicks off tonight at 09:10 GMT (+00:00).
Recap: SlayerS-EG vs ZeNEX
– SlayerS-EG defeats ZeNEX 5 – 4 in nail-biter
Match results from Live Report Thread by Dodgin.
+ Show Spoiler [Results] +
SlayerS-EG became the first team to advance to the second round from preliminary group A, overcoming a spirited challenge from underdogs ZeNEX after trailing 1 – 3 halfway through the match. Life was once again at the head of the charge for ZeNEX, scoring three early wins over SlayerS-EG, while also taking down his second ace in two days with a victory over SlayerS_MMA. Though Life's rampage was eventually stopped, SlayerS were pushed to the verge of defeat when Line defeated Puzzle to make the score 4 – 3 in ZeNEX's favor.
With MMA and Puzzle already defeated, it was not a SlayerS player, but Evil Geniuses' JYP who was charged with saving the day. SlayerS' faith in their partner proved to be very well placed, as JYP came through with two clutch performances to rescue the team. After using warp prism and voidray tactics to defeat Line, he continued to roll over Extreme in the final, deciding match of the night.
SlayerS-EG now moves on to Group A in the second round, joining Prime, Mvp, and one yet to be determined team from the other qualifier group (containing LG-IM, TSL, and Fnatic). ZeNEX gets one more chance to qualify for the next round, and they will await the winner of Team Liquid vs New Star HoSeo in the final match of the group.
Player of the match: EG.JYP
Life deserves a special mention for tearing apart MMA right after defeating HerO, but the real star of the night was Evil Geniuses' JYP. He had all the pressure in the world on him coming out as the final runner with two opponents to beat, but his micro and execution were largely on point as he delivered in the clutch. Terran snipers will be a problem for JYP, but with his great skill at PvZ and PvP, he's sure to continue being a great asset for SlayerS-EG down the line. Now, if he would only start doing the same for Evil Geniuses...
Game of the night: Game Four - MMA vs Life
Though it was a nine game series, none of the games were particularly great. Once a player had the lead, he didn't let go, and the games ended up playing out fairly mundanely. You may as well check out MMA vs Life, to see how a rising Zerg star was able to take down MMA in a ZvT, on Antiga Shipyard of all maps.
Where They Stand
Team Liquid came off their last match looking fairly feeble after being all-killed by the supposedly weakest Korean team in GSTL. Their only win came from a shaky looking Zenio in a game where his opponent had an advantage and squandered it away. Their ace, Hero, could not even take one map in his best matchup on a favorable map. Jinro, in his return to the GSL stage, did not get to show his gameplay as he was caught unprepared by some of the fastest mutalisks we’ve ever seen. The twin foreigner Zergs, Haypro and Code A qualifier finalist TLO, were able put up a good fight, but looked outclassed by Life in the end.
That’s one way to look at it, but the other, more glass half full outlook taken by some Liquid members, is that it was a valuable learning and team-bonding experience. Another plus going for Liquid is that Taeja will be joining Liquid’s ranks in their next match, an addition that will surely boost both Team Liquid’s spirits and actual strength as a team.
New Star HoSeo, in their match versus Slayers, looked like an incomplete team. They questionably sent out their ace, Jjakji, to beat one of Slayers’ weaker players. After Jjakji lost, NSH found themselves in a difficult situation to try to take out Puzzle. They initially tried sending out San in a PvP on an unfamiliar map with a tricky strategy and then sent out Sting, a player that just seemed outclassed by the solid and complete Puzzle. Finally when that failed, NSH was forced to send out their last remaining best player, Seal, in his worst matchup, crossing their fingers that he could get a miracle win and then have a good chance versus Slayers’ last player, MMA.
In summary, we learned that day that NSH struggles with solid Protosses such as Puzzle, as Jjakji is the only one with a particularly good versus Protoss match-up on the team. With Hero, a recent round of 4 Code S Protoss, leading the charge for Liquid, this could prove to be a problem for the New Stars.
Players of Interest
Team Liquid: TaeJa
Taeja must have been disappointed yesterday when he got off his plane, coming home from the Red Bull Battlegrounds, only to learn that his team lost in such disappointing fashion without him in their first team league match. His return, however, puts Team Liquid’s roster count up to slightly less anemic six and gives them two top level Code S players. Hero will be especially relieved as now the burden of the team won’t all be on his shoulders. Taeja’s experience in the GSTL will also prove valuable as he is known for all-killing two teams in his GSTL run with Slayers.
NSH’s success in team leagues has always been a team effort. In every match they’ve won, a different player was the MVP. However, one player stands out as extremely reliable. Every time a high level Terran , Seal will be sent out to clean him up, and a vast majority of the time, he wins and goes on to win even more games.
I know you guys like the GSL statistics GOM posts during their matches. Here’s one I researched on my own. When NSH first broke out on the scene, they sent Seal as either the starter or against Protoss where he went 0-2. Since then, they have learned their lesson and almost exclusively been sending him out against Terrans and in all the team leagues(GSTL, IPL TAC, KSL) thus far, he is 10-4 when sent out against a Terran while having an overall 1-4 record when sent out against Protoss. This does not include the numerous Terrans and Zergs he’s gone on the kill after he wins his first game.
It is clear that Seal has an extremely strong matchup in ZvT and an extremely weak matchup in ZvP. He has even admitted in an interview that his ZvP was his reason for not being as successful as he could be. However, ZvP aside, Seal’s prowess at ZvT makes him an excellent counter, a sniper even, against Liquid’s new hope Terran hope Taeja.
Team Liquid: Liquid`HerO
While Hero did not perform well in his last match, he is still widely considered to be Team Liquid’s ace. Hero will be trying to exploit NSH’s weakness against solid Protoss I had touched on earlier, but I would argue that he will have a harder time than Puzzle did.
The biggest problem is that Hero has a definite weakness to Protoss, a race which has knocked him out of many major tournaments. He was recently knocked out of the IPL tournament of champions 0-6 by CreatorPrime, knocked out of IPL4 by Huk, and knocked out the GSL 0-3 by Squirtle. A Protoss sniper killing Hero seems much more plausible than one taking out Puzzle.
In addition, Puzzle, while having relatively poor results for his skills, is regarded by Koreans as an extremely strong player, with MC saying that he has top 2 PvT in the world, along with Parting. While Hero probably is at least very close to that skill in PvT, this highlights another potential problem for Hero. Jjakji, a Terran and Hero’s biggest threat, took Puzzle to a very close game on a Protoss favored map, so he’ll be a very formidable challenge for Hero to overcome.
Finally, Hero’s biggest strength, his legendary PvZ will be less useful versus NSH. NSH’s Seal has weak ZvP, and NSH’s other Zerg, Freaky, while showing very interesting play, does not have enough proven games or experience to pose a very plausible change to Hero.
As the best player on NSH with the best overall results, Jjakji is the de facto ace, even if he usually performs around the same level as Seal in team leagues. However, you could argue that Jjakji is a more rounded player and Seal’s sniper-esque skillset is more suited for team leagues. Being the best, most well rounded player on a team, put a bit of pressure on you, however, as while his lesser teammates can usually pick up a win off of better players on paper, it is up to Jjakji to win more than that in order to generate the five wins required to win a match. We saw this in NSH’s last match where after Jjakji fell after getting NSH ahead, NSH struggled immensely to close out the match.
In some ways, Jjakji’s role of ace is less significant against Liquid, a team with not as many strong, solid players, who NSH’s supporting cast should be favored over. On the other hand, however, JJakji is still NSH’s best chance to take out the opposing ace, Hero.
Given the proclivities of both teams, the matchup preferences of the players, and the small size of Liquid’s roster, I think this match will go rather predictably, centered around the aforementioned four players, Hero and Taeja from Team Liquid and Jjakji and Seal from NSH. Somewhere in the middle of the match, Taeja will be sent out from Liquid. Seal will try to take him out, and Hero will be sent to avenge Taeja. Then, Jjakji will swoop in to attempt to save his team. Whichever team can somehow surprise and break that chain of predictable events will have an almost insurmountable advantage and most probably win the match.
However, given that Team Liquid has weaker backup players in comparison to NSH and the fact that this imaginary simulation I’ve cooked up in my head favors NSH, I’m going to have to give the Korean based team the match.
NSH 5 - 3 TL
Writers: NrGmonk, Waxangel.