Table of Contents
Group A, Day Two
Prime vs Fnatic Raidcall
StartaleQ vs New Star HoSeo
Check out the GSTL on Liquipedia
The defending champions stumbled on the first step of their new campaign, suffering a shock upset against the GSTL first-timers Fnatic Raidcall. The upset alert has been raised, and StartaleQ will have to be at their very best as they take on New Star HoSeo tonight.
Recap: Prime vs Fnatic Raidcall
– Champions upset 5 - 4 in season debut
Match results from Live Report Thread by Dodgin.
+ Show Spoiler [Results] +
Prime began their title defense with nothing short of a nightmare performance, losing 4 - 5 to GSTL newcomers Fnatic Raidcall. Creator was the only player who lived up to the championship billing for Prime, netting his team three victories. The other members of the team were overwhelmed by the Warcraft III legend Moon and FnaticRC's ace in aLive. MarineKingPrime, the #2 Terran player in the world,* was particularly disappointing, unable to provide his team with a single win before getting taken down by Moon.
It was an upset, but at the same time not much of a surprise at all. Going into the season, FnaticRC and Prime could have not have had more different expectations on their shoulders. As the current title holders in three team competitions (IPL TAC, KSL, and GSTL), Prime were the consensus #1 team in the world. Meanwhile, Fnatic RC were an undermanned, under-experienced foreign team, who were happy enough to compete in the GSTL at all.
However, in the preliminary round of the season (from which the top four teams of the previous season received a bye), FnaticRC showed they had remarkable hidden depths. Fully devoted to Starcraft II, Moon showed glimpses of the sheer talent that allowed him to be called the "fifth race" in the four-race Warcraft III. ByuL, a pick up from the KeSPA teams also came out of nowhere to show some serious skills, culminating in a shock four-kill that allowed FnaticRC to triumph over LG-IM.
– aLive fulfills his end of the bargain as Moon shines
aLive hardly looked worthy of the title of 'Ace' in his first two matches of the season, where he lost to IM's YongHwa and TSL_Symbol. However, a solid clean-up performance against Prime from 3 - 4 down has done much to restore his reputation. First, aLive was able to take care of Creator's greedy double expansion build with a shrewd 6-rax only marine rush on Muspelheim. Then, in the ninth and final set, aLive got on a roll with the marine-marauder style that had cost him his last two TvZ's, and defeated Prime's final runner in BBoongBBoong.
Though it was a great ace performance from aLive, it was Moon who stole the show. A mysterious, almost reclusive player, the Warcraft III legend showed up for GSTL duty and put in another incredibly impressive performance. Coming out second after FnaticRC's Rain lost in the first set, Moon pulled off a string of three consecutive wins - most impressively triumphing over the dreaded MarineKingPrime. The map was Entombed Valley, MarineKing's choice of battlefield to avenge his friend GhostKingPrime who had lost the previous set.
With MarineKing clamping down on three bases and preparing to attack with endless marine-tank armies, Moon decided to show that he would not be outdone in brute force and prolonged his stay at lair to make huge muta-ling-bane armies to fight MKP head on. MarineKing got to show off his trademark marine splits and impressive micro in several battles scattered across the map, but Moon was able to swallow-up the Terran armies all the same. After a number of defeats, MarineKing saw the line of battle move from the Zerg expansions all the way back to his own base. Moon refused to let up the pressure and eventually broke through the last lines of defense, forcing the GG.
Player of the match: FnaticRC Moon
During his first stint as a Starcraft II player, Moon partially lived up to the hype that came along with being one of the greatest Warcraft III players of all time. However, he was forced to take a hiatus as he went back to focus on Warcraft III instead, and only became a full-time Starcraft II gamer a few months ago. While his initial comeback offerings at Assembly Winter were extremely shaky, his GSTL performances are showing that he has a shot at recapturing his former glory. He's been the best player for FnaticRC so far, scoring seven wins while averaging slightly over 2 wins per game. aLive might have the title of ace, but Moon definitely has the numbers.
*The winner of the GomTV MVP award was FnaticRC aLive
Game of the night: Game Six - Creator vs ByuL - Cloud Kingdom
This was a game with a few twists and turns, all starting when ByuL decided to baneling bust a forge FE. It was a nice change of pace from the mutually agreed econ-fests we're seeing in recent days, and both players ended up in unusual but even mid-game positions after ByuL dealt a moderate amount of damage with his attack.
ByuL seemed to take a big lead when his multi-prong roach tactics allowed him to destroy Creator third base, but Creator showed patience and perseverance to retake his third, build up a death-ball, and crush ByuL before he could get up to hive.
*I apologize for absentmindedly stating MarineKingPrime was the #1 Terran player in the world in a previous version of this article. Mvp is the #1 player in the world, across all races.
New Star HoSeo
b]Where They Stand[/b]
The two teams playing in today's match are actually pretty similar. Both are very well-rounded teams containing players around the same level as their teammates. Of course, most people would rate StarTaleQ's players more highly. Parting recently caught everyone's attention with his impressive PvT play, Squirtle placed second in both IPL4 and GSL, and Bomber also place second at a major lan, the Red Bull Battlegrounds. All three players are at the cusp of the top top tier, and their teammates aren't far behind. Curious is a solidly Code S player, July is legendary, and Virus and Ace are both capable of showing glimmers of Code S brilliance. Not to mention StartaleQ has the option, should they choose, to use Naniwa, Sase, and theStc, all high level players by their own rights. So far though, Startale has not yet ever exercised this option.
NSH also has just as diverse a roster as StartaleQ, as they are able to field at least two decent players of each race. (They're also notable for being able to send an full lineup of players with names that start with the letter S.) The quality of these players leave a bit to be desired, however. NSH currently has no players in Code S and only three players in Code A. Even NSH's most valuable player, Jjakji could not hold onto his Code S mantle. But from experience, we all know GSL status matters little in determining GSTL prowess. DRG, for example, back when he was dominating GSTL, was not even in Code A. And NSH's players, while not necessarily in the GSL, have proven in team leagues that they can all consistently take multiple games off of top players. That being said, it might still surprise you that the lifetime record between these two teams is actually only 3-2 in favor of Startale, with both teams holding one all-kill against the other, from Bomber and Sage. Perhaps NSH shouldn't be counted out so soon.
Bomber, as the only player for Startale who has all-killed NSH, will be an important player in today's war. Bomber is so scary for NSH that they often times rely on their ace, Jjajki to take him down with mixed results. Bomber, although he hit a rough patch a few months ago, seems to have caught his stride a bit again. With his second place finish at Red Bull Battlegrounds, where he placed higher than all of his StartaleQ teammates, and the 2GD Studio Arena, where he beat top foreigners in Huk and Stephano, he seemed to declare to the world that he was truly back and it was his time again in the spotlight.
Bomber also seems to be the perfect player to take on NSH. He has no real match-up weaknesses and his strong macro play should be more than capable of handling the unconventional play we have come to expect and love from NSH. Ask Bomber what he thinks of this match, and he'll certainly reply, "Are you ready for Bombing?"
Correspondingly, Captain Sage is only player from NSH who has ever all-killed Startale. Unfortunately for NSH, and even more unfortunately for Sage, he is nowhere near the level he once was in his prime, when he showcased both extremely creative and solid play in a large sample of games. In recent matches, NSH has not shown confidence in Sage, instead opting to send out Tassadar and San as their Protoss picks instead of their captain. In short, he is no longer "the next Protoss hope".
But this story sounds awfully familiar. SlayersAlicia, was also, at one time, dubbed "the next great Protoss hope", or even "the chosen one". Since his impressive run through the second ever Code A and first ever Super Tournament, Alicia seemed destined for greatness. But these predictions never seemed to manifest, as Alicia became more mediocre and mediocre with every season, eventually dropping out of the GSL entirely. Then, without warning, and seemingly out of nowhere, he placed third at an incredibly difficult tournament at MLG Anaheim. It may be a bit premature to say that Alicia has truly risen from the ashes again, but this does show that past greats have the potential to miraculously and spontaneous come back once again to surprise us. The spark of inspiration that we once saw from players like Alicia and Sage still exists buried deep within the players, and now is as good a time as any for Sage to make his return. Sage should go into this match with cautious confidence; he gained his fame with his all-kill of fOu(now FXO) and he's all-killed Startale before, so who says it's not about time for an encore?
Even before Squirtle's rise to prominence with his back-to-back second place finishes in big name tournaments, Squirtle could have been considered an Ace for Startale. As Bomber was making the biggest splashes in the GSL from StartaleQ, Squirtle was staying more low-profile, quietly scoring solid numbers of wins for his team. Now that he has moved up to become Startale's most decorated player, we will begin expecting more from the water-type.
But every Pokemon, even a Pokemon legend such as Squirtle has his weaknesses. And as we learned recently in GSL, Squirtle's "vine whip" is the dreaded proxy 2 rax. After MVPKeen determine's that Squirtle's shell was too hard to break with his best macro play, he turned to proxy 2 rax in games 2 and 3, and won both despite the fact that Squirtle had a good idea it was coming in both games. It seems that Squirtle had been psychologically scarred by his GSL finals where he lost to a proxy 2 rax, even after he thought he held it off, in the deciding game. In his interview, Squirtle discusses the traumatic experience and even admits to never having even tried to watch game 7. But as long as the 2nd place curse isn't real, and as long as Squirtle finally practices his proxy 2 rax defense, he should do just dandy. Squirtle hasn't shown that he is the type of player to all-kill, but you can definitely expect a solid 1-2 wins.
Because of Jjakji, NSH is able to claim that they have more GSL championships to their team than Startale. (And no, Fruitdealer doesn't count). But these days, Jjakji just doesn't seem to seem to make the noise he once did when he won his GSL. We thought he would come back to prominence after winning IPL's tournament of champions, but he once again fell back into the vast sea of "just" top 6-20 Korean Terrans, although he has an asterisk over his name denoting his GSL championship. And of all GSL champions (again, Fruitdealer excluded), Jjakji just seems unremarkable. MVP, Nestea, MC, DRG, and MMA are all still considered titans and at the absolute tip top of their races. And while performing well in GSTL is definitely not a defining characteristic of a GSL champion (looking at you, members of team LG-IM-SK), it certainly wouldn't hurt Jjakji's reputation. Come on, Jjakji. I really like your play, but you really gotta step it up.
What we can definitely expect to see from this match is a clash of styles. StartaleQ is a team with more solid, more standardized play, backed up by results. NSH players, on the other hand, tend to favor more untested and unconventional styles. The results of today's match will directly reflect on StartaleQ's preparation against such stylistic and often wacky play.
Players like Seal, Freaky, and Jjakji should give StartaleQ some trouble, but it will take an amazing streak from at least one of them to really take down such a solid team. But as we learned from + Show Spoiler +
All it really takes is one or two key players to have a good day and the best teams in the world will fall at your feet.
yesterday's upset of Moon and Alive over Prime, such streaks are not as uncommon as one might think.
But more often than not, the favorites prove they are the favorites for a reason.
Startale 5 - 3 NSH
Writer: NrGmonk and Waxangel.