Table of Contents
Semi-finals, Match Two
SlayerS-EG vs TSL
Check out the GSTL on Liquipedia
Second chances are a thing of the past. These are the playoffs, and one loss means your season is over.
SlayerS-EG and TSL face off tonight for the right to play FXOpen in the finals.
Team SCV Life
How TSL Got Their Dignity Back
Six months ago, TSL was awful. They were a nicely built house that had terrible tenants, graffiti scrawled along the outer walls saying unspeakable about the owner, and another resident leaving every other week because of the poor conditions. Coach Lee was still captain of the ship, but what did it matter? What does it matter to be the coach when your team is a laughing stock to the rest of the league?
The lowest point in TSL's history was last season when they faced HoSeo in the GSTL. A few weeks before this match, many of their established players had left and even Alive, who was their ace along with Polt, had finally decided to join the rest of the people who deserted the broken home and joined Fnatic. With a hastily mashed together match-up of Zerg players you've never heard of led by Polt, it was a tall order to beat anyone.
When Polt was thrown out first and failed to win the opening match against Sculp, the HoSeo team did a ceremony where they all got off the bench and pretended to leave the studio in unison. Simply, HoSeo was telling Lee and his team the fact they probably knew, 'Polt is your only good player. Your team sucks. Everyone is leaving your terribly run team. Enjoy getting your ass beat.' Even though Shine did grab a moral victory on one map, TSL got embarrassed and bounced from the tournament, reaffirming everyone's thoughts that TSL was near death, and that even Polt would be jumping ship soon enough.
To everyone's surprise, Polt didn't leave. Even with every other star TSL ever had having gone to join a new team, Polt stuck with Coach Lee through the darkest times in the team's history. He went off to Winter Assembly in Finland, beat Stephano in the finals, and gained a vital victory for a team that hadn't won anything since Puma went off to NASL, won, and then immediately put on an Evil Geniuses t-shirt.
Over the following months, TSL continued to grow stronger. Symbol, a promising rookie who played well in online tournaments, was starting to get deeper and deeper in the tournaments he entered, and giving top tier players a run for their money in the process. Hyun, the Brood War pro that showed an embarrassing lack of game knowledge when he first started playing, started catching on to the nuances of Starcraft II that would allow him to fully harness his prodigious fundamentals. Shine, another Zerg players on the racially imbalanced team, also started coming into his own, looking better with every match.
Now, six months after being made fun of by nearly everyone, Symbol has made it into the Code S quarterfinals and will be assured a spot in the fourth season. Hyun, Polt, and Shine have won their first two games in Code A and will have a chance to make it into Code S through the third round or Up-and-Down matches. Even players like Revival, Inori, Ragnarok have shown strong play in online tournaments and come up when they needed them in team matches.
With one series away from the finals in Busan, TSL has never been better. Even with FruitDealer and Tester in their first incarnation or with Clide, Puma, JYP, etc. in their second, they have never been able to get past the semifinals. Having already lost three times in the semifinals, if TSL can beat Slayers, they will finally finish the rebuilding process. Coach Lee not only wants a GSTL victory, but with Startale and IM picking up major sponsors recently, thinks that if his team can continue on their path, that TSL's future will be one of the brightest in the scene.
Airplanes, Drama, and Evil Geniuses
So, uh, what? How do you even preview Slayers? After talking about TSL, a team that had to go to its lowest point before reaching its highest, we now have to talk about an empire that after winning two championships, is slowly moving into the shadows.
First off, who the hell is even playing for these guys? Everyone already knows about the MMA being demoted to the B-team drama, but does that mean he can't play in tonight's semifinals? He hasn't been used much at all in any team leagues recently and with his demotion out of the team house, it would seem unlikely they would use him, right? Making things even more complicated, MMA ripped apart Hero 2-0 in this week's Code A Round 2 in his worst match-up and looks like a player who SlayerS will need desperately if they have thoughts of getting past the semifinal stage.
Also, what's up with Crank? We all know MMA has changed his Twitter ID, a decision that many times has shown a player is a free agent or leaving a team, but it wasn't only him who changed his Slayers ID. Crank did so as well, so does that mean he isn't going to be playing either? Is he still on the team?
That brings us to Alicia and Ryung. With Taeja and Ganzi gone, MMA thrown in the depths of Slayers prison for an unknown action, and everything else in flux, SlayerS needed Ryung. A team that was once built on Terrans is now almost completely deleted, and of the ones remaining, Ryung is by far the best. Now, weirdly, Ryung, unlike most of the TSL team and Leenock from FXO, is present at Summer Arena instead of the GSTL semifinals. Having the player who won the ace match last week to send your team to the semifinals go off to a foreign tournament instead of playing in the semifinals, in any situation, is a bad one.
Alicia, a player who has now gotten second at the MLG Winter Championships and NASL3, is right alongside his teammate Ryung in New York and playing in the MLG Arena instead of the GSTL semifinals. His absence won't be felt as hardly as Ryung's, with Puzzle clearly the #1 Protoss on the team, JYP as the second and maybe even Crank the third in the depth chart if he's still even on the team. The loss of Alicia is still pretty big, as he has been on form recently, but not as bad as losing your only GSL level Terran for the match.
So, what does that even leave them with? Puzzle and Coca will be playing, 100% for sure. With the TSL line-up filled with strong Zergs, you would have to bet that JYP would be used as well. The starter has already been named as Clide (vs. Shine), so we know four players that will almost assuredly being sent out tonight against Slayers. For the fifth and final spot, it's a toss-up. It could be any of their Zergs like YuGiOh or Min, or maybe even Crank if he's still on his team. (Unfortunately PuMa is at MLG as well, preventing SlayerS-EG from using the the dreaded JYP-PuMa-Clide ex-TSL line-up, almost guaranteed to cause physical violence in some form).
Slayers has one of the strongest histories of any team so far in SC2, and if they can secure a semifinal victory against TSL with a broken line-up, they will be one victory away from going against FXO in the finals for their third GSTL title. With no team even having two yet, getting to three would cement Slayers as the greatest team to ever play SC2 so far in its history. A loss to an in-form and surging TSL squad and things might get really bad for Slayers. With MMA's cloudy future, and poor individual league results across the board, it's almost shocking that SlayerS seem to care so little about grasping on to the one bit of sunshine available to them.
TSL will win if: Polt and Symbol both show up in their best form. Polt, the player on TSL with by far the most individual awards and money, has always been terrible in team league. Even dating back to his days in Prime, he has been awful in the format. With countless losses and only one win in his GSTL career, Polt can redeem all of that if he can bring his individual league form and lead his team into the finals.
For Symbol, we all know how great he is, but he's also had a lot of downs recently, He choked against Seed in the quarterfinals of Code S and then got eliminated by San in the final match of the OSL Dual Tournament, so he is coming off two rocky performances. If he can clear that from his mind and not fall into the trap DRG has gone into the last two nights, Symbol will be the super ace that we know him to be.
If Polt and Symbol both play well, Slayers is screwed.
Slayers will win if: Cella, Jessica, Boxer, or whoever makes their line-ups, puts out the correct match-ups. They have a lot of strong players, but some of them have major weaknesses. JYP is great against Zerg, but he can easily be sniped by one of the best TvP'ers in the world in Polt if he is sent out too early. Coca has been one of the main reasons why Slayers is this far in the tournament, but his ZvZ has never been good in the GSL, and with TSL housing the strongest Zerg line in the world, CoCa will have to navigate a minefield to play to his full potential. This series is going to be difficult for Slayers, but they can win if they can put their players in the right spots.
Prediction: TSL is on a roll, while SlayerS is doing their best not to look flattened. Go back six months ago, and you would be looking at TSL with all the players looking to cut and run, while SlayerS was being put on a pedestal by the community as one big happy family. Now, TSL is the fastest rising team in the business, and SlayerS is the team that's the target of ugly rumors. Slayers are going to need to get off to a good start with Clide taking a big win over Shine and then hope they can take down down the other three big players on TSL in Hyun, Polt and Symbol.
Honestly, this match is extremely hard to call because the lack of information with the Slayers situation. Everyone believes MMA isn't going to play, but if he does? Everything changes and Slayers automatically has a much better chance at taking down TSL. Team Swarm Life hasn't won any blowouts this season, so you shouldn't expect Slayers to get steamrolled if they do lose. But if Symbol shakes off his recent losses and Polt can play like he has against Xtreme and Maru in Code A, it's going to be beyond difficult to beat the rebuilt TSL.
TSL 5 - 4 Slayers