Table of Contents
Prelimaries, Match One
LG-IM vs NS HoSeo
Check out the GSTL on Liquipedia
With the Startale-ZeNEX merger and Liquid's inability to field a roster (Jinro's retirement and HayprO's return to Europe leaves them with just four players in Korea), this season of the GSTL is down to the odd number of nine teams. GomTV's solution to the situation? A fight to the death, preliminary round with the three worst performing teams from the previous season, with two teams progressing to the GSTL proper, while one poor team must end its season in misery. Those three teams are: NS HoSeo, FnaticRC, and LG-IM. Wait, what? Yeah, the IPL TAC3 champions didn't do so hot in the GSTL. Let's go on to the preview!
New Star HoSeo
Where they Stand
It's deja vu for Incredible Miracle. Last season, they were also playing in a preliminary round, going up against two other teams for two spots in the next round. All they had to do was not finish last and they were through. Believe it or not, they sucked, and had to watch FnaticRC and Team SCV Life advance ahead of them.
Now, you can make some excuses for LG-IM. Losira was on the verge of all-killing TSL, but somehow Symbol managed to put in the greatest GSTL performance ever (serious, no hyperbole) and reverse all-killed Losira, YoDa, Happy, Mvp, and Nestea. Also, while LG-IM technically had MC on their roster due to their partnership with SK Gaming, MC had business making money abroad and wasn't present for any of their matches. Then, against Fnatic RC, they saw ByuL come out of nowhere and score four wins, after which he conveniently failed to make an impact in any other tournament.
Oh wait, no, you can't make excuses. LG-IM are the Real Madrid, the Yankees of the GSTL, and they're not supposed to get knocked out of tournaments in second to last place. Only Liquid managed to do worse, and they had a roster of five guys, one of whom retired a few months later. By winning IPL TAC3, LG-IM did get some sweet redemption, but it's not enough. LG-IM must make an impact this season.
To their luck or misfortune, they get to play the perennial scrappy underdogs New Star HoSeo. No one ever expects NSH to do well considering their bizarre roster of inconsistent players who can randomly play a championship class game now and then, but they remain oddly endearing due to their capacity to surprise.
Unfortunately NSH has become a less prickly team since GSTL Season Two, with players like Sage, Freaky, and Sting departing from the team. While they were not mainstays last season, they were still dangerous wild cards in their roster, and they've become a more mundane, predictable team as a result. Even worse, their ace player Jjakji has been in a long slump now, and he's no longer a reliable multi-kill card.
One can try to find some silver lining, but it's hard. Players are leaving without anyone coming up from the ranks to take their place, and NSH is just an objectively worse team than they've ever been before. With ZeNEX now out of the picture, NS HoSeo has taken the unofficial mantle of the GSTL's weakest team.
Despite their combined seven championships, Mvp and NesTea are known for not living up to expectations in the GSTL. Mvp is fairly good (just not four championships good), while Nestea is just straight up bad when he has to play for his team.
However, that probably won't be a problem at all against NSH, as everyone else on the team has picked it up greatly since last season. YoDa and Happy made it into this season's Code S, while LosirA has been a team tournament killer ever since rediscovering his magical touch this summer. First revealed himself as one of the finest PvT and PvP players in the world, and he should be more than up to the task of sniping any team's Protoss or Terran ace. Even YongHwa found his way into the limelight, going far at HomeStoryCup V to make himself known to the world.
And of course, there's Seed. After spending almost a year in the shadows after a break-out GSTL performance in 2011, Seed returned with powerful combination of unshakable determination and dark magic to become the Code S Season Three champion. More so than anyone on the team – with the exception of perhaps Mvp – he's shown the ability to take on pressure, control it, and use it to make himself even stronger. Going up against Liquid in the IPL TAC3 finals, it was Seed who defeated TaeJa and HerO consecutively to earn his team the championship.
With six Code S players, LG-IM might have both the deepest and top heavy roster in the GSTL. Only StartaleQ can really say they challenge them in terms of sheer aggregate talent, but they have that pesky never-won-first-place stigma to deal with.
The departures of Sage, Freaky, and Sting mean that NSH has been effectively cut down to a five man team, much like Liquid or ZeNEX in previous seasons. A first team of San, Tassadar, Sculp, Seal, and jjakji seems to be the only reasonable line-up to put forth in this match-up.
San is San, a decent Protoss player who has a weird knack for navigating online qualifiers and getting into MLG and the OSL, despite being unable to qualify for Code A since August 2011. He represents the NSH team fairly well – not a threat to win a championship, but never a player to be taken lightly due to his ability to play very well without any discernible pattern. Tassadar is fairly similar in this regard. He's been pretty much anonymous all summer, but still came out of nowhere to beat TaeJa in a macro PvT on Antiga in the previous GSTL. Go figure.
Seal and Sculp are the two NSH players that seem like they should be more accomplished, as they'll occasionally bust out crazy skills and look like world beaters. Sculp managed to defeat Symbol at his peak last season, on Metropolis at that, while Seal has all-killed for NSh in the past. Seal has even broken through the Code A qualifiers a few times, but had the bad luck of being first-rounded against Squirtle, Puzzle, and JYP in consecutive seasons (at that rate, he'll get Creator this season).
GSL champion jjakji is the key to NSH's success and failure this season, as he is every season. Ever since his insane run through the IPL Tournament of Champions to make it to IPL4, and his run through the similarly ridiculous open bracket in Vegas, Jjakji just hasn't looked like his championship winning self. At the age of eighteen, he should be in his prime and improving every day, but instead he's been stuck in mediocrity all summer. The latest disappointment was going 0 – 3 in his Up/Down group, relegating him to Code A for at least a season. He was actually fairly good in the previous GSTL season, defeating players like Puzzle, HerO, and PartinG, but he needs to be a super-ace class player for NSH to have a chance this time around.
Overall outlook and prediction
LG-IM are the strong favorites, and it shouldn't even be close. Hmmm, how many times have we said that about LG-IM in the GSTL, only to see them crash and burn miserably? However, all streaks have to end some day, and although the LG-IM hex in the GSTL is uncanny, they couldn't possibly lose to the new ZeNEX.
LG-IM 5 : 2 NSH