Code S Ro8: Rain vs. HerO Preview
– Improves every time he steps into the booth.
– KeSPA practice regimen and mechanics.
– The SC2 version of Bisu, but with better results in OSL.
– Defeated PartinG soundly in the OSL, 3 - 1.
– Statistically worst match-up is PvP.
– Little experience in the deep stages of individual tournaments.
– Might get jumped by his crazy fangirl while making his way to the studio.
Ideal winning scenario: Is there really an ideal way to flip a coin?
Craziest winning scenario: Crushes HerO 3 - 0, proves that his weakest match-up is still pretty strong, and continues to walk the Royal Road with an unimaginable amount of hype behind him.
– More individual league experience than Rain, especially in the later rounds.
– Undefeated against KeSPA players
– Coming off a very strong PvP performance against Squirtle.
– More colorful hair.
– PvP has been his Achilles heel for much of his career.
– Might get jumped by his crazy fangirl while making his way to the studio
Ideal winning scenario: Is there really an ideal way to flip a coin?
Craziest winning scenario: He destroys Rain 3 - 0, becomes the official anti-KeSPA hunter, and shows up to the next game with a blinged out ivory mousepad.
Rain: The Legend in the Making
Coming into the Brood War scene in the 2010-2011 season, Rain made a statement that he would be the future of Brood War. Getting a 9-4 record as a rookie, an incredible feat for a total newcomer in the shark infested waters of Proleague, won the coveted Rookie of the Year award. Playing behind arguably one of the greatest Protoss in BW history, Bisu, and another top Protoss in his own right in Best, Rain was destined for greatness from the beginning with two of the elite helping him along the way.
While Rain never made a splash in singles competition like Bisu or Best, he was a key part of SKT when it came to the Proleague playoffs. In his rookie season, even though his team wasn't able to take down Flash in the ace match, Rain was able to defeat KT's top Zerg in Action and give his team a vital ponit. The year following, with the score tied 2 - 2 against KT in another final, Rain stepped up in the clutch again for his team and beat KT's top Protoss, Stats, setting up Bisu to come in the ace match and finally take down Flash to give his team the last Brood War Proleague championship.
With Brood War closing its doors and transitioning into a horrible half-half Frankenstein's monster Proleague, Rain never fully developed in Brood War like he could have with another year of full training. However, as one door of opportunity seemed to close, another one opened up. Transitioning into SC2, the word from SK Telecom was that Rain was the first player to really grasp the game and understand it. This showed throughout the season, with T1 sticking with Rain as their ace during the regular season and letting him take the ace role as well. With Fantasy still focusing on Brood War with his deep run in OSL, and Bisu having considerable trouble transitioning from Brood War Protoss to SC2 Protoss, Rain's stellar SC2 skills helped his team to playoffs.
Breaking into singles competition, Rain qualified for the three major Korean leagues: WCS, OSL and GSL. Getting a top sixth finish in WCS Korea was the first time people saw that not only could Rain dominate his brethren in KeSPA, but kick ass against the rest of the world as well. Losing to Curious in the first round 2-0, he came roaring back in the losers bracket with wins over horror, Leenock, Jaedong and then finally a revenge victory against Curious, showcasing his strong talents against Zerg. He did lose 2-1 to the eventual champion Creator in the Ro6, but he proved with his comeback victory against Curious he could improve by leaps and bounds in just two weeks.
In GSL and OSL, he only continued to confirm that he was KeSPA's best. Getting put in the group of death in OSL, he went 3-0, getting 1st in his group with a win over Jangbi, MarineKing, and DongRaeGu, putting himself in the quarterfinals where he would beat Parting 3-1 to make the semifinals. In the GSL, he did lose to Happy in his Ro32 group, but was able to get out of the group with four wins and zero losses to Byun, the semifinalist from the season before who was heralded for his TvP play.
The biggest wins in his SC2 career came two weeks ago, being put into the group of death in the Ro16 where he went up against two GSL champions in DongRaeGu and Polt, and the newly proclaimed best player in the world, Taeja. He did what people thought was impossible against Taeja, running him over 2-0 and showcasing his self-proclaimed "weak" PvT. With a handy dandy 4-Gate against Polt and another solid macro win, he got through the group of death with a 4-1 record received a spot in the quarter-finals.
Jaedong wasn't able to make it far in GSL, losing three straight games and falling to Code B. Flash, while getting to the second round of Code A, still had to go three maps against Killer, a player in exile on team MVP to regain his deteriorated skills. Bisu, the player that Rain looked up to when first starting out in SKT, is finally starting to do well in SC2 (10-2 currently in MLG's MvP tournament), but still has a way to go before living up to his Brood War reputation. Right now, Rain is in a position to solidify himself as not only the first great KeSPA SC2 player, but put himself in the history books in a very special way.
Winning GSL would make him the first royal roader in the tournament's history, taking the first major championship for a KeSPA player in a SC2 event when people thought it would take far longer for them to overtake Code S. Winning OSL would make him the first champion in hopefully a long line of SC2 OSL tournaments. Winning both? That would make him a legend. Flash winning MSL and OSL in back-to-back weeks was what took him from being a top five player, to the greatest player of all time.
No, winning both competitions wouldn't put him Flash territory, but it would make him a legend just like Mvp with his four GSL titles. When people talk about KeSPA, they talk about how they're catching up or surpassing the rest of the world because of how well Rain is playing. Truthfully, Rain is not just an ordinary player that represents his faction. Just like how every player on the GomTV side isn't Mvp. Rain is something special that is evolving in front of our eyes with good mentors on SKT, natural talent, and determination that made him rookie of the year two years ago.
This rookie is no longer in anyone's shadow. With a few more victories, he'll be the one casting a shadow over the entire Starcraft 2 world.
Hero: The KeSPA Slayer
Three words to describe Hero: Passion, Creativity, Emotions.
You might not find a more creative Protoss in the world, but you also won't find a more emotional one, either. Starting back from when he was first used by oGs in his GSTL debut, Hero has always played games where he shows the talent of a champion, but he has never realized his potential like he is doing now. He did win Dreamhack Winter last year, beating his EG-Korean rival Puma to take the crown, but since then hasn't had much luck when it comes to titles. Getting to the semifinals only two short seasons ago, Hero is ready to get back there and get to his first finals.
The pressure is never off Hero due to his team and popularity, but it has been lightened since Taeja joined the squad. Since Taeja became a member of Liquid, he taken the attention away from everyone else, for better or for worse. He gets all the praise as the team's ace in team league competitions and is being called the best player in the world due to his foreign dominance. It could make one a bit envious to see a new teammate overtake you as the head of a team, but on the other hand, maybe it's good to unload some of the pressure. Whatever the case, HerO's is showing his best games ever in this GSL Season.
Already having beaten top players like Squirtle and Symbol this season, Hero is showing greater strength in his always reliable PvZ, and has done much better in the match-up that has caused him so much stress over the last year: the coin-flip known as PvP. He did lose to Leenock in a series that sparked a gigantic debate on balance, vortexes and late game compositions in the PvZ match-up, but he is still is one of the deadliest players against Zerg in the world.
People want to believe Hero can win this season, and he got 2nd place in a community survey for who fans want to see win the title, but he got last place in voting for the quarterfinalist with the best realistic shot of winning. The road isn't easy, having to play KeSPA's Rain in the first round, followed by a date with Mvp or Symbol in the semifinals, but it's not impossible. Rain, who might be so humble that it it almost seems like cockiness somehow, thinks his PvP is a weak match-up, but that didn't prove to be too much of a problem when he beat PartinG 3 - 1 in the OSL.
Hero did beat Squirtle 2-0, getting some sweet revenge for the 0-3 loss to him in the Season 2 semifinals, so if he can beat the GSL's statistically best PvP player, no mountain should be too high for HerO to climb. If he can get by Rain, Symbol and Mvp are players that Hero has beaten before and can beat again if he gets a chance.
While Hero's problems with nervousness are well known, and a constant topic every time he plays, he actually hasn't suffered from any of those "vs. KeSPA" nerves that have overcome many a GomTV player. He got put up against Effort and Reality in WCS Korea, beat both quite easily, and advanced through to the Ro8 where he was supposed to take on Rain. Already having committed to an MLG, Hero had to drop out of the tournament after getting his WCS Asia seed, and never got to have his fateful match against the King of Elephants to-be.
Now, they will finally meet on an even grander stage. A win for Hero would not only give him his second semifinal appearance and confirm him as a top five Protoss in the world, but would stomp down on the incredible hype Rain has brewed up for his KeSPA side. He might be prone to nervousness, overly emotional when he loses, and the weakest player in the public eye, but he might be the GomTV HerO that finally puts rain down. This is not the same Hero of two seasons ago that buckled at the knees when getting put up against Squirtle. He's focused, stronger than ever, and will not go down without a fight.
Overall thoughts and prediction:
So we have a fight between the kid who is on the same team as Bisu and probably learned a lot from him, and the guy who was known as Bisu Jr. when he made his debut for oGs a long time ago. Two seasons ago when Squirtle and Hero faced off, I gave no shot to Hero. I thought he was a very good player, but didn't think he had the confidence nor the talent to topple Squirtle at the top of his world-destroying game.
Now, Hero is better, stronger, and is not so much a lost cause when it comes to PvP. Rain has said his PvP and PvT are "weak" by his standards and that he gets lucky in broadcast games, which is scary considering he's played the best games in both those match-ups this Code S season. The vast majority of fans think Rain is going to run away with this one, but Hero deserves a lot more credit than he's getting. He's only lost one series this season against Leenock, and it can certainly be argued that he was the better player in that series.
It's hard to bet against Rain and the flood of KeSPA hype is causing all around the world, but Hero is not a player you can overlook. I expect a Rain victory, but if Hero can bring his A-game like he did against Squirtle, there's no reason why Hero can't keep up his elephant slaying business.
Rain 3 - 2 Hero