WCS Season II Finals
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STX_INnoVation at the WCS Season 2 Finals
Presenting the Most Crazy-ass Prediction of Recent Times
by Zealously, who is Swedish
A month ago, there was one player everyone was talking about. The Robot Terran, the best interviewee of all time, and also consensus best player in the world: STX SouL's INnoVation. At the end of a stellar regular season, he led his team to their first ever Proleague championship by playing nothing short of perfect in playoffs. He held the WCS Season 1 title, and looked like a peerless champion above all others.
And then he ran into Terrans. Bomber, the talented but inconsistent StarTale Terran, gave the WCS champion a real beating in the OSL. He bested INnoVation in two drawn-out macro games, the very kind of game where Innovation had seemed to be strongest. Though INnoVation would progress to the semi-finals nonetheless, it would only lead to an even more violent thrashing. With the hellbat—previously the pillar of Innovation's TvT—receiving a major nerf, INnoVation faced an opponent who was not at all intimidated, and read him like an open book. Maru's 4 - 0 stomp of Innovation was one for the history books, and we all know what happened next. Maru went on to win the OSL, beating Rain convincingly as well in the finals.
There are some who say that INnoVation was still the best player in the tournament and that he was the victim of an extremely rare fluke. But what if, instead, INnoVation has some real problems he has to overcome?
I don't question Innovation's TvZ prowess—no one matches his efficiency nor his brutality. Long-time Starcraft II fans will remember sC's famous marine rally, where he'd just rally marines across the map until his opponent died. Innovation does the same thing, but with more tools at his disposal, and about 300% better. With an unmatchable combination of speed, macro, and multitasking, INnoVation is perfectly adapted to playing the hyper-aggressive brand of modern TvZ.
But recently, it's looked like his most powerful weapon is only weapon. He went a disappointing 0 - 6 against Bomber and Maru in the OSL, and on top of that got his behind handed to him by PartinG in WCG Korea. TaeJa, always the honest and pragmatic player, gave a telling answer when asked how he felt about being matched up against INnoVation for his first match: "Since we're both doing badly in TvT lately, I'm not worried."
There are only two Zergs at the Season 2 finals, and in no circumstance can Innovation win the championship solely on the back of TvZ. He may be the defending champion, but he now has as much, if not more to prove than any of the other contestants. The forecast for INnoVation is cloudy with a chance of Rain, or possibly Maru. Can he prove that he is championship-class in all three match-ups?
One does have to wonder if Innovation is even worried, however. Hell, is he capable of being worried? The guy made an unstoppable run through the last WCS Season Finals after being reverse-swept by Soulkey in Code S, so I'll wager that if there's a player who can bounce back from crushing disappointment, it's him. But INnoVation's problem isn't just about keeping a solid mentality, it's learning from the past and growing as a player.
If the last season represented the victory of mechanics, speed and precision, then this season has been about the power of unpredictability. With Maru pulling out not one but three figurative rabbits out of his hat to blow Innovation's mind before kicking him out of the OSL, its clear Innovation's next-level mechanics alone won't carry him in TvT. His builds are crisp and his execution equally so, but he lacks the ”Mvp factor”, the series planning and unpredictability that makes or breaks champions. We're not at the stage in Starcraft II where we can call someone a perfect player, but in terms of gameplay alone, Innovation comes fairly close. But when it comes to intelligent play – outsmarting opponents, finding the perfectly tailored build, Innovation isn't up there.
Obviously, INnoVation doesn't need an Mvp or NesTea brain to be a champion, but there's no doubting that it would help. If Innovation can find the cunning to pair with his brute force, then he could establish a dynasty. But from what we've seen so far, it doesn't look like he will.
Brains vs. Brawn: it's an old cliche but a particularly relevant one at the WCS finals. Let's see which one prevails.
WCS Season II Finals: Ro16 Group C PreviewDuckdeok, INnoVation, TaeJa, NaNiwa
Poor Alliance.NaNiwa. As if being dumped in the same group as STX_INnoVation and Liquid`TaeJa – terrifying opponents for any Protoss – wasn't enough, he has to put up with playing the guy who embarrassed him in the Round of 8 in WCS Europe.
Unrelenting in his pursuit of victory, Naniwa plowed his way through Vortix in the consolation matches to ensure he'd be able to redeem himself at the Season Finals. Despite Naniwa's strong showing in the Protoss mirror at MLG, it still seems he's not confident in the match-up. Facing a player like MVP.duckdeok, whose mix-and-match playstyle contains about everything in the offensive playbook, should make for a very difficult first match.
But really, Naniwa may actually be happy with this draw. We've known for a long time that the Swede is all about proving himself and wanting to become the best. What better way to do that than playing the guy who eliminated you just a couple of weeks ago and won your WCS region, but also playing two players with Protoss kill lists longer than the distance from Skåne to Cologne?
Speaking of kill lists, we'll have to be on the look-out for a mini summer of Liquid`TaeJa at the Season 2 Finals. With Innovation's recent weakness in TvT and obvious weakness to unpredictable/aggressive play, Taeja is in great shape to take out the last WCS champion. He played out a 5-game series against Polt, only narrowly losing out to the eventual champion. Though Taeja didn't look as good at ATC, that was a team league he ended up playing after a missed flight and a lot of stress, whereas this is the tournament TaeJa has been looking forward to for an entire season. The time is ripe for TaeJa.
That leaves us only with the last man in the group – STX_INnoVation. He has the eyes of the world on him right now – will he end the worrying trend of defeats at the hands of (albeit good) Protoss and Terran players, or will this be the group that finally ends his run as the iconic player of HotS?
Naniwa's tendency to bounce back and beat players most say he shouldn't, combined with Taeja's advantage in having been in Germany for a couple of days and having played some pretty decent TvT against Polt recently, alongside the fact that duckdeok pretty much embodies everything that Innovation loses to... If there ever was a stage so perfectly set for an upset, it has to be this one.
duckdeok < Naniwa
Innovation < Taeja
Taeja > Naniwa
duckdeok > Innovation
Naniwa > duckdeok
Taeja and Naniwa advance to the Round of 8
Top 2 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
INnoVation 65.61% 35.66% 29.95% 19.70% 14.69%
NaNiwa 55.90% 28.13% 27.77% 24.03% 20.08%
TaeJa 49.50% 23.77% 25.73% 26.35% 24.15%
duckdeok 29.00% 12.45% 16.55% 29.92% 41.09%
Estimated by Aligulac. Modify.