After last week's double header, it's time for the second half of the Round of 16. With the greater importance of the SSL, not to mention the final stages of the GSL as well, the VSL has already become the third wheel of Korean offline Starcraft. While some might bemoan the fact that some of the big players have decided to concentrate their efforts elsewhere, what this means is that there finally exists a second tier offline tournament in Korea. We've already seen Rogue emerge from his long slumber to beat out Bunny and Solar for a playoffs spot, while Classic, ByuL, and herO aren't players you'd name right now as challenging for a place in the top echelon of the scene either.
All in all, it's an encouraging start for a budding tournament, and if the pattern continues this week, then we could be in for an exciting playoffs conclusion.
Back in Business
The announcement of VSL and SSL was a very welcome surprise for the Korean scene. For those who had been eliminated, or not even qualified for GSL, the past few months were ones of uncertainty. Sure online tournaments were an option, but it seemed that a large number of players couldn’t summon the motivation to battle for lower stakes.
Dear and Forte were two players in that camp. Despite ending the 2016 WCS Season in very different places, they both found themselves on uneven footing as the new year arrived. Having failed to qualify for GSL, the once elite Protoss and middling Terran were looking at the same bleak future. With such few opportunity to compete for prizes comparable to a starleague, there wasn’t a clear path before them.
It’s not a shock that they went into a hibernation of sorts. While Forte was completely invisible during February, Dear participated in a trio of online events. They all took place during a five day period, though, and he quickly slipped into the periphery after that.
March marked a new beginning, though. Spurred back into action by SSL and VSL, they played in qualifiers for both. They failed to make headway in SSL, but were able to reserve a spot in VSL. Now that they’re in a starleague (if in name only), Dear and Forte are once more enjoying the prospect of offline games. Starcraft isn’t what it used to be, but they’re finally in a familiar place. Considering how hesitant they’ve appeared to dive headfirst into the online scene, a proper event could very well be the spark that reignites their fire.
The Rising Tide
There’s no denying it at this point – Protoss is really struggling. PvT has ranged from depressing to completely unwinnable and PvZ is looking less and less favorable. Extraordinary talent can transcend balance, but for the majority of the Korean Protoss, times have been lean.
Patience and Zest were two of the biggest names of 2016. Although neither were a paragon of consistency, they looked quite formidable at their peak. While all players experiences lapses in form, Zest and Patience’s found themselves plummeting towards disaster as the calendar turned.
Patience is finally pulling himself out a rut that saw him produce embarrassing results in January and February. After going winless against top tier Koreans during that period, things have looked a lot more positive as of late. Meanwhile Zest has been a bit of an enigma. The general consensus after his GSL debacle was that he was completely inept. He looked incredibly inconsistent in a group he was expected to dominate and so his fans had reason to take pause. Zest didn’t seem too concerned, however. His form took a notable uptick soon after and he isn’t showing signs of stopping.
Both players took full advantage of the pair of new leagues. 2 of the 5 players to make it into both the SSL and VSL, Zest and Patience are entering the second half of their busiest week in some time.
Zest and Patience have stumbled out of the starting gate into 2017, but they’re starting to catch their stride. SSL didn’t quite go as planned, but VSL is the perfect opportunity to reverse their fortunes and write a new chapter.
Patience 2 - 1 Forte
Zest 2 - 0 Dear
Patience 0 - 2 Zest
Forte 1 - 2 Dear
Patience 2 - 1 Dear
Zest and Patience to advance to the Round of 8.
Time until VSL