The Second Division
TY vs Classic
herO vs Dear
Losira vs Ryung
jjakji vs ByuN
Brackets and standings on Liquipedia
The Second Division
If you missed our preview for the start of SSL Premier last week, it's recommended that you check out our preview for details of the SSL format this year.
In short, the Challenge division is pretty much like Code A of 2011. Players who didn’t qualify for the SSL Premier division will still be able to use the lower division to aim for the next season. The division starts with two groups of five players each. They will play in a round robin format, and top three from each group will advance to the second stage. Unlike the Premier division, the Challenge division matches are played online. Note that only four matches are played each day, even though there are a total of ten players. This means that each day two players will rest, or more likely, closely follow the others in their group.
TY vs Classic
TY’s recent success has been both surprising and unexpected. After roughly a decade of banging his head against the wall, he’s managed to win the first two premier tournaments of the year. He had to go through players like Maru in China, and Zest, GuMiho, aLive, and Stats in Poland, but he kept finding the crucial edge over his opponents. Only three days after his victory in Poland he was already playing in the SSL qualifiers, where he missed out on the Premier division. Dropping out of the GSL in the quarterfinals, and not qualifying for VSL, this is TY’s chance to bring his newfound success to Korea.
TY goes up against a struggling Classic, whose glory days seem to be behind him again. Or maybe he’s on the cusp of something great once again; there seems to be no way to know for sure. Inconsistency has been following Classic recently like a plague—1-4 in the SSL round 2 qualifier against TY and Patience, 4-0 in his VSL group over Solar and Bunny. He made it to the Ro.16 in GSL, only to fall against INnoVation and soO. TY’s widow mines and tanks in TvP look frightening, which does not bode well for the first match of the Challenge division. What’s worse, the two already met in the SSL qualifiers, and TY soundly trounced Classic 2-0. On paper things aren’t looking promising for the Protoss, but all is not lost. TY fell against Patience in the qualifiers, and against herO in VSL. The Terran’s certainly not infallible, but Classic will still need to channel the entire might of the Protoss race to prevail.
herO vs Dear
Despite falling in the quarterfinals of GSL, herO’s 2017 has not been bad by any means. He’s already in the playoffs of VSL, and even though he didn’t qualify for the Premier division, his play has looked cleaner and more mature than in the past. Being in a group with three Terrans and one Protoss is still probably nerve-wracking. Protoss has been struggling against Terran, and PvP remains as volatile as ever. In Poland he couldn’t win a match against his Korean opponents, but herO’s extensive history still pits him as one of the favorites. If he can rise to Stats’s level and crack PvT, he should be headed for the second stage. A win over Dear would be an immense help for the coming weeks.
Dear has had an abysmally disappointing year so far in the offline tournaments. While he hasn’t been entirely invisible, he missed out on both GSL and IEM Katowice. His recent successes do include wins against ByuL, soO and Stats, but he’s also lost to herO twice in the last month or so. He keeps trucking along online, but the level of opposition isn’t quite as high as in the offline tournaments, and it’s hard to judge just where his performance is at the moment. Two semifinal starleague finishes from 2016 would lead one to believe that Dear can still be a strong player, but evidence slowly keeps mounting to the contrary. With the volatile nature of PvP, a victory here wouldn’t be out of the question, but let’s face it, it’s a long shot.
Losira vs Ryung
Losira is not only the lone Zerg in his Challenge group, he’s the only Zerg in the entire Challenge division. It’s sometimes easy to forget the old veteran, especially as the top spots are currently dominated by Protoss and Terran players, with Dark leading the charge for the Swarm. It’s equally as easy to dismiss Losira’s chances, since his year so far has been rough. He qualified for Code S, but was unable to proceed further. He tried going through the offline bracket in Poland, but was taken out by Impact. To be honest, Ryung and TY seem out of his reach at the moment, so he’s likely relegated to fighting over the third spot in the group. Going against Bunny and Classic won’t be easy, but there’s at least a chance he’ll make it to the second round.
Ryung has been known as the dedicated TvT monster for pretty much as long as anyone can remember, but even a specialist can sometimes falter. In Poland he was knocked out of the tournament by INnoVation in a decisive 0-3 defeat. A surprising result, given that in GSL he stopped ByuN from advancing, and took out Maru in the quarterfinals. It’s hard to gauge where actually Ryung stands at the moment. His win rate isn’t stellar in any of the three match ups, but there’s still an air of the specialist around him. In a group with two other Terrans he should be a favorite to advance, but so far his online performance has been middling at best. Given his deep run in GSL, it still looks like Ryung is able to step up when it matters. He just has to make sure that he understands the gravity of his situation here.
jjakji vs ByuN
2016 was nothing short of a magical year for ByuN. Rising from online banishment to grab a teamless GSL title and the BlizzCon trophy was like the miraculous return of the prodigal son. Just as he was cheered the best player in the world, he seemed to falter. IEM Gyeonggi saw him fall 3-2 against Dark in an emerging rivalry. He didn’t make it through GSL Ro32, losing against a revitalized Stats and TvT specialist Ryung. In Poland he was again taken down by Stats and Ryung. In VSL he failed to progress past the group stage. ByuN is on the ropes again—the Challenge division will be his last chance to continue his streak from last year. Besides his oft-mentioned exceptional micro and keen map awareness, ByuN is of course also known for his open emotional displays. He truly plays his heart out every time he enters the booth. Beloved by his fans, reviled by his enemies, he’s by now among the most divisive figures in the scene, but he seems to be here to stay.
Facing against one of the top players of 2016 is the Forgotten Champion himself, jjakji. From a GSL winner to a starleague group stage gatekeeper, jjakji still languishes in mediocrity, with the occasional, albeit brief, reminder that he once stood shoulder to shoulder with titans. In Poland he failed to advance from the groups, though looking at the end results, his group was one of the most difficult. He qualified for Code S, only to fall in the groups. He qualified for VSL, to be played later. And he qualified for the Challenge division of SSL. If he manages to advance from one of the two remaining starleagues, it could be considered a victory for the Terran.
Like SSL Premier, the Challenge division is also more akin to a marathon than a sprint. Endurance and consistency are the key to victory. The players will have to survive their group first, then they have a chance to advance directly into Season 2’s Premier division. It won’t be easy, but they will have plenty of time to refine their play over the coming weeks.
TY 2 - 1 Classic
herO 2 - 1 Dear
Losira 0 - 2 Ryung
jjakji 0 - 2 ByuN