Yesterday, I woke up to a kiss of chill in the air. As the seasons relentlessly march forward, the starleagues themselves are drawing ever closer to their eventual conclusions. Having finished the group selection, GSL’s Ro16 now starts proper. SSL Premier Division only has three more days of matches left until the Post Season. The Challenge Division only has a single day left until the second stage.
Over the next month or so, dreams will be shattered, history will be made, and a select few will carve out a reputation fearsome enough to remember.
The first group of GSL’s season 3 Ro16 starts out with what is probably the most anticipated match of the entire round. GuMiho, supremely confident from his victory in season 2, had the privilege of picking the opponents for his group. As his very first pick, he chose to go for none other than INnoVation. The Machine had just scored two premier tournament titles in less than two months, making the pick a brazen move.
Despite his loss in the quarterfinals at IEM Shanghai, INnoVation is still widely considered to be the best player in the world at the moment. Taking down TY in the grand finals of GSL vs the World should be more than enough proof that his current TvT can be an utterly terrifying prospect to face. Despite all this, GuMiho fervently believes that he can play around the Machine’s strengths. With a disappointing exit from IEM Shanghai and a narrow loss to Zest at the HomeStory Cup finals, it’s hard to pin point where GuMiho stands at the moment. He’s conspicuously missing from both SSL Divisions, he wasn’t voted in to GSL vs the World. He’s been active on the online circuit, but it’s a tall order whether he can translate that experience into taking down INnoVation. Even if he’s unable to topple the Terran, he should still advance out of the group. Anything else would be a sore disappointment.
Meanwhile, Group B isn’t looking quite as explosive. ByuN and herO should be the safe picks to advance. While it’s debatable whether either of them possess championship level form at the moment, there should be no question that they posses the skill sets to make it to the playoffs. ByuN’s main goal will be to secure a spot to BlizzCon in November, where he still wants to defend his title from last year. He’s currently 10th in the standings, less than a hundred points from Maru’s 8th place. He will face tough opposition from Group C in Classic and Rogue, both players currently vying to make a deep runs in the GSL with the form to match. ByuN’s year so far hasn’t been entirely convincing, and this will be his last chance to remedy it. Whether he turns out to be a flash in the pan, it’s all on him.
After a crushing 0-3 defeat against INnoVation in GSL vs the World, Stats punched back in SSL, taking down the Machine 2-0. He’s currently topping the charts with a 5-1 match score and a 11-4 game score. Dear is hot on his heels, however, with an identical match score and only a slightly less impressive 10-6 game score. The pair already met each other on Day 2, with Dear taking down Stats 2-1. With only three days of matches to go, the race is on between them to see who can reach the coveted first spot in the rankings, and a direct seed into the grand finals. Stats will meet against herO, and the two have been trading blows throughout the year. Stats has the current upper hand from GSL vs the World, but herO’s PvP is better on average. It’s going to be a tough match for both of them, especially because herO desperately needs to win the next three days to have even a sliver of a chance of making it to the Post Season. Dear will be facing off against Solar, whose results recently have been nothing but stagnant. Curiously enough, the two have yet to meet this year. Both players are often underestimated, but just as often disappointing, and the match could really go either way.
Of the rest, Dark and Classic both share a 4-2 match score, making them very viable candidates for the Post Season. They will be especially hungry for WCS points, and looking to grab crucial victories both in SSL and GSL. Dark is in 7th place, but yet to crack 5000 WCS points, while Classic is 12th, with at least a thousand points to go before he’ll secure a spot to BlizzCon. They’re in good spots in both star leagues, it’s just they need to keep it up, sometimes too monumental a task. The real loser of the second season so far has been ByuL. After a playoff run last season, he’s now 0-6 in matches, having truly fallen off a cliff. Even if he manages to win his next three matches, he won’t reach the Post Season, his hopes dashed.
The first stage of the Challenge Division is almost finished, with only one more day of matches to go. Six players will then advance to the second stage, where they will play against in a round robin format. There is a problem, however, since SSL has not been confirmed for next year yet. Normally the players would have a way to advance to the Premier Division by doing well the Challenge Division, but at the moment there’s no word whether SSL will exist in 2018 or not. This year’s announcement was fairly late, and it’s looking likely that SPOTV will be able to organize one more year of seasons, but it’s still up in the air for now. Meanwhile the players will try their hardest to ensure the best possible chances of qualifying for any possible new seasons. Bunny, ByuN and soO have all secured a spot in the second stage. The remaining three spots will be contested by jjakji and Patience in Group A, while Group B will likely see Rogue and either of Impact and Hush.