The way our list is put together is through a very simple point assignment system. Each writer decides their own top 10, with more points awarded for higher placement. Points from all contributing writers are then added together and the player with the most points ranks at #1. Very simple—very frustrating for us writers, as it almost always assures our personal rankings will not entirely be reflected in the finished article. We hope to see as much, if not more, debate from you concerning the resulting final placements, or even the whole list if you feel entirely unsatisfied by what we came up with. So let us know just how wrong we are, how biased we are towards Liquid players (???), and why your personal opinion is far more wise than that of our writing collective.
And so, here's this month's list...
In our last Power Rank, we asked if Solar was a legitimate contender for the Zerg crown, or if he simply was another pretender, who—though impressive from time to time—was damned to stay second tier for the time being. Unfortunately, he really didn’t do much to answer this question positively, his many opportunities to upgrade his ranking staying unused for the most part.
His sweeping of his Round of 16 group in Code S, with last season’s champion amongst the victims, certainly was a sight to behold and a step into the right direction. His mediocre finish in SSL Premier at rank seven with a 4-5 record, which would send him down to the Fast Lane relegation event next year, signs into the other, direr direction. Additionally, his traditionally strong ZvP match-up took quite a hit last month, with a couple of vicious losses casting doubt over his consistency in this important discipline at a critical point in time—and those doubts confirmed themselves with his loss to sOs in GSL.
Considering his elimination from SSL Premier, only one path remained for Solar to find glory on, but he didn't have the means to force his way through sOs. His quarterfinals elimination in Code S showed why Solar remains overshadowed by his colleagues higher up in the ranking. And even though he sits on a pretty solid number of WCS Points right now, advancing into a higher round of GSL could have given him an important boost in the race to BlizzCon, in which many rivals still exist. The following months are going to be very decisive for Solar in several ways, and his fate is not going to be in his own hands entirely. There comes a point, at which opportunities start to dry up even for a player like Solar, and for now he remains locked in a dissatisfying place.
The 2017 resurgence of Dear has been subject of many of our articles by now, so naturally it is about time his performances earned him an entrance into the fabled Power Rank. The Protoss’ hot streak in SSL Premier got cut a bit short this last month, but he never looked entirely outclassed in any of these close losses. What is still visible, though, and what has for a long time been a problem of Dear now, is his inability to perform his best in the most important and critical moments. When under high pressure, he caves in and makes mistakes, gets overconfident and maneuvers himself into bad engagements, as recently seen in SSL Premier.
But when he does perform well—and that is the case more often than not these days—, Dear delivers exciting matches and is able to go up against the best of the best on even terms again. His performances over the last months have earned him a spot in the SSL Premier playoffs, his first Korean playoff appearance since 2015. There is no doubt anymore that Dear has the skill to compete on such a level and even make a run deeper into the tournament—maybe even to be a title contender. But for that, he must iron out slight inconsistencies first. If he’s able to do that, he could not only reach for the stars, but also for a higher ranking here.
And for now, that is all Dear can fight for, because even a successful title run in SSL wouldn’t give him enough points to still challenge anyone in the race for BlizzCon. Dear is too far behind the other contenders in the regard. Make no mistake though: The rise of Dear is still ongoing.
Classic entered August sitting pretty, second in the SSL Premier Standings. He will wrap the month up in the very same place after a string of solid performances cemented his status as the second best Protoss in the world. While Stats may own that throne, wins over aLive, herO and INnoVation were crucial to a successful campaign in which Classic often looked at his authoritative best. They were, however, the brightest points of an otherwise forgettable month. As good as he looked in SSL, his performance in the GSL Round of 16 was certifiably frightful. Unable to even manage a win, he was bumped from the tournament with losses to Dark, who he had lost to earlier in the month in SSL, and Rogue, who ended his run in two weekend tournaments over the past 30 days. His problem match-up, Classic posted a 13-13 record against Zerg during August.
He showed only slightly better results in the other two match-ups, winning 30 games while dropping 21 (9-5 in matches), but the majority of those were in online events and some came against players like Maka and HerO. Classic, a player who has constantly found a way to place highly over the years, has cobbled together another run at a Starleague title despite his inconsistencies over the course of 2017. Ignoring his Ro16 exits in GSL Seasons 1 and 3, a number of unsuccessful qualifying campaigns for weekender events and a poor showing at Gyeonggi way back around the new year have left his BlizzCon status in doubt. Having looked particularly impressive during a 2-0 of INnoVation in the final week of SSL, he has given himself one final chance to reverse that tale. An SSL victory would get him over the threshold required for BlizzCon, but a single win from ByuN would see him toppled from that spot. The next two matches may prove to be the most critical of the year for Classic. And, given that he has reached the Ro4 twice in Anaheim, he has good reason to believe that he can post a solid performance should he get there.
Third time’s apparently not the charm. In some twisted world the silver lining is that soO can’t lose in a seventh GSL finals, but it’s impossible to ask a competitor to accept losing now in order to avoid greater pain later. Pain is a good term to describe soO’s form with. Simply put, he looks anguished in ZvT. Roach aggression, pairing mutalisks or hydralisks with ling bane, hatchery first, pool first, overlord speed, reaching ultralisks and vipers. None of it has worked. soO has played against Terran seven times in August. He fell to GuMiho three times, TY once and KeeN on another occasion. His only victories came in SSL, where he beat jjakji 3-2 in a scrappy affair (one of his three wins versus Terran in nine attempts during July also came against jjakji). The brightest spot has to be his 3-2 victory over ByuN in the losers' bracket final of Master’s Coliseum, though. It’s an encouraging result, but surely one that cannot happen the same way again. That fact was on display in the very next series as GuMiho pulled soO’s more textbook approach every which way with all kinds of harassment, finding ways to do economic when there appeared to be none. For now, soO looks fundamentally flawed in the matchup and it remains a serious roadblock if he wishes to make another finals appearance and possibly break the Kong Curse.
Then how is soO still considered one of the best players in the world? It’s on the back of the other two match-ups. soO played against Protoss or Zerg 15 times in August. He beat Stats as well as Rogue twice and Dark three times. His only losses - Dark and Rogue in GSL and an 0-2 to Italian Zerg Reynor, in a tournament in which the second day of competition conflicted with the final stages of Master’s Coliseum. All in all, he posted a 12-3 record in matches (31-15 in games), proving that while soO is heavily lacking against Terran, he is still the deadliest Zerg against the other two races. Should he shore up his deficiencies in that match-up, he could very well find himself a serious contender for championships again.
GSL has historically been a treacherous road for Dark, but this season marks the first time he has ever broken through to the quarterfinals. It is perhaps symbolic that a win over soO was the one that launched him over the threshold onto new ground. It’s a run that started in July, the same period in which his SSL campaign began. He’s still alive in both tournaments and seems poised to deliver upon the unfulfilled promise of 2016. It’s not been all sunshine and marshmallows for Dark, however, who, despite defeating soO at the critical juncture, has lost to him three times throughout August and is 10-11 in games and 3-4 in matches against Zerg. Strong wins over Classic and Maru to start the month jumped him out to a 5-2 record in SSL. He limped to the finish line, though, after suffering back to back defeats at Dear and Solar’s hands. He still managed to make the playoffs, where he stares down Dear, a player he lost to a scant few weeks ago. He should be encouraged, though, as he has not dropped a single match vs Protoss since then (3-0 in matches, 7-3 in games) and posted wins over Trap, Classic and Stats back in July.
All of this is compliment to what is quite possibly the best ZvT in the business. Dark is 8-2 in matches against Terran since the beginning of July, (19-12 in games) which includes a pair of wins over INnoVation and Bunny along with victories over Maru, GuMiho and ByuN. No Terran is too much for Dark, who has developed a positively lethal play style that incorporates near perfect spell caster control and late game inevitability with crisply executed all ins and solid macro prowess that allows him to widen leads or close deficits in the mid game. Dark may not cut the same gargantuan figure he did last year, but he’s catching his stride at the perfect time. Dark’s year has been a story of persistence. A pair of IEM top fours have made up for his failings in earlier seasons of GSL and SSL. Now he’s in a position to make real progress there as well. Heading into the final stages of the Korean StarCraft calendar, he’s done enough to assemble a credible bid for BlizzCon, one that should see among the final 16 come November.
ByuN is a cursed man. Forever the bearer of crushing fan expectations and a phenomenal second half of 2016, ByuN has struggled to maintain the favor of the masses who anointed him “the best player in the world” less than a year ago. And yet, after a difficult first seven months to 2017, ByuN has begun to turn it around and reverse the storyline of a player who would never recapture his peak form. August has been a banner month for ByuN and undoubtedly his best since his BlizzCon victory. He logged a daunting 40-24 record in games during that stretch (which translated to an impressive 15-6 (71%) mark in matches). He only lost once to Zerg (2-3 to soO in a Master’s Coliseum match in which soO cheesed to win two games), winning encounters against Rogue, Dark and Impact. He dropped a game to Neeb at Shoutcraft, but was otherwise flawless against Protoss, going seven for seven in Bo3 matches against elite competition such as herO, Zest, Stats and Classic.
He continues to display issues in TvT, as evidenced by his loss to Ryung in the Olimoleague monthly finals, but a pair of 3-0’s over GuMiho in online competition and jjakji in SSL should go a ways to dispelling any concerns in that department. All the momentum ByuN has been building could prove meaningless, however, as he faces his sternest test of 2017 to start September. INnoVation is the latest player to inherit the mantle of world’s best, one ByuN held at the turn of the calendar, but ByuN could make strides to reclaiming it with a victory. ByuN made his name through a stretch of play that began around this time last year. A win against INnoVation would also bring him one step closer to duplicating that feat and earning a return trip to BlizzCon. Should he make it, he will know full well that no WCS Champion has ever successfully defended their throne. ByuN has defied the odds on more than one occasion, though, and, should he be in form, he would have every reason to believe he can buck the trend.
TY, perhaps the most notable name to be left off the July Rankings, is making a renewed case that he belongs among the Korean elite. His pair of tournament victories in the first quarter of 2017 were compelling evidence, but he quickly slipped back into his old ways of losing in Round of 8’s, a setting he once more finds himself in as August draws to a close. TY has been a difficult player to get a feel for during 2017. He only played ten matches in July and somehow managed to reduce that count to eight in August. He won the first three of those, but they were not overwhelmingly impressive. Defeating Scarlett, Neeb (3-2) and soO are far from transcendent triumphs. He followed that up by losing his next three matches, a pair of Bo1’s to Kelazhur and Rogue and the dismal showing that was the GSL vs The World final. He bounced back with a pair of 2-0’s in Group D of the GSL Round of 16, but it’s far from enough evidence to brand TY as best in the world.
He does, however, sit firmly atop the second tier having put up gaudy numbers since the start of July (29-9 against players not named Rogue or INnoVation (1-5 against the former, 0-4 against the latter). But it’s not TY’s ability that fans have doubted over the years. Everyone knows he’s an incredibly talented player, but he has a penchant for crumbling when it matters most. WESG and IEM Katowice seem a long way off for the player who's yet to get anywhere close to a third premier title in 2017. GSL provides another shot at that, but Dark will be as difficult a challenge as any TY has faced all year. And if he was unable to defeat soO in Season 1, fresh of his IEM win, how can he expect to get by Dark and reassert himself as the best in the game? It’s really the same story repeated for the umpteenth time. Ability is one thing. Following through is all that matters. But his ability is all we can judge for now, and it earns TY his high spot in the ranking for the time being.
Rogue has reached a critical juncture. IEM Shanghai was the crowning achievement on his crusade to reach the zenith as best player in the world. It was a good first step and bought him precious WCS points, but the current Jin Air ace still has a long way to go before cementing himself on such vaunted ground. Unlike his teammates, Rogue has been incredibly active in August. He played in eight different tournaments and played a total of 84 games. He won 53 of them, a 63% win rate, notching a 21-7 mark in matches. He was 31-13 against Protoss during that stretch (an ascendant 11-2 in matches that were Best of 3 or greater) and 5-2 in Best of 3 or greater series against Terrans. He played far less against Zerg in August. In fact, a pair of wins over Serral and Dark during Shoutcraft Kings were the only matches he played against a Zerg not named soO over the past 31 days, who he saw considerably less success against. While he won their meeting in GSL, he lost a pair of Best of 5’s (3-0 in SSL and 3-1 in Master’s Coliseum), a sign that while Rogue is making progress, he still has a long way to go before usurping the Zerg throne. It also cannot be ignored that considering he started the season 19-2 in matches, the 2-5 record since is more than a little troubling.
The problem with meteoric rises is that they inevitably reach an apex. Rogue’s next challenge is to keep things moving in the right direction. He stumbled once more in the quarterfinals of GSL, but looked strong in defeat. His play was crisp in both of his victories as he showed the creative side and execution that make him such a dangerous player. His late charge for BlizzCon seems to have been all but halted, however. He would need a first place finish at the second Super Tournament to even have a chance at cracking the top eight. Too little, too late may be the story of Rogue’s 2017 WCS, but he currently stands as one of the elite in the game and looks poised for a much more successful 2018 should he maintain his excellent form.
Back in March, Stats was the undisputed best player in the world. As imperious as he looked during a stretch that saw him reach three finals and win one, he was anything but consistent in the months that followed. Things have started to turn around for him with a deep SSL and GSL run, but that doesn’t mean he still isn’t exhibiting flagrant bouts of inconsistency. It may seem unfathomable given Stats' high ranking, but has put up less than spectacular numbers in August. He’s 36-30 during that period, which is surprising, but not as frightening as his 25-27(8-9 in matches) record against Terrans and Zerg. The fact that he was flawless against Protoss (5-0 in matches) over the past 31 days is easily forgotten in the face of his middling results against the other two races. When looked at from that perspective, Stats starts to look every bit the charlatan.
Clutch. It’s not a word fans associated with Stats prior to his GSL victory. He was defined by his shortcomings, not his triumphs. A player who was good, but not great. Amid the mire that is his middling August is the simple fact that Stats wins when it counts. Stats played 33 offline games during August. He won 20. Not convinced? His mark in matches: 7-1. It’s a trend that started months ago. He posted a nearly identical 17-10 record in offline games in July. In matches? An equally impressive 6-2. Somewhere along the way, Stats went from a mild mannered Protoss and second tier KT player, to a Terminator-esque behemoth that makes INnoVation look mortal. It’s a transformation that began more than a year ago, but fans are only getting a glimpse of the optimal configuration. After finishing fourth in the previous season, Stats sits like some megalithic spider in the Grand Finals, waiting for his prey. Meanwhile he’s through to the semifinals in GSL and looks to be the heavy favorite to make a second finals this year and challenge for another GSL title.
INnoVation claimed the top spot in the July Power Rank and, after making nary a misstep in August, he finds himself atop the pack once more. As if his resume wasn’t impressive enough heading into August, he managed to add a seventh Premier event title at GSL vs The World. He did so in dominant fashion, cruising to the finals with a 9-1 record (wins over iAsonu, ByuN and Stats) before finishing the whole thing off with a 4-0 over TY. It was just the beginning of a month that saw him post a 33-15 record in the first fifteen days. Things didn’t go as smoothly from that point on, however. He went 12-14 from August 16th on, ultimately culminating in his loss to Classic and dismissal from SSL Premier. INnoVation’s perceived weakness has always been his TvT, but it’s actually been Protoss that’s been giving him fits lately. He’s an even 19-19 in the matchup (6-7 in matches and only 3-2 in Best of 5’s) during August. He’s 1-3 against Zest and even dropped a match to the lowly Creator during their three encounters.
INnoVation remains a force to be reckoned with in ZvT with a 10-4 record in games (5-1 in matches in August), a predictable result after he went 10-2 in matches against Zerg in July. But this has been marred by his level of competition. Though he has gone 15-3, he has beaten a hapless soO three times, Losira and Leenock twice, a trio of foreigners, and Mamuri, a player not even on the competitive radar. His only quality wins are a pair of 2-1’s over Solar. He has dropped both meetings with Dark, a possible sign that INnoVation’s celebrated reputation in TvZ may be coasting more on reputation than actual results. He has taken steps towards shoring up TvT, though, evidenced by the fact that he has not dropped a match to a player not named GuMiho since late July (8-2 in that period with wins over TY, ByuN and a pair of victories over Maru).
INnoVation ends August on top of the world, but failing to win his first competitive fixture of September could easily spill him from his perch, especially with Stats climbing back up the ladder quickly.