Power Rank: April 2018Rankings by TeamLiquid.net writers, but mostly written by @Mizenhauer
March was a busy month, with champions crowned at IEM Katowice, WESG 2017, and GSL Code S. With so many games played and so many careers changed, it's the perfect time to release a new power rank. Let's go over the basics again.
- The Power Rank is an aggregate, average ranking of separate lists submitted by individual members of the TeamLiquid.net writing staff.
- Criteria considered include, but are not limited to: Tournament placements, overall record, quality of opponents faced, quality of play.
- Recent results are weighted more heavily, but players may receive benefit of the doubt for consistent performances in the past.
For no particular reason, other than that we were feeling extra
Previous Power Rank: IEM Katowice Edition
*Tournament results until to April 3rd were considered in the following write-ups
Impact makes his first appearance in our 2018 Power Rankings, albeit only because the ranking was extended. Impact had a successful run at IEM Katowice, making it to the Round of 12 before losing in a tight 2-3 series against Dear (surely, his confidence was boosted by a certain TeamLiquid.net article). Impact went 15-10 in matches since returning to Korea from IEM, with his most noteworthy win coming over Rogue in BTSL. He’s been up and down besides that result, and actually dropped below .500 in ZvZ during that period thanks to losses to Leenock and soO. All-in-all, this is the same Impact we’re used to. He's good, but not quite good enough to disrupt the established order in major tournaments.
You know a player is getting credit for past performances when they're in the Power Rank despite not having played a live tournament match in over a month. Ever since aLive was eliminated in the Code S RO16 back on February 14th, all he's done is compete in online tournaments and closed-door qualifiers. And still, without having seen him play in a big match in March, we're all pretty certain we can pencil him in for another RO16-RO8 finish in the next Code S. While everyone lauds Stats and Dark for their consistency, it might be aLive who's the true iron man of Legacy of the Void.
Friendly neighborhood mech Terran, GuMiho, makes his 2018 power ranking debut in the 14 spot. He's kept up his reputation as an online tournament hustler, achieving an impressive 70%+ win rate over the course of 70+ games during the month of March. While some of those wins have come against tough opponents such as Solar, Trap, and Dear, Gumiho has definitely padded his stats against the likes of Demi, colortoss, and TOP.
For those who don't fervently consume online tournament content, the last good look you had of Gumiho was at the IEM World Championships where he dropped out in the RO24 group stages with a 2-3 record. He won both his matches against foreigners SpeCial and ShowTimE, but losses to Dear, Maru and TY denied him a playoff spot. Gumiho managed to qualify for both the GSL Super Tournament and Code S Season 2, and he will look to remind everyone that he's a force to be reckoned with in offline competition as well.
Dear’s 2017 was emblematic of his entire career, with more highs and lows than the StarCraft II community's opinion on Day9. In 2018, it looks like we should prepare ourselves for more of the same.
Dear failed to make it into the top ten of the previous power rank due to his meek RO16 exit in the GSL. He showed much better form at IEM Katowice, going 4-1 in the group stage before barely losing 2-3 to Classic in the quarterfinals. Interestingly enough, one of Dear's group stage wins came against his old nemesis Maru, making him one of the few players to hand the Terran prince a loss before he activated god mode. Overall, IEM was a tournament that reminded us Dear has the capacity to be great but still lacks the consistency. IEM was a positive sign, but it's hard to get our expectations up about Dear until we see more good performances.
For most fans, their most vivid memory of Splyce Zerg Solar is how he got shredded by Maru in the RO8 of IEM Katowice. But let's not forget that Solar went 5-0 in his group before that, defeating both Dark and INnoVation along the way. Furthermore, it turns out that there's no great shame in losing to Maru's Ravens, since that just puts you on even footing with everyone else in StarCraft II.
Solar is another player who was incredibly active in March. It only took four days for Solar to get back in the saddle after IEM. He participated in a pair of online tournaments on March 7th before playing in 15 more tournaments and qualifiers throughout the rest of the month. He posted a 45-7 record in matches along the way, with his excellent 17-5 record in ZvZ (43-16 in games) actually surpassed by a sensational 28-2 record against the other two races. As is the case with many of the Power Rank players, Solar is qualified for both the GSL Super Tournament and Code S Season 2, meaning he has plenty of chances to make up for his RO32 exit in Code S Season 1. He has his work cut out for him if he wants to reach BlizzCon, but things are trending in the right direction.
The first player to return after making an appearance in the previous Power Rank, Zest dropped from 10th to 11th place in the wake of his 1-4 group stage performance at IEM Katowice. He looked to be in good form after dropping just a single game in the RO76 open bracket of IEM, but the group stage turned out to be an unmitigated disaster (losses to Serral, Neeb, Rogue, and Impact).
Zest has rebounded since then to the tune of a 21-4 record in matches. Of course, it’s difficult to read too much into that record when the only truly impressive wins came over Stats*, Rogue, and GuMiho (x2). For some time now, Zest has continued to show fine form when few eyes are watching (we're losing track of the number of times his hardcore fans have told us he looked amazing while streaming), only to disappoint us with breathtakingly poor performance when things heat up. He’ll have an opportunity to repair that image in the Super Tournament and Code S, but as of right now, we've been burned too many times to extend him any further credit.
*This was online-Stats, not GSL-Stats.
March was not a great month for INnoVation. He slotted in at #4 in our last Power Rank, where we gave him significant benefit of the doubt after an abominable February that had Stuchiu spamming #notmybonjwa. And it's benefit of the doubt that sees INnoVation stay in the top ten, despite his disastrous showing in Poland. INnoVation’s fans hoped he would turn things around in time for IEM, but it wasn’t meant to be. INnoVation wound up going 1-4 in the group stage, with his sole win coming against TRUE (a match so atrocious, all footage of it appears to have been purged from the internet).
Nevertheless, INnoVation has recovered with a 11-2 match record after IEM, which is impressive even considering the usual stat-padding against weaker opponents. For INnoVation, it's not a question of if he can take down elite opponents in meaningful matches, it's a matter of when. We've already seen INnoVation essentially take a year off in 2016—we really hope 2018 doesn't become a repeat.
Of all the Koreans who made the trek to IEM Katowice, Trap had the most mixed experience. On one hand, he was utterly unconvincingly in advancing from the group stage, needing a series of other matches to break his way in order to squeeze through to the playoffs. Then, in a total reversal of form, he upset championship contender Dark in the RO12 to book a quarterfinal match against Serral. In a final twist, he took a 2-0 lead against Serral , only to fall apart completely in a reverse sweep.
Recently, Trap passed the routine test of making it through the Code S qualifiers, but failed to make the more-rigorous cut of qualifying for the GSL Super Tournament (he lost to a sneaky-resurgent Leenock). Congratulations, Trap! You're this month's 'guy-who-can-beat-anyone-but-can-also-lose-to-anyone'. It's a position that has produced both champions and first-round flops, and it will be interesting to see which direction Trap heads in.
TY got off to a fantastic start in March when he went 5-0 in his IEM Katowice group, but things went quickly awry. After jumping out to a 1-0 lead against Rogue in the IEM RO8, TY gave up three straight losses in what seemed like winnable games. Game 3 on Backwater was particularly telling, as the Splyce Terran made a complete mess of breaking out of Rogue’s proxy hatch contain in a true 'John Sun' moment (TY's nickname in the Korean community when he displays… foreigner-esque play).
After IEM, TY stayed true to his flighty reputation, completely vanishing from sight until emerging for the Super Tournament and GSL Season 2 qualifiers. He had to go to the losers' bracket to make Code S, and was denied Super Tournament qualification by sOs. Outside that, his March record includes a pair of games in Olimoleague which tell us nothing revelatory. That puts us in the familiar spot of believing TY is good because, well, he has to be. After all, he was (mostly) very good in the most important tournament he played. Here’s to a busy April where we will hopefully learn more about our favorite reverse-sweep-prone Terran.
[Editor's note: Some writers did not want to include Serral, as he is not participating in the only two major individual tournaments this month. That's nonsense! Everyone knows half the fun of PR is in comparing Koreans to foreigners. So here's Serral, shoe-horned in at around eighth place.]
Serral hasn't set foot in the GSL, but he's beat enough GSL players to have a top ten power rank spot on lockdown. Here's the list of Code S (Season 1 & 2) players he beat on his way to top four finishes at IEM and WESG: Rogue, Impact, Zest, Trap, Classic, Elazer, and TRUE. While we have a great deal of deference for the GSL as the world's toughest tournament, Serral legitimately challenges the notion that one must play in Code S to be considered one of the best players in the world.
Here's something funny: it might be Serral's record against fellow foreigners that best illustrates the level he's reached. At WESG, Serral racked up a perfect 22-0 game record against foreigners (7-0 in matches), including series wins against WCS Circuit Champions Neeb, Elazer, and ShoWTimE. No member of the Korean delegation—not Classic, not Dark, and not even Maru—can say they were so ruthless against international competition as to not even drop a single map.
We ranked sOs third in the last power ranking, but this time he’ll have to settle for seventh place. It’s not that sOs had a bad month from a win/loss point of view, going 10-4 in matches with victories over ranked players INnoVation, Trap and TY. However, he had the misfortune of running into Maru in both IEM and GSL. Both matches were full-set, tightly contested series, with Maru narrowly getting the better of his cunning teammate. In retrospect, perhaps sOs deserves a bit more leeway for just barely losing to a player on the level of Maru.
Of the nine Protosses in Code S, sOs still resides in the deadliest tier along with Classic and Stats. However, he's definitively lost some of his fearsome reputation as a clutch, big-match player. It might take a few inspired weeks in the laboratory before sOs is truly ready to challenge for the first GSL Code S title of his career.
Last time we checked in with soO he was performing spectacularly against Zerg and Protoss while struggling against Terran. Well, after a debacle in the open bracket at IEM Katowice and an uncharacteristic loss to Stats in the GSL semifinals, soO is back in mostly the same place. He was 1-3 in matches against Terran in March with the losses coming against Cure, Bunny, and SpeCial. Meanwhile he went 8-1 in series against Protoss and Zerg. When you remove the aforementioned loss to Stats, he is 17-2 in games against the other two races including the 3-0 sweep that knocked Scarlett out of Code S.
Like a bunch of other players on this list, soO is qualified for both upcoming Korean tournaments, though he has to play Maru in the opening round of the Super Tournament in some kind of perverse, alternate-reality Code S championship fight. The only guarantee we can give for that match is that regardless of the result, the memes will be overflowing.
Classic occupied the number one spot in our pre-IEM Katowice ranking, but he’s had a rocky time ever since. Second place IEM, top four WESG, and top eight Code S are some undeniably fantastic results for the whole of March, but it still leaves a bitter taste in our mouths since we fancied Classic the best player in the world for most of 2018.
Overall, Classic posted an 18-4 record in matches during March, but those four losses came at the most important moments. His results are a perfect demonstration of how narrow the line is between champion and contender. He has defeated some of the best Koreans and foreigners, but if he wants to lift a title he will need to do better when facing off against the likes of Rogue, Dark, Serral, and Stats. Classic went a perfect 5-0 en route to qualifying for both GSL tournaments, but he’ll have to raise his game another level and get over his difficulties against top Zergs if he wants to win it all.
The TeamLiquid.net writing staff are proud to continue our tradition of undervaluing Stats by placing him in the fourth position in this month’s power ranking (to be fair, he was eighth in the previous edition, so we’re slowly catching on). This might seem absurd given how he made it all the way to the GSL finals, but he "only" managed a 9-5 record in matches in March. Losses to ByuN, Ragnarok and Impact over the past thirty odd days raise questions, and his IEM elimination at the hands of souL isn't anywhere close to being out of our memory.
All in all, Stats went 3-2 against the other power-ranked players in the previous month. It has to be noted that Stats’ overall record is a bit distorted since he would have surely picked up some more easy, stat-padding wins had he been forced to endure the qualifiers for GSL Season 2 and Super Tournament qualifiers like all the other shmucks. Or maybe, he wouldn't have qualified at all—we're still trying to figure out the bizarre dual nature of GSL-Stats and non-GSL-Stats. As a GSL finalist, Stats has to be in the conversation for best player in the world, though he seems to be a few steps back from the next few players.
The last time we did this thing, Dark and Classic were warring for the title of best in the world. Many were eagerly awaiting a showdown between the two at IEM Katowice, but Dark’s surprise loss to Trap (an 'is-it-really-so-surprising?' repeat of a previous encounter) in the round of 12 meant we never got the much awaited showdown. Since that loss to Trap, Dark went 11-2 in subsequent tournaments. 11-2 is a pretty gaudy mark, especially when ten of those matches are in Code S and WESG. Furthermore, those two losses came in best-of-seven series against Maru—once in the semifinals and once in the grand final. Dark willed his way to victory in some of the best ZvT games of the year, as no other Zerg player came close to solving Maru's late game.
As fate would have it, Dark is looking at another possible semifinal clash with Maru in the Super Tournament. He'll probably lose. In the end, Dark’s exploits over the last thirty odd days were largely familiar. He beat the players he was supposed to beat, looked as strong and impressive as anyone can possibly look while still losing, and ultimately failed to win a championship.
Rogue wasn't even a part of our pre-Katowice ranking—that's how indignant we felt when the reigning WCS Global Champion bowed out of the Code S RO32. But all he needed was one weekend to flip the script. Rogue rattled off eight straight wins under the most demanding of circumstances at IEM Katowice (amusingly enough, he dropped a single match to Serral to begin his tournament), and earned the title of world champion for the second time in the last six months.
Rogue fell back to earth after that, though, going a rather shabby 13-8 in matches from March 5th onwards. He posted a 5-1 mark in ZvT, with wins over MMA and Ryung playing a crucial role in earning him a spot in the Super Tournament. It took him two tries to break into Code S, but wins over puCK and TRUE got him over the hump. A pair of successful qualifications is good news for Rogue fans, but the fact that he stumbled to a 8-7 record against Protoss and Zerg since Katowice should temper their optimism. His ZvP in particular has been nothing to write home about, with losses to Stats, Trap, Zest and herO offset only by wins over Dandy, Dear, JYP and puCK. It's a bit of a head-scratcher, given Rogue's own admission that he's vexed by ZvT while he's confident in ZvP. Then again, nothing about Rogue has been consistent in the last six months—except his ability to win loads and loads of money.
We want to say Rogue needs to do better than he has in recent weeks, but he didn't have a problem summoning "much, much, ridiculously better" when he needed to at IEM. He can’t seem to lose a weekender, so things will probably work out just fine.
March really was the month of Maru. He posted a ludicrous 17-3 mark during that period (20-3 if you allow us to squeeze in the February portion of IEM), with all three of those losses coming at IEM Katowice, a tournament in where he finished in the top four.
After IEM, Maru went on a scorching twelve-match winning streak that saw him crowned WESG and GSL champion, collecting victories against Stats, Dark (x2), Serral and sOs along the way. At WESG, Maru showed a slew of national number-ones that the number-one player in Korea resides on a whole other level. His Code S title was the first of his career, filling a long-empty spot on his trophy case. One has to wonder if an unprecedented IEM-WESG-GSL triple could have been Maru's for the taking if Rogue had not gone in such an inspired run at IEM.
Given how dominant Maru has been, everyone should be excited to see if he can keep his one month unbeaten streak alive in the super tournament. It's hard to think of a player who could stop him. Dark tested Maru at WESG, but their rematch didn’t look nearly as close. Stats was clearly outclassed in the finals, and it’s not as if the other semifinalist, soO, would have done any better. It may take Rogue—a player Maru has declared to be superior to Dark—to make it a fair match. Whatever happens, we're in for some incredible StarCraft II games in April.