Dream Matches of GSL vs.WorldGSL vs. The World is a rare tournament where the best players from WCS Korea and the WCS Circuit are brought together in competition, allowing for dream matches that might answer some of the community's most hotly debated questions. 'How good IS Serral?' 'Will Has' bulls*** work against Koreans?' 'Wait, are they playing that match-up completely wrong?'
Here are the potential matches TeamLiquid.net's writers (and trial writers) are anticipating the most. Granted, some of them are highly unlikely to occur, but what's this tournament for if not for dreaming?
Maru vs Serral: Clash of Kingsby Soularion
Serral is currently enjoying the greatest foreigner vs foreigner peak of all time. His dominance over his peers is has reached a historic level. It doesn't matter who comes his way in WCS. A red-hot Reynor? 3-0. Tricky Terrans who could exploit his 'worst' matchup? 3-0. The most resistance was put up by MaNa, in the midst of arguably the single most impressive run of his career. 4-2.
Serral's critics will say he hasn't done enough against Koreans, but he's still won numerous sets in important tournaments. He won an epic 3-2 comeback against Trap at IEM, right after Trap eliminated Zerg powerhouse Dark. He crushed top Korean Protoss Classic 3-0 at WESG, revenge for a loss at IEM. He's also won scattered matches over the likes of Rogue, Impact, and Zest. Serral hasn't played a huge number of Koreans, but he has quality wins. Well, except against that guy...
Maru is currently enjoying the highest skill-peak in Legacy of the Void. And while this might seem like self-parody after Olli recently criticized casters for excessive hyperbole, Maru's peak might even be one of the highest of ALL TIME. He is the first player to win back to back Code S championships since 2011 and is favored to win three in a row. A red-hot Classic? 4-1. A resurgent Zest? 4-0. Only Rogue has come close to cracking the code.
Not surprisingly, Maru has crushed foreigners along the way. He carved his way through TIME, Semper, Elazer, Nerchio, Scarlett, ShoWTimE, Reynor, and yes, Serral himself, at WESG. No one even came close to endangering Maru. In total, Maru went 21-1 at WESG, against a more impressive list of opponents than in any of Serral's WCS title runs.
Maru would be the favorite on paper, but Serral has done enough to inspire audacious hope from the foreign community. Will the foreigner king claim his greatest conquest yet, or will Korea's champion ruthlessly extinguish hope?
Maru vs Has: The Twisted Fantasyby Vult
Just suspend your disbelief for a minute, and imagine this...
It is August 5th, 2018. Two awe-inspiring men walk into the GSL studio, and electricity fills the air in anticipation of their clash. On one side is Maru—the conqueror of Korea, the magician of marine micro, and patron saint of multi-tasking. Facing him is Has—the crazed strategic genius, arch-cannoneer, and feared iconoclast.
Maru looks over at Has and scoffs, scornful of his arsenal of parlor tricks. Maru has faced the best players in the world, and has proven he is unshakable in the face of unexpected trial. He knows that he is invincible.
Standing in Maru's stoic presence, a tremor of anxiety passes through Has. Fear of the unknown, fear of what might be lurking in the fog of war—these are the things Has feeds upon. But those are the fears of mere mortals—is Maru another kind of being altogether? Then, Has thinks back to a bygone match, and smiles. No, whatever lies behind that emotionless mask, there is still a mere human at its core.
The match begins, and a Probe leaves Has' base. A Pylon begins warping in Maru's main, leading fans around the world faint in their seats, causing monitors to short-circuit, and sending Tasteless to the hospital with the rare affliction of exploded-brain. An emergency call is made to UN headquarters: Sir, the internet has literally broken.
It's just the start of a wild war.
Scarlett vs Neeb: Canada vs USAMalefice
Forget about best in the world. Hell, forget about best in the West. This is bald eagle vs moose, poutine vs cheeseburger, all drenched in the delicious maple syrup (from Vermont or Quebec) that is SC2! Move over Kerrigan and Zeratul, this is the REAL battle for the heart and soul of StarCraft! This is Scarlett vs Neeb!
Scarlett and Neeb's latest bout at the Hangzhou StarCraft Carnival treated the world to a delightfully wacky PvZ affair. This series had everything from Queen pushes, Cannon rushes, mass Phoenix, and even a proxy Hatch! A mere BO3 between these NA heroes contained all of the nail biting, heart palpitating goodness that any SC2 fan could ever ask for. Just imagine what they could do with a whole BO5!
Based off of recent results, both Scarlett and Neeb look to be returning to form. At WCS Valencia, Scarlett took the three time WCS Champion, Serral, to five games in an epic ZvZ. Neeb, on the other hand, managed to advance to the RO16 in the GSL just a few weeks ago, defeating both Losira and aLive. With both players heating up, look for this match to be a good ol’ ZvP slugfest as well as the next tumultuous chapter in a North American rivalry for the ages.
Will Neeb’s Adepts strike like eagles and plant the American flag atop a mountain of Drone corpses? Or will Scarlett’s swarm glide across icy creep to lay waste to the USA’s hopes and dreams? Find out (maybe) at GSL vs the World!
Maru vs Zest: The Rematchby Orlok
While foreigner vs Korean action is at the center of attention, there are also plenty of amazing inter-regional matches lurking in the bracket. We may even see a rematch from the previous GSL finals: Maru vs Zest.
Everyone has already hyped up Maru aplenty, so I'll just keep my introduction short: He’s the favorite for this tournament, for the last GSL and Blizzcon by a mile, and shows no signs of slowing down. GSL vs. The World should be no more than another show of dominance for the King of Korea.
But let's not overlook Zest, who graced the finals of the previous GSL Code S. While Zest lost 0-4 to Maru in the GSL finals, he has still shown strong PvT that's capable of beating just about anyone else. One has to wonder if the GSL finals was just a case of everything breaking the wrong way for Zest. The expected outcome of their match was probably still a Maru victory, but such one-sided margin suggests that Zest left something on the table. Rarely do we get to see such theories get checked in such short order. Zest vs Maru—should we see such a match—may shed some interesting light on Zest, Maru, and Code S Season 2.
Stats vs Has: Polar Oppositesby Mizenhauer
Amid all of the star-studded match-ups we may see at GSL vs. The World, there's one that's more curious than ballyhooed.
Stats and Has are two men in walking different paths at the moment. Has shocked the world at WCS Valencia, reaching deep into his bag of tricks en route to a finals appearance. We expect Has to catch inexperienced players off guard, but seasoned pros and established names alike found themselves utterly befuddled and oddly impotent by strategies they should have seen coming. One can safely assume that Has hasn’t suddenly transformed into the second best foreigner, so maybe it’s best to attribute his shocking performance to right place, right time. It is inarguable, however, that Has is riding a surge of momentum.
Stats, meanwhile, finds himself in a rather uncertain place. The most consistent player in the world for years, Stats has been up and down since the beginning of March. He bombed out of IEM Katowice, but redeemed himself in GSL Season 1 and the Super Tournament. Following that up by failing to get past the Round of 16 for only the second time in LotV had to be sobering, but at least he escaped the Round of 32 in Season 3, albeit unconvincingly. The fact that we’ve gotten a full dose of “Online Stats” since then doesn’t paint the most flattering picture heading into GSL vs. the World.
Should Has weasel his way past SpeCial, he’s more than likely looking at a matchup with Stats. The match itself could be a routine shellacking or a comedy of errors. Either the Has hype train will come to a screeching halt or Stats will suffer one of the biggest embarrassments of his career with the whole world watching.
Rogue vs Has: Art of Chaosby Destructicon
There is something beautiful to watching two masters of 'standard' play duke it out. Precise army movements, rhythmic macro, finesseful strokes of micro—it all ebbs and flows into an exquisite work of art.
Yet, not every game is a predictable, rehearsed dance. Some games are maelstroms of chaos that sweep away both players on its waves. There is a different beauty to be found in such games. Each situation is unpredictable, and there is a delight in discovering how events will unfold. There's an instinctual, almost savage flavor in every action. With their rich and often cheesy histories, Rogue and Has have the potential to create such a series.
Has has made his career of unapologetically cheesing almost all of Starcraft 2’s fan-favorites throughout his history. But what has made Has special is the manner in which he cheeses. He has Pylon-walled Jaedong, he has actually expanded into MMA’s natural and used it as a staging point to build Tempests and siege his base, he propelled mass Oracle into popularity and he even forced Maru into a draw.
Rogue, while he can’t be considered a cheeser on Maru's level, has played a distinct, improvisational brand of Zerg. His BlizzCon may have highlighted his late-game macro play, but there is a long history of Swarm Host harassment, Nydus all-ins, and Baneling drops in his past.
A match between the two is unlikely, as they can only meet in the finals, but it would be one of the most unusual, distinct finals Korea has seen.
Serral vs Neeb: Circuit Breakersby Wax
GSL vs. World isn't just a tournament where we can see otherwise impossible match-ups—it's a chance to see the dream-match we should have already gotten on the WCS Circuit.
After Neeb dominated the 2017 WCS Circuit by winning three championships, Serral launched a revolt against the crown in 2018. Unfortunately for the fans, there was no bloody war of succession. Neeb's drop in form caused him to quietly abdicate from the throne, leaving Serral to slaughter pretender after pretender without actually facing the former king himself. We're civilized folk, so we've mostly accepted three-time champion Serral as the new king of the Circuit. But there's still a barbaric urge underneath, that demands the new be anointed with the blood of the old.
Thankfully, the three-time WCS Circuit champs are lined-up for a semifinal battle in the GSL vs. The World bracket. It's not the ideal, WCS Circuit Finals setting we were hoping for, but it would still suffice to end this battle for the throne... or to begin a new chapter entirely.
Credits and acknowledgements
Writers: Destruction, Malefice, Mizenhauer, Orlok, Soularion, Vult, Wax.
Writers: Destruction, Malefice, Mizenhauer, Orlok, Soularion, Vult, Wax.