Power Rank: MLG Spring Edition
Ah, it's been too long. Two months after a Korean filled IPL4, we're back with another edition of the Power Rank. Last time we cut it off at an even twenty, because we figured an international audience wouldn't be all that interested (to put it nicely) in our droning on about Code A Koreans. As an unfortunate side effect, we missed out on talking about some of our favorite international players as well. So with this edition of the Power Rank, we're going back up to the full forty players. And yes, we're especially biased against whoever you happen to support.
*The Power Rank only takes players competing at MLG Spring Championship into account. The official MLG player list was used as a reference - some players may cancel or be absent from the tournament.
"Who would beat whom in a best of 101 series with their lives on the line?" That crossed our minds. So did "Who had the best tournament results in the past X months?" Those, and many other questions factored in as we attempted to figure out the contentious question: "who's better?" It was a complex process, which we're not even sure we completely understand ourselves. By reaching a compromise between more than one opinion, we've ensured that no one was pleased with the end result. A few notes:
The Power Rank does not suggest that a higher ranked player is better than a lower ranked player in a head to head. Rankings are based on a player's overall package. For example, there are many Protoss players ranked beneath Ryung who we think could beat him in a 1v1, but we think Ryung is just better on the whole.
Also, the PR is not a ranking of everyone's chances to win the tournament, though we will mention that purely as a point of interest for some players. There's a lot of bracket luck involved, as well as a considerable advantage given to players who start in the group stage. Again, the Power Rank is just our all-around answer to the question "who's better?"
Honorable mentions / barely missed the cut
SlayerS_Clide: Clide gifted SlayerS one GSTL all-kill before evaporating into thin air (the most likely theory is that he was employed as Mrs. Artosis' midwife). We have no idea how good he is now, except that he must be impressing everyone in the SlayerS house to deserve a trip to Anaheim.
GoSu,HwangSin: Deserves a mention for this post alone.
desRow, coL.TriMaster: So, you guys have been in Korea for a few months? Let's see what you've got.
ESC.GoOdy: We still can't believe you eliminated MMA at Spring Arena II.
dignitas.BlinG: Will probably beat some Korean at PvT.
The Power Rank
Forgive the schizophrenia, each section was written by a different writer.
In some ways, it's a little surprising that Bly is here. Known for a while as one of Europe's up and coming zerg players, his qualification for MLG Arena was a bit of a surprise regardless. But when he got to New York, the Ukrainian proved he belonged, edging BlinG and HuK, both with long attrition ZvPs on Tal'Darim. Another eye catching result came just this Wednesday night in the IPL TAC, as Bly sniped MarineKing on the way to a three kill of Prime that nearly brought Acer the victory. That's pretty impressive for a zerg who is still hardly known outside of Europe. Still, Bly sits on the edge of our rankings thanks to his generally weak ZvT and average ZvZ (European ZvZ has, however, matched up against Koreans better than any other foreigner MU). But hand Bly a ZvP, the match-up he told me he 'never loses', and it's certainly the case that he could topple some of the mid-range Korean protosses at Anaheim.
Congrats Sheth! You're the best American Zerg!
Now if only that meant something. Give us a sec, we need to go cry in a corner.
Beastyqt isn't always in attendance at European LANs, so this trip westward is a big fish out of water trip for him. But it's well deserved; the Serbian terran is one of the best players in Europe and surely one of the more underrated. In this writer's individual rankings, Beasty placed quite a few places higher, but he sits this late in the rankings because he's never been able to deliver on his promise at LANs before. Maybe something about the MLG atmosphere will make it click, but offline events have always been a point of struggle for Beasty. TvZ and TvT are where he's most comfortable. In these two match-ups, he could do some serious damage, perhaps even against some of the well-known Koreans. But TvP remains an Achilles heel, and Beasty has developed something of a reputation for BM among Europe's protoss players. Beasty could certainly go far; he has the talent. But for an event like this, he needs the mentality, and a decent amount of bracket luck would go a long way.
One of the hardest players out there to rank, like Socke, you never look good predicting where DeMusliM will end up. On one hand, look at who he's beaten. (NesTea! HerO!!) On the other, tournaments just don't seem to work out for DeMusliM in the sense of high finishes. Take IPL4, where DeMu was beaten 0-2 by MoOk, then went on to beat Zenio and CatZ 2-1 each, before losing 0-2 to Scarlett. Such is a DeMusliM tournament. Great wins against strong players, followed up almost immediately by crushing defeats against people you figured he could've beaten. Perhaps this sounds harsher than it should. I think DeMusliM is right on the edge of the 'elite player' catagory. Moreso than almost any other foreigner, DeMusliM lives and dies by the mindgames. He deploys cheese and abusive strategies with no remorse. Sometimes they work, feeding off of previous macro matches, or laying the ground for them. DeMusliM can go on killing spree when you least expect it. Sometimes the mindgames don't work, DeMu never gets that edge, or gets it turned against him, and it all goes to hell. So what will this be for DeMu? Depends on the match--ups of course. We know already that DeMu can beat the best in the world, especially in TvZ and TvT, but there are several top PvTers at Anaheim. They'll be tough.
CrazymovING is another token Korean recruited to a foreigner team to give the team more depth. He is a fan favorite, as his hit and run tactics make for extremely entertaining games. Most notably, he took Hero to the brink in the first round of Code A by making nothing but mutalisks and zerglings. Last time at MLG, we saw him take 17th-20th, but in today's stronger player pool, he'll have to really put on his moves if he wants to get high enough to show off his trademark demented displacement on stream.
With his Red Bull Battlegrounds invite, it's probably no longer accurate to refer to Illusion as 'up and coming'. The brightest talent to come out of the Americas since Sheth, (and Scarlett's up there too) Illusion hasn't actually *won* anything, but his skill has been obvious despite the result. Beating coL.GanZi in Austin was a big win, even if he couldn't manage to advance from the group. At IPL4, we ought to remember his run in killing off three Code S players before being eliminated short of the money. All of these performances have understandably given Quantic confidence in his abilities, and he'll be off at Anaheim with high hopes. At MLG, of course he'll again need to put together a heroic performance just to get anywhere near the final rounds, but then again, so will everyone else. Illusion has the motivation, the momentum, and the skill to make it happen. I have a feeling we'll be rating him even higher next time around.
After taking the moral high ground in all those US immigration debates for years, I'm starting to understand the entire "they took our jobs!" mentality. It looks like both Golden and Sleep will be in the states for the time being, and they will surely win their fair share of online cups and knock plenty of Americans out of MLG open brackets before getting beaten by better Koreans. Luckily for us Americans, we have decades of experience in bringing over talented foreigners to our side, as they are usually unable to overcome the allure of our women, money and freedom. Rotterdam and viOLet were first, maybe these two will be next.
Socke is a player who will make your predictions look bad. Being in the pools, he will certainly finish in a higher position than this number puts him at. At the winter championships, Socke went on an improbable run, thrashing PuMa, DeMusliM, CrazymovING, and TheStC before finally losing to
After Heart, Choya is our #2 candidate to do surprisingly well while everyone scratches their heads. While no one thinks that Choya will go very far into the championship bracket, the mere fact that he's remained a relevant player while fulfilling the responsibilities of being FXOpen's head coach is seriously impressive. He's been a valuable sniper for FXO in the GSTL, showing a level of strategic preparation that has often made up for his mechanical mistakes. If those GSTL performances are anything to go by, Choya could definite upset some of the more famous players with well planned builds.
While his Korean teammates are busy preparing for Code S, Zenio travels to the Anaheim to take a shot at an MLG title. There is a reason that Zenio isn't at home, practicing with his counterparts; he is not yet on their level to compete in Code S. In contrast to successful Zergs such as DRG or Stephano, Zenio's play always seems to be adapted on-the-fly. If you watch a lot of Zenio games, you will find that there is a lack of consistency, a lack of pattern, and a presence of chaos. This has the potential to confuse his opponents, but you can help but wonder if Zenio this lack of a fixed, well-practiced style is what's holding him back. Food for thought, at the very least.
Impressive at MLG Spring Arena, Grubby has been busy transcending 'The Grubby Line' even as we coined the term. The WC3 legend of course has more experience and a better mentality than almost anyone else in big tournaments, and lately his gameplay has been improving constantly as well, even at a high level. One of the keys for Grubby is his skill in PvP, which saves him a lot of unnecessary mirror match-up grief. But having mastered the art of PvZ timing pushes and lategame PvT control, Grubby really has no obvious weak spots. You still have the sense that he can just be killed through brute force; that players like DRG, MKP, or viOlet can simple out-muscle Grubby, or that he can be thrown off his game by an unknown opponent like Inori did at Arena. But if the Grubby line delineated the barrier between players who could beat the best and those who couldn't, and Grubby has gotten better since, then another good run from the Dutchman may be in the cards. He's in the pools as well, which is a massive advantage.
There are two sides to Ret. On one hand we have the Ret that won the Red Bull Lan in Orlando, the Ret that beat Mvp in macro games, and the Ret many have called one of the most talented foreigners to play this game. Or he could be the Ret that disappointingly lost to the same all-in twice against Parting at the Red Bull Battlegrounds, the Ret who recently lost to Grubby 1-7, or the Ret that often times fails to meet our incredibly high expectations of him. Ret has the potential to go incredibly far in this tournament, but at the same time, there is the possibility he will once again drop out with little more than a whimper.
One thing I will say is that Ret's ZvP will be incredibly scary at this MLG. In the past few months, Ret has shown amazing ZvP, capable of hanging with the top Korean Protoss. But there are always small holes in his play that cause him to lose disappointingly. At Dreamhack Stockholm, Ret had an easy win versus Genius on Daybreak if it were not for neglecting to spine his 4th. At the Red Bull Battlegrounds, against Parting, Ret just seemed to have a lack of knowledge on how to hold a particular all-in. And although Ret played amazingly versus Squirtle and took him to the wire at the Battlegrounds, he made small, but key mistakes in the late game. If he's found the solutions to these problems, Ret should be stronger than ever.
Inori looked pretty good last MLG Arena, where he defeated Thorzain, Losira, and Grubby, almost upsetting MC along the way. But more recently, he failed to deliver when his team needed him in the GSTL. Twice Inori was sent out against Zergs on favorable Protoss maps, and twice he returned to the bench with his tail in between his legs, begging for Symbol to avenge him. But this is MLG, and neither Inori nor the other members of the Team SCV Life will have someone else to clean up their mess. It will be up to Inori and Polt to show that TSL doesn't stand for Team Symbol's Lackeys.
Alicia was once the great Protoss hope, the next big thing, and the one prophesied to bring balance to the force. Since then, he has done nothing but disappoint us and these days, his good performances, such as earning third in the MLG Arena qualifiers, are the exception rather than the norm. He also hasn't qualified for GSL in a while and now may only be the fourth best Korean Protoss on SlayerS-EG behind Puzzle, Crank, and JYP, as shown by SlayerS' player choices in the GSTL. Alicia is also not known for making huge upsets as some other people around this level, so expect him to place solidly in the middle of the pack.
I had SaSe higher, (way higher, actually) but as consolation for dropping him a bit, I get to do his write-up. At the Red Bull Battlegrounds, we saw every side to SaSe; the unstoppable PvT that defeated both TaeJa and ThorZaIN, the fragile PvZ that fell to Sheth, and then tenacious PvP that wasn't quite good enough against MC. Every time you see SaSe play, he's impressive. His attention to detail in the little things, his ability to create unique solutions to gameplay problems; these are the things the things that define the Swedish protoss. Sometimes if you watch without paying attention or listen to an inexperienced commentator, you'll miss the little things that it feels like only SaSe is out to perfect. Often overshadowed in results by the brute-force style of NaNiwa, it's the finesse of SaSe that's really special. I put SaSe in the group of six foreigners that I think could hold their own in Code S. The results he achieves; getting the farthest of any foreigner in the IPL4 Open Bracket, making it into the money of the MLG Winter Championship, (teammate NaNiwa did marginally better in a much easier group, and was placed three rounds father forward, go figure) and losing to the eventual champ at RB Battlegrounds, aren't as well known. But if you look at the details it's clear Quantic have a special player. The bracket advantages don't lie with SaSe yet again, but you can be sure he'll make the most of what he's given.
Lucky did quite well for himself in a bygone day and age where Protoss players didn't really know how to take their third safely, deal with muta-ling backstabbing at all, or make good decisions in base trade scenarios. Now that Protoss players have become better in general, Lucky has lost his specialty match-up and fallen back to the middle of the pack. Despite this, Lucky still retains some characteristics that help him get just a little bit further that you would expect in tournaments: he's not afraid to go all-in, and he handles base trades more intelligently than most.
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Ryung might have the most unique skillset of all the players competing at MLG Anaheim. His TvT is truly top class, and he could easily knock out title contenders like MKP, MMA, or Polt. Ryung's TvZ isn't quite as good as his TvT, but it will be good enough for him to play evenly against anyone short of DongRaeGu or Symbol.
Unfortunately for Ryung, all of this comes at the price of being very weak at TvP. In particular, Ryung has trouble surviving past the first ten minutes against opponents who are aggressively inclined, and several of our beloved foreigners have built up their vs. Korea confidence at his expense.
With the right brackets, Ryung could very well make it far in the tournament, and with some VERY good luck, he could even win it all... Nah, he'll probably get eliminated by Gatored in losers' round seven.
Huk's hopes in this tournament should solely depend on one thing: Can he dodge Heart? Heart's aggressive play and tendency to all-in you at any given point seems to be a Kryptonite for Huk and a source of constant frustration. In the last three MLGs, Huk met up with Heart a total of four times and lost 1-2 in all four series. For all the hearts Huk consistently makes both in-game with probe waypoints and out-of-game on his chest, it's a bit ironic that the human incarnation of Heart would be such a consistent thorn in his side.
JYP’s situation is similar to what it was when he first joined EG. He is a fairly solid player, able to take games and series off of the best. He was even called upon as Slayers’ last player in the GSTL, beating a Zerg and a Protoss, when Slayers knew the opposing team had no strong Terrans left. Which brings me to JYP’s biggest weakness, his abysmal 22% winrate in PvT. JYP is notorious for having the single worst matchup in all of top tier Starcraft 2 pro-gaming relative to his other matchups, worse than MMA's TvP, Ryung's TvP, and Mana's PvZ combined. While his PvT skills have definitely improved since his early days in TSL, they'll still be a huge hindrance to him getting far in this tournament. And who knows what will happen if he manages to match up against Ryung; perhaps neither player will be able to win and the games will drag out indefinitely.
ByuL came on my radar after he joined Fnatic and immediately took home a three kill in the KSL. An fairly unheralded member of the family Elephantidae, ByuL recently gained a lot more attention after four killing LG-IM in the GSTL While not the most exposed and notable participant, everything I've seen from ByuL suggests that he is a one of the more fearsome players in attendance at Anaheim. Comfortable with a bunch of styles, (and being a recent BW switch, his cheese is well aged) with good mechanics, I put him higher on my list. But again, it's hard for some editors to put unknown talent above known mediocrity. ByuL may not perform up to his GSTL level, he may be jetlagged, nervous, or just plain not up to the level of competition at MLG. But those are factors that we can't account for. In the short while that he's been playing SC2 full-time, ByuL has been gaining ground extremely fast, and at the point where he can take down three Code S players in a row, that's damn impressive.
"Best foreigner after Stephano" is a prestigious title these days, and at this tournament, Thorzain gets it largely because he's the last foreigner to win a tournament. Thorzain has shown he can take games off top Koreans, but at the same time he's shown he's not immune to middle tier Koreans and top foreigners, as he was knocked out of MLG Arena last month by the Protoss one-two punch combo of Inori and Socke. Combine this with his tendency to lose to Sase in many international tournaments, and we can see that it's hard to say he's clearly better than the other top-tier international players. His once touted TvP has fallen to become his worst matchup and his source of ruin in many tournaments.
Still, if anyone can solve a matchup weakness, it's Thorzain. His analytical and meticulous approach to the game inspires confidence in his ability to patch up any seemingly glaring weaknesses in his play. We saw this at the Red Bull Lan in Orlando, when he no longer wished to be just the spoon Terran and worked to incorporate consistent drops in his play, and at DH Stockholm, where he overcame his 1 - 10 record against Polt to win the championship. As long as the EG curse has not fully set in yet, expect Thorzain to excel, spooning those his path into a slow and methodical death.
Poor Ganzi. He always produces good results (Code A winner, round of 4 GSL, consistent MLG placements), but his un-flashy play combined with his unassuming personality doesn't make for many fans. He's also not particularly strong or weak at a certain matchup and doesn't have huge quirks in this play, which doesn't make for many good storylines. You can probably expect Ganzi do well again at this MLG, but will his games blow you out of the park and will he follow up his wins with outlandish ceremonies? Probably not.
Ganzi is not amused.
#14: FnaticRC Oz
It's disappointing to think that the Oz of the present might really be the player he is ultimately destined to be. After showing some great all-around ability to make the top four of GSL November, Oz has plateaued like he wants to define the word. His good but not spectacular play has made him a Code S regular who just lacks a little something compared to the real title contenders.
GSL is the environment where Oz has played his best so far, and he's actually done even worse in foreign tournaments. Besides a 4th place finish at Winter Arena, he's been surprisingly unremarkable for a former GSL semi-finalist and someone who was considered a top five Protoss player in the world (no other top 16 finishes at foreign tournaments). Oz will still be around by Sunday, but probably not past lunch.
PuMa, PuMa, PuMa. What to say about PuMa? We know he's good, in fact, more than anyone else, we know just how good he is. We know his highs, but we also know his lows. So strong in foreign events, PuMa has met with nothing but futility in Korean ones. And as events like MLG and IPL have started looking more and more like the GSL, PuMa's results have dipped. With PuMa, there used to be a feeling of inevitability: the foreigners would stand aside and PuMa would take his cash. But now with this level of Korean competition... does PuMa really seem inevitable anymore? Or even a favorite? From history, we know that PuMa will probably stomp the foreigners he faces, and that should be enough for a solid finish. His talent is clear, and he has explosive potential that puts him up at this high ranking. But when he faces the cream of the Korean crop, as is certain, he can't be expected to advance much farther than that.
He's back! Hopefully, we'll get a chance to interview Losira at MLG Anaheim and ask him where the hell he's been.
After two great silver-medal performances at MLG Columbus 2011 and GSL July, Losira quietly disappeared like a Starcraft documentary. He mentioned in a recent interview after regaining Code A status that he simply allowed himself to get lazy, which led to an instant drop off in form. It's been almost a year since he's been a relevant player, and it would be interesting to hear the details on how his mentality changed during that period.
In any case, Losira looks like he's about 85% of the way back to being the player we remember him as, and he's getting better fast. He stormed through Code A qualifiers, has been stomping people in online tournaments, and is LG-IM's best team league player. His 4-kill over TSL in the GSTL should count as his unofficial "I'm back!" announcement, even though it was immediately responded to with a "so what?" from TSL_Symbol as he reverse all-killed LG-IM.
#11: FnaticRC aLive
Here's a fun bit of trivia from IPL4: Smix gained more new fans than aLive. Yeah, it was that kind of tournament. And yeah, I guess aLive is that kind of player (I feel like I should remind everyone that he did happen to win the entire thing).
IPL4 deserves some blame for somehow putting together a tournament format where the second place player was actually BETTER than the first place player, but at the same time aLive just had some really bad timing. Mvp had already monopolized all the fans of brutally efficient, often cheesy, play-to-win style macro Terrans, and there was really no reason for anyone to follow a similar player with three less GSL championships.
While aLive's championship run didn't affect his reputation like it would have for other players, it did affect his play in a fairly normal way: he went into the oft-seen post-championship slump. After returning to Korea he lost to Leenock in Code A, and then proceeded to get bruised and beaten in a tough Up/Down group. He also failed to contribute much to FnaticRC as their Ace in the GSTL, leaving it to Moon and Byul to rack up the wins instead.
aLive has been a consistently excellent Terran player for most of 2012, so we're confident he'll get out of his rut sometime soon – maybe even at this very tournament. Now, getting people to give a damn about his results? That's another problem altogether.
Heart owes a lot to MLG and Complexity. Before MLG, Heart was a relatively no name, with no real results to speak of. Then, Complexity took a gamble, picked him up, and gave him the opportunities to travel abroad to show his skills. It turned out that MLG was the perfect fit for him as in the three MLGs he attended, he achieved 3rd, 3rd/4th, and 5th/6th in each of them.
Heart’s tendency of all-ining more games than not may be his reason for his success. In MLG’s hectic format, players don’t have a full week to prepare for a few games as in GSL. Thus, an opponent doesn’t have time to carefully plan his build for a specific map to be safe versus all-ins and account for all possibilities. Players have to resort to more generic unpracticed builds. This is where Heart gets you. First, he throws you off with his all-ins at any point in the game, giving you the sense he is capable of any sort of play. Then, he hits you with his perfectly capable macro play, usually in game 3, when you’re on edge, trying to account for any and all plays he could possibly throw at you. By this point, most players will have succumbed to the pressures of both the gauntlet that is MLG and Heart himself. So to any players unfortunate enough to match versus Heart: Don’t underestimate him, because at MLG, you’ll be playing on his turf.
Since setting the Starcraft II world alight in November of 2011, Leenock has reverted back to being a talented young player who still needs to work on his game. In particular, his championship victory over NaNiwa at MLG Providence marked the last time he won an important PvZ series, and right now he's another one of those Zergs who must live in constant fear of various two-base all-ins. The upside for Leenock is that he's continued to be a tremendous ZvT player, a very good ZvZ player, and his ZvP has improved a lot when he can get to the mid-late game.
There's a certain amount of irrational faith in putting Leenock this high, considering his very middle of the road tournament production in 2012. It's because Leenock's first year as a player was marked by slow, steady growth that saw him work on his weaknesses to go from being a dangerous all-in user to an overall great player. He still has a lot of room to grow, and it's way too early to stop believing.
Last MLG, seeded players had the privilege of picking their opponents and Polt was picked dead last, which speaks of how feared he is. MMA even choose MC, opting to play his worst matchup, rather than face Polt, a man who has given him nightmares in the past. And peoples' fear and reluctance to picking Polt was proved well-founded, as Polt eventually beat the favorite of the tournament, DRG, and went on to place 5th/6th.
But Polt is not without his faults and flaws. He failed to win against Losira in the GSTL, even when he got to pick a favorable map and then got into a favorable position on that map. And he has made it clear that he currently struggles against Zerg, citing the new Zerg buffs as the reason. Still, Polt is one of the most consistent Koreans in foreign tournaments and the bet that Polt will make it incredibly far in this tournament is just about as safe as the bet that he will produce good games with his friend and nemesis Stephano when they meet for the 200th time this MLG.
viOlet's story has to be among the best in Sc2. Mediocre, one-time Code S korean moves to Texas, becomes way better than he ever was in Korea. Now, he's just short of getting his next chance back in Code S, this time as a foreigner-conquering seeded player. viOlet really does have talent though; while he can sometimes do things a bit weirdly, and sometimes his map vision and multi-task aren't the best, viOlet has a killer instinct, a knack for always finding the one thing he can do to take the game. He's done well against macro-passive oriented players, timing attack oriented players, and agressive, micro-focused players. As MLG Spring Arena showed, he has no troubles with ZvZ and ZvT. At Red Bull Battlegrounds, he showed some weakness in ZvP, but his losses to Squirtle were in close, epic games. There's not much doubt now that viOlet has improved, or that he has the Stephano-like mentality that allows him to improve in less than ideal situations. The top end of this MLG won't be too different from the Arena that viOlet won, although the brackets might not align quite so well. But with the right draw, it could all happen again for viOlet.
The foreigner hope, Stephano is clearly the one chance that a non-Korean could take the Spring Championship home. He's in the pools, he's playing just as well, if not better than ever, and as long as he doesn't sabotage himself physically, he should be in the final few competitors. There are few at MLG who can match Stephano in any match-up. His group is easy; only Polt should test him. How far can Stephano go after that? As far as he wants to go, really. The biggest challenges will doubtless be MC, who beat him at Red Bull Battlegrounds, MMA, who made him look silly the last time they played, DRG, who is DRG, and MKP, who is simply untouchable sometimes. But beyond that? It'd be a big upset to see Stephano go down.
Due to Mvp winning the previous Code S championship despite the fact that he was the underdog (and played like the underdog) in pretty much every single round, former multiple-champions have been granted nearly infinite credit from the bank of esports. That's why MMA and MC are still up here at #5 and #4, despite the fact that their most recent results haven't been so hot.
In particular, MMA suffered the humiliation of being eliminated from MLG Arena II by GoOdy, something that would have warranted banishment from the Power Rank for any other Korean Terran. However, since MMA won MLG Columbus 2011, GSL October, the Blizzard Cup, IEM Kiev, and Iron Squid, he has enough past credit built up to survive maybe three or four losses to GoOdy before he defaults.
It's a more familiar situation for MC, who almost seems to enjoy putting on a facade of meekly getting eliminated from one tournament only to kick ass and enrich his coffers at another. Already this year we've seen him follow a disappointing showing at the Blizzard Cup with a championship at HomeStoryCup IV, and an early elimination from MLG Winter Arena with more gold at the IEM World Championship. If we're to believe this is cyclical, then MC should be due for a quiet MLG after taking home the championship at Red Bull Battlegrounds... but who knows what could happen?
DRG would be a safe choice for second in our power rankings. In the last four MLGs, DRG has placed in the top 2 in three of them. He has recently won a GSL. And he has shown he can devastate entire GSTL teams by himself, a feat that no player has yet matched. Until now.
Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, TSL was a struggling team with a huge Zerg lineup filled with players that were, for the most part, indistinguishable. But one day, rather abruptly, Symbol decided he had had enough of it, got up, separated himself from the pack, and became one of the best Zergs in the world. No one has more momentum going into this MLG as much as Symbol, as in the last few months, he’s taken 2nd place at Iron Squid, 2nd place at MLG Spring Arena II Korean qualifier, and 2nd place at MLG Spring Arena II in addition to qualifying for code S.
But more recently, Symbol achieved something even more legendary, something only DRG had achieved before him. He became a “True Ace” for his team, a player with the ability to single handedly carry his entire team on his back, regardless of how much his teammates faltered, failed, and conspired to lose the series. He is the hero that TSL needs, and if he's the one they deserve, then they must have rescued a burning bus full of orphans in their past lives. And on his way to leading TSL to GSTL glory, Symbol has taken out a total of nine players in two matches, including Moon, Oz, Byul, Alive, Losira, Nestea, and MVP, an incredible run for anyone. In fact, in just these last 3 months alone, Symbol’s record versus champions include 3-0 vs MKP, 4-1 vs Nestea, 2-2 vs MVP, 2-0 vs Jjakji, 2-2 vs MC, 2-0 vs Stephano, 4-4 vs Polt, and 4-4 vs MMA.
The only notable GSL champion Symbol has not yet butt heads with is DRG, the player with whom he now contends for the title of best Zerg in the world. This MLG will be a test for both players. We will have an opportunity to see which is stronger, DRG’s consistency or Symbol’s seemingly unstoppable momentum. And whoever comes out the other end will have a very good claim to the throne of the swarm.
At the top, there's MarineKing. He does lose sometimes, against PartinG and TaeJa in the GSL, or to DRG at MLG Arena #1, or even cross-server to Bly (the last of our PR, interestingly) in the IPL TAC. But in terms of results, and in terms of how they look in achieving those results, MKP probably has the best claim to the #1 in the world spot. His six kill in the KSL finals, erasing the entire stacked Startale line-up, was an incredible feat. But without a GSL championship, we can't quite give the crown to MKP just yet. He's the favorite to take it all here. If he wins, if he takes his second straight MLG championship, then the title is his. But lose, and then the title of best in the world is up in the air again. A few of his rivals for the throne are in attendance at MLG. MKP has a target on his back. Can he hold out?