The final week of WCS Korea begins in Winners Round 3. The stakes have never been higher, as the winners will confirm their spot among the ten Korean representatives at WCS Asia. While KeSPA vs GomTV action dominated the second week of WCS matches, winners round 3 features members of GomTV's upper echelon against just one plucky KeSPA challenger. Samsung KHAN's Roro faces GSL runner-up Squirtle, while Curious, PartinG, Polt, Seed, Creator, and Puzzle collide in Gom vs Gom combat.
Why wait till the Friday for the main event? Kicking off the quarter-finals of the winners bracket, we have the the current GSL champion, the hottest Protoss in the world, and the only player to make Taeja look human in the past two months, LG-IM's Seed, facing off against the former GSL Super Tournament champion, hottest Terran in the world not named Taeja, and a player who hasn't lost an offline series in Korea the entire summer, TSL_Polt.
The two players come into the match with staggering recent records. Seed fought his way through Code S, making comebacks round after round, and finally realized his dream of becoming a champion in Busan with a 4-1 win over MC. Adding onto that, he went to San Francisco and was able to seal his team's IPL Team Arena victory with two straight wins against Hero and Taeja. His only stumbling point this entire summer was a loss to Hack in the final qualifying round for this year's WCG. Besides that, he has become the strongest Protoss in the world, GSL champion, and a player who has defied the incredible odds he has been put up against.
In Polt's case, coming into the summer, his Korean results were beyond lackluster. A former GSL champion and one of the most consistent players in Code S history, Polt fell off at the end stages of 2011, and continued his run of bad form into 2012 with early exits in each GSL tournament he entered. Even with good results in foreign tournaments where he won plenty of cash, Polt needed do well in his home country to seriously be considered one of the top Terrans in the world. After getting eliminated embarrassingly by a Slayers B-teamer, Dark, in the first round of the OSL preliminaries, the TSL captain knew he had work to do.
Putting his popular TeamLiquid stream on hold and declining all foreign tournament invites, Polt set his sights on improving his Korean results. That he did, qualifying for Code S, WCS Korea, and WCG Korean in quick succession, not dropping a single series and beating notable names like Maru, Hyun, and DongRaeGu along the way. Going into WCS Korea, he had seemingly bad luck, getting put up against four-time GSL champion Mvp in the first round. With all his attention on that match and no other distractions, Polt was able to create the perfect counter builds towards Mvp's mech style and advanced with a 2-1 score.
With both Polt and Seeds getting through the first two rounds, they are on a collision course to see which will be the only GSL champion left standing in the winner's final four. From the start of June, Seed has a 31-16 record at offline events, and Polt is entering with a 25-10 record, both batting fifteen games over .500 this summer. In terms of who is coming in with the most momentum, you would have to give the edge to Seed. With a GSL title and an IPL team title that he secured with a win over the almost unstoppable Taeja, his already confidence must have shot all the way to Mars alongside the Curiosity rover. Polt's TvP is still his best match-up and one of the best in the world, so it's going to be a close series.
Polt might have a longer history as an elite TvP player between the two, but how do you bet against Seed right now? Polt is one of the only few players who has a shot at dethroning Seed in this tournament, but until someone finally does it, you can't go against the GSL champion with a week's preparation. Prediction: Seed 2 - 1 Polt
Curious might get called the player with the least emotion out of anyone in the world, but what about his teammate Squirtle? Have you ever seen him laugh? Fist pump? Anything? While Curious has had some success, it's not like he's had a monumental moment in his career where you'd expect a look of delight. Squirtle might have had been part of the biggest moment in Starcraft 2 history, vortexing and killing off Mvp's battlecruiser fleet in the fifth game of the GSL finals, and he didn't even crack a smile. Every time he enters the booth, he's all business and more likely than not, leaves with an apathetic look on his face that the games were too easy.
This is why he, maybe out of anyone left along with Seed, is a player who KeSPA should fear the most. We've seen YuGiOh, Coca, Puzzle, and others talk about how much pressure there was facing a KeSPA player and how they felt like it was their solemn duty not to lose. Squirtle shouldn't have that problem, always playing it cool and never really getting rattled in the booth. Even down 0 - 3 in the biggest series of his life, he fought back to tie it 3-3 with amazing games and would have become champion if not for a small blunder that got capitalized upon by the best player we've ever seen play Starcraft 2. While he might have been Roro's practice partner or lackey back in the WeMade Fox days, he is now one of the best players in the entire world and has the demeanor of one.
Roro has had a great tournament, upsetting Leenock in the last round, but this is a series that would take an epic performance to win. A victory against Squirtle wouldn't just hit a 5/5 on the Elephant Meter, but it might just break it if one of the calmest and strongest players GOM has would fall to a player most Starcraft 2 fans hadn't even known about before the start of this tournament.
You can never say never with KeSPA being 11-1 in their last twelve games, but this is the winner's bracket. Squirtle is looking for his big first champion with WCS Korea, and he is not going to take it easy or be taken aback by having to play a KeSPA player. A loss would be demoralizing and be an epic gut punch to the GSL player supporters, but relax, GOM supporters, Squirtle shouldn't let that happen.
Two weeks ago, Creator did something quite inventive, becoming one of the first top Protoss players to stay humble about his PvP skill and admit the large luck factor involved. Avid Protoss fans will remember the foolish-in-retrospect comments from Oz and MC, claiming PvP wasn't about luck but skill, skill that they had. For their confidence, they were respective awarded with a sub 20% win rate over three months, and a 1 – 4 PvP loss in the GSL finals.
It seems a bit odd to invoke that kind of supernatural power against Puzzle. Always a solid, textbook player, Puzzle has never looked particularly threatening in the Protoss mirror match. In fact, it's probably the least remarkable of his three match-ups. Then again, can you really say that Creator is much better? He has excellent micro and execution, but that's standard at the Code S level. As much as we would like to add comments like 'good decision making' or 'good at mind-games,' the difference between that and 'had a hot streak over the course of a few games' is awfully thin. Without particularly notable PvP stats for either player, skill-wise this appears to be a wash.
Outside the game, both players come in with different advantages. Creator has a lot more momentum going (though players like TaeJa seem to believe momentum doesn't matter), having won five consecutive series in the last few weeks. On the other hand, Puzzle is the player who is more accustomed to playing in the booth, having played dozens of matches in Code S and GSTL. He has shown some weakness playing in the higher rounds (notably the previous GSTL final), but he has been solid in general. Creator has been good in Code A and GSTL, but hasn't performed up to his vaunted online reputation in Code S. It's hard to draw analogies between WCS and the GSL, but with direct qualification into WCS Asia on the line, you could speculate that this is the round where Creator starts feeling those jitters.
In the end, I have to go with Puzzle by a hair. Creator's recent WCS and TSL4 runs suggest he's finally living up to his reputation as the next big thing for Protoss, but until he actually shows he can make it in deep in a live tournament, you have to go with the more experienced player.
For those who are becoming disenchanted with GomTV Zergs and their recent poor performance, I'd like to humbly suggest the Curious bandwagon. Overlooked for months and judged almost solely on his nervy Code S performances, Curious' stock is on a rapid upswing. Since July, he's beaten Puzzle, Creator, Squirtle, Maru and MKP. Oh, and if we're giving KeSPA players credit now, you'll want to remember that Curious is the guy who began the GomTV >> KeSPA expectations in the first place by also crushing SKT_Rain on the opening day of WCS Korea. Go back even further, and you can add series wins against HerO and Seed to his record. At the very least, he deserves to wear the crown in the Korean ZvP department.
That leads me to cautiously predict that PartinG is screwed. Only cautiously, because he hasn't actually played much PvZ in the past few months, so who knows what kind of PvZ steroids he might have been taking in secret? When we checked on him last, PartinG was a decent PvZ player with an affinity for mixing up two base all-ins, but didn't really do anything to make him stand out among other similar Protoss players. Parting has a shot since it's just a best of three, but it's hard to give him any kind of chance if he plays macro games with Curious. Curious has out-managed Squirtle, Creator, and Puzzle in his last few series, and unlike his PvT, PartinG has shown us precious few long game wins in PvZ.
It really all works out for the best. PartinG will get knocked down to Losers round 4, where he is guaranteed to face a KeSPA player in the winner of Jaedong vs Rain. As much fun as it is to hear PartinG talk the talk, it's even more fun to see if he can walk the walk. And you know for sure that if he wins, we're guaranteed to see a taunting ceremony from GomTV's cockiest player. Ah, screw impartiality. Curious fighting!
Here we are with our first Elephant vs Elephant match since we realized that maybe we should take guys who have played Starcraft professionally for a few years kinda seriously. If you take out the added intrigue of the vs GomTV aspect, it does fall a little bit short of the extreme SC2 skill represented by the above four matches, but come on, Jaedong is playing. That's always fun.
Would it be anti-climactic to say that Rain is favored here? It feels acceptable to say Jaedong is an underdog against GomTV players who have had a head start, but it's just weird to think that Jaedong is at a disadvantage against a KeSPA Protoss. That's probably a feeling a lot of Brood War fans aren't even familiar with, since the last time he wasn't favored against toss was in 2007 or something like that.
But what can we say? Rain was probably the #1 Protoss player on the KeSPA recommendations list for WCS, if not #1 overall. He has played fairly normally in WCS tournament so far, but he's 12 - 6 in Proleague SC2 so far. Not only does that give him one of the highest win rates, but he has the most games played of any player. T1 needs him so much that he plays nearly every single time, as well as in a large number of ace matches (thought the need for Ace matches also says something about T1 as a whole).
Being 'normal' as Rain was for most of WCS is fine for a Protoss in PvZ, with Liquid`HerO being maybe the only notable Korean Protoss these days with something resembling a PvZ 'style.' For the most part, it's all about being more solid (and more boring, for detractors of the match-up) and being better mechanically. It's not like Creator and Squirtle's "well timed, well microed 200/200 army before hive" is exactly dazzling everyone.
Jaedong hardly looks refined yet, although his handling of a base trade against Genius was close to ideal last week. However, in a recent game against Rain, he got destroyed by some simple warp-prism harassment, and his infestor handling looked rather sloppy as well. This could be a cliché about KeSPA players, but his general sense of tactics and troop movements seems good, but some of the Starcraft II specific execution is still lacking. You definitely have to factor in the intangible Jaedong factor, the killer instinct that won him so many championships and ace matches, but it still seems just a bit too early.
Prediction: Rain 2 – 0 Jaedong
Writers: Fionn and Waxangel Graphics: HawaiianPig and shiroiusagi. Editor: Waxangel
Last edit: 2012-08-20 13:58:24
PhoenixVoid Canada. August 20 2012 11:37. Posts 9097
On August 20 2012 11:49 hnim wrote: Hottest Terran in the world not named Taeja? What about the guy who just won IEM?
When MVP wins, it's kind of just like "oh, MVP won, I guess he won again"
(note, I personally think that MVP is the best terran in the world still, so don't take this post as if I didn't think that)
But the reason why TaeJa's streak seems more "hot" is that he just won 2 premier tournaments as well as almost fully carried Liquid to a victory at IPL TAC, and when he wins he looks unbeatable. A lot of MVP's wins don't look as dominant because they're slower and more methodical, and he looks like he's in trouble a lot but then handles the situation perfectly.