Code S Ro8: TaeJa vs Leenock Preview
– Strongest match-up is TvZ.
– Now has the experience capable of going farther in the tournament.
– The Liquid Advantage.
– Has a knack for losing in the GSL Ro8.
– There might be too much pressure on him .
– All the traveling across the world might hurt him like others in the past.
Ideal winning scenario: Taeja does what he said he would do, dispatch of Leenock in a 3-0 score, get over his Ro8 curse, and continue his road to his first GSL finals.
Craziest winning scenario: We couldn't actually come up with anything. Would you be surprised by anything TaeJa does?
– Former GSL finalist who knows how to play GSL elimination rounds.
– Strong in TvZ, and is the only player to stop Mvp in a GSL semifinal.
– Would probably win in a fist fight against Taeja.
– Has been inconsistent for much of 2012
– Sometimes is a bit too unorthodox for his own good
– Does not have The Liquid Advantage
Ideal winning scenario: Simply wins. He is not the favorite now, but if he takes down Taeja by any scoreline, it will make him more than likely the favorite to make it to his second GSL finals.
Craziest winning scenario: Back-and-forth series, comes down to the final map on Daybreak, and Leenock goes for an early pool to win the series to simply watch the world burn around him.
Leenock: Knocking for Respect
When he first burst onto the scene, it was all about his age. Aw, look at the cute little kid playing Starcraft 2 and beating people twice his age. Now, almost like a child star who is losing his adorable looks and has to learn to act for real, Leenock's age is no longer a point when talking about (Editor's note: he's still adorable, though). Life, Creator, and Maru are the new kids on the block with the added hype due to their young age. So what does that make Leenock?
The best Zerg in GSL history to never actually win the tournament.
One of the most consistent, great players in GSL history.
The Zerg with the most wins in GSL history, including his stellar GSTL results.
Unlike most child stars that grow up and burn out when people realize that they're not cute anymore, Leenock has stood the test of time and even gotten better with age. Getting through players such as Parting, Squirtle and Hero in the first two rounds, he has taken the match-up everyone thought he was weakest at, ZvP, and turned it around into possibly his strongest.
While ZvT isn't statistically his strongest match-up (ZvZ is), it is the match-up that has made him a star. From his two legendary two against Mvp in the GSL that they split, to the final against jjakji that turned what looked to be one of the least hyped finals of all-time into one of the best (if not the best), final in the history of Starcraft 2. Even if he was the favorite against jjakji and lost in six games, he still came earning a ton of respect for showing games that no one would ever forget. Throughout his entire career, Leenock might have shown the best series and games of any Zerg in the world.
But that isn't enough. For Leenock, he has all the accolades that could put him in the top three Zerg of all-time along with the now out of GSL Nestea and OSL semifinalist DongRaeGu. He has two MLG championship titles, a GSTL championship, and is only missing the GSL from his resume to push him maybe into the conversation of best Zerg in the history of Wings of Liberty.
He is not favored against Taeja, but Leenock usually does better when he is the underdog. Going through the open bracket at MLG Providence at the end of last year, Leenock got to the finals against Naniwa and took the title from him when no one had him on their radar on day one. During GSL November, he was in the semifinals against Mvp, a player who was impossible to stop in the knockout rounds of GSL, but was able to beat him in an iconic GSL series. It wasn't any surprise he won his second MLG title AFTER doing poorly enough in previous MLGs to lose his seeding, and was forced fight his way up from the bottom of the open bracket one more time.
Taeja might be getting all the hype now, people already preparing his crown and throne, wanting to anoint him the best in the wold, but Leenock will not be disrespected. Taeja might have won big foreign tournaments, but Leenock has as well. You can talk about Symbol, Life, DRG, and Nestea all you like, but if you take your eye off Leenock for a split second, he'll knock you out.
Taeja can get all the hype he likes. All Leenock wants is another chance at glory in the finals. This time, he's older, more experienced, and ready to become a champion.
Taeja: The Best in the World (?)
He got decimated by Rain 2-0 in the Ro16, but he's still the favorite in the minds of the community. He has never gotten out of the Ro8, something that his opponent in the quarterfinals has done, but he's still the heavy favorite to win. It's unfair that Taeja has all this pressure on him to win now or he's automatically overrated, but with his results in foreign tournaments and how well he's done for his team in team league, people are expecting to see him on October 20th, kissing the trophy, and having his teammates hold him in the air while Nazgul sprays him with congratulatory champagne.
The story of Taeja is one of the strangest in Starcraft 2. You have to remember that at the end of 2011, Taeja wasn't even in the top four most recognizable players on Slayers. Actually, he wasn't even in the top four most recognizable Terrans on the team, being overshadowed by MMA, Ryung, Boxer and Ganzi. He might have made it Code S once, losing to DRG and Polt immediately and getting bounced to Code A, and done well in GSTL, all-killing his former team ZeNex, but Taeja was still in the back of the line when it came to Terran hierarchy.
After finally saying enough was enough and that he needed to get more opportunities, Taeja left Slayers and looked for a foreign team to take him to the next level. Only one team wanted to take a chance on Taeja, that being Team Liquid, and that became the best decision the team had ever made. Picking up Taeja right when he was entering his second stint in Code S, Liquid watched their new player bloom from fifth on the SlayerS Terran depth chart to a player who would become one of the most popular players in the world.
While MMA has gone into a slump, Ganzi has gone down with injuries, Boxer quit playing and joined SKT as a coach, and Ryung...is still, you know, forgotten, Taeja has come into his own and become the best player on Liquid. Winning a major tournament in both Europe and North America, all he needs left is a title in Korea to become one of the few to win the Starcraft 2 Triple Crown. Being the favorite, having fifty times the fan base you used to, and getting called the best player in the world might be nice, but Taeja even admits that he needs to win a GSL before he can even be called the best Terran.
The stage is set for him to prove this. First off, he has Leenock, the Zerg with the most wins in GSL history, and a player who has beaten the best Terrans in the world. If Taeja can finally break his quarterfinal curse and make his third times the charm, he'll either have to go up against a three-time silver medalist in MarineKing, or Life, the player with the best record in GSL this season with only one dropped map. If he can get through his side of the bracket and get into the finals, he'll either face Rain, the only player to beat him in the tournament, or the four-time champion Mvp, giving him the most high profile final imaginable.
Hero fell yesterday, putting the hopes of Liquid, for the 1,000th time since he joined the team, all on Taeja's shoulders. He, by himself, will carry the lone flag for his team for the rest of the tournament. For the only team that would give him a chance to become who he is now, Taeja will fight to the end for his team and the fans that support him every step of the way.
Overall thoughts and prediction:
Taeja in S2 Ro8: Gets crushed by Squirtle, a player who then went onto kill Taeja's teammate Hero 3-0 in the semifinals before finally losing to Mvp in the finals. Taeja was green, wasn't ready for the knockout rounds, and got beat down by a better prepared opponent.
Taeja in S3 Ro8: Goes to the fifth set against MC, almost beats him, but makes a questionable decision in the last set and can't take down the President Toss. MC would then go on to crush DRG 3-0 in the semifinals, face Seed in the finals, and lose.
The common theme between the first two times Taeja has been in the quarterfinal is that the player he loses again goes onto destroy whoever they play in the semifinals and then lose in the finals. Taeja played much better against MC than he did Squirtle in his first time in the round of eight, and he is no longer a rookie this deep in the tournament. Getting to this point for the third time in his career, this is now time to either get into the semifinals or where we start talking about Taeja in the same light a MKP with all his second place finishes.
Leeenock has looked strong since beating DRG in GSTL in last season's campaign, returning back to the form that got him into the finals of GSL November. He won MLG Summer, beating First in the finals, something that Taeja, who lost in the semifinals to First, couldn't do. Unlike Taeja, he knows how to get to a final of the GSL and knows the feeling of standing on the grand final stage.
But it's hard to bet against TaeJa in this tournament, unless he faces Rain again in the finals. He's only lost one TvZ this entire year in Korea, and that was to Coca in a Korean Weekly. There is a chance that Taeja will lose tonight and we'll need to make up some sort of moniker like Kong to describe his Ro8 roadblock, but the only player that has made look Taeja mortal this entire season was Rain, who we've quickly found out is the best Protoss in the world and the biggest contender along with Taeja for that best in the world throne.
If this anything like Leenock's over-high level ZvT's with jjakji and Mvp, this will be a series that you better stay up for. Expect an incredible series against two of the most exciting players in the match-up, but Taeja is on a mission and Leenock is just his first step to dethroning and taking the torch away from Mvp, or getting revenge against not only the man who embarrassed him in the Ro16 and embarrassed his teammate HerO. Get out of his way Leenock, Taeja has no time for this.
Prediction: Taeja 3 - 1 Leenock