We'll be honest with you here. This tournament is probably going to end up with six Koreans playing PvP for six hours to decide how they split the money. If that's the sort of thing that interests you, then great! If not, then we don't blame you if you're a little disinterested in this continental final compared to the others. However, there could still be some interesting happenings yet, with the three Korean Zergs having a decent chance at crashing the Protoss Party. And who knows, PvP being what it is, a Chinese player might be able to sneak his way to the world finals.
While we're being honest, we have to say we don't really know much about Chinese StarCraft. Since we've done it for more than ten years, we decided to stick to what we do best: write lots of words about Korean professional gamers.
Many of you may be wondering "Who the f*** is Miya?"
Simply put, Miya is a 'practice bonjwa.' Back when MMA still looked like MMA, he would heap praise on Miya for being an amazing player, and mention how he could never beat him in practice. SlayerS management seemed to agree with him, giving him constant opportunities to play in team leagues. Anyway, if ten-plus years of Brood War tells us anything, it's that the track record for practice bonjwas isn't so great. Whatever barrier exists between turning results in practice to results before a live audience, it's high enough that it's prevented more than few talented players from spreading their wings.
In Miya's case, we'll say the jury is still out, though time may be running out on him. While he's only qualified for one Code A in his career (he was eliminated quickly in the first round), he somehow found a way to make it into WCS Korea, barely squeezing in at 10th place. His WCS Korea journey was fascinating to watch, as he went from 'kinda bad' to 'tolerably good' in the span of a few weeks as he got more experience in the booth. When we left off, he had barely defeated Polt 2 – 1 to win a trip to WCS Asia, and we haven't seen him play since.
WCS Asia will be an entirely new environment for Miya again, and we're not that optimistic about his ability to adapt on the fly. But even so, if SlayerS had faith in him for several months, then we can put a little bit of faith in him for a few days. If Miya can build on the experience he got at WCS Korea, then maybe he'll perform well enough in Shanghai to earn a ticket to the world finals.
CJ's Hero was one of the earliest KeSPA elephants to break out onto the scene, using WCS Korea – the first major clash between KeSPA and non-KeSPA players – to springboard himself into relevance. While many of the non-KeSPA players at WCS Korea played poorer than usual due to the pressure of defending their reputation as forerunners, you can't deny that herO had a pretty impressive tournament. He defeated YuGiOh, TAiLS, and Puzzle, suggesting he was most definitely a Code A level player, and a borderline Code S player as well. HerO then re-affirmed his credentials during the Proleague playoffs, going on a clutch four-win streak to help his team to the finals and secure a victory there.
However, those games are some weeks behind us, and herO failed to qualified to for either the OSL or GSL in the meanwhile. HerO was great when we last left off, and surely he has gotten better as all KeSPA players have gotten better with time, but without seeing his play, it's hard to say how much. It's worth noting that PvP seemed to be his best match-up when we did see him play – though you must keep in mind that small sample PvP results can be misleading at times.
Contenders if not for that one, tiny, little thing
Alas, Poor HerO. If this were a tournament with reasonable racial balance, we'd say he was one of the contenders to win it all. However, the best players in this tournament all happen to be Protoss, HerO's perennial bane. Protoss vs. Protoss is famous as a coin-flip, and not undeservedly so. However, over a long enough time, and over a large enough number of games, you can get a feel for the players who have a knack for the match-up and those who seem to be lost, and HerO has fallen into the latter category for most of his career.
Presumably HerO's reaction after seeing Creator and Seed in his side of the bracket.
It's not that HerO can't play excellent PvP games occasionally, as showcased in his recent dismantling of Squirtle in the GSL. The thing is that there's really no consistency to his PvP performances, and whether you want to call that luck, skill, or whatever else, it doesn't really matter. The point is that HerO has had his tournament dreams crushed by PvP multiple times in the past, and there's no reason to believe this tournament won't be more of the same. It doesn't seem like HerO has much of a chance at winning it all, but he can at least look to earn a trip to the WCS world finals where he might have a better chance of avoiding the mirror match-up.
Curious is the picture perfect textbook Zerg. He hive-rushes with brutal efficiency, being neither too hasty nor lingering at lair for too long. His brood lords are never unguarded, he's diligent about planting gardens of spore and spine colonies, and he always has a new expansion popping up somewhere while a different one goes down. On top of that, he mixes in all-in rushes ever-so-often enough that he doesn't become predictable, probably at a win-rate optimizing ratio he derived through a complex mathematical model.
Curious' problem isn't his game, it's his mind. He can beat famous players like MarineKing and MC with ease - just as long as it's before the Code S Ro16. Since time immemorial he's been stuck there, never making any progress. He crushes Code A, Up/Downs, and the Code S Ro32 like a championship contender, and proceeds to fall apart once he reaches the Ro16 group stage. It's no surprise that his nickname in the Korean community is "the Code S detector," as he effectively serves as gatekeeper in the first round of Code S.
So you can see why we're tentative about his chances to make top six and reach the WCS World Finals. Though not all of his games will be on stage, Shanghai will be the biggest, most watched, most pressure-packed environment he's ever played in. If he can't make it in the second round of Code S, then how well could he fare in China?
Parting enjoyed a nice run as the talented and insolent kid of StarCraft II. Sadly for him, Life recently came up and trumped him in both departments, showing that he's a better player, and that he's even more cocky - if that was even possible. While both players talked up their chances of beating Mvp at one point, Life was the one who dared to say the 4-time champ was 'not good' at macro games, and predicted a 4 - 1 victory for himself. While Life will surely run away with the L'Enfant Terrible ball if he should beat Mvp at the Code S finals next week, at least PartinG can keep himself in the picture with a good performance at WCS Asia this weekend (no, we don't mean a highly unadvised ceremony to invoke the wrath of the Chinese audience).
Like HerO, PartinG comes into this tournament with a glaring match-up hole in his PvZ, but it's far more easily covered for in this case. There's precious few good ZvP players in the competition, and if he does have to play PvZ, PartinG has a wonderful ace in the hole in his mastery of the immortal-sentry all-in, a build you could say he helped perfect. While PvP is certainly volatile, PartinG proved that he's at least middle of the pack, and he even took 3rd place at the WCS Korea tournament on the back of particularly good run. And of course, we don't need to say anything about his PvT, though it would be worth a laugh to see him face any of the Terrans at this tournament.
The IeSF 2012 World Championships were made so you could finally win something. There may have been no tournament in the history of competitive StarCraft that was so perfectly gift-wrapped for one player to take. On the outside looking in, with his almost unbeatable PvP, Squirtle's only tough test was Sen, a player famous for getting third in every tournament he goes to. In a major upset, Squirtle first dropped a game to Zanubis from Israel in the Ro16, and then got eliminated in the quarterfinals by eventual winner monchi.
MarineKing's silvers in GSL outweigh Squirtle's, but at least MKP has won some major foreign tournaments. With the massive amount of PvP's we'll see this weekend, interspersed with Koreans stomping other East Asians, Squirtle is quite possibly the biggest story of this tournament along with Rain. A championship at WCS Asia might not be a GSL or IPL, but it will still be a major tournament and finally get the monkey off his back after so many close second place finishes.
The previous GSL champion will have plenty to prove at WCS Asia. Seed's Code S championship came from a series of performances that were as brilliant as they were unexpected, but he will have to keep putting up such performances consistently to show that he was not a one-off like NSH's jjakji. He took a blow by dropping out of the Code S Ro16 this season, and then had much of the spotlight taken away from him by Rain's scorching run where he briefly threatened to win both the GSL and OSL. Winning the title of "Champion of Asia" would go a long way towards re-establishing Seed as the best Protoss in Korea.
Honestly, Seed is as strong as he ever was. He was in a very hard group in the GSL, and he happened to lose two series to the two best Zerg players in Korea: Symbol and Life (he lost 1 - 2 both times). It would have been enough to keep his position, if not for the fact that Rain's run was just so ridiculously out of the ordinary. Seed still looks like one of the best all-around Protoss players in the world with no bad match-ups, and Curious and Roro are the only Zerg or Terran players in Shanghai who even stand a chance of beating him. Seed is an incredible PvP player as well, having won his Code S title by defeating MC 4 - 1 in a series where he out-thought his opponent severely. With a 9 - 5 PvP record since June, he's one of the few players who could beat the coin-flip and win with skill.
Last, but definitely not least, Seed is the most proven player in pressure situations in front of huge audiences. He's won multiple series where he was trailing, and he's the only player among the Koreans to win in front of a large, live audience. And if the crowd in Shanghai should be less than impartial, that's okay, too - Seed beat TaeJa and HerO in front of a Liquid favoring audience to win IPL TAC3 for LG-IM.
Rain's colossal figure hasn't just been overshadowing other Protoss players, it's been taking the luster off some of his KeSPA compadres as well. Before there was Rain's dual run through the OSL/GSL, there was RorO's run through WCS Korea. There, he beat a cross section of the GSL in Hack, Leenock, Miya, and Seed, and only barely lost to Squirtle and Creator to be eliminated from the tournament. A lack of tournaments to compete in forced RorO to go on a brief hiatus (god knows what would have happened if GSL had awarded their second Code S seed to RorO and not Jaedong), but he recently came back looking stronger than ever by crushing Ryung 2 - 0 in Code A. There's no question that RorO has some serious skills, and now it's time for him to grab some trophies.
RorO should be the player you're rooting for to break the Protoss hegemony in Shanghai, and he has just the right skillset to do so. While he's showed great all around play in every match-up, ZvP is where he's shined the brightest. Whether it's swarming his opponents with multi-directional attacks at lair, or executing some of the most infuriating turtle-hive play anyone has ever seen, RorO has what it takes to beat any of the Korean Protosses. What's scariest is that it was two months ago when he beat Seed and barely lost to Squirtle and Creator, and he might even be better now.
You know how Life is destroying everyone in Code S and in the finals? The last person to really stop Life was Creator, the current WCS Korea champion, and the current holder of the title of best player in the world who is not in Code S. With his win over Life during TSL4, it seems like the timing of the final was a little off. At the time it was played, both players were reasonably known, but still hadn't reached their highest potential. Now Life is the talk of the town, Creator is hailed as the next Protoss great, and the two are leading the charge of the future.
For Creator, this tournament means less for him than his Korean counterparts. His spot in the World Championship is already booked, and he can go into this tournament knowing that nothing too bad can happen. With the weight off his shoulders, he should be able to play relaxed and up to the high level we've seen from him in the past three months. Creator along with Life are truly the next generation of stars in Starcraft 2, and another big title victory would give Creator some bragging rights over his fifteen-year-old rival before Life steps up to the plate to face Mvp next week.
Getting to the OSL finals after falling down 0-3 and coming back with four straight victories was the high of Rain's Starcraft career, but he followed it up with a gut punching loss to Mvp in the semifinals the next night, losing in a 2-3 series behind a train of Mvp SCV's. Still, with another final on the horizon that he can capture, he still has the chance of having some sort of dual championship if he can take the Asian championship of WCS.
Unfortunately for the new KeSPA superstar, he will more than likely need to win the title through the volatile PvP, a match-up that he isn't entirely confident in. Yes, he beat HerO 3 - 0 in the GSL, but that's almost a rite of passage for elite Protoss players in GSL. With how well he has played against top end Terrans and Zergs, you would have to make him the favorite of the tournament if the field didn't lack so much depth when it came to anything that wasn't Protoss.
Rain's train of hype might have been derailed a bit by the greatest player in SC2 history, but if he can secure a title in Shanghai and head to the World Championship with the Asian crown, the train will be back on track. He proved his PvZ in WCS Korea, his PvT in Code S S4, and now he will need to excel in PvP in the Asian championships.
Writers: Fionn and Waxangel. Graphics: HawaiianPig and shiroiusagi. Front page image: Lip the Pencilboy (Pony Tales). Editor: Waxangel.
Last edit: 2012-10-13 19:36:35
opterown Australia. October 13 2012 05:45. Posts 28579