'Oversaturation' has become a buzzword as of late; apparently it's the next big reason League of Legends will be killing StarCraft II in 2013. While oversaturation does pose some problems for tournament organizers, as fans, it's worth taking a step back to look at things from perspective and think "boy, do we have it good." On Thanksgiving weekend, there's plenty to be thankful for as there's an amazing wealth of StarCraft to be had. Already there's been DreamHack Winter and IEM Singapore, and now you can top it off with the GSTL semi-finals!
Team SCV Life
In a nutshell, this is a match-up between team MVP, and a team that wants to be team MVP.
Both teams have the same starting point, as they have a powerful three-Zerg core, where each of the three Zergs fits into a unique hierarchical role. The leader is a popular, successful Code S player with a reputation for being an uber-ace in the GSTL, but is finding it hard to live up to that killer reputation in recent seasons (MVP.DongRaeGu, TSL_Symbol). Then there's the lieutenant, a player who has had a great reputation for being extremely skilled, but has only recently stepped into the spotlight (MVP.Sniper, TSL_HyuN). Some would argue that he's actually even better than the leader, with the leader getting by mostly on reputation. Finally, there's the third Zerg who's almost as good as Zergs one and two, but because he's the third best, he ends up going wildly under-appreciated (MVP.Monster, TSL_Shine).
That's where the similarities end and MVP's superiority begins. In terms of assembling a team around that core, team MVP seriously outmatches TSL. For starters, there's that tiny matter of the entire Protoss race. TSL haven't had a good Protoss option since JYP left for Evil Geniuses in 2011, after which their Protoss line has gone 0 - 6. While TSL still haul out inori to give away a win every now and then, they might actually be better off not using Protoss altogether in their current state. In contrast, MVP has three useful Protoss players in MVP.TAiLS, MVP.finale, and MVP.Vampire. TAiLS in particular, has carved out a niche as one of the cheesiest snipers in the GSTL, bringing all sorts of map and race specific strategies his opponents never dreamed they'd face. While none of the three are really stars or Code S regulars, they fit well into the line-up, contributing with more wins than losses.
Terran is an area where TSL should be ahead of MVP. MVP has another racial line that's three deep, with Noblesse, Dream, and KeeN. However, the rule of GSTL is that individual strength outweighs depth, and TSL's Terran ace Polt should be more valuable than MVP's combined Terran line. Unfortunately for TSL, Polt happens to be one of those individual league stars who just can't bring it in the team leagues. While he's not a total GSTL disaster like Nestea, he falls into a similar zone as MC and MVP where he's disappointing by being merely 'decent' instead of 'great.'
Much of the hype around TSL and expectations of their impending rise to greatness depended on Polt. Symbol and the Zerg line raised them to the level of playoff team, but it was up to Polt to be that second ace and take them over the top. Instead, he's been about as valuable as a single Keen, Dream, or Noblesse in the GSTL, which is not nearly enough to challenge for a championship.
While I've painted a pretty grim picture for TSL so far, there's one thing that might help even the odds in TSL's favor: TSL_HyuN. While the above comparison suggests the TSL and MVP Zerg lines are analogous and fairly equal, HyuN's rise threatens to change the script. As most people know by now, HyuN is one of the best players when playing online, capable of winning EU cups through EU lag, and winning a ridiculous FOURTEEN consecutive IPL Fight Clubs. The problem for HyuN was getting over the mental problems that prevented him from playing at that level in the booth. While it doesn't look like he's gotten over those problems entirely, it does seem like he's now playing at an at least 85% level in the booth. While Creator's mistakes had a bit to do with it, HyuN looked dominant as he won their GSL Ro8 series by a score of 3 - 1, qualifying for IPL5 in Las Vegas.
A fully powered HyuN gives TSL that second ace Polt has failed to be. Racial balance and depth are cool, but strong, streaky players are disproportionately the most important thing in an all-kill format. DRG's recent Team League slump leaves Sniper as the only such player on the MVP side. If HyuN can't step up, then the match-up boils down to Symbol + decent supporting cast vs. Sniper + awesome supporting cast. However, if HyuN can play at an ace level, the the duo of Symbol and HyuN is fully capable of taking down team MVP.
Similarly, a lot also depends on who DongRaeGu wants to be. His Team League slump has made it so he's ceded the ace spot to Sniper in practicality, if not yet in name. DRG's recent inconsistency makes it tough for anyone to pencil him in for more than a win or two, but if he can be the old DRG for just one day, no team stands a chance.
As usual, the TSL team pretty much picks itself. Symbol, Polt, Shine and HyuN will play for sure. With Revival away in Singapore, Ragnarok is likely to take the #5 spot. However, there's an unspoken rule of the GSTL that line-ups choices are not allowed to make total sense, which will leave TSL fans sweating nervously as they wonder if Coach Lee will find a way to play Inori somehow.
It's hard to say who will play for MVP as they are the deepest team in the GSTL. Sniper and DongRaeGu are locks, but the other choices are pretty much up in the air. Finale is the best PvZ player so he'll could show up for that purpose, and TAiLS may be called upon to cheese again. Noblesse and Dream both prepared for TvPs in Code A this week, so Keen's likely to be the man when it comes to TvZ. As for ZvZ, Sniper and DongRaeGu are probably sufficient, but Monster could make an appearance as well.
In the end, I decided to pick conservatively. By that, I mean I decided not to believe HyuN is a GSTL ace until he actually shows it once. A merely good HyuN won't be enough to overcome the weight of depth on MVP's side. If Symbol goes absolutely crazy (it's a possibility), then he could kill three or four players to seal the deal... but I'm going with MVP's overwhelming depth to triumph.
This could be an incredibly close match-up just from the equality of quality on TSL and MVP. I think the deciding game will go between HyuN and Sniper, because if either team loses their incredibly important Zerg player who has the potential to ravage the other team, they could lose their chances at moving to the finals. Polt will likely be used to snipe Protosses, and potentially a Terran if needed, while Symbol will be the reliable ZvT sniper and ZvZ stalwart if needed. This one will go down to the wire, but I think TSL is carrying more momentum recently as a team and individuals.
TSL 5-4 MVP
(Plus I want to see TSL in a GSTL finals for once, MVP has had enough times)
Not counting that rebuilding season where Alive, JYP, Killer, and Clide all left at the same time, leaving TSL with pretty much no one established except Polt, TSL is 11-1 all-time in GSTL up to the semifinals.
They're 0-4 in semifinals.
derpface Sweden. November 23 2012 09:29. Posts 844
Yeah, a win could be huge for TSL. Hyun in semifinals, whole team doing well in GSL, lots of player qualified for various foreign tournaments. A team league win could get them that big sponsor they want to join the big boys like IM, ST, and MVP.
PhoenixVoid Canada. November 23 2012 09:50. Posts 9096
On November 23 2012 09:40 Fionn wrote: Yeah, a win could be huge for TSL. Hyun in semifinals, whole team doing well in GSL, lots of player qualified for various foreign tournaments. A team league win could get them that big sponsor they want to join the big boys like IM, ST, and MVP.
Would be nice to see TSL finally get a strong sponsor, they manage to stay in the big leagues without a famous/massive sponsor, and earning a nice sponsor would be the icing on the cake.