Maru(T) vs. SoO(Z).
Whichever dark gods Maru has been giving tribute to this year to secure easy tournament runs are really pulling through for him, though to be honest I’m not sure he would even need their help. The Terran Prince (can we call him King yet, he’s no kid anymore) has been dominating this year and looks like a strong contender to claim his third GSL, all consecutively to boot. The word bonjwa is starting to come to mind. The same cannot be said of SoO, who after spending the last couple of years accumulating a record breaking number of second places got smashed in his GSL group last Sunday, losing 0-2 to Special and KeeN, Terrans far below Maru’s caliber. Maru should take this handily.
Showtime(P) vs. Zest(Z)
This should be an interesting one for sure. With both players strongest matchup being PvP we should hopefully see some solid games, if Zest is going to allow them. ShoWTimE showed that he can still play macro games at the highest level by edging out Neeb in Valencia, but fell in the next round to Has’ trickery. Zest is comfortable with both macro and aggressive styles, and I feel he will likely dictate the pacing of the series. Will ShoWTimE’s fantastic defense withstand whatever Zest can throw at him and allow him to take it to a comfortable late game? I can see this one going either way, and it could be a real slugfest.
Stats(P) vs. Cyan(P)
Cyan got a tough draw in having to face Stats. The Korean GSL champion is favoring the matchup right now, whereas Cyan would much rather be facing a Zerg or Terran. The only advantage the Chinese player could claim is that Stats’ recent games are much more readily available for study, whereas Cyan’s replays are harder to acquire. But even if the foreigner can get a read on Stat’s strategies and builds, defeating him is something else entirely. One can dream, but Stats shouldn’t have a problem getting through here.
SpeCial(T) vs. Has(P)
The Taiwanese Protoss made a stunning run at WCS Valencia before meeting the sucker punch that is Serral at the highest form of his career. SpeCial, on the other hand, has been steadily grinding at the Seoul teamhouse, although for all his hard work has not made any deep runs in tournaments recently. Although Has did make the finals at the recent WCS event he scraped through every single bracket game 3-2, bringing exciting and surprising builds but showing he still has a ways to go to master his late game. If SpeCial prepares for any trickery Has may throw at him by scouting well and keeping tabs on his opponent then the Mexican Terran should get through the match. Either way I’m looking forward to what madness and skullduggery Has will bring to the tournament.
Serral(Z) vs. Kelazhur(T)
Ouch, poor Kelazhur. It would take a lot of courage, or stupidity, to not put money on Serral to go far in this tournament. While he has yet to be truly tested in the fires of Korea the Finnish Zerg is on one of the most dominant runs in foreign Starcraft history. Kelazhur will need to play some of the best games of his life, and even then it may not be enough. With just shy of a 70% win rate against Zerg the Brazilian could pull off a surprise win, but on paper it is a David vs. Goliath story for sure. I can’t imagine him wishing ill of a fellow competitor but if Serral misses his flight or gets food poisoning I’d think Kelazhur, or any opponent for that matter, would be pretty thankful.
Rogue(Z) vs. INnoVation(T)
What a classic matchup, and one that should have fans foaming at the mouth. With INno knocking Rogue out of the GSL Super Tournament back in April, and Rogue returning the favor in GSL Season 2 Round of 16 in May the two legends are creating quite the rivalry. Both got out of their GSL Season 3 groups with a perfect 4-0 map score, but INnoVation bopped Rogue over the weekend in the online RavenZ Cup 4-0. Let’s hope that Rogue can pull his act together for next week, and with Maru as a practice partner we’ll see if can tighten up his ZvT before then. This could be a real barnburner, but the Terran in me wants to give it to INnoVation.
Neeb(P) vs. Dark(Z)
Probably the best West vs. East clash of the first round, neither of these players need any introduction. A foreign hope squaring off against one of the best Zergs of recent years, their recent match in the GSL went 2-0 the way of Dark, though I wouldn’t count Neeb out with his recent victories against Snute, Bly and Losira. Overall Neeb’s winrate vs Z puts him statistically ahead, but this one could go either way. I’m hoping to see some of the best PvZ’s of the tournament if both players bring their A game, but sadly one of these two greats will have to make an early exit. I couldn’t confidently call this either way.
Classic(P) vs. Scarlett(Z)
Another exciting ZvP to look out for, this time with the roles reversed. The foreign Zerg Scarlett has been very hit-or-miss since her victory at IEM Pyeongchang, and Classic has had his own troubles after being eliminated in his GSL round of 32 by Reynor. Since then the Korean Protoss has taken wins against SoO and Leenock, both solid players in their own rights, while the Canadian Zerg has had a quiet month with a short run at Valencia the only real competition to speak of. However she is back at the teamhouse and no doubt practicing hard, whilst Classic’s recent sponsorship could be giving him a boost in confidence and drive. I think Protoss will win the day here.
With our first round set to have some exhilarating games in nearly all the matchups, who do you think will be advancing? Will anyone be able to stop Maru or Serral on their way to the finals? Tune in next week on the 2nd to the 5th of August to catch all the action.