A very eventful September (and first week of October) gives us a lot of games and rank changes that we have to go over! (All rankings are also done after the Ro16 concluded and before the Ro8 begins).
#1: Flash (No Change)
First and second on this PR was very close and tough to call. Ultimately, due to historical precedence, I gave the top spot to FlaSh again. More specifically, watching the game that FlaSh lost to Jaedong and Last losing to Mini, FlaSh lost a much closer game than Last, who’s 2 factory should have definitely done much more damage or even outright won the game. FlaSh on the other hand, still retains his top spot in the sponmatches during the month of September, and his games in his Ro16 looked strong. While he did come very close to getting knocked out by Jaedong in their infamous FvJ war, he managed to claw his way back through a crushing game against Light and a solid defense against Jaedong’s relentless pressure. By the way, huge shoutouts to /u/hefeweizenBeers on Reddit for translating FlaSh’s insight into his own games! Definitely a must watch for anyone looking to delve into the mind of the greatest player in history: https://bit.ly/2C2gKBp
I also still believe that FlaSh is stronger than Last in the plurality of all matchups which was another reason to have him at the #1 spot. His TvT is stronger (the best TvT of all-time let’s not forget), his TvP is definitely still stronger as shown by Last’s inability to close out that game vs Mini, and the TvZ matchup is close, one that I think could go either way. #1 in the sponmatches as usual doesn’t hurt either. That being said, FlaSh holds the advantage in two matchups and spon rankings, which means he’ll still get the nod.
#2: Last (+2)
Last definitely showed us that his run in the KSL was no fluke, and a complete dismantling of Jaedong put the cherry on top of his fantastic run. And he had a real chance of knocking FlaSh down a peg in this PR had he not failed his 2 factory pressure so miserably. After Mini did an easily 23 nexus, I really feel like a player of Last’s caliber should’ve easily crushed it, or done more significant damage. That being said, let’s not take too much credit away from Last. He has definitely returned to his AlphaGo days where people thought he was the second coming of FlaSh, and he’s making a serious run for best in the world right now. Every matchup is solid for him and he doesn’t exhibit any glaring weaknesses.
His temperament under pressure is immaculate, something that he could not say last year in offline tournaments. I’m excited for another potential deep run from Last in this ASL, and I hope that we will see him take on the best in this bracket play. A big series win in the semis against either Rain or EffOrt would be amazing, followed with a potential finals matchup against FlaSh, Mini, or Action which would be exciting to see. Last is mere inches away from knocking FlaSh off his podium,. We’ll have to see how he does this month.
#3: Mini (+6)
A small note before I go into the #3 on the PR. I think 3-7 were all very difficult to rank. Each player has shown a very compelling argument for the #3 slot, but this is the list I ultimately came up with. Mini makes a surprising charge up the leader boards where he got some revenge against Last from their KSL match. The reason why he’s ahead of the pack right now is mainly because he has been a relatively consistent player, making ASL5 semis, barely missing out on KSL after losing to both Rain and Last who are top notch players, and he’s already qualified again for the KSL2.
Mini is looking incredibly motivated to push his limits, and his games against Last and Shine showed excellent crisis management, something that will be necessary moving forward in the bracket. Still, the vZ test is something every Protoss must pass in order to maintain their high spot in the PR. His looming test against FlaSh will really determine whether or not he is deserving of a long term spot this high in the PR. While I don’t expect him to necessarily win, if he shows a close series that puts FlaSh on his heels, he’ll probably look to maintain for November.
#4: Action (New)
After 2-0ing both his Ro24 and Ro16 groups, we see the Mafia Zerg return to the PR in spectacular fashion. He had always been lurking right below the top 10, having barely slipped into the top 10 after he got 3rd in the DanJJING SL, but this time it’s for real. Much like EffOrt, who never made the Ro8 in an ASL before, Action barely failed to qualify last time after getting eliminated in the Ro16. But his games in the Ro24 and Ro16 looked good and convincing, with his game over Light being an incredible proxy nydus, and he allowed Jaedong to get overconfident and managed to come back.
His worth ethic this month has been off the charts, with 250 games played on spon, giving him the #7 spot for that month. He has 100 more games played over the next highest, Snow, at 150 games played. With this level of training and motivation to improve, Action is definitely a force to be reckoned with, and a deep run here in the ASL is all but assured with a pairing against weaker Protoss, Shuttle. A matchup against FlaSh would be an epic KT teamkill, or a matchup against Mini would potentially see Action move to the finals.
#5: EffOrt (New)
Ok TT1, are you finally happy he’s on here? EffOrt comes charging up our PR with seemingly a new sense of purpose in this ASL. While he was crowned as a choke artist in the previous ASLs, always getting knocked out in the group stages, he decided to prove the doubters wrong (including myself) and finally broke through to the Ro8. Solid finishes in the Ro24 and Ro16, crushing through Soulkey and Snow, have shown to me that EffOrt is ready to play again. Getting #3 in sponmatches for the month of September doesn’t hurt either, with his ZvT being his weakest matchup even after going 2-3 against FlaSh and 2-5 against Light. Not too shabby if you ask me. A 14-2 vZ record also helps to compete against a Zerg heavy field this tournament. The marquee matchup in the Ro8 between him and Rain will be a big test for both players, but with Rain’s current PvZ form, I feel like EffOrt should have no troubles advancing to the semis. There, he would have his ZvT tested against expected winner Last, which will be a matchup filled with fireworks and dynamic Starcraft.
#6: Rain (-2)
Not the best month for Rain. considering that he somehow lost a PvT vs Sharp of all people. While I used to praise his early game unit control which is what made him such a stellar PvP player, his choice of single gate after 12 nex and then poorly microing his goon down the ramp while getting worker drilled left me scratching my head. Sure he bounced back after beating both Mind and Sea to advance from the group, but they are both pretty poor Terran players who definitely aren’t very good at the vP matchup, and those games took far longer than I feel someone at Rain’s skill should have allowed it.
He showed some crucial mistakes too against Sea, losing countless probes to mis-timed transfers and not being able to take good engagements made me question if Rain was going through the typical champion’s slump. He was still #5 in the sponmatches for September, but Rain is looking to slip more on the list if he can’t get his former shape back. A tough Ro8 match against EffOrt doesn’t help his case either, as his horrid PvZ was exposed by Jaedong in the KSL.
#7: Jaedong (-5)
So close yet so far. That’s been the story of Jaedong’s life. Always so close to breaking through that ceiling, until FlaSh has to come along and ruin everything. After a disappointing KSL Finals, Jaedong showed us he was still determined to compete in this ASL, playing stellar Starcraft in his Ro24 group. And then things went downhill for the Tyrant. After a brilliant flank against FlaSh on Transistor to shock fans and see him bring God to his knees before sealing the deal with his mutalisk follow-up, he was once again playing phenomenal Starcraft against Action in the Winner’s match… until he took a poor muta battle that the old Jaedong would have never done. He lost his flock of mutas, quickly followed by the game, and would once again do battle with FlaSh to determine who would advance.
And once again, he would bring God to his knees with brilliant zerglings attacks and the hydralisk bust at the natural. But like Thor in Infinity War, he should’ve aimed for the head (or in this case, either targeted FlaSh’s CC or retreated after busting the natural). He went for an all-in with a newly made flock of mutalisks… only for one irradiate to evaporate them and seal the deal for FlaSh to push across the map and win the game. A heartbreaking finish for Jaedong, and his choice to withdraw from his seeded slot from the KSL2, means he drops several spots to 7th. He’s still a very strong player, but critical mistakes that we know the old Jaedong would never make means he’s close to dropping out of the top 10.
#8: Soulkey (-2)
Yikes. Getting cleaned out of the Ro16 was not the look that Soulkey was going for. After a solid run in the KSL, many thought SK would pose a considerable threat to the top players minus Flash and Last. His game against EffOrt showed a complete lack of respect for Transistor’s double ramp, and he paid for it dearly, allowing EffOrt to gain an advantage that he carried to the end, and his game against Shuttle just looked flat. I expect a player of Soulkey’s caliber to not horribly lose 2 control groups of no micro scourge into 6 corsairs without killing a single one. Leave that to someone like HyuK. He was still #4 in the month of September for sponmatches though, meaning he’s still grinding out games and performing well. But he definitely needs a good performance at the KSL2 to climb back up in this PR.
#9: Shuttle (New)
Shuttle manages to continue to surprise me with the occasional Ro8 finish. His Ro16 games were actually quite good, with his initial loss to Snow still being a very close game where his army control and large engagements actually went in his favor. His overall tactics might not be the best, as he lost Game 1 due to a zealot counter attack that killed his 3rd and allowed Snow an insurmountable economic advantage, but without that same advantage in their final game, Shuttle pushed back a goon/reaver attack at his front with very well placed storms, and other significant engagements outside Snow’s base to effectively seal the deal with a free 3rd base.
Tactically, I think there are some issues that Shuttle needs to fix. In both his Snow and Soulkey game, he failed to establish his 3rd both times against counter attacks, and even in the wildcard game against FlaSh, it was much the same, where getting a 3rd would be heavily punished by the opponent. I think if he understands how to safely secure those external bases, he’ll be in a solid place to move forward, but a tough road is ahead of him with a surging Action as his Ro8 opponent.
#10: Sharp (New)
Sharp advancing from his group was no surprise. Sharp advancing over Rain was definitely a surprise. We all knew the bunker rush into the 12 nex was coming, but his SCV drilling was somehow perfect, managing to make pretty much every unit of Rain completely worthless. The standard TvT specialist would then follow up with closing out his group against Sea pretty handily, and now he’s matched up against another Terran, Last. While Last is definitely an S-class player right now while Sharp is a lower A-tier player, his TvT speciality should make this Ro8 matchup a good one to watch. Furthermore, qualifying for the KSL2 gives him some more credit to be back in the top 10.
-- Close But No Cigar (CBNC) ---
BeSt: When your best matchup is PvT, and you look like you forgot how to play the matchup properly, it’s not a good look. BeSt who used to be a king of PvT looked flat against Last. The SKT Protoss needs to figure out his game again if he wants to return to our top 10.
Larva: Just dropping outside the top 10 for a few reasons. First, the surprising amount of resurging players in this ASL means we need to make space for them in the top 10, whereas Larva has been relatively inactive. Second, his sponmatches, which is really the only way to judge Larva these days, was a terrible 34% in September, definitely far from the spot he wants to be at. Hopefully, he’ll show us that his temporary break from the scene hasn’t caused him to lose a step in the KSL2.
Snow: The obvious absence from the top 10 for the ASL runner up is due to a few things. One, his glaring weakness at PvZ still shows, and his failure to make it into the KSL was another big reason for not making it back. His PvZ is still showing huge weaknesses, and losing to JyJ of all people is not the look you want.