Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and welcome to 2019! ASL7 is just around the corner, prelims happening soon so consider this a hybrid between a normal monthly PR and an ASL specific PR. Lots of big moves this month with some surprising results and solid play out of certain individuals. Let’s dive into the first edition of the PR for 2019.
#1: Soulkey (+5)
Using the momentum of his phenomenal KSL2 win, Soulkey vaults himself to #1 in the first PR of the year. Recency bias aside, after his 2-4 loss to Last in KSL1, we really saw Soulkey push himself to excel at a traditionally difficult matchup. His combined 8-1 against both Last and Sharp put the exclamation point on his incredible run. Competent muta control along with calculated aggression shows signs of the Soulkey of old. In a field that will be mostly comprised of Zergs and Protoss with the lack of FlaSh in this tournament, I’ve got a good feeling about Soulkey’s chances in ASL. Oh, and #2 in sponmatches doesn’t hurt either.
#2: EffOrt (-1)
As I said last month, I would push EffOrt down a rank if he once again showed poor sponmatch results. And he hasn’t improved much, infact, he went 0-5 against FlaSh in the month of December. Luckily, no one else really can contest this #2 place except a healthy FlaSh, so EffOrt only slides down one spot. EffOrt will need to prove his worth in ASL7 if he wishes to keep his top 2 spot. Anything less than a finals appearance will be considered a failure in my book. He’s on a short leash right now and if he gets knocked out in the Ro16, expect me to come down hard on him.
#3: Flash (-1)
FlaSh haters rejoice, you all know who you are. FlaSh slides down a rank mainly due to him not being able to play in the ASL7 with his wrist injury. At full strength or even participating in ASL7, FlaSh would have easily been top 2 this PR still as his sponmatches continue to show excellent results. Unfortunately, he is being sidelined again and who knows how much longer he has until he’s forced into military service. We hope he gets better soon.
#4: Sharp (+2)
Sharp’s excellent play and his 2nd place finish at KSL2 pushes him up to top 4. His first series against Rain in the semifinals was a shocker to most, with excellent army engagements and sharp early-mid game factory pushes. His mine control was the most prominent portion of his play, never letting Rain take comfortable engagements and punished his lack of shuttle bombs. The wildcard rematch for the ASL7 showed that Sharp’s KSL run was no fluke, coming back with the reverse sweep to get him a seeded spot in the Ro16. While he was systematically picked apart by Soulkey, I do think Sharp has improved considerably. His TvT is still a stable rock that can only really be challenged by FlaSh and Last. With the former not in ASL, and Last being another seed, as long as Sharp can look to shore up his TvZ he’ll probably have a smooth ride into the Ro8.
#5: Rain (-2)
Rain falls after losing back to back series against Sharp in both KSL and ASL. The man who had a fairly straightforward victory in the ASL vs KSL showmatch at Blizzcon over Last now seems to struggle pushing by an in-form Sharp. It seems like his macro-based play and early-game micro advantages were negated by Sharp’s early-pressure based style and endless fields of mines. I’m sure he’ll be looking back at the replays to fix his large army engagements. But on the plus side, his PvZ seems to have improved tremendously over the past month with wins over EffOrt and Larva (x2). Hopefully this will carry him to a deeper run in ASL, and his PvP is still the best in the world.
#6: Last (-2)
Ouch. 0-4 at the hands of Soulkey in the semifinals at KSL2 is a brutal beatdown for the guy who 4-2'd him last time. We could potentially see a brewing rivalry between these two players. That being said, his build orders were very… questionable. I’m not really sure what Last’s gameplan was going into that series, but the heavy emphasis on wonky proxy rax openers left me scratching my head. After his interview at Blizzcon where he remarked that he saw ways to strengthen the 1-1-1 to oppose the new heavy ling style Zergs were beginning to use, he never once pulled it out. He is seeded into the Ro16, and I think that his TvT is still carrying him, but with weaknesses showing in his other matchups, Last is not looking like a top contender moving into the next ASL.
#7: Mini (+1)
Once it gets to this point, the rankings are a bit up in the air. With only proleague being played in the month of December and the semifinals of KSL, there wasn’t a whole lot of StarCraft to be played. Mini’s #7 here mainly on the back of longevity in the scene. He’s been a consistent performer who is always so close to breaking into a player like Rain, but just falls short by inches. His 3-2 win over Action in the Wild Card definitely should give him a nice boost of confidence moving forward, as his PvZ never looked too great. Only time will tell if Mini really can step up to aid the Protoss line with Shuttle leaving for the military.
#8: Where (+1)
Where remains in our top 10 after a quiet month mainly for longevity and potential. He’s been making more and more of a splash in the scene since ASL2, and I think it’s fair to continue to reward him with good placements in the PR. Good ZvZ and a reasonable ZvP means with the map pool and prospective player field, he’ll be in a good position to make another Ro8 in ASL7. As long as he manages to dodge Last and Sharp, I think he shouldn’t have too much trouble.
#9: Snow (New)
Snow makes it mainly for his outstanding MVP performance in the Moo Proleague with a perfect 6-0 record with top notch wins over Rain and an ACE win over FlaSh. It’s just a more casual content-first proleague, but still impressive for the man who has been very quiet outside of the PR for much of 2018. I expect a lot of Protoss players to be in the ASL so this will benefit Snow, and we hope to see him make another deep run.
#10: Action (New)
I really think you could make an argument for anyone at #10 given a reasonable paragraph of support. Action did lose to Mini in the Wild Card, but I don’t think he should have much trouble climbing back to the Ro16 at minimum. He’s a veteran Zerg that has shown some signs of the former Mafia Zerg in his KT days, and making the finals of Moo Proleague doesn’t hurt. Managing to pick up an ACE win over Larva definitely helped him get the nod to slide in to the very end. A decent ZvZ coupled with a very good ZvP means Action should look to make a good run.
-- Close But No Cigar (CBNC) ---
Shuttle: Shoutouts to Shuttle, you will be missed. The Protoss line just got a bit weaker. Shuttle was a consistent player and it is tragic that his military had to come around right as he started regaining his old ASL1 form. Hope to see him back soon. If he wasn’t going to military, I would probably put him around 6/7th.
Mind/Light: Because it’s a field of mostly Zerg and Protoss, I expect both of our TvZ specialists to put on a good fight in the group stage depending on the draw. But then you’ll see their TvP and you’ll realize why neither of these two will ever make a run deeper than the Ro8. Oh yeah, their TvTs are pretty bad too. Cross fingers and pray is my strategy for these two.
Cadenzie: Shoutouts to our girl who will be taking on the competition in the qualifiers.
Photo Credits: Blizzard Entertainment