The Final Four
Finally, the preview to the fast approaching end of the Ro24 is here. Only eight players and four tickets to the Ro16 remain in the final two groups. Players in Group E hope to skirt around heavyweight Dewalt, while Group E is a free-for-all among fearsome equals.
Group E ()
Group F ()
Group E Preview
Too Close For Comfort
Kenzy vs Casper
Kenzy stands out as the favorite with a rough, but still superior competitive edge to Casper. Kenzy's play last season wasn't a mechanical showstopper. His real merits lay in his aggressive and consistent play which was enough to topple otherwise timid opponents. The case is no different for Casper whose worst enemy lies in the mirror. In a competitive setting, Casper will have to keep his nerves under control and stave off the unnerving tilt of whatever aggression Kenzy throws at him.
Kenzy's possible hydralurker drops will be the test of endurance Casper will need to pass in order to win. Another pitfall for Casper, especially in a highly fast paced and engaging matchup like TvZ, is being too passive. Aimlessness could result in a slow, gradual death by a freely droned and teched Kenzy.
To be fair, Kenzy is by no means immune to the same trials of competition. At the end of the day the games can go either way, but Kenzy comes across as the straightshooter to win.
Kamezerg vs Babo
Ready to swing first is Babo, who plays versus fresh faced newcomer, Kamezerg. Babo despite his lack of practice has always had a good knack for mind games and competition. In addition, Babo's chances of winning can only go up in ZvZ, a matchup he's confident in. However, his solid control is dragged down by his occasional poor decision making. If given the right, straightforward situations where his micro can shine, victory will follow suit.
Kamezerg to push back can make certain plays and builds that push Babo into uncharted territory. Force him to display a greater sense of timing and understanding that goes beyond a static muta scourge vs muta scourge battle. In that case, Kamezerg can easily turn the tables and undermine Babo's strengths. All thoughts considered though, Babo is the safe bet to take the win.
Winners' Match: Kenzy vs Babo
Kenzy is likely to offrace Protoss versus Babo in an incredibly close matchup. Babo's ZvP relies on a lot of fun, but very unrefined muta scourge strategies, or three hatch hydra. The scenario I fear, which is a chronic condition of Babo's, is doing a fake 3 hatch hydra. The very chronic part is when he has the opportunity to end the game when Protoss has too few cannons, but Babo drones up and loses the longer game. That said, Babo just needs to just kill his opponent.
Grievances about Babo aside, he still has a great chance of beating Kenzy. If Kenzy whips out his timid and mediocre 1-gate opener, that could spell an early victory. Babo's momentous and fast paced style could take advantage of the early game for some signature aggression.
Conversely, Babo is very prone to losing to a Protoss who just defends, makes a big army and then attacks. The weak thread that runs through Babo's play is lack of optimization compared to better players. His plays that rely on big swings, like his muta scourge into hydra strategy, don't lean on gradual, mechanical outpacing. Instead, they depend on bad decision making and poor adaptation by the opponent based on his unstandard unit compositions and strategy.
Luckily for Babo, Kenzy isn't on that dangerous level of macro efficiency. There's enough wiggle room for them to trade blows and still let Babo be comfortable. In the case Kenzy focuses most of his attention on macro and doesn't get lost on being too fancy, I can see Kenzy confidently winning. In any case, I don't think Kenzy has what it takes to dent Babo's sharp competitive sense.
Losers' Match: Casper vs Kamezerg
Kamezerg, who comes across as a flowery person, appears to be the Crazy Zerg style player. Casper can still dictate the matchup though with the 1-1-1 build. We've seen Casper pull that out before in BSL4, but he's more likely to play standard if current trends say anything.
The biggest struggle for Casper versus Crazy Zerg is having a competent level of macro and aggression. Efficienctly macroing and controlling large balls of medic marine are difficult at a lower level. On the upside for Zergs, the simple macro and fun of moving your whole army in two control groups and muta microing can overwhelm Terrans.
I think we're likely to see that exact same exchange with Kamezerg having so much fun that it baffles Casper. Expect a swift win for our Swedish Zerg.
Final Match: Kamezerg vs Kenzy
In the final ZvP matchup, Kenzy brings experience whereas Kamezerg shows a spry, plucky youthfulness. I don't expect much from Kamezerg who will bend under the pressure of Kenzy's all-across-the-board better play. The games in themselves will be pretty plain as Kamezerg is not as clutch or as diligent a macro player as needed.
In contrast, Kenzy is fairly calm under pressure and has decent army control which Kamezerg's unrefined mid to late game may have trouble with. The best option for Kamezerg to win are powerful rushes, but even then he's shown some goof-ups. Knowing Kenzy isn't the type to fall over easily, expect Kenzy to be the one taking his win in stride.
Babo and Kenzy advance to the Ro16!
Group F Preview
Race to Second
Dewalt vs Bakuryu
Expectations are high for Dewalt, who is currently playing in Korea. Don't be quick to dismiss Bakuryu though. He combines wit, mindgames, and great understanding in his play to be a formidable challenger. He may just be setting the stage for the greatest upset of BSL6.
Dewalt is a strong mechanical player, but as time has shown, especially in PvP, the prized assets that are sound decision making and adaptation fall short. Those are the weaknesses Bakuryu must strike to have any hope of beating Dewalt in a bo3.
Specialized plays like an early five mutas, heavy use of hydra lurker drops, or turtle zerg are optimal. The positional, strategic game, that forces Dewalt to adjust to the unexpected is exactly what Bakuryu must do. He is however a stubborn player, and playing strictly by the books and straightforward is what he will likely do. This is in spite of the massive gap in mechanics where Dewalt outpaces Bakuryu in leaps and bounds.
Contrarily, there is the offchance that Dewalt plays poorly, as he is no stranger to the extraordinarily bad game. Dewalt being in Korea also has to play at 3 AM, and every small advantage counts. Nevertheless, consider this a clean win for Dewalt.
Dragon vs Napoleon
Not much can be said about the racepicker Napoleon. He lives under the radar and has made few if any appearances in tournaments. Thus, expect a convincing win for Dragon, whose mechanics and competitive aptitude are on another level.
Winners' Match: Dewalt vs Dragon
Dragon, who avoids PvP, will ZvP Dewalt. Both players clash swords as champions of macro, but Dewalt sports better multitasking and fast-paced aggression. That edge is what has bested Dragon, who by margins small and wide, has caved to Dewalt's brand of steady harassment and crisp macro. A predictable outcome, Dewalt is the first to advance to the Ro16.
Losers' Match: Napoleon vs Bakuryu
Napoleon will TvZ Bakuryu, which happens to be Bakuryu's weakest matchup by far. Already on a 5 series losing streak versus Terran, there is little sign this next series will be the combo breaker. While an otherwise good player, Bakuryu's poor ZvT holds him back from being a top competitor and from entering the Ro16.
Final Match: Dragon vs Napoleon
In yet another rematch, Napoleon will either adapt or fall prey once more to Dragon's impenetrable macro style. Napoleon will at least try to play differently the second time around. As to how well Napoleon executes such aggressive plays under pressure is a mystery. Dragon should at least take the proper precautions of entering a midgame where he is sure to win despite overdefending.
Dewalt and Dragon advance to the Ro16!