Recap of Winners Round One
Sage < Shattered Temple > meRz
Sage < Daybreak > BlinG
Sage < Antiga Shipyard > SeleCT
RealMaker < Tal'Darim Altar > SeleCT
Tassadar < Shakuras Plateau > SeleCT
San < Calm Before the Storm > SeleCT
San < Terminus > Bischu
San < Sanshorn Mist AE > SjoW
This team league started off with the first of many foreigner-korean matches. Dignitaz were certainly the underdogs coming into this game, and the first few games didn’t do anything to hurt that prediction. In the first game, Merz gained a superior position against the mighty Sage due to a favourable engagement and an excellent composition. Sage does what anyone should do when they’re at a disadvantage: he out expanded, out multi tasked, out upgraded, out microed, and out harassed Merz. That’s a winning combination and win he did. Sage found his next stepping stone in BlinG, and I highly recommend this game if you have a few minutes to spare – I'll put the reason why under a spoiler: + Show Spoiler +
Before the third game of this set I knew Select was pretty good, but I always wondered how well he’d do in a team format. Select outright runs through Sage with a beautifully timed response to some blink harass that denies the third, snipes the robo, snipes the colossi, and engages the protoss army in a beautiful position. This handsome dignitaz member does not fail to impress with his TvZ as well. His phenomenal multi tasking allows his reactor hellion drop to melt over 20 drones, not to be outdone by his follow up marine tank push to kill the zerg natural. Afterwards Select gets a little sloppy, which draws out the game in a non-exciting fashion. But eventually his advantage overcomes the zerg – even though he was never in any real danger of losing. Unfortunately for our Korean-foreigner, he runs into the strong kung fu of San, who makes beating select in this match up look almost easy. He harasses Select effectively, while denying all terran drops and keeping select to 3 base. Charegelot-archon combined with fantastic high Templar usage eventually overwhelms Select.
San raps this series up for NSH in a quick fashion – killing Bischu for expanding first, and defending Sjow’s poorly executed 1-1-1 well enough to win.
Revival < Shattered Temple > Kiwikaki
Revival < Shakuras Plateau > Artist
Ragnarok < Daybreak > Artist
Ragnarok < Antiga Shipyard > Inori
Ragnarok < Sanshorn Mist AE > Gix
Ragnarok < Darkness Falls > Slush
Cyrano < Calm Before the Storm > Slush
Symbol < Atlantis Spaceship > Slush
The second Korean favoured match against foreigners opens with an always entertaining player; Kiwikaki. However, the Canadian's creativity with a FE fake into 1 proxy gate is steamrolled by Revival’s strong fundamentals in holding off the initial aggression, then all-inning with roaches for an easy win. Most people predicted Artist to be the player most likely to get a win in the next match, and he did not disappoint. His long, standard looking macro game makes TvZ look surprisingly easy, especially if you make emp’ing infestors a priority.
Artist is unable to continue his vZ brilliance against Ragnarok, however, in another fairly standard game. Ragnarok’s positioning for engagements and drop defense is too solid to allow Artist any edge, eventually running him over with ultra which is always cool. The story of Ragnarok vs Inori is also a pretty straightforward one; Ragnarok maxes on roaches on even bases when Inor sits with 120 supply with blink stalkers. Ragnarok rips apart the protoss defenses by dropping to hit multi locations, and couples these maneuvers with some nice burrow usage. giX too, falls to the suddenly mighty RagnaroK, and suddenly ReIGN is down 1-4, with their three most famous players all eliminated.
However, SLush comes back with a vengeance for the foreign team, getting more roaches with better upgrades and holding a baneling+roach bust because of it. Slush isn’t done yet, opening into mass muta against TSL's next player, Cyrano, which he trades off to try a roach ling bust. The mutas fail, the bust fails, even the broods fail…at least at first, until Slush remaxes instantly, over and over. Eventually infestors seal this nutso game. Sadly for the foreigners, Slush’s run comes to a lackluster end, as he loses a huge group of lings early due to poor control against TSL's true zerg ace, Symbol, creating a deficit that he can never overcome. Symbol outmasses and outclasses Slush and puts an end to the Reign hope for a win.
GuMiho < Shattered Temple > DdoRo
GuMiho < Atlantis Spaceship > ChAnCe
GuMiho < Daybreak > Hawk
GuMiho < Shakuras Plateau > State
Choya < Terminus > State
Choya < Darkness Falls > Illusion
Lucky < Tal'Darim Altar > Illusion
asd < Antiga Shipyard > Illusion
FXO used to be a team that was just okay, but with their current roster it looked like Vile didn't have a chance. GuMiho lets this confidence shine through in his first game, attempting a quick 3 rax marauder build, but DdoRo holds well. The scrapfest continues as GuMiho nearly overextends with agression. But he plays it smart on several occasions, committing to agression but not losing with it. GuMiho pours it on the second game, only to be deflected then lose his natural to a baneling bust. From here ChAnCe looks to be in a nearly unlosable position, but he doesn't learn from his opponent’s mistake of being too aggressive, and gets into big trouble. His over commitment to killing a turtling terran allows GuMiho back into the game, which just as quickly flips into the terran's favour thanks to some great harass and ChAnCe headbutting into a wall of siege tanks twice. Eventually, GuMiho wrestles away the win to bring FXO up 2-0.
After another close call, Gumiho goes the mass marine mayhem build vs Hawk, and that’s all it takes for him to win, although the American zerg puts up a decent fight. Finally, Vile is able to stop the carnage with State. The protoss cries “NO MORE!”, and adeptly handles all of Gumiho’s aggression. The game eventually comes down to a battle with a thousand storms and nearly as many immortals—which never ends well for terran without a comparable ghost count. State’s battle cry fades in his next game with Choya, where he attempts a blink-warp prism all in against a robo expand build. Choya holds it pretty easily.
Finally, Vile throws their ace; the prodigeously talented 15 year old Illusion, and he has no intention of letting down his fanbase. An interesting scenario occurs where Choya goes for a 1 base blink stalker all in, and at the same time Illusion moves out with some early bio agression—and both armies completely miss one another. This base trade favors Illusions two base, terran defensive advantage, and he manages it fine to take home a pretty unusual win. In the next game, FXO doesn't mess around, sending one of their premier players in Lucky. But it's Illusion who gets a bit lucky with a hellion marine drop as the zerg conveniently places his spire in a very killable location. Illusion takes this inch and goes a mile, continuing to snowball his edge with great pushes, never allowing Lucky a chance to catch up. Having brought his team back to 3-4, Illusion starts off the next TvT against asd really well, denying cloaked banshees and breaking a superior tank line with great timing and better upgrades. But from here Illusion fails to scout asd's hidden expo, or EVER FIGHT IN RANGE OF HIS SIEGE TANKS. And sadly, that gets you killed in a TvT.
theognis < Shattered Temple > HasuObs
Destiny < Shakuras Plateau > HasuObs
Destiny < Tal'Darim Altar > MaNa
Destiny < Antiga Shipyard > ThorZaIN
Agh < Daybreak > ThorZaIN
Naniwa < Calm Before the Storm > ThorZaIN
SaSe < Darkness Falls > ThorZaIN
SaSe < Atlantis Spaceship > biGs
SaSe < Sanshorn Mist AE > MorroW
Finally some foreigner on foreigner action, with most people predicting the smaller yet always solid Mouz to come out with the win. In the opening game HasuObs busts Theognis’ nat early, and from then on rides his macro lead—and archons, to victory. Next, Quantic sends Destiny, which feels like a completely confounding choice, especially against Mouz. But god bless team leagues, because HasuObs attempts a blink-voidray attack and loses his whole army for nothing. The game sadly goes on for a while until Hasu sees the broods and ggs out. Riding on his wave of destruction, Destiny pulls out the ol’ mass muta on Tal'Darim strategy. MaNa’s decent defense draws this game out much longer than it could've, as he never leaves his base the entire game, but then he eventually gets overrun and loses.
The surprising zerg runs into a very angry spoon terran on his third run. ThorZaIN sets up a fortified center position like only he can, and holds Destiny’s attempt at a 3 way flank. The spoon keeps his macro lead, and the zerg base count down, eventually strangling Destiny and getting the win. Summarizing ThorZaIN's games is almost always a challenge, and he makes it no easier against Agh. The protoss gets a huge lead early with a 6 gate bust on the terran natural. Yet somehow, Agh decides to turn around instead of pushing for a sure kill. ThorZaIN macros very well, and Agh chooses absolutely awful engagements. After the 100th missed storm, and 200th snipe, ThorZaIN claws his way to a pretty entertaining (or painful) win. Again, if you have a few minutes and want to laugh check out ThorZaIN's next game. I won't spoil this either. + Show Spoiler +
SaSe and ThorZaIN have always had interesting PvT, but their game fails to meet this expectation. A weird case of bad decision-making causes Thorzain to attack into a terrible position with a huge upgrade disadvantage and lose the game in a depressing fashion. But Quantic suddenly has life! SaSe follows through with a blink stalker and immortal attack against all roach with an upgrade advantage, smushing biGs to even up the score. But in the ace match, SaSe finally finds an opponent who refuses to die to in an easy way. MorroW crushes SaSe’s oddly timed attacks, and garners a huge lead from constantly denying protoss expansions. Eventually Sase attacks into a ton of brood/infestor/spines and dies.
EXTREME < Shattered Temple > Virus
Explosion < Tal'Darim Altar > Virus
Explosion < Antiga Shipyard > July
Explosion < Darkness Falls > PartinG
Life < Terminus > PartinG
Mushroom < Shakuras Plateau > PartinG
Destination < Atlantis Spaceship > PartinG
Let’s be honest, it’d take more than an incredibl miracle for ZeNex to take out a team like Startale. Virus allows no such miracles with some simple 2-rax marauder pressure that EXTREME defends extremely poorly and dies. Virus continues the aggressive anti-protoss theme with a 3 rax vs Explosion, but the second Ex_____ protoss shows us the day to the last game's night, defending the pressure perfectly with a 2 gate robo expand. He proceeds to kill Virus with many immortals. Who doesn't love immortals? Pew pew. You’d think someone like July might make this series a little bit more…spectacular? Entertaining? But you'd be wrong. Explosion hard counters July’s muta opening with BRUTE FORCE PHOENIXES—no micro required. July retorts by trying to crash into Explosion’s well set up position, and failing about four times in a row ,all the while never getting beyond three bases. His hydra roach composition eventually loses due to the fact the protoss is also on 3 bases. July, July!
PartinG, however, does bring renewed excitement to this series. In a fairly entertaining, and somewhat back and forth PvP, PartinG edges out Explosion with much better upgrades. Pretty good in a mirror! The fun goes on as Life opens 6 pool, but PartinG defends very well. Life keeps the pressure on high with mass lings, delaying the protoss (and, incidentally, his own) expansion. He eventually transitions into 2 hatch muta, which PartinG responds to by killing him. In his second mirror PartinG pulls out another win thanks to Mushroom expanding first with sub par micro. Not to finish without a silly beatdown, PartinG opts for 1 gate double expand into 8 gate in the final match. Destination adds a bit of excitement by almost accidentally hitting a marine timing before the gates kick in, but he doesn’t, so he dies.
DeMusliM < Shattered Temple > Illusion
IdrA < Antiga Shipyard > Illusion
PuMa < Terminus > Illusion
PuMa < Daybreak > TheStC
Machine < Atlantis Spaceship > TheStC
JYP < Tal'Darim Altar > TheStC
JYP < Shakuras Plateau > Fin
People, including our preview post, were expecting this match to be far closer than the usual across the ocean clash, since here was an honest to god foreign team that was practicing among the Koreans and learning their ways! We might've had to rethink that position. In the first game we saw that combat shield marines with minor siege tank support (DeMusliM) falls pretty easily to mass stim+medevac marines, in favor of oGsIllusion (who will be referred to as such in deference to the American Illusion, whom we think had the ID first). The Korean terran follows up his defense with a drop that snipes DeMusliM’s stim last second, making the eventual base trade all too easy. Next on the list, IdrA is faced against a standard reactor hellion opening that he holds, coupled with a beautiful transition into cloaked banshees that devastates the zerg economy. After this Idra finds himself down a base, and attacking into siege lines with ultralisks—except he gg's before a fight can happen. 2-0 for oGsIllusion.
EG fights Kor with Kor next, by sending out the always impressive PuMa to save the day. He manages to miracle scout oGsIllusion's rush to cloak banshee to defend it without fault. PuMa goes on to beautifully flank the hell out of Illusion's follow up marine siege tank push. Afterward, PuMa out-expands, out-upgrades, out-micros, and out-plays illusion hard. A great game from PuMa. What follows in the next game is some pretty entertaining TvT, and part of why it’s my favorite mirror by far. TheStC and Puma constantly trade blows, with the EG terran going mech and the oGs terran bio. Unfortunately PuMa is unable to handle the mobility of bio + Viking drops, and gives up EG to a 3-1 deficit.
TheStC goes from crazy mode to EZ mode in the next game, pressuring Machine with bunkers and hellions, and accidentally killing him instead. There's not much to say about this game, beyond the single stat; 26 drones lost, 7 minutes in. Wanting no end to his early aggression, TheStC tries to outright kill EG's ace, JYP (and a bad vT player) with a two rax which just barely fails. StC then follows this up with a pretty poor 3 rax, which JYP holds much easier for a seemingly surprising win. In the next game JYP tries to force some macro out of Fin with a nexus first. The terran 2 raxes in response, nearly killing him outright if not for a lucky low hp pylon. The game does drag out into some macro, where JYP plays quite convincingly, but Fin just attacks when he gets ghosts and rolls over JYP, because ___ imba. Obviously. A tough, and unexpectedly lopsided loss for EG puts them in the losers bracket, while oGs advances.
HayprO < Shattered Temple > Minigun
Sheth < Atlantis Spaceship > Minigun
Sheth < Antiga Shipyard > CatZ
Sheth < Calm Before the Storm > drewbie
Sheth < Daybreak > Ryze
Sheth < Shakuras Plateau > goswser
Zenio < Tal'Darim Altar > goswser
The predictions for this match were the closest in the first round, no doubt due to the potential of coL.MvP’s A-lineup, but also to the odd power of Liquid's reputation. However, the prognostications are turned on their head, as MvP cannot attend the match, thanks to the Chinese New Year holiday, leaving coL to fend for itself. However. coL. starts off well, putting HayprO against the early warpgate zealots of Minigun. These zealots do their job, and they do it well—only to be outdone by the beautiful stalker sentry follow up that crushes the Liquid` zerg.
Next up for the blue horsies is Sheth, who clearly takes offense to this early setback, and flexes the real potential of zerg. He avoids HayprO’s painful mistake of not scouting, and as a result, shortly after Minigun takes his 3rd Sheth catches him teching to colossus and runs him over with roaches from 2 directions. The Sheth show continues with a crazy game against CatZ. Essentially, Sheth macros like a beast, but CatZ luckboxes with two hiddent infestors and kills a ton of drones and the natural hatchery with one burst of with infested terrans, putting himself into a lead. Unfortunately, he splits his army up strangely in the aftermatch and Sheth picks it off piecemeal and pulls out the win from a bad position. Sheth really wants to sweep this series for Liquid, easily crushing Drewbie’s opening marine siege tank push with speedlings in the following match. From this point on Sheth engages in a strategical silly-fest; every time Drewbie moves out he backstabs him and Drewbie pulls his whole army back to defend. Once he’s had enough of this Drewbie attacks into brood/infestor/ling/muta and dies. In the next game against Ryze, Sheth won't be stopped, winning almost as soon as the opening introductions were complete.
One win away from an all-kill, Sheth is thrown into yet another ZvZ, but this one turns out to be a great one. Sheth gains the macro lead cause he’s Sheth, but trades armies with goswser and gives up that very same lead. The engagements are tight, and hinge around each player’s infestor usage, as Sheth improbably stays alive time and time again. But eventually, Sheth falls under the weight of goswser's constant attacks, and is denied the all-kill.
However, there will be no such streak for coL, as Liquid` wastes no time in sending out Zenio, who quickly swoops in and goes fast banes while goswer goes expo. Zenio micros well, and goswser slightly less well, leaving Zenio and Liquid` in command of the field.
cOre < The Shattered Temple > Beastyqt
Classic < Calm Before the Storm > Beastyqt
AhnYeong < Daybreak > Beastyqt
Creator < Tal'Darim Altar > Beastyqt
Creator < Antiga Shipyard > viOlet
Creator < Sandshorn Mist AE > Aristeo
Creator < Shakuras Plateau > Kas
Creator < Terminus SE > Happy
MarineKing < Atlantis Spaceship > Happy
Empire has long been one of the most unappreciated teams out there, and Beastyqt has long been one of the least appreciated players in the foreign scene. That means it may come as a bit of a surprise as Beasty immediately proves his worth for Empire* against the Korean GSTL runners-up, Prime. With an early ghost timing against cOre, the Serb secures good midgame lead and then defends the frantic attacks of the protoss to bring home the first win. Again in a TvP, which is notoriously his worst match-up, Beasty employs a unique banshee-thor-marine composition, which catches Classic completely flatfooted. This brings the series to a surprising 2-0. Prime, seemingly confused about why one of Europe's most prolific TvP complainers is whipping their protoss players, sends out AhnYeong as a change of pace, and the zerg promptly defends a marine-hellion drop with bronze-level poise. Although the zerg is able to do better than you'd expect in several subsequent battles, Beasty is patient and builds up a huge economic lead to sieze the win and the third game.
At this point, things are looking excellent for Empire, but Prime's two aces; Creator and MarineKing still sit on the bench. Creator is sent in to right the sinking ship, and he succeeds in staying simple and just making a deathball. That's enough, as Beasty cannot defend the diverse protoss attack on any front, and the three kill is ended. Now it's time for Creator to try to come up with some magic of his own. Against viOlet on Antiga, Creator stays true to his roots, and survives until he can make a deathball, with which he rolls the zerg. Next, Empire tries to snipe Creator with a new map choice, sending Aristeo on Sandshorn Mists, but thankfully for Prime, turtle until deathball works on all maps, and again Empire folds under Creator's attack. Finally, Empire throws Kas, their ace, who tries some hidden base schenanigans, which don't work, splits the map and then—you guessed it!— dies to a maxed protoss army.
Last up for the Europeans is Happy, the ultra-orthodox, super passive Russian terran. A decent macro game develops on Terminus, which ends with mass ghosts and gratuitous nuking from Happy just demolishing the protoss forces. Finally, Creator's deathball has been defeated, but Prime has their ace still up their sleeve, and in the ace, Happy falls behind to early banshee harass, and can never catch up, simply falling farther behind with every engagement before being forced to call the GG. Overall, a valiant effort from Empire, but Prime triumphs in the end.
*Baseball fans will understand Beasty as the Johnny Sain to Kas's Warren Spahn, or, if you prefer, Curt Schilling to Randy Johnson
Winners and Losers Brackets: Next Round Preview
Winners Round Two:
Last week’s Mousesports vs. Quantic game was quite the treat, with fan favorite Destiny taking a pair off of matches off of Mouz heavyweight protosses in dominating fashion, ThorZaIN responding with a series of clutch wins, and SaSe almost bringing it back, making it overall a 5-4 and one of the opening round's highlights. This week, Mouz has to stand up against oGs, who romped a disappointing EG team and also came out ahead in their GSTL match against Zenex. No foreigner bias here - I’ve been impressed by SuperNoVa recently and I’m sure he will come out on top as the ace in this match-up, if it gets that far. Before then, there's TheStC, Vines, Fin, and a host of others. oGs may be out MinChul but everyone on that team is just so solid.
A redeeming factor for Mouz - Mouz can basically focus their practice against Terran, as ForGG and SuperNova are arguably the strongest players on other side. oGs’s zerg lineup has greatly faltered in recent times and their Protoss lineup is troubled right now. The other side of this coin is that Mouz lacks the players they need to really accomplish dedicate players to snipe one matchup - all players need to be well-rounded on the team. oGs can very easily prepare to snipe Thorzain and then rely on their well-rounded terrans to sweep away the protoss threats, with Morrow being the only wildcard left for the stacked lineup. Mouz pulled it off last season, but two years in a row? Sadly, it doesn't look quite as promising.
Prediction: 5-3 oGs
This match is going to be crazy, so much so that I find it hard to predict it. Oz, GuMiho, asd and Lucky all are top class players with a bit of inconsistency surrounding their names, but as a team lately FXO has been tearing it up in the GSL. NSHoSeo boasts a powerful Protoss trio - Sage, Tassadar, and San - all three notable GSL Protoss at a time when Protoss was considered well underpowered. NSHoSeo has a variety of less notable powerhouses under its wing, like Sting, Seal and BanBans, and many of their players made a name for themselves in the GSTL last season.
But what we’re really looking forward to here is the rematch of Leenock vs. Jjakji, the two kids who shook the foundations of the GSL with stunning runs that lead to an equally stunning year-end finale. These two players will likely be the aces for their respectable teams - though either team could throw a wrench in and send them out early, looking for an all-kill or serious damage. Both teams also have the rosters to prepare snipers for each others aces, and both teams are filled with players who would be aces on either teams. Both FXO and NsHoSeo could compete for the GSTL championship, and both shrugged off spirited foreign team challenges in the first round with grace. There's not a lot of daylight between these two on paper.
Its hard to predict a winner, but I do predict it to be the must-watch match of the round. In the end, FXO's front four, plus asd give them an edge in depth that ought to carry them through.
Prediction: FXOpen 5 - 4
To all the haters that read my last review and claimed “foreigner bias”, here’s your can of I-told-you-so. Liquid has been doing well this year and coLMvP seriously missed the boat in MvP going on holiday break right at the start of the tournament—my guess is that we’ll see DongRaeGu and the crew in the loser’s bracket. But Prime is quite toasty however, and has two robust aces in MarineKing and Creator, while Liquid remains untested against the might of the KR server. After getting challenged by Empire's terrans in the opening round, expect Prime to not mess around this time.
I think Prime’s got the composition to be a heavy favorite, not just in this match. On top of their Koreany-ness, Creator has been making headlines since he debuted in Code A a few seasons ago, and Liquid`—as much as I hate to say it for the boys in blue—has not. Hero and Zenio are their stalwart aces, but I don’t see either taking wins off of MarineKing. And if not them, then who? Byun is Prime’s backup Terran and has been a bit rusty lately, but he can take wins too. And if it comes to it I think we’ll see Creator as the ace. His performance against Empire could not be ignored.
Prime has a few more tools at their disposal. BbongBbong can be used as a ZvZ sniper against the Zerg-heavy Liquid lineup. We’ll may also see cOre, previously a ZeNEX ace, mixed in with their lineup. For Liquid`, HerO and Zenio will need to go on runs against several strong terrans, and a strong protoss in Creator. Otherwise, relying on Ret and last week's hero Sheth to take down the hordes of Koreans might be too much. Beyond them, Liquid`s fifth is a mystery, might it by HayprO or Jinro? Neither are likely to carry the team.
I think we’ll see a pretty strong sweep of the all-Korean team. After the close call against Empire, and Liquid` being better known in Korea, Prime will lose only as many games as the inexperienced players they put out. Even if Liquid takes it to a finale, Creator or MKP will be waiting.
Prediction: 5-2 Prime
TSL over the past few months has parted ways with every great player that could win them this match. Killer, Clide, JYP, and most notably aLive - all Code S caliber threats and weapons of mass destruction in Team League action. These players were traded for the acquisition of Super Tournament champion Polt, who manages to have a close game against everyone but has now dropped from the GSL and must requalify. But despite some pessimistic predictions last time, they turned out and stomped in the opening round, led by the sneaky-good RagnaroK. (And what a good ID!)
Meanwhile on the Startale side you can see a much deeper and more recently accomplished lineup. Curious, Bomber, Virus, Squirtle, PartinG and July all saw the GSL this year, and while the results weren’t jaw-dropping all around, they put two players in the Ro16. And hey, Superstar could guarantee a fun game or two. The ST lineup is also more than diverse enough to dampen the effects of snipers.
Its Korea vs. Korea here but I think the talent pool favors one side pretty heavily, so I’ll go out on a limb and predict a romp for Startale. While TSL did so well last time, Startale is a different beast than ReIGN. PartinG in particular looked brilliant last time, and Curious and Bomber are still excellent, despite recent GSL results. While I’m not sure about all the drama that’s been going down at the TSL house or each individual’s reasons for leaving, I think that Coach Lee really needs to develop stronger bonds with his A-class players and keep them on his team for moments like this. They could've used more flexibility against a deep team like Startale.
Prediction: 5-1 Startale
Losers Round One:
Poor Empire. After pushing Prime to the brink with some beasty play, they won't be happy to be dropped down against coL.MvP, the korean-foreign partnership of death. Poor Empire, that is, if MvP actually plays this time. The reason last season's bronze medalists are in losers, after all, is because of the new years holiday in Korea, which took MvP out of the mix and left coL. to get beaten by a gleeful Liquid` team.
It's probable that coL. and MvP will be reunited for this match, which should make them solid favorites vs the Eastern Europeans. DongRaeGu, who was curiously ineffective in IPL TAC1 is nonetheless the player to beat. But that's assuming you've gotten past Keen, Noblesse, finale, and the rest of the crew. MvP is a super solid team, and deeper than most other Korean teams in the mix. And coL shouldn't go unmentioned, despite a tough final score, the foreigners largely acquitted themselves well against Liquid`. Mingun, CatZ, Goswser, Qxc, or others could nab a win in the right circumstances.
But not quite so fast in crowning coL.MvP the winner; Empire has some big guns too, and in last years foreign teamleagues, Beastyqt and Kas proved an incredible combination. In the opening round, Beasty held up his end of the bargain, but Kas flopped. If the two can both get hot at the same time, then MvP might find themselves against the same ropes that nearly ensnared Prime. viOlet and Happy can contribute as well. That's Empire's one serious chance to take this. It could happen. This is a good team. The lesson should be crystal clear by now; don't underestimate Empire.
Final guess? Close but not quite for the Europeans.
Prediction: 5-4 coL.MvP
Neither team looked particularly strong in the opening matches, with ReIGN getting into trouble against Code B zerg TSL_RagnaroK, and ZeNEX getting predictably outclassed by Startale in the opening round's only Korean vs Korean match-up. Thus, this figures to be one of the more underwhelming match-ups, but it also presents a good chance for the foreign teams to pick up a win at the expense of the Korean rearguard.
ZeNex got beaten badly, but to be fair, it was to a Code S calibre player in PartinG. Before that, after an embarrassing loss by EXTREME, Avenge had brought ZeNEX into the lead with two good wins against Virus and July. That's encouraging, and we shouldn't forget that ZeNEX did qualify for this event going through some challenging opponents to get there. Of course, they were then 5-1'd by Vile in the finals, which ought to give everyone pause. Similar to TSL, but a lot less dramatic, ZeNEX is a team seriously down on its luck, and dogged by rumors about its eminent disbandment. Getting nowhere in the GSL didn't help either. They had a close series vs oGs in GSTL, but they lost it. The point is that ZeNEX isn't too good right now, and they're probably not getting far in this event.
But are they better than ReIGN? It depends. ReIGN has a lot of question marks as well. Going into the IPL TAC, they had given FXO a spirited challenge in the NASTL, but laid an egg vs TSL. Last minute wins by SLush couldn't paper over the bad failure of Artist and Inori to carry the team and KiWiKaKi lost a huge early lead with overly-greedy play. ReIGN's aces will need to do much better here. But overall, the team still looked better than ZeNEX...
I have no idea who will win here. ZeNex is struggling, ReIGN is inconsistent. I'd like to predict ReIGN. I should probably pick ZeNex. We'll call it for the Koreans in a close series.
Prediction: 5-3 ZeNex
It's been a terrible new year for EG. After kicking it off with the announcement of JYP, both he and IdrA fell out of Code S, then IdrA and HuK out of Code A. The team is 0-2 in the NASTL, and had serious difficulty against oGs in the opening series. But it's all too easy to lose perspective in the midst of these ruts. EG is still EG, with a number of superb players. Against Quantic, they'll be much more evenly matched than against oGs. For Quantic, the opening round saw an near upset of Mousesports. But after Destiny unexpectedly killed off MaNa and HasuObs, Quantic should've been able to close out the series. Getting beaten instead by ThorZaIN stings, and they'll hope to redeem themselves in the losers bracket.
Sometimes, losing streaks can gain enough momentum that it really brings down your level and everyone around you. EG might be wise to break out 'Mind Gym' and put these last weeks past them. Against Quantic, they'll be favored if they can get in the right mental state. The reliance of Quantic on Protoss aces SaSe and NaNiwa won't please IdrA, but PuMa and DeMuslim will have no complaints. JYP too, has made a reputation for himself as an ace at PvP. In the battle between EG's Terrans and Quantic's Protosses, the advantage lies with PuMa. EG's chances will be better too if they can get HuK in the action. Despite having limited practice recently, the Canadian is a key piece of the puzzle for EG and can go toe to toe with any of Quantic's aces.
For the Big Red Steering Wheel, (I've been trying to come up with a good nickname for Quantic, and obviously I haven't yet succeeded) Apocalypse may end up being the key player. SaSe and NaNiwa will need to pull their weight, of course, but if the Korean terran can pick off JYP, or any of the EG terrans then Quantic is in a good spot. If not, perhaps Destiny could be a hero? Unlikely, but I doubt anyone saw his win over MaNa coming, and word on the street is that his Korean training has done wonders.
Anything can happen, of course, but both teams are probably expecting a Korea vs Sweden battle to decide the match. Despite SaSe and NaNi's impressive records and skill, EG's Korean pick-ups are a touch more accomplished, and are both strong vs Protoss. That's the tiny difference between these two impressive teams.
Predictions: 5-4 EG
Vile vs Dignitas, the first match of the losers bracket, was already played on Friday, February 3rd, ahead of the rest of the round. As such, look forward to the recap from that match in our next article on Losers Round 1 and Winners Round 2!
But check out the Live Report and VOD of the match!
Interview with VileIllusionWith his team down 4-1 to Korean powerhouse FXO, the least regarded team going into the tournament turned to their 15 year old ace terran, who downed Choya and Lucky before succumbing in a fantastic match against asd. Despite not winning, Vile was maybe the most impressive foreign team in the first round, and we sat down with their ace to discuss the match and the teamleague as a whole.
So please introduce yourself for everyone who didn't see the games and who might not know you from anything else.
Hello, my name is Chris and I go by vileIllusion. I'm 15 years old and am an aspiring fulltime professional gamer.
When you stepped into the series against FXO, it was with your team down 4-1 and a former GSL player Choya waiting. What were your thoughts at that point?
"If I lose I'm letting the whole team down and the public will think team vile is a mediocore NA team who can't compete with the best." Thinking that also made me nervous but I was determined to show good games and win for Vile.
Previously in the series, your teammates, really all of them, in fact, played some good close games. How did you think Vile did as a whole?
In the series vs FXO, I think Vile as a whole showed our potential. We didn't win the series but our games were very close and in almost every single one of the games we played in, there was a point in time where we could have won decisively but we were too eager to win.
Did you gain anything from watching your teammates play and come so close? Confidence? Perspective?
I mostly thought "We can do this, we're so close" etc. but I didn't pay attention to everything closely at the time. Now that the series is over, I've been rewatching those games closely and just been studying the holes in our play. I'd say I gained confidence - in the sense that we can compete with FXO
Your opponent was Choya, who is the team coach, but used to be a strong GSL competitor. How did you approach that match?
My TvP is my weakest matchup so I was a bit nervous but I just focused on the game as much as I could. I played safe and stayed calm and pulled through, nothing special prepared for him.
In the next match FXO sent out Lucky, the IPL3 finalist and a Code S player this season. What were your thoughts heading into a match against such an accomplished opponent?
It was TvZ so I was fairly confident. I was actually really scared at the time because I got Lucky and Leenock confused, so I thought it was the MLG winner and Code S beast T_T. I was more nervous than ever playing Lucky though, especially because of the map (Tal Darim Alter) as it's fairly hard to take a 4th vs a aggressive zerg. So I decided to try and end the game before 4th base was needed and played a super aggressive + micro oriented style myself.
What kind of support did you get from your teammates during the games? How did Vile get together to play the teamleague?
In between the games, just a bit of moral support "good job, you can do it etc." but I think the preparation before the matches matter the most. I can't say I practiced all the time with the team but when I do, the practice is very beneficial. We grind specific matchups and point out each others mistakes and it's very helpful preparing for team leagues such as IPL.
Now the final match you played was unfortunately a loss, but a few people seemed to think it was your most impressive game of all. Take us through what went through your mind against asd with this two game streak on the line and a 3-4 score.
I had 0 idea as to how ASD played at all. The only thing I recalled about him was that Taeja beat him to qualify Boxer for Code S, nothing else. I was very anxious to play, mostly because of the fact I just took out Choya and Lucky, two very talented players. I knew ASD wasn't going to be easy, as Korean Terrans seem to be a tier up on every other terran in the world. At a few points I was super far ahead but I didn't scout the ninja base at the left and I kept sacking me units into his siege lines carelessly.
After the match, what was your reaction? How did your teammates support you?
To be honest, I just logged off completely, off starcraft and skype and went for a walk. I didn't care what people thought at the time, I was so close to winning it and could have forced an ace match for vile but I let go of the advantage I had in the game. You could tell I was super frustrated if you watched the ending of the game, me floating buildings making 3 marines at a time trying to win the game even though all hope was lost. Anyways, I went for a walk outside after the match and collected my thoughts and went over why I lost the game. Vile was supportive once I logged on, told me I had played a great game of starcraft. I learned a bunch from that one game and I am honored to have played ASD.
Now how has the teamleague experience been for you and team Vile? You've gone deep into MLG, as have some of your teammates. How is the IPL TAC different?
For me, it was the first time I played in a prestigious team league. The Team League is a lot different in the sense that you have all your players and you can throw out the best at the time (ZvT Snipers, TvP Snipers etc). It's a lot more stress-relieving knowing that you have the whole team on your side but it's also very nerve wrecking when you are the last player for the team (imagine being up 4-0 then the other team brings it back 4-4 and you have to play the ace match D. Overall, I think the IPL TAC has been a great experience for Team Vile and will prepare us for other team leagues, maybe even something as big as the GSTL ^^. I think it's great IPL is doing this to give exposure to the foreign community of what a team league is like.
Your next opponent is Dignitas, a talented team, but certainly a little less intimidating than FXO. How has Vile responded to the loss in the last round and what are your expectations against Dignitas?
*Editor's Note: This interview was conduced before the result of Vile vs Dignitas had been determined.
We, as vile, are preparing heavily for Dignitas and we will not make the same mistakes we did vs FXO. We expect to beat Dignitas but we know it will not be easy. Personally, SeleCT is one of my favorite players so it would be an honor to play against him.
Why don't you tell us about how it's like to play in these types of situations at your age?
I don't know what it's like to be playing the game as a 22 year old, compared to playing like I am, a 15 year old. Being 15 has it's downsides (School, etc.) which make it hard to commit to starcraft full time, even though I really want to. If there is an opportunity I would jump on it immediately without looking back because I am confident in this, but I don't know if others would do the same.
Do you think you have more problems with pressure or less than older players?
I would say I definitely have more problems with pressure. Starcraft 2 is my first RTS and competitive "sport" for me. Others have probably had experience from other games such as Brood War, WC3 or even athletic sports such as soccer, basketball. I have 0 experience being under so much pressure. I've been getting better at dealing with pressure but I could imagine it's hard for every player being under pressure, even if it's just a ladder game or if it's something as big as the GSL finals.
Awesome. Thanks so much! So shoutouts?
Twitter, stream... @vileIllusion @VileGaming www.twitch.tv/illusioncss
Thanks to Team Vile for their support, and anyone who supports me. Hopefully I show good games in the future and make new fans! Bye!