SSL Challenge - Group C
It seems that SSL’s motto so far this season has been “Learn to expect the unexpected”. Classic didn’t let anyone down, and advanced to the main event with a solid 7-1 score. GuMiho was hot on his heels, keeping the Terran hope alive. And lastly, with a nailbiting tiebreaker, it was Trust who eked out over sOs. At one point, early on the day, he was one of the frontrunners with a 5-0 score, proving that sometimes wild cards do indeed exist.
This week the madness continues. Once again, the matches are played in a Round Robin style, with the top three advancing to the main event. With six players in a group, it seems that preparation is more difficult than usual, because in the end it looks like that anything can happen.
aLive has had a troubled year. His offline results are less than convincing, including a string of poor results in Proleague, where he finally ended his six game losing streak with victory over Dark last weekend. His previous Code S foray ended in the round of 32, while his SSL run was slightly better, making it all the way to Losers’ Round 3, falling to ByuN (we’ll come back to this later).
Meanwhile, he’s been really rocking out in the various online cups. He’s been playing tons of games, earning some prize money here, some more prize money there. Now, remember the 0-3 result against ByuN is SSL season one? aLive has been facing off against ByuN several times in those online cups, but only managed to win once. And with an atrocious offline win rate against Zerg, aLive’s road will be rough. His recent entry into Code S might just be the glimmer of hope that he needs.
Impact has been one of those mid-tier Zerg players with an uneventful year. Failing to qualify for SSL season 1 and for Code S has meant that we’ve seen very little of him. His Proleague appearances have been likewise lackluster, losing to Rogue earlier in the year, and to Stats just last month.
With a sudden win over Curious, however, he’s now qualified for Code S. Perhaps this will carry over to the Challenge Group C, and we’ll be seeing Impact in the coming main event. A victory here would possibly mean a good start for a success story, because for now Impact has been mostly invisible.
There’s been a common story in LotV that’s overshadowed many others. Previously strong players have taken a dive, and they’re only now having a resurgence (if at all). Rogue is then one among many. Last year, Jin Air’s Zerg showed great promise, with good results, while ultimately failing to make it to the top. However, it’s only a short trip from the quarterfinals to the summit, and every single time you reach the Ro8, you’re one step closer.
In Proleague, he’s been taking down Zergs and Terrans left and right, but Protoss has been an impossibly hard knot to untangle. He plowed through Ting Open, an online league, and qualified for Code S taking down Hurricane 3-1. He then still has time for a repeat performance, and he’s hoping for a return to form.
Narrowly losing 2-3 to Curious in the previous Code A. Taken down by the eventual finalist Stats in SSL Losers’ Round 5. Second place against sOs in Taipei. Tons of online games over the past six months, with several titles under his belt. ByuN is an interesting character: he’s currently without a team, but his online win rate in matches is an astonishing 90.72% this year so far. He didn’t qualify for Code S, but even his offline win rate stands at a respectable 73.86%. All this after already calling it quits once. On paper, everything is in his favor.
This week, ByuN’s tournament life is on the line. Thursday, he’s against five others. Friday, he’s against just one. Either way, he needs to be on point in order to advance in either or both tournaments. Of course, there's a reason he's so oft-mentioned in the previews. This is ByuN, the comeback king, the returning prodigal son, and 2016 should prove to be a ByuNtiful year.
It’s been roughly 4.5 years since 3 December 2011. And if you don’t know what that date signifies for jjakji, you’re probably not the only one. The one-time GSL winner has turned into into a wholly unremarkable Terran player over his long career. He was trounced by Classic in this year’s first Code A, and again by MyunNgSiK in this year’s second Code A. He’s been the loser in all of his Proleague matches; all two of them.
If Impact has looked invisible this year, jjakji has truly been a Schrödinger’s Terran. In order to determine whether the Terran even exists as a viable player, we’ll need to observe the Challenge event. Once that’s done, his quantum superposition state will end, and reality will collapse into either him advancing, or him disappearing for the rest of the year.
Despite failing to make it to the main event of SSL season 1, GSL semifinals are nothing to scoff at, especially when the Samsung Protoss was taken down by the eventual champion. The semifinal spot means that he won’t have to go through Code A again, but for SSL he’ll have to wade through both the qualifiers and the Challenge event. This shouldn’t be a problem. While his results for the year may not place him at the very top, compared to most of the group he’s clearly a breed apart. His only weak spot so far has been Proleague Terrans, it seems, and the only player of that caliber is, honestly, ByuN.
Dear sports an impressive win rate for the year, and the disappointments of the first season (losing to Stats and then herO) are easily excused by the hyper competitive Korean scene. There are very few walk-over matches over the course of any given tournament, and while Dear should be a favorite to advance from his group, he’ll still have to work for it. Just like anyone.
The Three to Advance
Given ample opportunity at last (or rather, again), the teamless Terran stands head and shoulders above the rest, and it’s easy to see him grab the top spot of the group. Dear has the experience, the results, and the desire to play in the big leagues, but his difficulties against top-tier Terrans means that he might not be able to vie for first place. It’s the third spot that will be the toughest, once again. aLive and Rogue are the most likely to duke it out, and both have plenty of incentives to not drop out. Impact and jjakji should prove to be easy pickings for others, unless they’ve crafted up something devious while hidden away.