SSL Challenge - Group D
One more, and we’re done. This week’s Challenge event pits six players against each other yet again. As we’ve come to expect, three will advance, three will fall. Next time we return to SSL, there’s going be somewhat more typical groups of four in the main event. The top 4 of last season are already seeded for the main event, so with the 9 players already qualified, this week’s three winners will round out our round of 16.
Last week, we had another slew of intriguing results, something that’s slowly become the norm of this starleague. ByuN made it out, as expected, and Dear just made it through, but it was aLive who knocked it out of the park with a 7-2 result. Now we’re turning our attention to Group D, deservingly dubbed the Group of Death. While one may stand above the rest, and likely to take the top spot, it’s places #2 and #3 that will see the fiercest battles.
Losira has the unenviable position of being the last Zerg player in the challenge event, and thus the only one with a chance to make it to the main event. With three groups already played, there’s not a single Zerg among the nine qualified players. Solar and Dark are already in the main event thanks to their performance in the first season, but even so, at most we will be seeing three Zergs competing in SSL in the coming weeks. Losira has been around for ages, but Legacy has been especially rough. Proleague results haven't been great, though he did make it to the quarterfinals of the first season of Code S, thus ensuring that we’ll be seeing him again in the second season. Now he has the chance to qualify for the SSL main event, something he failed to do the last time around. His biggest challenge will be his recent difficulties against Protoss and especially against Terran. Today he doesn’t have to focus on Zerg at all, so maybe he’s able to channel that into the other two match-ups. And that’s a big maybe.
Perhaps Zest is Kronos, the youngest and the last of the titans, about to overthrow the old rulers and take his rightful place as the most powerful player in the world. He is of course in season 2 of Code S, he’s already qualified for Blizzcon, and he’s a favorite of the group here. It remains to be seen if one of the others proves to be an Olympian, strong enough to disturb his reign. Much could be said of KT Rolster’s Zest, but the fact of the matter is, we all know who’s going to take the top spot.
Maru is in the running for the best player in the world. Except, inexplicably, when he’s not. He’s fast, he’s aggressive, his multitasking is frightening to play against, and his opponents better not check out his win rate, or they’ll be paralyzed with fear. Maru is a fierce Proleague monster, but in the individual leagues he famously registered dual failures in the S1 qualifiers. Not very surprisingly, he’s now qualified for season 2 of Code S, having played in Code A just yesterday, and he’s certainly looking to turn things around today. If there should be a chink in his armor, it will be nigh impossible to find, and most likely it will be up to Zest to exploit it. The two met in a legendarily fierce game in Code A earlier this year, so hopefully we’ll be seeing games just as exhilarating today.
Amazingly, Super made it out of Code A, taking down Bomber of all players. He also took down Maru in Proleague, but on the whole, his offline results this year have been as average as possible. Online he’s faring considerably better, even though the mirror match-up is something he’s yet to overcome. Thankfully there are only two other Protosses in the group today. Unfortunately, they're Zest and herO. While again there’s potential for an upset, it’s more likely that Super will join the mid-tier players and will simply be unable to crack the really tough opposition.
herO had a crushing exit in the first season of SSL, taken down by Patience and Hurricane, and not really making any progress in the main event. His Code S fared a lot better, making it all the way to the quarterfinals, before falling against Cure. Even still, over the years he’s proven to be a solid player, with the results to back up his claim to fame. Simply put, he’s championship caliber when it really comes down to it, and while he’s yet to really bag a trophy this year, he’s in form to at least make it to the main event, especially considering his Herculean efforts for CJ in Proleague. In almost any other group he’d look even stronger, but with Zest and Maru both about to face him, he might not end up being the top pick.
This year, Reality has been a whirlwind in online cups, with the results to boot. While we haven’t seen him in SSL or Code S, taken down in the qualifiers of the former, and losing to SpeeD in Code A, he’s had very solid results in ProLeague. He’s by no means a bad player. He’s versatile and adaptable, so his only real challenge here is that he’s facing against truly scary monsters. He faced off against Maru in Code A just yesterday, with a quick 0-3 loss against Jin Air’s Terran, so this is his remaining chance to play in a starleague in all of 2016. Of course, Reality has taken down players such as Classic, Dark and herO, now he just desperately needs to finally turn his attention to the individual leagues. It remains to be seen if it’s just too late.
The Three to Advance
The two titans, Zest and Maru, will be duking it out for the first place, with Zest’s impressive individual league performance giving him the edge. herO will be hot on their heels, and, honestly, the top three might end up any which way, because this is SSL. The most interesting player to follow will be Reality, because if he’s truly on point, he will deserve a place in the top three. Neither Super or Losira will want to end up in the last spot, so they’ll be desperately trying to claw at least a few victories over their opponents.