Time is a Flat Circle
And just like that, the season is almost finished. We’re already at the semifinals, which means that there are a scant few games left until the crowning of a new champion. It’s been a harsh road for all those involved. They’ve had to brave great odds and still produce consistent results, not an easy feat. For now, it’s down to these four players, and one of them will have to step up to grab the title.
There’s only one match played today, and just like next week, it’s going to be a ZvP. All the way back in the first season, Classic was taken down by Dark in the quarterfinals with a convincing 3-0 result. While today could be considered to be a rematch, the stakes are now much higher. This time around there’s no losers’ bracket offering a fall back position, so everything is on the line for these two. They’ve proven to be championship level caliber, both of them, and they’re hungry for more. While Classic has arguably a more notable and longer career, 2016 has definitely been a better year for Dark. Here, only one of the two team mates will make it through the finals. The other will fall.
Offline performance against Protoss since the Cross Finals: 53.33%
Offline performance overall since the Cross Finals: 56.76%
Just the possibility of back-to-back championships must weigh heavy on Dark’s mind. He’s made it this far, and he can almost taste the finals. He got to bypass the Challenge event, sure, but he also took down Zest and Trust to make it to the quarterfinals. Just two weeks ago he took down TY (season 1 GSL finalist and the last Terran of SSL season 2) to make it to the semifinals today. A victory over Classic would definitely cement his legacy as the best Zerg player of 2016. This is especially true considering GSL has no Zerg players left in the quarterfinals. With losses against ByuN and sOs, Dark was himself eliminated in the round of 16, so along with Solar, they’re the last hopes for fans of the swarm.
Dark’s biggest challenge today is that Classic is arguably a more fearsome opponent than either of the two Protosses from the group stages. Against Trust and Zest, Dark was utilizing a more aggressive style, easily exploiting any early weaknesses of the opponent. It doesn’t always work, evidenced by the first game versus Zest. In the second, he was able to put his lurkers to really good use, while the third game again had him try a fast, aggressive style with a tailored build. While Dark of course doesn’t shy away from a longer macro game, it’s still something he’d apparently rather avoid against Protoss. And against Classic especially, he will likely want to keep an open mind, and adapt and commit to any openings almost instantaneously.
Offline performance against Zerg since the Cross Finals: 87.50%
Offline performance overall since the Cross Finals: 62.26%
Classic hasn’t had to play against a Zerg player in SSL since the Challenge event, where he played a single map against Curious, coming out on top. While his win rate might seem extremely daunting, he’s only played a relatively small number of PvZ matches in the recent months. He did win against Rogue and Losira in BO3s in GSL, and with a 1-0 result against ByuL and 1-1 against Curious in ProLeague, the results certainly aren’t bad in any way. Even though he hasn’t quite reached the peaks of 2015 yet, his form is much better compared to the spring months.
Of course, that victory against Rogue was devastating. Not only did Classic send the last Zerg in GSL packing, he was in turn eliminated by GuMiho that very same day. He displayed an aggressive style, just like Dark, with fast builds almost tailored for his opponent. It’s like he’s studied sOs’s tricky styles, always keeping his enemies on the back foot, always managing to find something surprising. For SKT’s star Protoss, there’s always the looming Blizzcon invite if he manages to go all the way. Dark has already secured a spot for himself, but Classic will need to either amass enough points or win the one Starleague that’s still available to him. If he falls here, there’s still a very real chance that he’ll be knocked out of the top 8.
The league has proven to be volatile and unpredictable, and this is yet another team kill in the making: notably notorious for being extremely hard to call. While Dark was easily devouring Protoss players early in the year, his recent results are much more mixed. Classic has been playing against mostly Terrans and other Protosses, and his most notable recent PvZ result is the masterful 2-0 against Rogue. In any case, it looks to be a grueling, long match.
On paper, Classic might have the edge, but this is SSL, where anything can happen. If Dark can capture some of the magic of the first season, that should put him in the lead just enough to take it over his team mate.
Dark 4-3 Classic
Dark advances to the grand finals!