And with that, we have our first finalist! Last week saw Dark and Classic duke it out down to the wire, with Dark finally coming out on top. SKT’s top Zerg player is now holding a rare feat of strength in his grasp: possible back-to-back starleague trophies. Let’s just let that sink in for a moment. If he manages to pull that off, he’ll be treading ground where only a hallowed few have gone before. But before Dark’s ultimate challenge, a second finalist must be chosen. This week it’s down to Solar or Patience.
These two players have actually met fairly recently, but it was during an online cup. Solar and Patience played against each other in the second season of TING Open, where they met in the semifinals, and Patience was brutally taken down 4-0 by Solar. The Samsung Zerg went on, only to ultimately lose against ByuN in the finals. Now, today should really be a proper rematch, just that the stakes are much higher than last time. If Solar makes it to the finals, he might be able to regain some of the recognition he held during the early months LotV. If Patience makes it to the finals, well, he’ll gain recognition.
Offline performance against Protoss since the Cross Finals: 64.29%
Offline performance overall since the Cross Finals: 53.85%
Many were ready to forget about Solar for the rest of 2016, until he cruised to the SSL quarterfinals again, taking down Super and ByuN on the way. With a 3-0 victory against Dear, he’s now comfortably in the semifinals. In the first season his run was stopped by Dark and Stats, after an impressive ZvZ rampage through the upper bracket. Of course, Solar was one of the most successful players of the first months of LotV, with several titles to his name. He’s been very active online, less so offline. He’s been almost nonexistent in ProLeague over the summer, only winning against Bomber. In GSL he fell against GuMiho and Zest, his run ending in the first group stage.
What can we then expect from Samsung’s Zerg? He simply outplayed Patience in their last bout, with smarter builds and transitions than the Protoss. Solar also likely holds the mental edge over Patience, having more experience in high-stakes matches like this. It’s possibly even easy for him, just keep doing what he’s been doing so far. It’s worked, so why fix it? Granted, in a BO7 such as this, he’ll need to keep an open mind and adapt as needed, but for someone with Solar’s skill, that shouldn’t really be a problem.
Offline performance against Zerg since the Cross Finals: 83.33%
Offline performance overall since the Cross Finals: 51.52%
If there’s a dark horse in the SSL, it has to be Afreeca Freecs’ Patience. It’s been an inconsistent year for him, that’s certain. He’s now in the semifinals of SSL again, but he dropped out of Code S in the round-of-32 twice in a row. He’s been on a losing streak in ProLeague, but he took down Zest, one of the best Protosses in the world. He’s reached the semifinals again, but he was just taken down brutally by Solar. It seems that there’s really a pattern to Patience’s entire career. He manages to achieve something, and there’s always a “But…” right after it. As an example, his win over Zest is impressive, but arguably PvP is in a really weird spot right now. Reaching the upper echelons of a tournament is not surprising for him, but he’s just been unable to conquer those last few peaks to reach the summit. He’s made it this far, does he really have what it takes to make it all the way?
Strangely enough, both Solar and Patience are in somewhat of a similar spot. Solar has barely played against Protoss in recent offline matches, and Patience likewise has barely played against Zerg. The lack of games for these two makes predicting the result here that much more difficult. There is one big difference between the contestants, and it’s possibly the deciding factor. Solar took down Dear 3-0 in the quarterfinals, while Patience has only had to play against Terrans and one Protoss in the starleague. Granted, the Protoss player was none other than Zest, but with the crushing loss in TING Open, Patience is definitely the underdog. If he has spent his time wisely, watching and learning from his previous match against the Samsung Zerg, he just might have a chance. Otherwise, it will be a ZvZ in the grand finals.
Solar 4-1 Patience
Solar advances to the grand finals!