Power Rank: May 2018by TeamLiquid.net writers
Welcome to another edition of the TeamLiquid.net Power Rank! Compared to the previous month—when we binged on a bonanza of high-stakes, major tournament finals—we've been going through a relatively quiet period in StarCraft II competition as of late. So this time around, the Power Rank is more of a check-up and minor reshuffle on a mostly unchanged ranking. Anyway, here are the basics:
- The Power Rank is an aggregate, average ranking of separate lists submitted by individual members of the TeamLiquid.net writing staff.
- Criteria considered include, but are not limited to: Tournament placements, overall record, quality of opponents faced, quality of play.
- Recent results are weighted more heavily, but players may receive benefit of the doubt for consistent performances in the past.
Previous Power Rank: Power Rank: April 2018
Close, But No Cigar
Neeb: Neeb defeated Rogue and herO to win a handsome $31k purse at the Hangzhou StarCraft Carnival. Some would argue that warrants automatic inclusion in the Power Rank. Others would question the competitive relevance of the 10-player event. The compromise leaves Neeb here, with our figurative pat on the back.
herO: That's the opposite of "benefit of the doubt?" Whatever that is, we're still holding it against herO for failing to qualify for GSL Code S after losing to eMotion. Though that embarrassing result is still on our minds, we have to admit herO did quite well to acquit himself by reaching the Super Tournament semifinals immediately after.
INnoVation: Finally, INnoVation has slipped out of the top ten. Any other player with the same level of 2018 results would have been dropped from the rankings long ago, but we gave the Machine Terran considerable benefit of the doubt for what we know he's capable of. Alas, his run of lukewarm form has continued for too long, and we cannot keep extending him credit in the Power Rank.
Solar: Solar just barely missed the top ten cut this month, despite the fact that he's been demonstrating top ten-level gameplay ever since the IEM World Championship back in March. It was extremely close between Gumiho and Solar for #10 (decided in the third round of tiebreakers), and we wouldn't blame anyone for thinking Solar deserved the nod ahead of Gumiho.
After making it into our Power Rank at #14 last month, the Towel Terran further improves his rank. While GuMiho has been active (and successful) as always in online tournaments, it’s the lack of lack of notable offline tournament results which keeps him from being ranked any higher. Gumiho's GSL Super Tournament run was ended in the first round by Solar, but he did a lot better in his next GSL outing by cruising through his Code S group on the back of overwhelming TvZ.
For the second month straight, Trap comes in at number nine. The Jin Air Protoss booked his ticket to the Code S RO16 a couple of days ago, a result which really shouldn’t have been to surprising given the flashes of brilliance Trap showed in Katowice and beyond. And yet, a 2-0 in the Ro32 isn't enough to convince us that Trap has risen to another level. For years, the Wing Commander has been good enough to avoid a nose-dive into irrelevancy, but he's never been able to shake off the perception that he's stalled in mediocrity. Trap might convince us yet that he's truly ready to take off if he escapes his RO16 group as well, but it's also likely that we’d all forget about that triumph a few hours later.
Not much has happened in Serral's world. He dominated foreign competition, but that's not exactly new. Still, the way in which he consolidated his reign was quite impressive. After going undefeated against foreigners at WESG, he went on to go 2-1 vs Kelazhur, 2-0 vs Elazer, and 2-0 over ShoWTimE in NationWars V. It's obvious now that Serral is the best foreigner in the world, and by a wide margin at that. The only question is: what exactly does that place him relative to Korean competition? Serral's victory against Classic in the WESG 3rd/4th place match was a significant moment in his career, but soO recently slammed the breaks on the Finnish phenom in the NationWars playoffs. The next Serral-Korea clash couldn't come soon enough.
Rogue has reigned tyrannically over so-called "weekender" events for the better part of a year, but his streak of four consecutive victories came to an end earlier this month in the GSL Super Tournament. We all knew he had to lose eventually, but it was surprising to see Rogue get dominated by a slumping INnoVation. It seems as if Rogue never tires of giving us reasons to doubt, as if he needs the lows to fuel his highs. His recent showing at the Hangzhou StarCraft Carnival was the latest example, as he lost 2-3 to Neeb in the semis of a tournament that seemed like an easy $31,000 payday for the Jin Air Zerg. With Rogue's GSL group only a few days away, we may have another opportunity to question the double world champion. Whether we call him a fraud or call him a championship contender depends on where we are in the Rogue cycle.
The last few months have been relatively tough on sOs. Despite showing skill and form that began to resemble the world-beater sOs of old, he wasn’t been able to translate it into the championships he's used to. In April, sOs's biggest opportunity to prove himself was the GSL Super Tournament. It ended up being another tournament that caused as much disappointment as hope. While sOs displayed tremendous skill to go toe-to-toe with Classic in a close 2-3 series, the result on paper was still a first round loss. His GSL Code S Season 2 results are a mixed bag so far: he advanced in first place from his group (even showing off some typically bizarre strategies), but he was unable to dominate weaker opponents.
soO got off to a rough start in April after drawing Maru in the first round of the Super Tournament (it was one of the more excruciating losses in recent memory), but he took advantage of his subsequent Parisian vacances by helping South Korea to a NationWars championship. soO's play didn't blow anyone's socks off, but he did beat Serral twice—something few people have been able to do recently. Now that he’s back in Korea, he’ll have to turn his attention back to GSL Code S. The Round of 32 is typically a cakewalk for soO, but he's somehow stumbled into a rare, challenging Ro32 group with Cure, Impact, and TY. His weaknesses in ZvT and the volatile nature of ZvZ will give his supporters plenty of reasons to be nervous, but soO’s made a habit of coming up with clutch performances in GSL, so maybe we shouldn’t be worried at all.
A few months ago, at the end of several qualifiers, TeamLiquid writers ranked Classic as the best player in the world. Now, he's down to fourth, after coming within shouting distance of winning several tournaments. The original SSL/GSL champion beat Maru at the Super Tournament, succeeding where Stats failed, but his run came to an abrupt end when he lost to Dark in the semifinals. That’s the way things have gone for Classic as of late. He continues to impress, making deep run after deep run, but his shortcomings in PvZ have cost him dearly. Something has to change—whether it's skill or just dumb bracket luck—if Classic is to vindicate the TeamLiquid writers and ascend together with them into glory.
Like Trap, Dark finds himself in a very familiar and somewhat depressing place: They're both stuck. The difference is that Dark is stuck at a much higher level than the completely adequate Trap, but he's stuck nonetheless.
With talent comes scrutiny. Dark has accomplished so much in recent years, and the sheer quality of his gameplay in his best matches is unequaled by any other Zerg. But it’s still fair to question if Dark will ever get over the hump. Last month, he suffered another finals loss in the GSL Super Tournament. This time it was to Stats, a player Dark dominated in his only finals victory years ago. That finals—the first SSL of LotV—looks more and more like an aberration with every passing tournament (it may soon pass into the territory of soO's KeSPA Cup). Dark continues to play excellently, but he’s making a habit of crumbling in critical moments. He’s still one of the best players in the world, but he’ll never claim the top spot in our power rankings—or more importantly, a major tournament—if he doesn’t solve this problem.
Stats may be the Super Tournament champion, but he’ll have to settle for second place in this month’s power rankings. Part of that could be the way he slipped into the GSL finals unnoticed before putting up a rather meek fight against Maru with the title on the line. He challenged that perception at the Super Tournament where he looked far stronger. Stats seems to be back in form, a scary prospect given all he’s done throughout LotV. He continues to be the most consistent player of the expansion and is already positioning himself for a third straight BlizzCon appearance. Short term he finds himself a favorite for this season of GSL and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he finds himself the champion when all is said and done.
Less than a week removed from beating Stats to claim his first GSL title, Maru entered the Super Tournament as the prohibitive favorite. Classic put all that talk to an end, but perhaps Maru can be forgiven for an uncharacteristic loss. Such is Maru’s magnificence as of late, that we find ourselves rather surprised that he lost at all. Being the only player to win OSL, SSL and GSL, as well as showing dominance in all three matchups tends to do that for you. With WESG, IEM and the Super Tournament all out of the way, Maru will be able to focus solely on GSL, a rather frightening prospect for his competition. We often find ourselves questioning if someone can continue their run of good form after winning Code S, but it seems like Maru has a legitimate chance to be the first player since Nestea to win back to back GSL's.