When we reintroduced the Power Rank in September last year, we wrote; "a break in which we'd have no SSL, no SRT, no show matches, no king of the hills to worry about, just a week to sit back and reflect on where everyone was at". After the last edition Sonic went into overdrive. Leaving no room between tournaments, filling our Brood War fix. This was also during a time when staff was all going missing. Unfortunately this gave no time for a second edition of the Power Rank. But now before SSL9, I felt obliged to write one.
This should give you a good idea of who is the current best player and who is the scariest, the player none wants to face. As always with Power Ranks, the most fun is held in the comments. Arguing about how wrong I am, and I can probably be easily persuaded as this one wasn't easy to order. So feel free to post!
Close But No Cigar
PianO: When PianO was first announced to start playing on Fish and streaming on Afreeca, I didn't have that high expectations. His time in ACE wasn't anything special, outside of his d-matrices on Sniper Ridge against RorO. When he arrived, he improved faster than most. Eventually revealing his goal, he was going to practice for 13 hours each day. The only one really having that kind of dedication, and boy did we notice some difference in his skill level. The debut in Proleague wasn't very impressive, but he ended the season with the most wins of any Terran, going 9-5. Beating Killer twice, HiyA, Movie, and Lazy is pretty damn good. Unless other players decide to practice more, PianO is going to be miles ahead in a very near future.
beast: This guy is the RorO equivalent. No one expected him to be anything special. After winning the first day of Proleague, STX was coming in hot with their two aces; Shuttle and hero. kkong got killed by Terror in the opening match. OZ sent out beast to hopefully get one or two wins before losing to either of the STX aces. beast ended up all-killing STX in short fashion. A few weeks later beast four-kills Sonic's team. The reason Hwaseung did decently wasn't because of HiyA, nor Killer. It was beast. Finally ending the season as the shared best Zerg with 11-6. But be aware, when you start praising these kinds of players, that's when they start to lose.
Mind: Debuting in SRT18, he made it to the quarterfinals where he lost to HiyA. Things went quiet for almost a month as KT didn't get any playtime. When they finally got some playtime Mind crushed Lazy, got revenge on HiyA, and won against Movie. Mind ended the season with 4-2, with his only losses to Sea and JangBi. With more games and the same kind of record, Mind is going to find himself on the ranking next time.
JangBi: It was very exciting when JangBi first came back to Brood War. The excitement quickly disappeared as JangBi stopped streaming. He was gone for a very long time, hinting at not coming back because of supposed family issues. The dream came back to life when JangBi played in Proleague. Instantly getting kills on Mind, Sea, HiyA, and Pusan. If JangBi can play more we are bound to see the return of legendary storms.
Changers: Token amateur. No, but really, getting a three-kill against STX, including Shuttle is pretty damn good. Not getting much play time but ending the score at 4-2 makes him the C-God. Believe in the amateurs!
The End of the Year 2013 Power Rank
10 HiyA -3
The tenth place was pretty hard as no one else has been doing outstandingly well. I considered beast for this place too but it's like HoeJJa proleague playoffs; beast never performs otherwise. HiyA has been playing pretty poorly considering his usual impressive play. But even though HiyA plays bad he is still scary for anyone not on this list. He went 4-4 in proleague, where he won against players he should have won and lost against some players around his caliber. This is a reoccurring thing for HiyA, sometimes he just has to play really bad to own it up when it really matters. Not to forget, HiyA took two consecutive third place finishes in SRT17 & SRT18 so he is definitely a force to be reckoned with in SSL9. I anticipate HiyA climbing the list for the next edition.
New! Mong 9
Mong had a pretty good end of the year. Getting knocked out of SRT17 in the quarterfinals in an impressive showing against Killer where he took the series to a game five, even though he was expected to lose horribly. In SRT18 he got all the way to the semifinals, beating Movie on the way in another impressive series. Unfortunately for him, he got knocked out by the eventual champion, Shuttle, barely losing 2-3. The start of proleague looked dire for Mong, as he lost to both hero and Shuttle before reverse four-killing KHAN, taking out huge opponents like PianO and JangBi. He ended the season with the best record of any Terran, going 8-4. Mong's form has been shaky ever since all the ex-pros started migrating back in late 2012. We will see what form Mong brings for SSL9, it's a hit or miss.
8 Shuttle -2
I genuinely wish to put Shuttle higher up on the list, but the matter of fact is that Shuttle has extremely low valleys in skill. SRT17 went decent for Shuttle, making it to the semifinals and beating Killer in the group stages on his way. Killer ended up being too hard to beat a second time though. He ended up losing the consolation match to HiyA in horrible fashion. SRT18 was the highlight of Shuttle's career; in the group stages he took out both Sea and sSak in the hardest group. On the way to the grand final he managed to beat Jaehoon and Mong. He faced Killer once again and won in a convincing fashion. Hope was back for Shuttle's worst match-up; PvZ. But along came Proleague. Shuttle started off by losing to both beast and Cola, two Zerg that aren't exactly considered top tier players. He ended the season with an average 6-5 but lost to two other bottom tier players, Kwanro and Changers. If Shuttle can dodge PvZ he has a big shot at making it far in SSL9.
New! Lazy 7
Of all the new promising players joining the scene I did not expect Lazy to be the one shining through. On paper, Lazy's worst match-up is PvT. He has, however, upset sSak, that is considered to have the best TvP in the scene, many times. He also had great series against HiyA. His PvT is no joke even though it only says 41%. Proleague was what really defined Lazy. He started the season out decently by beating Pure and s2 but losing to Larva against SKT. Later on though things started to happen. He all-killed Sonic's team, including Shinee on Fighting Spirit. The next match against SKT he closed the series out by beating both of their aces sSak and Bisu. Bisu was on an undefeated seven game win streak in PvP. The next day he beats ZvP specialist hero and STX captain Terror. Lazy ended the season with the second best score overall, 13-5, and was responsible for two of Bisu's three losses this season. If Lazy brings this shape to SSL9 everyone needs to watch out.
6 Movie -3
Ever since Movie won two SRTs in a row in early 2013, he never got back to his dominating state. Movie managed to get to the quarterfinals of every SRT since then though, getting knocked out 2-3 every time in extremely close series, except for SRT14 where he managed to win in the quarterfinals against Shuttle before losing to Sea in the semifinals. Proleague started off terribly for him, going 0-3 in first three games. He did however face very good opponents like hero, Shuttle, and PianO. Movie got his first win against s2 after starting against SKT, Larva beat him in the next game which is someone he really shouldn't lose to. After that, Movie went on an absolute tear, all-killing STX after being sent out first, getting revenge against hero and Shuttle in the process. He continued the streak against KT where he got another three wins. Mind ended his eight game streak and put Movie's final record to 9-5.
— sSak 5
sSak is considered by me as the true ace player of SKT. As Bisu did so well he never really got to play. sSak had his best performance yet in SRT15 where he snagged second place. The following seasons he got knocked out by Killer in the quarterfinals in an 0-3 stomp and to Lazy as early as in the group stages in an embarrassing performance. The last SRT of the year was a bounce back for him, advancing from the group of death by eliminating Sea who was on a four SRT title streak. Once again sSak had to face Killer in the quarterfinals, this time he took it to a game five almost squeezing out a win with impressive play.
In Proleague, sSak acted as the ace two times when Bisu failed to close it out. The first time Lazy managed to take them both out. But the second time Bisu lost to Lazy, sSak managed to close the series out by taking out Lazy and Pusan. sSak didn't get to see many games but ended the season on a strong 6-2 record, with his losses to Mini and Lazy, two players he probably shouldn't have lost to. sSak showed strong TvT this season by taking out both HiyA and Mong. If he runs into Sea again he might give him a run for his money.
4 hero —
hero has been constantly improving this entire year. He improved his ZvT to a level where he could take games off of Sea, HiyA, and sSak. This allowed him to take two third places in a row in SRT15 and SRT16 by beating Pusan and Mong. Unfortunately for him he faced Killer and a bunch of good TvZ'ers in the last half-year which led to constant elimination and not reaching the grand final of a tournament.
Things started to look better in Proleague, where he carried his team to the most victories and a direct spot to the grand final of the playoffs. With the best record of any Zerg, going 11-6 he managed to take out high profile players he has historically struggled against such as Sea, Killer, and Mong. He also solidified his position as the best ZvP'er in the scene by ending Bisu's ten game winning streak and reaching the highest ZvP win rate, overtaking Killer. He is also at the time of writing the #1 player on the SOSPA TLPD. If this guy can win against Killer or good Terrans or dodge them, he will win SSL9. No Protoss can win against hero in a best-of-series. Not even Bisu.
New! Bisu 3
I had a really hard time placing Bisu somewhere on this list. With only seventeen games played in SOSPA tournaments there isn't too much that can be said. Especially when all of the games have been best-of-ones without preparation time. Suddenly placing a player so high up on the list is not something I would like to do. But on the other hand, Bisu's play has been so incredibly convincing it's not even funny. Currently at 14-3 in Proleague with his only losses to hero and two times against Lazy. Many of the players he beat is people he really should be winning against, but where other strong players failed, he succeeded. He didn't only face easy opponents, he played Sea three times, winning all three.
It's still really hard to say how solid Bisu is in an individual tournament format with best-of-series. Preparation time and more games might be all that is needed to bring him down. If he beats Killer or Sea in SSL9, someone is bound to climb this list. On the other hand, if he gets knocked out early he is sure to find himself on the bottom of this list (actually at the top ;; ).
2 Killer -1
The most dominating player of late 2012 and early 2013, scoring himself two starleague titles in a row. Boasting an incredible win rate of over 67%. When summer came, no one could touch him. Until a certain season of the SOSPA Ranking Tournament came along. Sea versus Killer went on to become a rivalry like Flash & Jaedong, BoxeR & YellOw, and NaDa & sAviOr were. They faced each other in a finals three times during the fall (four including YPSL), almost all of which Sea made Killer look somewhat silly. In the previous Power Rank we mentioned that if Sea can keep on winning titles and games against Killer there is bound to be a change at the top, and here we are, Killer is dethroned.
There is something else going Killer's way before SSL9. The scene is currently filled with new great Protoss players; Bisu, JangBi, Jaehoon. Just to name a few. Many of Bisu's fanboys think Bisu will win SSL9. Unfortunately for Bisu and his fanboys, Killer absolutely trashes Protoss. There is only one person I favour against Killer, and I do it heavily. That's Sea.
+1 Sea 1
Holy shit. That's what I have to say about Sea's performance this summer and fall. I don't think anyone has been that dominant since iloveoov peak. Four individual titles in a row. That's disgustingly good. What was previously considered Sea's worst match-up has improved from under 45% up to a peak of around 60%. Things were looking like nothing could stop Sea. Zerg were all no match with his 72% win rate, the only one who could even take a game off of him was Killer. The Terrans had kneeled before their new emperor, and were all losing left and right. The previous threat of the Protoss was now gone with him beating Shuttle & Movie, the PvT-ers in the scene. SSL9 looked like it was going to be a cakewalk. Along came new Protoss players, superstars, PvT monsters. Bisu and JangBi are sure to be a bane of Sea's existence, as Bisu has already evidently shown in Proleague.
I'm just gonna leave this here for anyone arguing.
Note: Bisu has zero medals.
If there is one thing Sea has shown, it's that he is king in best-of-series, he is untouchable in them. If he can get through the group stages without losing to some silly Protoss like Tyson there isn't much that can stop him. As it stands I don't favour anyone against Sea. That's what gets you on top of this list.