With the Ro16 finished on August 13, 2014, it's time to look forward to Ro8. In terms of racial distribution, 50% of Ro8 consists of Terrans (Sea, sSak, PianO and Mind), 38% is Zergs (Larva, Killer and hero) with the rest being Snow, the lone Protoss fighting for Aiur. One thing to keep in mind before reading more: The information presented below is still in the preliminary stages. Though matchups are fixed, the group titles may be changed and no dates have been posted yet. Once more information is made available, this post will be updated with the important details.
Group A: Killer vs Snow -> Tuesday, Aug 26 12:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00)
Killer has been on top of the afreeca scene for a while now. Hailed as the best Zerg, he has been solid in all of his matchups. This tournament was no different as he showed us some solid games on his way to Ro8 beating Noble, PianO and Pusan. His games against Pusan highlighted his good decision making skills and flawless late game control which allowed him to easily take the series 3-1. His record vs P is sitting at 73% showing that he is quite successful in the matchup. On the other hand, Snow's results paint him in a negative light. On his way to Ro8, his opponents were mostly terrans such as Hiya and Mong. He played one series against Kwanro which he won 2-1 but that's not much to go on. In the 41 Starleague Season 2, he won a single game against Cola but lost the series. His current record sits at 1-7 against players such as hero, Cola and ZerO which are Zergs that aren't on Killer's level. It's hard to say if Snow's vZ has gotten better or not however there is little doubt in my mind that Killer will win this.
Prediction: 3-1 Killer. Expect lots of reavers and for Snow to make Killer fight for his wins.
Group B: Sea vs Mind -> Tuesday, Aug 26 12:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00)
Though both Sea and Mind have been around for a while now, they have only played against each other once before with Sea taking that game on Circuit Breaker in the 1st KoTH Proleague. In this tournament, neither player has actually faced another Terran so that we can see how solid their game is. Taking a look at their records in the matchup, the difference is astounding. Sea is averaging 71% compared to Mind's 35% though Mind's sample size is smaller. Their professional BW vT record also puts things in Sea's favour. Of course, Mind is an MSL winner and can't be counted out because he's still an all around fantastic player. Despite the data pointing heavily in Sea's favour, I can see this series go all the way to game 5 though in the end, I believe that Sea will be victorious.
Prediction: 3-2 Sea. Either really close series or Sea will roll Mind over 3-0 like he did to sSak during 15th SRT.
Group C: hero vs Larva -> Thursday, Aug 28 12:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00)
This is an interesting matchup to speculate on. Both players have had a similar road to the Ro8, through Terran and Protoss players only. A look at their recent results reveals that they were both knocked out of 41 Starleague Season 2 in Ro16. In hero's case, he was 2-0'd by Killer while Larva was first 2-0'd by Cola and then by Sea to get knocked out. Though the end outcome was the same, hero's play against Killer who is a higher caliber Zerg than Cola felt more impressive to watch. In terms of head to head fights, hero took the latest win over Larva on Athena in 2014 2nd LoveTV BJ Starleague otherwise their last encounter was back in 11th SRT. A further look into their ZvZ records shows that hero also has a better win rate than Larva. All in all, this is a hard series to call. It can really go either way depending on how the players prepare for the matchup.
Prediction: 3-2 hero because I'm bias for our ZvP hero from SSL9. hero fighting!
Group D: PianO vs sSak -> Thursday, Aug 28 12:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00)
Third mirror match of the Ro8, a TvT between two similarly skilled players. In this tournament, PianO advanced to the Ro8 without having to face a single Terran along the way. sSak had to play Sexy who he defeated 2-0 in the Ro32 group stages but also faced no other Terrans. These two players have had several encounters in past tournaments though. As it stands, PianO is 1-4 against sSak with the latest string of losses in the SBENU Allstars tournament. sSak also has a much better win rate vT in comparison to PianO (68% to 54%) and has been on fire lately. PianO will not be an easy opponent for sSak though as he will be looking to try and equalize their record. Though all the data seems to point towards sSak having the greater advantage, I can't help but feel that PianO will prepare really hard for this. After all, he's the same guy who was laddering 14 hours a day at one point. PianO, prove me right!
Prediction: PianO will defy all odds and beat sSak 3-1 (or 3-2, both are good!).
What do you think? Will Snow upset Killer to make Ro4? Is Mind's TvT better than is thought? Will PianO indeed upset sSak or will sSak extend their record?