Ladder Stage Recap
- 'Twas the night before BSL groups, when all through the house
Not a keyboard was silent, not even a mouse;
When losing ladder points, holes in the wall were made with care,
In the hopes that a spot in Proleague would still be there
Ho ho ho BSLers, accompanying the merry holiday spirit is the dawn of yet another season of BSL. While the ladder stage is uneventful to some, fear not! There was plenty of head-turning drama to be had in the closing week.
In tragic fashion, several players who had all but secured their place in Proleague within the top 20 of the ladder had decided to play more games, only to fall dangerously close to the bottom of the top 20 and off the cliff into Gosu League. The abrupt fall from grace led to a frantic clawing back to the top. Madinho from Norway livestreamed his own rapid descent from 8th place to below the top 20 in a grief-filled night. There may have been drinking involved. Since that night, he swiftly climbed back up to the top 20.
Above him is Hawk, a top Zerg from the USA who once stood comfortably in the top 14 before suffering his own decline and redemption arc to secure his place in Proleague. Regardless of the fumble, Hawk's first appearance in the BSL is notable.
There were also several, who, like Sisyphus, rose up the ladder ranks, only to fall and try again in perpetuity. G5, an old school American Protoss laddered into the wee hours of the night and was briefly within finger's reach of qualifying for Proleague. Alas, several Korean players halted his advance in his hard fought 130 ladder games. The Canadian Protoss Dragon played even more games with a total of 223! However, he placed below the cutoff, which marks the first time Dragon hasn't qualified for BSL Proleague.
Despite the frustrations any player may have faced, any hard practiced player should be proud of their work in keeping StarCraft alive and earning their spot—whether in Gosu, Chobo, or Proleague—as a force to be reckoned with.
As for the rest of the field, most ladder qualified players strongly mirror the players who qualified last season of BSL, with TT1 (Canadian Protoss) and Julia (Polish Zerg) being notable exceptions. Dandy, who wasn't present in BSL7, makes a reappearance.
Let's not forget the two newcomers: Pro (Italian Protoss) and Goku (Peruvian Terran), the latter of which rose up to a formidable rank 4. Pro just barely made the cut off with an impressive 132 games played.
With the ladder season being so unexpectedly intense and close, one has trouble imagining how the group stages will turn out. Luckily, there's a preview right below to help out with that.
Group Stage Preview
Group A (starts in )
Standing out in Group A as the major underdog is Ziggy, whose struggling mech TvZ doesn't help his chances of advancing any more than having to play Dewalt, one of the strongest PvTers. For Dewalt, his prospects look promising. His biggest opponents are Julia and Castro, both of whom don't hold a candle to Dewalt's standard game.
Despite that, if Dewalt is off his game, Castro, and especially Julia, can turn the tables with an unorthodox or aggressive play. With regard to the group's two Zergs, they appear equally skilled and will likely fight in the final match.
Prediction: Dewalt and Julia advance to the Ro16!
Group B (starts in )
Aside from the amusing rhyme, Bandy and Dandy actually have four things in common: the last four letters of their name. Unfortunately for Bandy, the differences in skill are staggering considering he is playing the best TvZer of BSL...when he's +1 5-Raxing. If Dandy tries to play overly fancy then there may be hope yet for Bandy.
The second match in the group is Ultra vs Hawk in a fated rematch of Zotac Cup: Masters, which happened over two years ago. In the match, Hawk lost 1-2. Hawk is seen as a talented and knowledgeable player, but will he bring his A-game when the moment counts? Odds are ever in his favor against Ultra, whose mechanics aren't as refined, but the unforgiving matchup of TvZ and the heat of competition can conjure unexpected results.
Prediction: Dandy and Hawk advance to the Ro16!
Group C (starts in )
Not much is known about Goku and Pro, but Babo and Gosudark are common faces. Based off Goku's ladder performance and Babo's just average ZvT, Goku is likely to win. Gosudark meanwhile faces off against Pro, who just barely qualified. Gosudark's knack for making winning plays will likely beat out the little known Pro in the highly tense PvP matchup.
Prediction: Goku and Gosudark advance to the Ro16!
Group D (starts in )
TT1 strongly emphasizes macro, which is contrary to PvP's tendency to end early. TT1 vs Oya will be anyone's game, provided Oya is in shape. In Terror vs Casper, Terror is likely to win against Casper in the patient and macro-based TvT, which Terror embraces.
Prediction: Terror and Casper advance to the Ro16!
Group E (starts in )
Yeti is the lone Protoss zealot whose psi blades have run out of energy while being swarmed by cracklings. He is hamstrung from excelling in the matchup by a lack of sharp, refined timings and fearsome multitasking. At least he only has to practice one matchup, which should be good for preparation. He'll need all the help he can get versus top Russian Zerg Gorynich. As for Cross vs Ty2, both Zergs are similarly equal, but Cross has more acute knowledge and can outmaneuver Ty2.
Prediction: g0rynich and Ty2 advance to the Ro16!
Group F (starts in )
Madinho's creative, tactic heavy style sits juxtaposed to Avi-Love's simple yet effective brute strength playstyle. Whatever happens will undoubtedly be highly entertaining. The next match, Spx vs LaAbuela, showcases Spx's superb TvP against the all-around tenacious LaAbuela who always finds a way to somehow win. However, LaAbuela severely underperformed the last time he played. Will the same happen this season?
Prediction: Madinho and Spx advance to the Ro16!