Onto the semifinals between some of the most remarkable players in the scene today! No doubt that this season is somewhat Zerg dominated, partially because of the map pool, but also because Zerg players just seem to be on the rise again. But the real story is a tale as old as time: Who can beat Flash?
This time Flash has the disadvantage (?) of playing Random though, so there may be greater chances to knock him off his throne and derail the momentum he's built up in the Ro16 and the bracket stage so far. Keep tuned in for some wild and wacky games that will almost inevitably end in several ZvZs for the rest of the tournament!
This is a big match for both players. On one side we have Flash who is poised to become the first ever Random player in a major finals, and on the other side Soma would become the first semi-pro/amateur player to ever make the ASL finals. Things only get interesting when both players have something they need to prove. Let's see who makes history here.
Both players were seeded directly in the Ro16 and both players have made it to the Ro4 undefeated. This is also Flash and Soma’s second BoX series. They last matched in the previous season in the 3rd place match. This time its a Bo7 and of course Flash is playing Random.
With sponbbang not tracking Flash’s matchups (or he genuinely doesn’t play that many sponmatches anymore) and Soma in general not playing sponmatches, not practicing on stream, it is hard to make any case for either using hard numbers and statistics.
Its safe to say that matchup wise Flash actually is at a disadvantage, We’ve seen how much of a dominating performance Soma has shown against Protoss players like Mini, Shuttle, and especially his Ro8 opponent Snow. While we haven’t seen it, Flash’s ZvZ is not at a level that would be considered favorable against a proper Zerg main at the level of Soma, and this only leaves him with his main race of Terran where he will always be favored. I think that even with a proper early/correct scout the only Zerg in the tournament who could manage to stand up to Flash’s Terran is ZerO.
The map picks tell do tell a lot while every map in the pool is on the card, the positions of them is dependent on the players. Flash’s picks were Plasma, Optimizer and Ringing Bloom—all pretty bad maps for Zerg against Random, and all maps where scouting and reading the opponent early is tantamount to victory, especially on Plasma where it's not just a matter of scouting right but also doing something about it...easily the worst map in the pool for Zerg. Much like against Snow, Soma is going to want to end his game on the map sooner rather than later regardless of the matchup rolled, while Ringing Bloom and Optimizer have great proxy harass and defensive potential for non Zerg matchups.
Soma's map picks were Benzene, Eclipse and Polypoid, the more straightforward maps, and Soma is trying his damnedest to keep Flash grounded and honest with both the 2 player maps coming within the first 4 sets so we will see play on them, and both maps are fairly good for ZvP, especially after what we've seen Soma do to Snow on Benzene.
The final map is Shakuras Temple, odds swing rapidly depending on what race Flash rolls. If Terran, he should win, if Protoss, he's in a big disadvantage...PvZ is pretty hard on this map.
All in all I suspect this won't be a long series, much like how the Ro8 has gone. Recently Flash has gone on record to say that he gets the most joy out of playing the game when he out mindgames his opponent...it's primarily why he's started playing random too. Maybe with the maps he's picked, he's signaling that he wants to beat soma with mindgames. However if scouting is good Soma would be the favorite against the non-Terran matchups, for that I give the odds at 55-45 in favor of Soma. If you’d a more of an in depth assessment of the odds, look at this thread(Credit to user 2sxy4u_BG).
I'm not sure as to how the final score will split.
Soma to advance to the Grand Finals!
Larva pummeled Soulkey to the ground and now he faces Soulkey's long time Stars teammate and close friend ZerO in a revenge match from ASL9 Ro8 a series that was down to the wire which ZerO managed to eek out a victory (and eventually the championship). Things may not go the same way this time.
Neither player has recorded many ZvZs in the last 2 months on sponbbang. Larva has been spending half the month practicing for his upcoming games, and ZvZ is an unpopular choice of matchup among fans for sponsor matches to happen. ZerO sits at a 61% win rate over the last 2 months, while Larva sits on a 46% win rate in the same period—their personal head to head is at 50% at 2-2.
ZerO has historically had a weak ZvZ matchup. However it's changed much this year that he has often become the favorite as he's become the #1 zerg in the world right now, in part due to the best mutalisk control among his peers. Once the game reaches a stage where he's able to pump out mutalisks, ZerO is pretty much unstoppable in the matchup...unless of course ZerO shows up to choke, which is always a possibility, even after winning last season.
Never let the stats convince you of anything though, especially with Larva involved. He's considered the spoiler of brackets for a reason, a wildcard of a character and player. It's not just the series against Soulkey but a genuine pattern of never backing down from a hard opponent and outplaying his opponent and using that momentum to drive his series forward. However it can also be said that when his momentum is derailed he is prone to play a lot more erratic or all-in like—but at least we don't have Inner Coven this time around.
Its not often you see a ZvZ where both players are very well versed in every aspect of the matchup from zergling fights to muta scourge control to even the more rare and wacky elements of the matchup. Expect things like delayed spires from both players with more static defense at home (a modified version of the great build), hidden 3rd hatch, or someone actually pulling off the offensive sunken bust—something that both Larva and Soulkey tried and failed in their series.
Would not be surprised if ZerO managed to do a hidden hatch inside Larva’s base on Benzene or Plasma.
ZerO advances to the Grand Finals!