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After months of rumors, legal wrangling and threats against our dear Brood War, KeSPA called Gretech's bluff and resumed the Proleague. Our prestigious team championship is two teams short, with the disbandment of eSTRO and the merging of CJ Entus and Hite SPARKYZ into what fans hope will be an all-powerful archon, yet more games will be played this season: six rounds of bo7 matches, with two rounds of Winners League. The proscene's lifeblood is flowing once again, and all is well with the world.
Q: Any final remarks?
A: Right now the eSports atmosphere is very strange, but I hope fans will continue to support us.
-- Bisu, interviewed after the KT vs SKT match
After Week 1
After Week 1
Standings by Simplistik. Check out the full R&S thread
Woongjin Stars and STX SouL are in the lead, having won both of their matches. Both teams boast deep lineups and will surely benefit from the new format, which rewards teams with decent mid-tier players and deemphasizes the ace. Stars is fueled by its three Zergs, with Zero in the unlikely position of veteran leading Soulkey and Crazy-Hydra as they pillage the Proleague. Zero's ZvZ has returned to form, while Soulkey showed why he's the most promising new Zerg in town with a textbook dismantling of Midas' mech play on Empire of the Sun. Add in Really and Flying from the eSTRO draft, and you're looking at an extremely scary outfit.
Woongjin Stars -- dreams of Gwangalli.
STX for its part has added an eSTRO Zerg, hyvaa, to its already sizeable Zerg lineup of Calm, hero and Modesty. More importantly, the acquisition of Classic bolsters a Terran lineup weakened by Hwasin's shameful departure. Underscoring this renewal, the chintastic Terran demonstrated his skills with an easy dismantling of Air Force ACE's Ruby. As for Shuttle, he proved that he was still the best PvP player on the scene, adding two notches to his belt for an overall 19-7 record in the matchup.
Q:Your goal this season?
A: To be the team’s ace. Right now, there a lot of people gunning for the spot of STX’s ace.
-- Kal, interviewed after the STX vs Samsung Khan match
The third team to throw down a wad of cash to pick up a big name in the eSTRO draft was KT Rolster, which made off with the Great Zerg Hope, Action. KT's rival SKT, in an unusual move for a rich team used to picking up successful players, did not bid for one of eSTRO's stars, yet it got a small revenge of sorts by beating its nemesis, in the ace game no less. Best crushed a cautious and passive Flash -- new maps, after all -- with his unending stream of units, and the sting of last season's Grand Final was softened. Even with Boxer gone, his soul in the hands of the Devil, SKT is still a force to be reckoned with.
Leta, a worthy heir to the grand CJ tradition?
The middle of the pack consists of Hite Entus, MBCGame HERO and Wemade FOX. Not such a surprising position for any of these teams. The CJ Entus-Hite SPARKYZ superteam, which had been a tantalizing fantasy to some CJ fans during the match-fixing scandal, is weakened by Effort's absence. The hype was deafening, and CJ did roll over OZ, but the team's defeat at the hands of Wemade provided a much-needed reality check. Coach Cho is gone, Iris is on his way to ACE and Savior narrowly avoided prison. A page is turned -- will CJ's disciplined atmosphere survive its contact with the happy-go-lucky SPARKYZ culture?
Q: How is Hite Entus' atmosphere?
A: Very good. We heard that CJ's atmosphere was quiet, but once we joined together the mood instantly became very lively, which is also helping our players adjust. After a while, the atmosphere will erupt.
-- Leta, interviewed after the Hite Entus vs Hwaseung OZ match
The bottom of the rankings features the teams most weakened by the new format: aside from Air Force ACE, the usual punching bag, Samsung Khan and Hwaseung OZ are suffering from their severe lack of depth. If losing 1-3 was the stereotypical "OZ score" last season, losing 1-4 may well be this season's version, as we saw against Entus. Even Perfectman somehow winning a game hasn't raised any spirits; hopefully, Hiya will be able to stomp some scrubs in the upcoming matches after having to face Flash and Leta in his first two games.
Next Week's Previews
With the first day of the second week in the books, and
Woongjin having overcome
Khan on the backs of their old guard, and
Hite Entus in the zerg-fest nobody ever saw coming, we take a belated look at some of the match-ups to come.
Sunday - 13:00 KST (OGN)
Wemade Fox takes on
KT Rolster in a battle that's destined to showcase enough terran to split a map. Of course, it's all about Flash, but Wemade's tiny terrans will surely be clamoring to impress the dear leader. But the reigning proleague champions have quite a bit of depth in their other races as well, especially with the addition of Action, the mafiazerg, and Wemade will need to draw favorable matches and probably tamper with the KT Pocari Sweat dispenser if they hope to win here.
MBC play in the other match. Same time.
Monday - 18:00 KST (MBC)
Hite Entus and
Khan go at it in a battle of BW's most prolific protoss line-ups. (I hear you saying KT has the best P line, and I ignore you.) Without noted aiur-killer EffOrt, it's probably up to Hite Entus's Horang2 to pick off Stork. JangBi, meanwhile, loses to pretty much everyone nowadays, so expect him to face MisO. If neither of those two can muster a win, Khan's chances are nonexistant, if one loses, they're still pretty bad against the deep line of HEntus.
STX Soul play in the later match, at 19:30.
Tuesday - 13:00 (OGN)
The two winners of Friday;
SKT T1 play the early match to close out the week. On paper, these are the two of best three teams in the proleague this season, and if Blizzards lawyers aren't standing on the podium come next summer, one of these teams might very well be. This early meeting should be a doozy. I think Woongjin has the better depth at the moment though, and with this format, that should prove key.
KT Rolster and
ACE play in the later match, at 18:00.
Wednesday - 13:00 (MBC)
Closing out the week,
STX play in a meeting of deep teams without a blockbuster ace. STX is the team that displays more consistent quality, but Wemade's upside is potentially ferocious, which makes them difficult to ever count out. In fact, I figure Wemade is going to go 1-1 pretty much every week this season, and since I project them losing to KT midweek, I'll pick them to win this series 4-2, with Kal and Bogus netting the two STX victories.
MBC play in the other match. Same time.
That's all for this week, folks! But fear not, for Proleague has resumed, which means we'll be here next week, every week of the season. As long as the proscene is still alive and kicking, teamliquid will never abandon Brood War.
This Proleague update was brought to you by Team Liquid's PL 2010-11 coverage team -- snowdrift, Harem, IntotheWow and tree.hugger. Many thanks to alffla for the stellar graphics!