It was now past midnight. The sky was utterly dark, and the stillness of the heavy air foreboded storm. Suddenly the forums were seared by a blinding flash. The Proleague team smote down upon IRC. For a staring moment, the idlers in the channel saw all the space between them lit with white light; it was boiling and crawling with ideas - some good, some bad, all Broodwar related. Writers were pouring into the channel, "Join" messages filling the evening sky. All caps yells resounded from wall to wall. The text came lashing down.
Posts as thick as the rain came whistling into the writers' forum, and fell clinking and glancing on the pages. Some found a mark. The planning for Proleague had begun.
In the distance, the cries of SC2 tournaments and tours filled the horizon. MLG fans screamed, waving youtube videos and screen caps, and posting about the drama that was taking place that weekend, their anger filling over into IRC as they ranted on; and the men of Proleague stood still, watching and waiting as #teamliquid was tossed by a tempest of war, and every ban glinted with barbed light.
Brazen trumpets sounded. There were rumours of war. In the midst of the mass qq surrounding a large North American SC2 tournament, war had begun.
There was unrest in Seoul.
The idiots surged forward, some getting banned from IRC and others martyring themselves in the LR threads. There, the biggest numbskulls were mustered, and the wild men of Live Report threads fell at the hands of the mods. The lightning flashed, and blazoned upon every helm and shield the ghastly Wings of Liberty logo was seen: They changed their netmasks and reached IRC once more, driving onwards as ISPs, even countries were banned.
Inside the citadel, the Proleague team gathered.
"Let this be the hour when we draw swords together."
Dig in and keep your weapons at the ready. The battle is about to begin.
It was high time for a speech, a little oratory. For months after the great war, the continent of Proleagueia had been unusually quiet. That is, if you ignored the whispered rumours of troop movement near the borders of Kwanganri, but the Grand Marshal of the KT Protectorate dismissed these quickly as being revanchist hatespeech. Sure, the war was still fresh in everyone’s mind, the Protectorate had suffered immense losses, losses the people had still not forgiven the SKT Empire for, but now that Shanghai was theirs, the Protectorate seemed to enter a new golden age.
Consolidating their positions, recruiting new blood into the ranks, including a former FOX platoon, and not firing a single shot had seemed a dream in the few weeks of the final push, but they were there now. The future seemed bright as well – the instability of the MBC lands, the FOX confederacy and the OZ warhost seemed to have resolved itself, and the aggressive rhetoric of the Great Nations had reached an all-time low.
The Great Council of Rolster was less optimistic about the situation, of course, but they had been fixated on the Protectorate-dependent region of Kwanganri for a long time now, making them appear almost paranoid. The turbulence had begun with word that it might be induced to join the KT Protectorate for good, but civil unrest in different parts of the country had stifled that plan almost immediately.
President Dogspa of Kwanganri was no different any other politician; scheming, accruing power slowly, somehow failing to grasp how out of touch he actually was, but for now, he’d do, and KT would profit from the alliance with Kwanganri. The Council was still looking for ways to make the unification happen, but their efforts were in vain. The bribes, the sudden increase in espionage activities, the funded rallies – none of it had had any effect on the deeply divided nation.
Of course, more outspoken members of the Council saw it as a conspiracy to undermine KT’s supreme authority – what else could it possibly be? A few hours ago he had been speaking with a particularly irate member of the council; he had been gesticulating wildly and demanding that whoever was behind that "grievous offence" must be made pay. He still snickered at the thought of that fat man, jabbing the air with an outstretched finger, roaring and red with rage that, "This land will not be made into a laughing stock!"
He had isolated himself for hours to ensure that the two wouldn’t meet again until absolutely necessary. A weak looking soldier, identifiable as "B. Teemer" from his jacket, had tried to approach him several times, but he was summarily dismissed. Whatever it was, it would wait.
As he approached the podium, the crowd was thick with conversation. For the first time since the Military Academy of Y’ellow, he was forced to to start his speech twice… and then a third time. At no point in time was there total silence, but at least he could finish and try to go home.
Rather than taking him home, the chauffeur drove him straight to the Council house of KTF. Before he could voice his protests, he heard why he was needed:
What they said was true, but what they hadn’t realized was that the real danger was that others would do the same. Still, he really didn’t have an option. The Grand Marshal took a second to savour, let it sink in, and said softly, "Let slip the dogs of war, then."
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if
The shore was lucky in being backed by cliff,
The cliff in being backed by continent;
It looked as if a night of dark intent
Was coming, and not only a night, an age.
Someone had better be prepared for rage.
There would be more than ocean-water broken
Before God's last 'Put out the Light' was spoken.
While excitement for the imminent Proleague season has reached a fever pitch, it has also been coupled with an air of uncertainty. Three and a half months have passed since Flash and his teammates hoisted the trophy at Kwang-an-ri. For the Brood War faithful, it has been a long and painful off-season. Much has changed, and many beloved legacies have come to an end. One could be forgiven for wondering what all of this is likely to mean for the upcoming season. To me however, almost every single announcement - positive, negative, or otherwise - has pointed overwhelmingly towards one simple yet startling conclusion: we are on the eve of the highest level, most cut-throat Proleague season of all time.
Consider the distribution of players. CJ is absolutely stacked, consecutive PL champion KT looks stronger than ever, and SKT should be at least as strong as last season when they dominated everything and almost won the finals. The Dream Team is referred to as such for a reason. Khan’s line-up has been bolstered significantly, and Woongjin’s powerful three-player core of Zero and Soulkey is perfect for the new BO5 format. Even Ace got Kal and is helped immensely by the removal of Winner’s League. STX... well, to be honest it’s a tough time to be an STX fan right now. My point is that across the board, the teams of Proleague look stronger than ever before - half of them are nothing short of powerhouses. And it's no wonder: what used to be a twelve team circuit has dropped to eight, leaving three or four teams’ worth of A-teamers distributed among the rest. Just one strong player can make the difference between a weak line-up and a solid one. Three teams' worth of them is a big deal.
I also have to bring up one of the off-season's greatest tragedies: the loss of the MSL. With no more MSL, almost half of the top players who would have been busy preparing for an individual league in previous seasons will now have only Proleague to worry about. The very top players will never have two separate individual leagues to practice for. All of this means a great deal more practice time and priority to be devoted to the remaining leagues, especially for the strongest players in the scene. The impact of this on Proleague is difficult to overstate.
Just as significant is the change of format. Each team is down from two matches a week to one, and the matches themselves are down from BO7’s to BO5’s with no ace matches. Such a drastic reduction means a lot more practice time, especially for aces, and much higher stakes for every game. Throwaway matches are a thing of the past this season, and with each team fielding just 3-5 players a week, every line-up will be star-studded.
In short, the structure of professional Brood War has contracted much faster than the player pool, which will cause a dramatic spike in the ever-rising level of competition. Whatever happens next season, this is unsustainable. If the scene undergoes a revival and expands, the concentration of top level players will return to more normal levels. If it remains at its current scale, the player pool will naturally adjust as older players slump or retire with fewer new recruits to replace them. As for the worst case scenario, professional Brood War cannot lose much more infrastructure without either collapsing or losing a substantial part of its current player pool.
When all is said and done, I can’t tell you if this is going to be a grand finale or the dawn of a new age for Brood War. All I can say for sure is this: the upcoming season of Proleague will go down as the most ferociously competitive that professional Brood War will ever see. Make no doubt about it: there's a storm coming.
News of a new team forming were very much needed in this gloom times for StarCraft Brood War and it gives us all a spark of hope to cling on to. Every past, present or future fan of Brood War should take a special interest in the upcoming season of Proleague as it's forming to be the best one yet.
Team 8, or as it's also been called KeSPA Dream Team, is a strong contender for a high place finish in the new season. And once you see their roster, you will realize why.
So without further ado...
Meet Team 8
2010-2011 Shinhan Bank Proleague record:
All - 29 wins - 14 losses (67.44%)
ZvP - 6 wins - 4 losses (60.00%)
ZvT - 10 wins - 4 losses (71.43%)
ZvZ - 13 wins - 6 losses (68.42%)
A player who needs no introduction, but I'll give him one anyways because he's that good. Jaedong is a member of renowned TBLS group and was an ace player for now disbanded, team Oz. I'm very excited to see how Jaedong preforms in his new team, because unlike in Oz, which was famous as a one-man team with Jaedong in charge, Team 8 has a lot more depth in its roster. That feeling you get when you can actually lean on your teammates and you don't have to carry the burden of the whole team on your shoulders, will do much good for Jaedong. Not to mention the new practice partners he gets in the likes of Sea, BaBy and Jaehoon.
Even though his Z(12hatch)vZ seemed a bit shaky last season in individual leagues, in Proleague he was still one of the most dominant player, ending the season in 3rd place. There is virtually no reason not to expect great things from Jaedong in the upcoming season of Proleague with his new team.
2010-2011 Shinhan Bank Proleague record:
All - 23 wins - 12 losses (65.71%)
PvP - 8 wins - 5 losses (61.54%)
PvT - 10 wins - 1 losses (90.91%)
PvZ - 5 wins - 6 losses (45.45%)
A new captain of Team 8, Jaehoon, was hands down the biggest surprise of last season with a solid 65% winrate placing him at 9th place. Once a laughing stock (albeit with a cool hair) and safe choice for everyone's anti-team in FPL, has turned into a PvT machine with godly 10-1 score in last season of Proleague. Granted, he didn't do so well in Winners league, but luckily for Jaehoon Winners league is no more!
2 players responsible for ruining a lot of FPL teams last season.
This upcoming season will make-or-break Jaehoon's image as a Brood War player. Either he'll be seen as a formidable player, worthy of his captaincy or he'll go back and find his place in my FPL anti-team. God, I hope it's the former.
2010-2011 Shinhan Bank Proleague record:
All - 24 wins - 16 losses (60.00%)
TvP - 8 wins - 6 losses (57.14%)
TvT - 13 wins - 4 losses (76.47%)
TvZ - 3 wins - 6 losses (33.33%)
If you ask any Brood War player what can they tell you about Sea, probably the first thing that they will think of is that he didn't win a single individual league. Despite this great injustice, Sea is seen as one of the most consistent players in Proleague. Indeed, if you take a look at all the Proleagues Sea participated in, he had over 50% winning rate in every single one of them. He's the kind of player who on a good day, can beat absolutely everyone. Besides Jaedong, I believe Sea will be the main player of Team 8 in the upcoming season. There's simply no reason why wouldn't he be, as every team would be happy to have Sea as their player and you as a fan, how can you not like someone who posted on the TL?!
2010-2011 Shinhan Bank Proleague record:
All - 18 wins - 15 losses (54.55%)
TvP - 6 wins - 5 losses (54.55%)
TvT - 8 wins - 8 losses (50.00%)
TvZ - 4 wins - 2 losses (66.67%)
As his name suggests, BaBy is young. What's even more remarkable is that in StarCraft years, he's not really that young. His first Proleague appearance was in 2007, at the ripe old age of 13! Fast forward four years and BaBy is now ancient greybeard with much more experience under his tiny belt. Last season was quite fortuitous for our favorite Korean high schooler, as he maintained a solid 54% winning rate.
BaBy has a lot of potential and this upcoming season will really be a test to his skills. He doesn't have much experience in individual leagues, but at his age, his career is only beginning. You should all expect great things from BaBy in his new team, where he will most likely play a role of a TvZ sniper.
2010-2011 Shinhan Bank Proleague record:
All - 17 wins - 18 losses (48.57%)
ZvP - 3 wins - 6 losses (33.33%)
ZvT - 5 wins - 5 losses (50.00%)
ZvZ - 9 wins - 7 losses (56.25%)
Killer is a player to keep an eye on in the upcoming season of Proleague. Even though his winning rate of 48% might suggest otherwise, there are some other factors that will make you excited to see how Killer performs. First, his winning rate in the Winners league was 64% and the second, which is more important, his Jin Air OSL run had a lot of potential of making him a Royal Roader. Following the footsteps of his teammate Jaedong, everyone was so excited watching Killer play in the last OSL where he qualified from his group with a clean 3-0 victory, even taking down the JangBi who, as you all know, went to win the whole thing. In the quarter finals, Killer took a commanding lead on the first play day over n.Die_soO, but on a second play day when it was time to finish their bo3, something unforeseen happened. You see, Killer paused the game without typing 'ppp' beforehand and as per KeSPA rules, was awarded a forfeit. Things spiraled down from there as he lost the next game and was out of the tournament, effectively putting his royal road dreams to an end.
The reason I told you this little story is to make you not dismiss Killer as just another mediocre zerg, but in fact see him as a player with a lot of momentum. Oh, and did I mention he won the first in-house tournament at his new team? Yep, he did.
2010-2011 Shinhan Bank Proleague record:
All - 18 wins - 15 losses (54.55%)
PvP - 8 wins - 9 losses (47.06%)
PvT - 7 wins - 3 losses (70.00%)
PvZ - 3 wins - 3 losses (50.00%)
Tyson is a former MBC player who didn't achieve much in his BW career, but showed a good form in last season of Proleague by having an impressive 54% winning rate. Even though he ended the season with a 5 loss streak, having a fairly consistent player will contribute a great deal to Team 8. I'm pretty sure he will fit well in his new team and will be a reliable player in the upcoming season of Proleague.
Rookies - Sang, Speed and Ryul2
Besides all the known players, Team 8 added three rookies under their wings and they will be there to provide practice for our star players. One of each race, they will further their skills by practicing with the best and perhaps one of them will be next bonjwa. You never know...
It's safe to say Proleague '11-'12 has introduced a lot of changes - one of which being the maps. This season sports a brand new mappool of 6 brand new maps! Needless to say everyone is (or should be!) looking forward to seeing some games on these new playgrounds. Just glancing over the maps shows an impressive amount of doodads, backdoor entrances, main-overlooking cliffs, destructible
rockstemples and uncanny similarities to Outsider. It's safe to say that we may have the wackiest overmappool on our hands here - a recipe for exciting games! How will these maps pan out though? Will we see any metagame shifts? Glaring imbalances? What race will QQ 24/7 and what map will suffer from mirrirmatch syndrome?
Last week I had the chance to sit down with Pro7ect, Ace and KidCanada Extraordinaire to discuss the maps. I asked them how they think their match-ups will play out on each map, any glaring imbalances and what map they look forward to most.
Project is one of Russian's best Terrans and one of the premier BroodWar streamers on TL.
Ace was the runner-up in the recent ISL2 and is currently beasting it up for Hungary in the Altitude NationWar
KidCanada, aka Astro, is a well know Protoss from, who'd have guessed, Canada. Streams on TL as draw.
NOTE: At the time of writing/interviewing, only the images of the maps were available. Any remarks are therefore highly speculative. Still, it should be enough to spark some discussion
Pro7ect: Quite a balanced map. In TvZ, Terran has some advantages in the defense of his main and natural bases, because it’s very hard for Zerg to harass with Mutalisks. But all bases here have ramps, so Terran can face some troubles with preventing Zerg’s expos. In TvP, Protoss has various ways in openings like proxy series. So Terran players should explore the whole map properly. This map looks like very good for vulture harassing.
Ace: If there would be long match ZvP, I think it's difficult to defend 3-4 expos with zerg. I think on this map Zergs hava a little disadvantage, because it's hard to defend expands. In ZvT and ZvP too. You can't defend 2 expands on one place like on FS. I'd cry if I were to play on this map :D I think short distance isn't that big help for Mutas. Terrans are so good so I don't think it really matters. Maybe on main you can harass with Mutas because of the cliff, but I stilll think in long games T,P >Z, so i don't think we'll see zergs on this map:D
KidCanada: Well in all m.u. it depends how many mineral patches are in the back and how much hp in the destructable rocks. Like PvZ zerg can do standard BO and if they make 12~ lings after Lair they can tear down the backrock, which seems standard timing for zerg to make lings normally, but now P will have to delay their tech to put a pylon + cannon there or something like that. It seems easy to get expos after that for P though, since both of the next expos are on a ramp, but in late game its going to be hard since the expos are spreading away from eachother across the map. I think this map is bad lol, both players are gonna just try to camp the 3 mid bridges. It's going to be hard to attack into Zerg across bridges so if they have good apm they can burrow/unburrow and move along the bridge to deny protoss aggression. Like I don't know how to determine the outcome too many buildings to destroy to change the map layout. PvT is gonna be a lot of cheese openings, because the main is surrounded by highground and you can transfer goons via shuttle over the narrow ridge, but depends how big those bases are, but its like impossible to push or flank Terran on this map. Prolly lots of Carriers. I don't know how T will expo if they take both back yard expos cause that will spread them out quite a bit, I guess they will rely on the nexus neutrals. I think most of them wont attack those buildings until mid or late game cause it takes too long to kill. Also the problem with them is they dont open many opportunities since they are all along the ridge of the map, so to counter attack or build another attack point from those killed spots still require a lot of out of position manueovering. I think this map is bad because protoss requires position a lot and the pathing and structure of this map make it seem if you get out of position once you will die. And Terran can push 2 paths which both lead to behind your main. It's like a combination of Tau Cross and Pathfinder.
Pro7ect: Obviously, this one is totally Terran map. If Terran can take control over the center (especially in TvP) opponents won’t have any chances to go out from the base. Zerg can use the third base behind his main and develop like in Triathlon. So Terran should beware of mass Mutalisks and/or fast Guardians from Zerg.
Ace: Really interesting map. Reminds a little bit of Outsider. The problem is if you kill 2 times those 2 buildings you can attack your opponet's main and I can't figure it out for which race will it help :D It's good map for mutas in ZvT. You can harass natural, there are mountains. And if you are Zerg on blue and Toss on red you can take 3rd base on right side of the map at 3 (the main's natural). Then you can take teal main, and 6 o'clock. That's 5 base. I think it's a little zerg favored map. I see the fantasy in this map for zergs:D Z>T,P I think
KidCanada: In PvZ it seems like Z is gonna take another natural but that base and original natural are equidistant from P natural so rush distance is very short. Also the paths are quite narrow, the mid could be large but still quite small so looks like 2 base pushes are quite easy. I think its very strong PvZ, especially if they do a strong 2 base BO, because they can just go around the map and kill those building to get to the z's main and they gonna have to put a lot of defence. If Z tries the same tactic they are still running down narrow paths which is easier for P to handle. PvT is not as bad as the other map but still would be hard to stop a push. If P is on blue and T is on red, third is gonna be the mid inner 6 or they will play it like reaver opening and take lower 6 and kill the temples later or sth like that. This map also not very symmetric, gonna have position imbalance.
Pro7ect: This map is a copy of Medusa, but just for 4 players. So I think we will see a lot of macro games by Korean progamers.
Ace: My eyes are already hurt :D I see the Medusa thingy. It looks so big map, I'd be frustrated if I should play on this one. Good for mutas in ZvT cuz that big mountain thingy on the natural expo. And 3base, big distances. In ZvT it's Z>T again I think. In ZvP i think it's balanced. We'll see good ZvP macrogames on it I'm sure If u see this map on minimap it really stresses eye, don't know how could it be in game. But it's the third map which has buildings and minerals on the map :D Destrucible rocks and some minerals next to it. I don't know why they should put this shit into every map XD
KidCanada: This looks like medusa. This map looks huge. This looks like its gonna be pretty standard but since there are many paths you gonna have to be careful if you commit to engage cause you can get countered really easily. But it looks good all m.u., seems easy to get 4 base. I think it will be more balanced than Medusa cause there are a few easier T push paths, but i think P > T on this map cause they will have easy 3 base. Even tho T gets same easy 3 base, P will get them really quick. PvZ also seems quite easy cause the bases are all surrounding the main so you can turtle to those 4 adjacent bases and secure a quadrant.
Pro7ect: This map is very similar to Grand Line, but you cannot build any buildings in the center. So all buildings should be built on the main base. If you lose your main base by mass drops or recalls, you will lose that game. So Terran should concentrate on defending his main base in the late game.
Ace: 4 main bases, 4natural expos, 2 side bases, and 4 easy bases. I like this map, cuz it's primitive. I think it's totally balanced map, like python or FS. One thing I see is, on the expands like top and bottom, 1, 5,7,11 o'clock that's really easy to defend. You build like one supply, or one pylon +2 cannons, and you got that. I think it could be good for toss in PvZ. Interesting map, but I like this one better than the last 3.
KidCanada: This one I think is retarded. Its like Neo Grandline with less expos. PvZ is gonna be hard, since the 3rd gas is far as hell. Oh wait... The middle bases have a ramp, I didn't see that. I think like PvT is not bad cause T only gets 2 gas, hard to get their third, but there aren't many expos so if they secure 4 bases they can go for map split without too much difficulty. Also natural has a raised platform behind it. I think its gonna be like 2 base arb BOs cause the map is spread out quite a bit with those few expos. I think if they spawn horizontally T will > P, but if they spawn vertically or across then P >T, cause the horizontal path is really easy to slow push and there are 2 bases on the way.
Pro7ect: This map reminds be a little bit of Colosseum, but with reversed ramp at the main. Another macro-orientated map for 4 players, nothing special.
Ace: Nothing to say about this map I think, it looks balanced, but there are not many bases on it. If Toss can have 3bases up then maybe another base is really hard for Zerg. And easy to defend every expo cause they are on highground. Prolly its not that good a map for Zerg, cause easy 3 base for Toss and u cant really attack Toss cause every expo is good defendable. I think Z=T, but P>Z.
KidCanada: All these new bases got high ridge surrounding them, kind of a lame theme, lol. This map looks really annoying, but for P its not bad. Hard to defend for Z on their third, if they take the quadrant anyway. T is gonna camp for 3 base and they have that huge ramp which is gonna be impossible to break but I think P can get more bases easily and stop early pushes or delay with all the reverse ramps. Very few bases for a 4 P map tho. It will play almost identically to [Shades of Twilight]
Pro7ect: This one is also macro-orientated map, but for me it looks like another imbalanced map for Terran. If you take control over the ridges, you will have a great chance to win the game. The third base seems to be a little bit further from the natural base, but ridges can be effectively used for defense (turrets, supply depots, mines).
Ace: This map reminds me to HBR :D These ridges on the map and the middle expo is almost like on HBR. In ZvT it's not that hard to get 3rd base with Mutas. I think ZvT is balanced. ZvP could be really bad for toss, if he gets Lurker walled on the highground he'll never break it. So this map Z>P I think. But I think every map is almost balanced.
KidCanada: Looks good PvT. Even though there are lots of ridges, the map is pretty open and manoeuvrable. Also the third is a little harder for T to take. PvZ seems not that bad, all bases have narrow chokes. In a longer game of PvT tho, T just gonna expo out like a grid and it will be hard for P. This map seems hardest to determine how it will play out. The expos go along the sides of the map, maybe P will do sair reaver or sair dt
Pro7ect: I dont like complicated maps (with neutral buildings, minerals, etc), so I will pick Jade
Ace Prolly Outlier, but I dont really have favorite map from these :D
KidCanada: Maybe Outlier. I always do better on skewed balanced maps. And Electric Circuit looks good but its a macro map and I get bored to play on those.
Pro7ect: I don't think so, because as you know, PL faced a lot of troubles after last season, so it was very important to save the existed fans and viewers, not to attract new ones. So I don't think that PL mapmakers tried to innovate something new with these maps. As you can see, all these maps have a lot of similarities with the previous maps of PL. There are not any new concepts here.
Ace: I'm sure there will be interesting games. They are really high skilled players, games would be interesting even they'd play every game on estrella :D Can't wait to watch Team 8 btw! About new tactics: prolly some crazy cheese
KidCanada: We're going to see a lot of cheese for sure, all the builds are going to be more map specific than being able to apply modified builds done on these to other maps. So I could see innovation, but it wont be applicable mostly to other maps. i.e the maps with narrow pathways you can get away with some double fast expos or something like that.
The purpose of previews and predictions is to generate hype and discussion, but because there hasn’t been any Korean Brood War for quite a while, I don’t really think I can improve upon it any more. Almost all teams have hype-posts for this season, and rabid fans have analyzed the last season to death. As for the predictions themselves, the last FPL season went pretty miserably for me, so I’m not even sure why I volunteered to be the one writing the predictions. On the other hand, it gives me a great excuse to ditch FPL this time and confront my fears with an even greater challenge. I’ll try to predict every score of every match, and face public ridicule if I’m wrong and faint (but sweet) praise if I’m right. If I’m lucky, I won’t end up as the second konadora. To help me with this undertaking, your friendly HawaiianPig will be kind enough to post my progress in as flashy of a way as possible.
What are the arbitrary rules of this challenge, you may ask?
If I predict the winner and the score correctly, 3 points
If I predict the winner correctly, and the score is off by 1, 1 point
If I predict the winner correctly and the score is off by 2, 0 points
If I predict the winner wrong, and the score is off by 1, -1 points
If I predict the winner wrong and the score is off by more than one, -2 points.
The goal will be to end up at least positive by the end of round 3 of this season.
But enough of this self-important dribble, on to the predictions!
Since this is the first week, the maps are unplayed, and noone has played yet so that we can’t assess their condition, it’s especially hard to call the headliner match of this season. While only one team has a name that demands respect (or a proper name at all), the lineups of both teams are so formidable, certainty has to be done away with entirely. However, there have been some clues. Bisu went on record, claiming the maps are bad for Protoss, and SKT is very Protoss heavy, and the rest of their lineup is largely either snipers or Fantasy, who is pretty known to be unreliable. Snipers tend not to do well at the beginning of a season, since it’s hard to prepare for someone’s strategy that you haven’t seen in action yet, and on top of that, the coach of Team 8 hasn’t been active for years and has a certain unpredictability. On top of that, SKT’s 2 race coaches went to the army recently, and there has been no talk of replacements yet, which is a worrying sign for SKT1. But in the end of the day, I still expect Bunkie to take a happy bow, since newly formed teams tend to do badly at the beginning of the season. CJ-s performance at the beginning of the last season was pretty lacklustre, although after it merged with Sparkyz, it became an enormous powerhouse. All of Team 8 saw a change in their schedules and it will probably show in their play. Also, SKT’s coach is pretty good at picking his lineup, especially at the beginning of the season. When your team goes through the entirety of the first round undefeated, the coaches picks must have had some influence.
Predicted result: SKT 3-1 Team 8
Similar to Team 8, I think ACE will have difficulty utilizing it’s new players, especially since both Kal and Great had long slumps preceding their new haircuts. KT Rolster should probably comfortably win, but will likely drop one set to the maps. Weirdly enough, I’m actually less certain of this result than of the result of SKT vs. Team 8, since KT can really flunk at the beginning of the season, the new players have to find their place in the team, the KT coach seems pretty bad at sniping, and 2 of their mainstays recently must have had long breaks in their training schedule. Let’s say KT Rolster 3-2 Air Force ACE, but I feel like it might be giving the boys in blue a bit too much credit.
I don’t see CJ losing this match or even a set. 3-0 CJ Entus, no idea if they’ll be able to play Effort within that time.
Woongjin Stars is the team that can either win big or flop entirely this season, thanks to generally inconsistent players that have a lot of promise. The chimera consisting of Light, ZerO and Neo.G_Soulkey is a huge threat to any team, and the lack of an Ace match promises good things for Woongjin, as their players just didn’t perform to the fullest of their abilities in set 7. There was even talk of a Woongjin "Ace match curse“, and free becoming worse and worse the moment he lost an Ace Match to then unappreciated Hydra shows there might have been some truth to it. Samsung KHAN benefits from a lack of Ace Match as well, as January really did have odd Ace Match choices last season. Samsung KHAN is a lot more rounded this year, and Jangbi’s new heights are as of yet unexplored. Will Jangbi usher in a new age of Protoss dominance with his brother Stork? What will become of the KHAN Terrans now that the Zerg line is no longer a joke? Will the cell-phone jokes ever stop? I think the answers are "No“, "will probably be used as snipers“ and "Sweet mercyful god, will they ever end “, but the edge the KHAN team now possesses should allow them to win. Samsung KHAN 3-2 Woongjin Stars.
Team 8 is sexy and they know it (please no wiggling, Leta in a jumpsuit was quite enough), but KT is still the reigning champion. This match will be very close, and on top of that, if we’re lucky, we might get a "Leessangrok" (a Jaedong vs. Flash game). Since fewer than 4 days will have passed from the first matches, the results might cause kneejerk reactions for both teams, but also open up sniping opportunities with greater degrees of success. I have to with my gut here, but I think Team 8 will be victorious by a slight margin. The KT coach tends to put a lot of trust in players that can break down mentally very quickly, and Team 8 consists of players that are comfortable with pressure thanks to serving as team Aces earlier. Still, it should be close. Team 8 3-2 KT Rolster
If ACE had trouble with KT, they’ll probably dread CJ even more. CJ is terrifyingly good at sniping and ACE-s lineup is the most limited thanks to having such a small number of players. Filling that limited roster with players like Chavi and Canata doesn’t really help. The new recruits Kal and great were inspired by the Air Force resurrections of FBH and ggaemo, but it is hard to tell whether lightning can really strike more than twice. My gut says "probably not.“ CJ Entus is the favorite team by a long shot. Even if we exclude the sniping, CJ can field players with 60% winrates for all 5 sets, has 3 recent starleague finalists, 2 recent Starleague winners, and a lot more guys playtesting the maps with them. CJ should demolish ACE 3-0.
SK Telecom T1: Bisu
Bisu is the obvious choice as SKT’s top player. He had an amazing season in the 10/11 SPL, with the only real blemishes on his name being his OSL and MSL performances. Bisu has shown strength in all matchups, with a particular resurgence in his PvT last season to complement his mastery PvZ. His PvP has looked a little shaky at points during the season, but this was probably most likely caused by not playing much of the matchup a lot over the season as opposed to a skill deficit.
Over the coming season expect Bisu to once again carry his team towards the playoffs. Having finished his slump in the middle of last season I see no reason why another would occur. Moreover, with the removal of the ace match, there is a good chance of Bisu seeing more games against experienced foes, where in past seasons these had been avoided because the SKT coach chose to use race snipers like Best instead of relying on his ace. This means we’ll get to see even more of Bisu’s potential unlocked by more challenging opponents.
Team 8: Jaedong
Picking a top player for Team 8 was a somewhat tough job with the aces of Fox, Oz and MBC being compiled into one team, but in the end Jaedong was the one that stood out. Jaedong had an excellent season in the 10/11 SPL, with over 50 wins tallied up against his name. The main drawback for him last season was his team. Even with Jaedong’s fantastic performance Oz failed to make the playoffs as a direct result of lack of support from most of his team and this added stress was shown on Jaedong’s face during his games.
With Jaedong in a new team, we can expect his performance this season to be even better now he can play without stress, and with less matches per week, Jaedong can finally shine as the true ace player that he is instead of the pack mule carrying along dead weight. The most obvious improvement that should come with the new season is Jaedong finding his form in the ZvZ matchup, which he started to struggle with last season. This will give him even greater confidence and should make him a real monster this season in Proleague.
Samsung Khan: Stork
Picking the ace player for Samsung was a tough one as well. Both Stork and Jangbi could potentially claim this position within the team, so why Stork? Stork’s season in the 10/11 SPL was fairly mediocre, with a sub 60% win rate over the entire season and Jangbi finding exceptional form in Round 6 and winning an OSL why would Stork be the key player for Khan. The answer is reliability. Jangbi’s slump last season was immense. He was doing so badly that when he finally found form in round 6 he killed probably around a third of TL’s FPL teams without mercy. However come post season, Jangbi choked. He lost important matches when his team needed him and as a result Khan didn’t make it far into the playoffs.
Stork on the other hand, while having small loss streaks throughout the season managed to remain consistent and beat top players when he needed to, especially during the playoffs. In the upcoming season expect to see the Dinotoss put his WoW and Aion accounts on hold and come out guns blazing. Less games will mean that he will be able to prepare exceptional builds that we had come to expect and the opponents of Samsung Khan should be scared of what he may be able to accomplish.
Woonjin Stars: Zero
This was another hard pick, but at the end of my deliberations Zero was the only ace here that really shone. While Soulkey and Light have shown excellent performances for their team, Zero has the X factor. It’s hard to describe, but when Zero comes out to play you know that something special can happen. It could be an epic long macro game, it could be a cute cheese or simply the use of some interesting tactics to bring the game in his favour, but you know the X factor is there. This makes him a player to be feared and by default the ace player for his team.
Zero’s season in the 10/11 PL season was reasonable but not as good as it could have been by his standards. His record during Winners league was almost 50%, something that he would not have wanted to happen. However, he performed well over the season in all his matchups, specifically fixing most of the issues he’s had with ZvZ bringing it up in line with the rest of his matchups around the 60% mark. Zero should be scary in the coming season assuming he can keep his ZvZ up to scratch and should provide some incredible games when he gets matched against one of the strong players from the other teams.
STX Soul: Bogus
Bogus was the surprise of last season. Where Kal and Calm failed to deliver, Bogus stepped up and took the reins at STX to claim his spot as the undisputed ace of STX Soul. Bogus has come a long way since he lost to Hyuk in the STX masters in 2009. His improvement is even more amazing considering the hard time STX has had over the last season. By somewhat of a miracle they barely scraped into the playoffs, only to be dismissed by KT Rolster 2-1, with Bogus being the only stable contributor over the whole series for his team.
Despite the obvious disappointment for STX, they should be able to approach the upcoming season with some hope. All of Bogus’ matchups are looking in top form, especially his TvP which he demonstrated in the playoffs with two consecutive wins over Stats, who was on fire at the time. STX’s ability to keep up with the pack and make the playoffs next season will depend a lot on how Bogus manages to go against the Ace’s of other teams, and if last season is anything to go by, it’s only going to be up from here for Bogus and STX.
KT Rolster: Flash
KT provided me with another easy selection of Ace player in the form of God Young Ho, or Flash for short. Having been playing with an injury last season he still managed to maintain an incredible win rate and bring his team SPL gold. Flash seemed to display almost no weaknesses last season. When people doubted his ability to beat Best and his practice hours were being cut in half he still managed to come out and 2-0 him in style. When people said his style was boring and standard Flash showed incredibly complex strategic builds even though he was often preparing for more than 4 matches a week.
Over the coming season, with the new format Flash is going to be even stronger, with more practice hours being afforded by his repaired arm and less matches to prepare for, the viewers are most likely going to be in for a treat as Flash shows us once again why he earned his title of God. Expect teams to send out waves upon waves of snipers and ace players to try and bring him down and watch Flash shrug them off and bring his team to another set of playoffs.
CJ Entus: Hydra
Writing this article I found it interesting how often the top player of a team was so hard to identify, and CJ entus was no exception. Candidates for the honor included Movie, Leta, Hydra and Horang2, however Hydra was the candidate who stood out the most. After Effort retired Hydra really stepped up his game and after he won his MSL title over Great he cemented his place as the ace of his team. Boasting a record well over 60% last season, Hydra showed the remarkable ability to win consecutive games, with multiple 8+ streaks of wins just in Proleague matches.
Hydra would be one of the players that I would think is a risk of slumping next season. After such a great season but falling short, while also dropping out of the MSL and OSL to Flash and Fantasy respectively, it is possible that Hydra may lose his confidence against top players, who will most likely make up his opponents in the coming season. However the return of Effort and the continued support of his team should allow him to overcome this quickly in time to give CJ the best possible chances of making the playoffs.
Airforce Ace: FireBatHero
Before FireBatHero moved to Ace it was no secret that he was struggling. His performances were lacklustre and it seemed like the fire that drove him to strip off at the Proleague finals in Busan and run into the ocean was gone. It’d anyone’s guess as to why, but Ace was the cure to this apathy. After his switch FireBatHero showed a real resurgence in form, beating exceptional players left and right and along with Ggaemo he made Ace relevant again.
In the coming season, with Kal joining the team as well, FireBatHero may just be able to give Ace its best season in years. All of his matchups have been looking solid since his inception into the Ace lineup and this should continue. FBH thrives when there is a lot of pressure, and his ability to rise up and overcome challenges coupled with his new found dedication and skill can only mean good things for ace.
Coaches are easy to forget. You can go through a week without ever once really noticing a coach. You may even go through an entire round, or even a season without acknowledging their presence. Then, at the end of a year, at the end of an era, you will look back and realise that in the end, it was all them, all the way.
If you're Hot_Bid, ITW or any other CJ loyalist, you will forever remember Coach Cho, the man who made the team what it is. If you like Samsung, you are no doubt grateful for what January has done for KHAN. Finally, if you're a true Bisu fanatic, you will revere Coach Park for moving from MBC to SKT T1 with his young protege and then using him to lead the dynasty to a Proleague Championship title in 2009-2010.
Let's face it. Coaches make or break teams. They are the forgotten heroes of the beautiful game, and today, we're going to look at one of their greatest.
Ju Hoon was there.
Team 8 for the PL 2011-2012 season has been called the Dream Team, and rightly so, for at its helm it has the original dreamer, the man who in Broodwar's infancy saw distnant galaxies in the eyes of a bunch of young stars and set out for them, creating not only two of the game's greatest names, but also, what is without a doubt, its greatest team.
I am happy that Coach Ju Hoon is back. In fact, I'm even happy that he is not back to SKT T1. Don't get me wrong, I'm a SKT fan. I will always be a SKT fan, and as it has been said, every Starcraft fan is a fan of SKT T1 by extension. Above all, however, I'm a fan of Starcraft, and with Proleague significantly weakened by disbanding teams and a lack of sponsors, it is fitting, nay, necessary that someone of the likes of Coach Ju Hoon takes on Team 8.
Team 8, in many ways, is like the SKT T1 of old. Loads of potential, an uncertain future, and one star to lead them. Now, they have a Kingmaker. The Yo Hwan - Ju Hoon partnership begat The Emperor, created SKT, and in effect, created professional Broodwar as we know it. On a rainy August evening in 2003, Seoul's Olympic Park reverberated with the sound of applause as SKT, then Orion, lifted the 2003 OnGameNet KTF EVERCup ProLeague trophy as champions of the first professional Starcraft team league.
On the 4th of March 2004, Boxer and Ju Hoon's team, formerly Orion, now 4U, signed South Korea Telecom as their main sponsor. They had lost Tongyang, their previous sponsor, in late 2003, but had fought on, egged on by their captain and coach. They stayed together, played together and it paid off. Nearly a decade later, we only know of them as SK Telecom T1, the godfathers of Starcraft Progaming.
And there (like White_ra, Ju Hoon is everywhere).
Team 8 may not yet have a sponsor. They may not have history, a custom line of uniforms or a trophy cabinet. What they do have, however, is Lee Jaedong and Coach Ju Hoon. The Yo Hwan - Ju Hoon partnership changed the early 2000s. The Jaedong - Ju Hoon partnership just may shape the 2010s.
In fact, after a long, long time, I find myself rooting for a team other than SKT T1. No, I would never root against SKT if they faced Team 8, and I'm confident that Bisu's boys will dispatch them nice and easy in the season opener. In terms of the season itself though, I hope Team 8 places well. I hope they find a sponsor. I hope that Jaedong, now under the guidance of someone who can only be described as a legend, pushes his game to heights never seen before.
In the end, I just hope that Team 8 becomes something special, for if there's one thing I've learnt from nearly half a decade of watching Starcraft Progaming it's this - when talent meets dedication, direction and a little luck, anything can happen. 2011 has been kind to us. We had an exhilarating 2010-2011 Proleague final and what can only be described as a fairytale OSL.
Now, we have a team, a dream, and a coach that can bring those two together.
Coach Ju Hoon took an Emperor and through him, created a dynasty. Now, he has a Tyrant.
To war, I say. To war.