WCS Season One Finals
Brackets and standings on Liquipedia
Season One Finals: Final Four Preview
After two days of intense action, we are left with four remaining players. Resembling the semifinals of WCS Korea with a Jürgen thrown in, the four will battle it out to become the first seasonal WCS champion.
Soulkey vs. sOs
Unbreakable. When everything is against him, that is when he will show his best. You might think you have him right where you want him, but that's what he wants you to believe. With his strong defense, calculating mind and ability to scout and ready for his opponents, he is ready to add another championship trophy to his collection. The word 'impossible' means nothing to him, it just adds more fuel to his fire to grab victory. He is Woongjin Stars' Soulkey.
Off his miracle comeback last week against Innovation, the question on everyone's mind was if Soulkey could continue his momentum in Korea and take not only the Korean championship, but the overall Season One championship. It seemed a bit laughable anyone could talk themselves into Soulkey not making it to at least the semifinals, but there was some concern he could have a letdown after such an emotional victory only a few days prior. Put into a group with two foreigners and aLive, the fourth place finisher in the American region, the reigning and defending Korean champion was the heavy favorite.
Not wasting time, Soulkey breezed through his opening day group. Stephano, gauged as Soulkey's biggest challenge, didn't show up to the potential people expected, making a quick exit from the tournament. aLive and TLO were able to hang somewhat with the Korean champion, but Soulkey powered through against both of his opponents to exit in first place without a single map dropped.
Having the toughest quarterfinal opponent of all the first place finishers, we were finally given the match that most people following the Korean scene wanted to happen. Soulkey, Life, and Roro, the three most recent GSL champions, are the consensus top three Zergs in the world, and we've already seen Soulkey and Roro both dispatch of Life in the GSL in group stage matches. Never having faced each other in a best-of series before, this was our chance to see which Zerg held the edge when it came to the ZvZ match-up.
Roro with a 10-2 record in HotS and Soulkey with an equally sensational 9-1 record, it appeared to be a coin flip on paper. In the actual games, Soulkey was able to come out the victor in three of the four games, using his superior positioning to give him better flanks and engagements when he needed them the most. Both players were equal on the macro side of things, but Soulkey's renown defense was able to hold up against Roro's attacks, and he was able to pressure his opponent enough to tip the scales into his favor. The games were closer than the overall series score implied, but Soulkey made it into the final four with only a single map dropped.
Eccentric. He walks to the beat of his own drummer. When you ask him to think inside the box, he takes it and rips it to shreds. From hallucinations to abnormal timings, there is something new every time you watch him play. While he might not be the most conventional Protoss, he is definitely the most revolutionary. Laugh at his quirky builds all you want, but he'll be the one getting the last laugh when he eliminates you without a single loss. He is Woongjin Stars' sOs.
With Soulkey winning the GSL, the discussion of best Zerg has been settled for the time being. Innovation has taken the title of best Terran in the world, awaiting players such as Flash or Mvp to challenge him for the crown. Protoss, though, like always, is still the race with the most volatile player pool. Ever since MC started to drop off from his dominant play in 2011, it feels like we have a new Protoss king every week. Seed, Squirtle, Hero, Creator, Parting, Rain and more have all been said to be the best Protoss in the world at one point or another, but they've all then followed their ascension with harsh falls.
sOs is trying to change that, reveling in his role as the current top Protoss in the world. On the top team in Proleague, making the semifinals of GSL and now back in the final four of the season one finals, there is little doubt who the current king of Protoss is until someone can knock him off his throne. Playing like no other Protoss in the world, the question is how many tricks can one man have up his sleeve until they are all gone? Called gimmicky by some, sOs seems to have no shortage of aces in his deck, bringing out something new almost every time he is in a series.
Placed in the group that most were calling the 'group of death' between him, Symbol, Hero, and ForGG, sOs was still a favorite to make it out. Against Symbol in the first set, he dazzled the commentators and audience alike, using his air dominance alongside storm support to take down a fellow WCS Korea member. As a strong favorite in his next match against ForGG, sOs had his only stumble of the tournament so far, losing a close 1-2 series to the Korean-turned-French player. Needing a win to advance, sOs played this third different match-up in the group, going up against America's champion in HerO.
Living up to his reputation, sOs did a double proxy gateway build in HerO's base, being found out too late to do anything. Taking a quick victory in game one, sOs didn't let the opportunity pass him by and took the second game in equally commanding fashion, eliminating the American champion and going into the round of eight. Thrown against another Protoss from the American region in the Ro8, sOs didn't skip a beat, taking Alicia out in three quick and decisive games that didn't leave much to talk about. Having now won five straight PvP games in a row, sOs will try to continue with his impressive PvZ record, this time trying to gain a bit of revenge for his loss in the recent season of WCS Korea.
To be quite frank, the semifinal match between Soulkey and sOs in this season's WCS Korea will go down as one of the worst best-of series in GSL history. Don't get me wrong, both players are currently atop of their race and could very well this entire tournament. They're both amazing players, giving us some of the best matches in the scene today, but together? It was simply awful.
sOs relies on his insane amount of builds, tricks, and ace cards. If you're not on Woongjin, preparing for sOs is like preparing for ten different players, not knowing what the hell he is going to do. He is able to kill you at any point of the game, and he's good enough in the late game that he doesn't always need to do something ultra aggressive early to gain an advantage or win outright. With his ability to mix things up and do things no other Protoss even thinks about doing, sOs is extremely scary to play against.
Except if you're Soulkey. In his interview after his victory of Roro, Soulkey noted that sOs had tons of new and innovative strategies that he had planned for Terran and Zerg, but he won't be able to use any of them due to the fact that he has already shown them to him. Soulkey is the kryptonite to sOs' strengths, already knowing what's coming before it hits. Close friends and practice partners, sOs even said he would feel more comfortable against Roro, knowing that he won't be able to pull any fast ones on his teammate.
Soulkey really should have won their semifinal match 4-0, but fell apart near the middle part and end, getting lucky that sOs never built a mothership core in the last game. With a few different decisions in their seventh game, sOs would have been the one making it to the finals, and Soulkey's miracle comeback would have never taken place. Still, when it came down to game seven, Soulkey was able to hold his nerve better than his friend, defend sOs' all-in and make it to the finals.
The question is, now two weeks removed from their semifinal match, if sOs has any builds or strategies that Soulkey doesn't know about. When it comes to knowing their opponent, Soulkey probably doesn't mind if sOs knows what he's going to do, able to win his strong defense style and spectacular macro. He might win a few games early, but Soulkey is strongest in the late game, not needing tricks to get the job done.
If what Soulkey says is true and that he knows every new PvZ build sOs was bringing into the tournament, then the defending Korean champion should make it into the finals. But, just maybe, if sOs has been able to keep some strategies from Soulkey's grasp, the eccentric Protoss has a chance to succeed. These two players know each other inside and out, giving us a terrible semifinals two weeks ago, but hopefully with a bigger stage and the familiarity now of playing each other in such an important match, we'll see a better series between the current top Zerg and Protoss in the world.
Prediction: Soulkey 3 - 1 sOs
Mvp vs. Innovation
Immortal. He's too weak. He's past his prime. He's a coward that ran away. These words might break others, but they just make him stronger in his quest to win. On top of the Starcraft world for almost three years, nothing means more than him than winning. Whatever it takes, he will do it if it means that his hand will be raised when the tournament comes to a close. Korean, European, American, it doesn't matter how you want to classify him, because he represents the passion that every fan holds dear. He is LG-IM's Mvp.
Well, here we are again, readers. Mvp fell to Code B by hands of SKT's soO, he decided the only way he could make the Blizzcon finals is to go to Europe, and the most successful Korean player in SC2's history left his homeland to play in a new region. People started to disregard Mvp, calling him a washed up player that couldn't compete with KeSPA, believing that he went to Europe because he couldn't stand up to the new stars like Innovation, Flash or Soulkey.
But, if you've been watching Mvp for the past few years, you know the real reason he left was to have the best chance of becoming world champion at season's end. If he had stayed in Korea, he wouldn't have been able to qualify for the season one finals, needing to more than likely place top four in the next two WCS Korea seasons to have any shot of making it to Los Angeles. Knowing the only way he could become champion is to leave Korea, Mvp left the GSL and ventured to Europe, wanting to make it to the top once more.
Mvp conquered Europe, destroyed Stephano 4-1 in the finals and became a hero to a new region. The critics were still there, everyone knowing that the level of competition in Europe wasn't really comparable to what he would have to go up against if he stayed in Korea. Heading to the season one finals, Mvp's goal was to at least make the quarterfinals, wanting to make it past the group stage and give him a chance to make some noise in the knockout rounds.
Out of all the semifinalists, his road to the final four was the rockiest, needing to go to the third set to bear Ryung. He dropped the first map after making a mistake of not having an air force to combat Ryung's superior sky army, but was able to come back in the next two games, showing why his mech play in TvT used to be unbeatable in the GSL in 2011. Taking a surprise loss to Ryung's teammate Alicia in the next match, losing 1-2, meant that Mvp was two losses away from being knocked out and proving that maybe he was past his prime and too injured to compete with the best.
After dropping the first game to his teammate Kangho, Mvp did what he did to Ryung and pulled the score back to 1-1 to force a third map. Using mech play to combat Kangho's army, Mvp made more tanks in a single TvZ game than we have seen the entire tournament put together, toppling over his teammate with thors and tanks, culminating in another comeback victory.
Not stopping with his theatrics, Mvp went into the quarterfinals and dropped another game one. For the fourth straight series, Mvp dropped the first map and then came back to win the second, knotting up the score. From here, it became a battle of hellbats, both players opting to try and end the game in the early stages with drops. In the end, Mvp proved to be the better player at dropping and controlling hellbats, winning the next two games and completing his third comeback of the tournament.
Every match so far has been an adventure for Mvp. Losing the first game of all four series, Mvp had to do what he does best and withstand pressure, pulling through in the key moments and clawing his way to another semifinal.
Perfection. Relentless aggression, he never gives his prey a moment to breath. From his macro to his micro, there are no holes to his game. Destroying the opposition without breaking a sweat, he is the current king searching for his first ring. Leaving a trail of bodies in his quest for gold, his thirst for blood will not be quenched until he can finally grab what he believes is truly his. Called the best player in the world, this is the night he has chosen to start his reign of terror. He is STX Soul's INnoVation.
It was the biggest choke in GSL history. Up 3-0, ready to take his place as the unquestioned best player on the planet, Innovation had the biggest choke job not in only GSL history, but Starcraft 2 history as a whole. Built up the entire season as an unstoppable king, he was a single map away from cementing his place in Starcraft 2 history and becoming the champion of Korea.
There is no question he was unlucky, getting cheesed twice and then having his own cheese stopped in the sixth set, but it doesn't change the fact that in the most important game of his life, Innovation fell apart. Flying fully loaded medivacs into mutas and losing an army by attacking rocks, Innovation's nerves took the best of him in the final game, turning the proclamations of greatness to questions on if he can truly be the best player in the world if he can throw a series like that. After the most heartbreaking day of his career, everyone was curious what kind of Innovation would show up to the season finals.
Would he come back with a renewed vengeance? Would he be able to make everyone realize that the WCS Korea finals were a fluke and that he is truly the best player in the world? Or, would he like many others, have a gigantic fall at a grand stage and have his mental state broken, leaving him weaker than when he was at peak and never able to get back to that point ever again.
The former occurred, Innovation entering the group stage with a purpose to get to the finals and gain the championship that he had lost a week earlier. He had no trouble in his first match against the runner-up of WCS America, Revival, facing the EG Zerg and rolling over his opponent like he wasn't in the same league. Roro was his next opponent, giving Innovation a tougher time, and even taking a game off the STX Soul player. Innovation prevailed, taking the series 2-1, but not without bleeding in the process, showing that his TvZ still isn't unbeatable. Advancing first from the group in a relatively non-stressful manner, Innovation was granted a quarterfinal match against WCS America's aLive.
To put this in the nicest way possible, Innovation murdered aLive. After murdering aLive, to make a statement, Innovation continued to beat down on the helpless EG player. Then, after murdering him, beating him down some more and then burning him in the spray of hellbat fire, Innovation tossed his quarterfinal "opponent" to the side and made his way to the semifinals.
aLive, who by no means is a pushover, and once a semifinalist in his own right back in the early days of the 2012 Code S, was no match against Innovation in the series. Every thing that aLive tried was deflected, and every hellbat drop that Innovation performed was able to kill off a large part of aLive's economy, breaking him down before he could even reach a mid-game. The three games in total only took 38 minutes, both players trying to assault the other with hellbat drops, but Innovation having his way with aLive in every aspect of the game.
The Imperfect King vs. The Perfect Heir
Innovation should kill Mvp. In most endings to this story, Innovation does the same thing he did to aLive, and completely pummels Mvp's face to the ground before putting him out of his misery in a 3-0, or, if Mvp is lucky, a 3-1 series. Innovation has everything going for him that Mvp does not. Innovation has been able to stay in Korea, practice with STX Soul, play in countless games against top class opponents in Proleague and WCS Korea, and that doesn't even factor in that he simply looks a lot better than Mvp does right now.
Mvp is and might always be injured until he takes a long break to rest or get surgery. He stated after his quarterfinal matches that his nerves from his neck to his wrist are bothering him, making it hard to double click during engagements. Against an average opponent, playing with that kind of injury is something that can make a better player lose to someone below his skill level. What happens when Mvp, who is injured, has been playing weaker competition, and hasn't had the same practice regiment with being in Europe for a while, has to face someone who might be able to stomp him at full strength, practicing at the LG-IM house and at the top of his game?
The one thing that Mvp has going for him is that he knows how to win. Innovation, who just came off the biggest choke in SC2 history, has shown that while he can absolutely murder people and look like the perfect human in games, cannot close the deal and win the championship. Every GSL season he has started off strong, looked like a monster, and then tailed off in the knockout rounds, folding when the pressure got to it's highest point. People have already crowned him the greatest player to ever touch a computer, but how can anyone say that when he hasn't even won anything?
Mvp is a winner. Trash his skills, his running away to Europe, or inability to beat top players without cheesing, but he knows what it takes to be a champion. He lives and breathes how to win, and is without a doubt, the greatest player to ever play SC2 up to this point. Broken down, out of practice, whatever, it doesn't matter to Mvp, and he has a special ability that no one besides him has. Even when his skill seems to be three tiers below his opponent, he knows how to pull out a victory and win in the end.
For Innovation, this is his greatest test. To truly become the best player in the world and even dare to one day challenge Mvp as the best player in SC2 history, he needs to beat Mvp. He needs to beat Mvp, go to the finals, and then win the championship. If he doesn't, then what? He continues to be the most hyped player of all-time, being called a god when STX Soul has never won a Proleague with him, and he's never won an individual title in Brood War or Starcraft 2. Until he can win a championship, Innovation will continue to be a false king without a crown, being able to crush people in the early stages of tournaments, but not being able to win the big one.
To reiterate my opening point, Mvp should not win this series. Every statistic and game we've seen so far in this entire WCS season should give Innovation the gigantic advantage over Mvp. Most likely, Innovation will beat down Mvp and sleepwalk his way into the finals, killing the greatest SC2 player of all-time without looking too troubled. That is the story that should happen tonight, but do you think Mvp really cares about what should happen?
Injured neck, destroyed nerves, and coming from a region with inferior competition, that means nothing to Mvp. All he sees is a trophy at the end of the line, and he's going to throw everything and anything at Innovation to crawl closer to it. Yeah, Innovation might be called a king, but until he puts down the true King of Wings, he's nothing more than a pretender to the crown.
Prediction: Innovation 3 - 2 Mvp