When Daigomi first showed me this banner, it was just a carving on a wall of a cave..
The Round of eight never fails to please the hard core fan. There is always drama, tension and some brilliant games of starcraft. EVER08 thus far has lived up to this standard, handing us our fair share of talk for the table. With the conclusion of the Ro8 looming, all the players remaining will be on edge and eager to make that final push to victory. Thanks to Atrioc you can grab all of last weeks results in this sick bracket;
Flash, Much, Rock and BackHo are all down a game meaning they must win the next two games on Friday to advance and keep their OSL dreams alive. For Luxury, Best, July and JangBi - only a single win is all it takes to get on the road to glory. This weeks matches will be intense to say the least, as every player will come out all guns blazing hoping to make an lasting impact on the legacy of the OSL.
The staff have already congregated and created a rather comprehensive preview for the entire Bo3 set in this news post so today's preview will comprise of a quick overview of what to expect and some minimalist predictions. So without further delay lets get into it;
Quarterfinal One - Game 2
As with last week, this is without doubt the game of the night. With Flash being down one game, every game is a must win for him while Luxury has a buffer game. The pressure is on Flash to perform or being eliminated. Luxury, however, is one Zerg who thrives at creative play. We saw last week that he was eager to play tailored builds designed specifically to kill Flash in style. What we're seeing in these games is exactly what Rage outlined in "Mind Games" - what this means is that anything can happen. Disregard all the map balance statistics - this is one of the most even matchups in Flash's career. Luxury plays a very similar psychological war to Flash - and thus far he is beating him at his own game.
Luxury probably will come equipped for unique tailored strategies for both Andromeda (game 2) and Hwarangdo (game 3) as neither map has been figured out yet and there is still room for innovation. Whether or not Flash steps up to the challenge is a different story. His recent games have been somewhat lacking and you can see a difference on his face. He's no longer in the dreamy "i pwn everyone" state, he looks like he is desperate to maintain his advantage over the world and is losing is grip on Starcraft as a result. Despite many liquibets riding on Flash to take this series, the odds seem firmly stacked in Luxury's favor. Be it Flash's slight deterioration, the fact that neither map has been figured out leaving room for innovation or good ole superstition in the form of the OSL curse. Flash will probably take andromeda, but I don't see him taking the series. I'm calling Luxury to win this set 2-1
Quarterfinal Two - Game Two
Last weeks encounter was one of the best PvP games seen in awhile. After a reletively equal early/mid game, from nowhere Best took an insurmountable lead over Much. This image says it all;
Despite Much playing the best starcraft he's ever played, it hasn't been enough to knock over the new kid on the block. This is a classic bout between youth and experience, and as always youth is winning. And for the first time in ages, I'm actually cheering for the youth to topple the experienced. If you haven't been caught up in the wave of Best already, then by the time the OSL is over you will be. His blend of protoss is refreshing after the period of Stork/Bisu in which everything seemed to stagnate.
Othello is an interesting PvP map, but it does have a restricted set of builds. Typically you will either see 2gate proxy or 1 base tech. Simply put, if the game goes longer than 5 minute without Much being able to hamper Best significantly, his chances of winning decrease exponentially. Best has shown that he is capable of cheese as well - having cheesed stork in the Ro16. All fingers point to Best taking this game and shutting Much out 2-0. If there is a final set (held on Troy), Best should feel comfortable as Troy is one of his best maps and thus should be able to take Much head on and stamp him to the ground.
Quarterfinal Three - Game Two
Rock has been performing above all expectations recently, but when you run into the God of War things suddenly seem bleak. Indeed July showcased his long lost talent last week in defeating Rock in a very entertaining game on Andromeda. The Gods must be favoring our beloved Tushin as they have given him another statistically Zerg favoring map. With July, the veteran everyone had discounted, one game from making the Semifinals the dreams of a Golden Mouse OSL seem vibrant and real.
July rose to prominence in the days of Nostalgia - a map which bares striking resemblance to Hwarangdo and thus he will be well prepared on this map. However, Rock has also been around forever and has played his fair share on Nostalgia, but obviously, July holds the nostalgia advantage due to his superior play on the map. The lack of a gas natural really hurts the modern Protoss as their gas supplies are instantly halved, making their valuable tech units difficult to get. I would not be surprised if July decided to use a hydra -> lurker strategy to stretch Rock's gas further than it needs to be. Everything about this map screams July and the chances are he's going to take this set and go 2-0 up. If by some miracle Rock manages to take this game, July has Othello to rely on - a map which is rather balanced in the matchup. But July should be able to use his classic Hydra-allin to great effect seeing as Rock will undoubtedly fast expand.
Quarterfinal Four - Game Two
Unlike a number of tl members, I'm not quite ready to give up on Backho as every time i lose faith he stomps a monster. Last week was unfortunate for the Lecaf Protoss as his pure goon strategy was pulped by JangBi's good Reaver usage. BackHo was never really behind in those games, just couldn't execute right in the moment of truth. JangBi on the other hand looks solid as anything right now - and is probably the favorite at this point in time.
BackHo should perform well on Troy, assuming he's learned his lesson from last week. Troy essentially forces Reavers PvP so this time he won't be caught with his pants down. JangBi on the other hand should also perform well - which means that the resulting game should actually be quite good. Although it's unlikely that BackHo will pull through, there is a chance that we'll see some magic on this map which promotes and thrives on innovation. However things do not look bright for BackHo even if he manages to win on Troy - Andromeda is a map which JangBi has shown some brilliant games on; and thus shows that he is comfortable on it. JangBi should pull this series home 2-1, but i'm hoping for a miracle with BackHo taking it 2-1.
It may come as a shock, but that's all for now! The competition is quickly narrowing down and the tournament is really becoming interesting and exciting. The mindgames going on between Luxury and Flash are beautiful to watch - which is showcasing starcraft at it's highest level. While Best and Much are showcasing some brilliant PvP. July is ripping it up for nostalgia's sake while JangBi and Backho are flailing around in awe of Much and Best. This Friday everything is on the line, and it's looking to be one hell of an evening !