Keeping The Dream Alive
Things are looking very grim for Samsung Galaxy KHAN as we head into the last round's second week. With every win being crucial for the continued survival of their playoffs dream, their loss to Jin Air in the first week was all but a nail in the coffin as they will now be missing Stork for the upcoming match against CJ due to his participation in HomeStory Cup IX. It is a match they desperately want to win, and they will have to look to their bench in the hopes of a miracle performance.
Meanwhile, the three bottom dwellers IM, MVP and Prime (...) are all technically (MVP showed us that a miracle performance isn't impossible in Round 2) still in the race for the season playoffs, with Prime looking particularly alive after a most impressive and extremely surprising 3-1 win against Round 3 winners SKT. But even a single loss for any of those three teams might mean the end of their playoff dreams, and we will have to see if they can keep theri hopes alive in Week 2.
Round 4, Week 1 Recapby Zealously
The miracle watch continues, this week featuring Prime and an incredible match-up between CJ Entus and Jin Air Green Wings, two of the teams currently vying for a spot in the season playoffs. But first, here is what went down in Week 1!
|Round 4 Standings|
Team MVP (1-3) SK Telecom T1
Swagger < Habitation Station LE > Soulkey
DongRaeGu < Overgrowth LE > soO
Super < King Sejong Station LE > FanTaSy
Billowy < Frost LE > Classic
Incredible Miracle (3-2) PRIME
Curious < Merry Go Round LE > MarineKing
HerO < Outboxer > SalvatioN
Trap < Habitation Station LE > Creator
ByuL < Overgrowth LE > KassiA
Ace:ByuL < King Sejong Station LE > MarineKing
KT Rolster (1-3) CJ Entus
Action < King Sejong Station LE > herO
Stats < Frost LE > EffOrt
Flash < Outboxer > Bbyong
Zest < Habitation Station LE > GuMiho
Samsung Galaxy (2-3) Jin Air Green Wings
RorO < King Sejong Station LE > Rogue
Stork < Frost LE > Maru
Armani < Outboxer > sOs
Solar < Habitation Station LE > Cure
Ace:RorO < Merry Go Round LE > Maru
SK Telecom T1 (1-3) PRIME
soO < Overgrowth LE > KassiA
FanTaSy < Merry Go Round LE > MarineKing
Rain < Frost LE > SalvatioN
Classic < King Sejong Station LE > Creator
Team MVP (3-0) Incredible Miracle
Sniper < Merry Go Round LE > ByuL
Super < Outboxer > Oz
Billowy < Habitation Station LE > Lucky
Things That Happened in Week 1
- Prime beats SKT, loses to IM: We often speak of volatility and the unpredictability of Proleague results, and it seems that the teams to most epitomize this are the three teams now at the bottom of the rankings. Prime, spending most of the season as the win piñata of the other teams in the league, made everything click for once as KassiA, MarineKing and Creator earned Prime a miracle win against SK Telecom T1. For a team that many considered the worst in the league, it couldn't have been a more shocking result. It may end up being a purely symbolic victory as Prime are still unlikely to make the playoffs, but it's a win they can definitely be proud of.
- Stork gets his revenge: Slowly and steadily climbing toward the top of the scene every day since KeSPA's switch to SC2, Stork's advancement to the Ro16 of GSL had many hoping for a deep run from the Dinotoss. After easily dispatching TRUE, he fell flat against Maru's TvP and eventually lost an incredibly closely fought final rematch against TRUE to drop out in third place, thus preventing an incredibly belated Royal Road and a large amount of vindication.
Intent on revenge, Stork won the rematch against Maru as they faced off in SPL, with Maru struggling to maintain cost efficiency and never quite assembling an army capable of dealing with Stork's. Maru eventually tapped out with exactly the same facial expression he always wears, but we'd like to think that he was at least a little bit upset over being beaten by an old man he'd torn to shreds not long before.
- About Bbyong: If you watched Bbyong face off against Zest in Round 1, the very notion of him ever being the league's best Terran would likely have made you laugh until your sides hurt. Despite a small and perhaps overly optimistic core of fans claiming him to be the next best thing for months, he was a trainwreck against Zest, and was rightfully benched until the start of Round 2.
Some time between his first match against Zest and their eventual rematch in Round 2, he flipped a switch. When he returned, he had mastered the art of rushing the gold on Habitation Station, and with it a whole slew of other useful skills. Since his first, embarrassing loss in Proleague, he has gone 17-4. Let that sink in for a moment. The "worst player in Code S" has acquired the best win rate out of all players (with more than 5 games played) at 77%, with wins against just about every ace-level player imaginable. After his win against Flash, he has now pulled ahead of the man typically best known for SPL dominance, and is fast approaching Maru leading record of 20 wins, with only his team mate herO standing between them.
So the next time you watch Bbyong play, consider the fact that he literally could not stop simple zealot harassment when he was first fielded in Proleague. Whether or not he will pull his team to the season playoffs (which seems likely at this point), Bbyong will definitely be rememebered this season as one of the most improved players. If Proleague were to implement such an award, then he'd surely be high in the running alongside Stork.
- Marineking receives another penalty: MarineKing's constant failures to type "GG" properly are a great running joke, both about MKP's absent-mindedness and the absurdity of KeSPA rules. Still, it's not so funny for Prime fans. It led to Prime having to play tie breakers for 7th place against Samsung in Round 2, a match against Roro which Marineking ultimately lost. His return to SC2 and Prime has no doubt yielded net benefits for the struggling team, but his constant failures to properly adhere to the rules of Proleague seems like an issue the Prime management might want to tackle.
- There is something wrong with FanTaSy: He lost a game to GG-timing rival Marineking without staying in it for an additional ten meaningless minutes!
Round 4, Week 2 Preview
Jin Air Green Wings vs KT Rolster
Cure < Overgrowth LE > Action
Rogue (Savage) < Merry Go Round LE > Flash
sOs < Frost LE > Stats
Maru < King Sejong Station LE > TY
Ace:Habitation Station LE
CJ Entus vs. Samsung Galaxy KHAN
GuMiho < Merry Go Round LE > Shine
Bbyong < Outboxer > RorO
herO < Habitation Station LE > Hurricane
Hush (Bong) < Overgrowth LE > Reality
Ace:King Sejong Station LE
SK Telecom T1 vs. Incredible Miracle
Classic < King Sejong Station LE > Life
Soulkey < Frost LE > ByuL
soO < Outboxer > Oz
PartinG < Habitation Station LE > Ruin
Ace:Merry Go Round LE
Prime vs. MVP
TerrOr < King Sejong Station LE > Super
MarineKing < Frost LE > hyvaa
Creator < Outboxer > DongRaeGu
KassiA < Habitation Station LE > Billowy
Ace:Merry Go Round LE
KT Rolster vs. Samsung Galaxy KHAN
TY < Habitation Station LE > Stork
Flash < Overgrowth LE > Shine
Zest < King Sejong Station LE > RorO
Stats < Frost LE > Hurricane
Jin Air Green Wings vs. CJ Entus
Maru < Merry Go Round LE > EffOrt
sOs < Outboxer > Bbyong
Cure < Habitation Station LE > herO
TRUE < Overgrowth LE > Hydra
Ace:King Sejong Station LE
Line-up Notes: Week 2
- 18 Zerg, 17 Protoss, 13 Terran
- Prime is fielding TeRRoR once again, this time on King Sejong Station where he'll face Super. His performances this season have been anything but convincing, and though there has been some display of potential, Terror is still far from becoming a force in Proleague. I'd like to think that Prime's continued faith in him means something, but it is hard to say for certain.
- Making the Ro8 apparently isn't good enough for ParalyzE to earn a place in the line-up. Maybe it was all in the afro?
- hyvaa faces MarineKing. Given the former's tendency to destroy players with large fan bases, and the latter's tendency to lose to such players, the stage is all but set for a poorly executed baneling bust that still somehow wins out in the end. Be wary, Marineking.
- Life makes a token appearance against SKT. With both GSL and the online Shoutcraft invitational out of the picture, what else is there for Life to do but play in Proleague?
- Action similarly makes his once-in-a-round appearance against Jin Air, where he will face Cure.
Prime's last hope
Facing MVP on Monday, Prime officially begins their last stand. They cannot under any circumstances lose another match, or they are completely out of the running for the season playoffs, all other miracles notwithstanding. Similar to Coach Park's now famous words "We will make the miracle" when he first joined EG-TL, Prime's chances are extremely slim. I don't think there has ever been a more unlikely-but-possible playoffs scenario in the history of Proleague, but Prime's surprising win against SKT last week lit a small light of hope in the hearts of a select few fans. That they would ever advance to the round playoffs, let alone the season playoffs (they would have to win both Round 4 and the Round 4 playoffs) has been in doubt from the get-go, but there's certainly some symbolism to Prime's predicament.
For a team like Prime, that has had to struggle for every win, the fact that they are still somehow in the running as we approach the end of the last regular round, and only because they managed to eke out an unlikely win against the league's most stacked roster, this might be the sign to go all in. I don't know if there is anything immediate Prime can do to even marginally improve their performance, but since we have number crunched and theorycrafted playoffs scenarios in the past, simply letting Prime's dream go unnoticed would be a crime.
So if you tune in for Prime vs. MVP - the team right at the bottom alongside them - look for some conviction that wasn't there before. See if Terror looks determined instead of nervous, if Marineking will stay in the game for another minute. To say that what Prime is hoping for is a Cinderella story of epic proportions doesn't tell the whole story, but for a team that has had very few opportunities to celebrate it is at least fair not to count them out until they officially are.
Their match against MVP, and every single match that follows, is their last chance.
Match to Watch: Jin Air vs CJ Entus
This is a match worth drooling over, the perfect storm of the right match-ups featuring the right players with the right stakes behind the match. With how their core line-ups have been performing recently, CJ and Jin Air both look like locks for the season playoffs, which means that this match comes down to two things: a fight for better seeding, and simple pride.
The teams have faced off five times thus far, three times in the regular rounds where Jin Air leads 2-1, once in the Round 2 playoffs where Jin Air edged out CJ in a narrow 4-3 victory, and once in the Round 3 playoffs where CJ returned the favor.
Mental advantages are impossible to quantify and by their nature very difficult to discern, but should the two teams face off again in the season playoffs - where it truly matters- a 4-2 head-to-head advantage feels like a benefit for Jin Air, something CJ likely wants to avoid.
As for the match itself, we could hardly have asked for better match-ups. I won't go into detail on why Maru vs Effort is the best thing we could have asked for, but I will implore you to watch [u]this game. Seriously, it doesn't even matter if you already have, it is good enough to watch again.
The prospect of a Maru - EffOrt would be good enough to carry almost any match, but sOs facing off against Bbyong is a worthy follow-up. It is somewhat regrettable that the two aren't playing on Habitation Station, where Bbyong's "Bbuild" slapped the Jin Air Protoss silly the last time they faced off. Still, two ace caliber players going head to head in a match-up they are both extremely good at is more than enough of a treat to make up for that particular loss.
The question is how sOs will choose to return the favor following their last meeting. Neither player is necessarily orthodox in the match-up, and their match-up might just come down to which player can outsmart the other. Alternatively, hellbats.
Next up, we'll be treated to Cure vs. herO and potentially TRUE vs. Hydra. While Cure vs. herO looks like a tough draw for the Jin Air Terran, Cure sometimes comes alive to beat top players in the match-up, assuring that the result of the match is not a foregone conclusion. the potential fourth match featuring baneling lover and recent GSL quarterfinalist TRUE and the notoriously inconsistent Hydra is just the kind of match-up that could either provide the viewers with endless entertainment in the form of baneling waves crashing against each other, or the murderously boring SH-turtle play neither player has any business playing with.
Put simply, this match is a mixed bag of high stakes, high-level rematches and match-ups made in heaven that you have no business missing. If you have time to watch only a single match this week, Tuesday 20.30 KST is when you need to clear your schedule.