GSL Season Two
Code S Ro8
Brackets and standings on Liquipedia
Quarterfinals Day 1 Preview
SKT_soO vs Samsung_Solar
A Clash of Generations
There isn’t much that these two Zergs have in common. Soo is a veteran Zerg player on SKT. A player who performed admirably for SKT during the waning years of BW and has since become a staple player of the SKT roster. Solar is one of the new generation. A player that was picked up by Samshung Khan after they had switched full time to SC2. Soo is a two-time GSL Runner-up. Solar is currently the biggest online warrior in the same line of Revival and Hyun. The two of them have only played each other once in Proleague where Soo won. For Soo this is just another day at work. Another ro8 before he walks to the semi-finals. For Solar, this is his first ever ro8 and the farthest he has ever gone in an offline individual league. His first real test to see what he is really made of.
There are many paths to the top of SC2. Some, like Maru, spent years and years grinding out games to slowly and incrementally increase their skill until they become the best in the world. Others like Life exploded onto the scene like a meteor, going from zero to hero in a matter of mere months. Solar took the Hyun route. After earning his spot in the main roster of Samshung Khan in PL, he decided to become an online beast. He has since gone on to win as many EU Online tournaments as he possibly could. He now holds seven Zotac cups as well as first place finishes in two other online tournaments. And after grinding online tournament after online tournament Solar has now ascended to the ro8. Unfortunately for him, his first opponent in the bracket stage will be Soo.
Soo, the consecutive two-time GSL Finalist. Soo, the man who defeated both Soulkey and Life in bo7s. Soo, one of the most mentally composed players in the game today. In the history of GSL almost all runner-ups have gone on to fall immediately after their finals. It just makes sense. Most players collapse after a tough loss. But losing a finals can be soul crushing. You spend hours and hours preparing for this one best of seven that can vindicated your entire career, that can fulfill a lifelong dream. To know that you were so close, but still fell short can sometimes send a player spiraling downwards for months, sometimes beyond recovery. And yet Soo didn’t collapse after his loss to Dear, or Zest, or Zest again. If anything, Soo seems to be getting stronger with each successive loss that is dealt to him. His mechanics seem crisper, his sense of the game better, his builds more varied. Even his frustrating losses to his teammate’s cannon rushes was unable to tilt Soo as he was still able to close out his ro16 group. At this point in his career, it would be even fair to say that Soo is the best Zerg in the world.
Yet despite that Soo’s chances at the Championship have been thwarted three times now. Once by Dear. And twice by Zest. And Soo wants that Championship. How could he not when he was so close three times in a row. He was just 2 games from taking it from Dear. 1 from beating Zest in the finals. And if he had beaten Zest in the GSL Global Championships, he would have been paired against Parting, a player he has historically never lost to in offline matches. But first he must battle Solar.
And Soo cannot overlook Solar. Because Solar is he up-and-comer. He is the representative of the next wave of players. The ones that will one day overtake Soo as he gets older. Because that is the inevitability of SC2 competition. The young will one day overtake the old. But before that happens, Soo will want to cement his status as a Champion. To escape the shadow of second place and finally kiss that trophy.
Much more important than advancing to the semi-finals is the battle to be the #1 fan of Catz fan. Solar used Catz’s patented 9 pool spore rush in Proleague, while soO used Catz’s Overgrowth spine crawler rush. This may be the largest battle of two fanboys in the history of SC2. And the winner will be granted the prestigious title of Catz’s #1 fan.
Overall Predictions and Results:
Both players are fairly strong in ZvZ, but Soo has the edge. Among the two players, he has the most experience in the matchup on lan and he has beaten some of the best ZvZ players in the world in Soulkey and Life. Still it should be a close matchup and I wouldn’t be surprised if Solar did win out anyway.
Soo 3-2 Solar
Jin Air_ TRUE vs. KT_Zest
However strange it may sound, the reigning champion returning to the GSL playoffs is an exceedingly rare event. Too often do the GSL champions fall victim to overconfidence or laziness, their form deteriorating rapidly to the degree that they can no longer defend their position as the world's best from the advances of other, more eager players. It is so rare, in fact, that it has happened no more than a handful times over the course of 22 seasons.
With Starcraft 2's competitive landscape as tough as it has ever been, this makes it all the more impressive that Zest returns to the GSL playoffs after two consecutive championships. Winning both 2014 GSL Season 1 and the Global Championship that followed, Zest proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was both KT's best player, and the best Protoss in the world. In both tournaments, he faced top Zergs and Protosses, and in both tournaments he found himself down and facing elimination before ultimately coming back to win. With his dual tournament wins, he demonstrated not only top-tier skill and the ability to play different brands of Protoss, but a mental fortitude only a select few players possess.
But while his double championships have given Zest recognition as a top player, they also multiplied the expectations placed upon him. For a champion, defeats are no longer acceptable, every missed beat a sign of an imminent slump and every loss evidence that his hype was not wholly deserved. By making the quarterfinals this season, in the season where the one-hit wonders are separated from the champions with true lasting potential, Zest has made a very important statement: ”Doubt me at your peril”. He has made this statement in style, tying Maru for best score in the group stages (8-1 against a combined ensemble of Tails, Dark, Innovation and Soulkey) and never once looking in danger of being eliminated.
But not only has Zest made it this far, the path to the finals lies open for him. Unlike PvT, the match-up where he occasionally slips up, PvZ is a walk in the park for Zest. Currently on a win streak of twelve matches, Zest hasn't lost a PvZ, be it online or offline, since February. While Maru may eventually be the one to face Zest in the finals, should he make it there, the bracket is set in such a way that the reigning champion could hardly have asked for a better chance to become the first repeat champion in the history of the GSL.
To TRUE, all of this must make this match seem like an impossibly high mountain to climb. After a long stretch of being good-but-not-quite-there, the incredibly entertaining Jin Air Zerg with an unhealthy love for banelings has finally broken through to the elimination rounds. While famous for playing some of the most entertaining ZvTs of all time, TRUE has recently been overshadowed by his illustrious teammates Maru and sOs as well as Rogue and Cure. The fact that his appearances in Proleague have been relatively scarce have done little for TRUE's reputation, leaving him as ”that guy with the banelings” with little ability to prove himself.
With that in mind, TRUE's advancement to the quarterfinals came as somewhat of a surprise. By beating two-time silver medalist and ZvZ master soO, Dark, Trap and an in-form Stork, no one can say that he reached this point by a fluke. But to make the quarterfinals by beating solid opponents is one thing. Facing the reigning champion, in his best match-up at that, is another thing entirely. That TRUE has historically been at his weakest in ZvP is only another one of his concerns coming into this match. One of many.
As was the case for Paralyze (to an even greater extent), who also made a surprise appearance in the quartefinals, this match may be the most important one in TRUE's career so far. An elimination here will cement him as merely a good player, someone who can be a threat on a good day but rarely stand up to the very elite. No mean feat, but not a unique feat or even a memorable one. Harsh as it may sound, elimination here will give TRUE very little. He will have shown the world that he still has the potential to go farther, but a win... A win will be something else entirely. Not only will a win here be an upset of great magnitude, it will make him the first Zerg this year to beat the reigning champion in an offline ZvP series and, by extension, a force to be reckoned with.
One outcome in this match will see TRUE raised above the vast majority of the GSL – a league full of players that couldn't beat Zest, while the other will see him fall back down. To fly or to fall, that is what's at stake for TRUE.
Overall thoughts and prediction
To say that TRUE does not look completely outmatched would be insane, no matter how one looks at this match-up. Zest is at his very best in ZvP while TRUE is at his worst. Zest has displayed stunning mental fortitude and composure under pressure while TRUE remains untested. Zest has the experience TRUE lacks and knowledge of the intricacies of longer series.
But one thing, perhaps the only thing, that foreseeably could turn the tide for TRUE is his unique brand of Zerg. No Zerg can reliably stand up to Zest if he is allowed to get on the offensive, so TRUE might pour everything into continuous, all-out attacks. His style is notoriously hard to deal with for some players, and although it seems likely that Zest should be able to handle it, TRUE is not an average Zerg, and a battery of banelings could potentially see the champion toppled.
Zest 3-1 TRUE