GOMTV Hot6ix Cup
Hot6ix Cup Ro8 Day 1
MarineKing vs Parting
Soulkey vs Zest
Brackets and standings on
MarineKing vs PartinG:
MarineKing vs PartinG:
The Old Made New
There is something in the cold winds of this winter, something that seems to breathe new life into old pros and revive old rivalries. MarineKing vs PartinG is one such rivalry. It all started on that fateful April day in 2012 at IPL 4. Just as PartinG was about to bring the hammer down upon MarineKing in their GSTL finals match, the latter was disconnected from the game. With resume from replay technology still unavailable, the referees decided on a regame, sparking one of the biggest controversies at the time. Down in supply, with a warp prism in his main and the main protoss army not far behind, many believed MarineKing was already dead. However the regame was withheld and the two players mimicked their moves to a T, almost like they were replaying the game up till a point. But then after a couple of back and forth engagements the story began unfolding differently. MarineKing's micro was too sharp this time, and PartinG crumbled. MarineKing would go on to finish off the rest of StarTale and secure the GSTL for PRIME. Despite getting revenge in the group stage of the following GSL, fans still wanted to see more. Unfortunately time is a cruel mistress and it broke apart the two competitors before we could see their rivalry play out.
The forgotten king
Soon after the GSTL concluded the queen patch reared its ugly head. Terrans everywhere struggled to cope. Some still found an inkling of success, but MarineKing was not one of them. His trademark micro based style wasn't enough for him to get by any more. He struggled, in both individual leagues and team leagues, failing to make it past the round of 8 and losing to the new generation of zergs. Eventually he became desperate, relying on more and more extreme strategies: extreme cheeses or hyper greedy macro. Time after time players kept exploiting his predictable tendencies. After failing to make much of an impact even in HoTS, MarineKing decided to retire and try his luck at League of Legends.
However his foray into MOBAs was short lived and MarineKing eventually returned in time to play for PRIME in Proleague 2014. The brief pause seemed to have helped the former king of marines as he performed decently on return, defeating notables such as RorO, soO, TRUE, DRG and FanTaSy. Individual results still eluded him though. He failed to make it back to GSL, and his play was still plagued by the his old inconsistencies.
However as autumn slowly turned to winter the old king seemed to have rediscovered his old powers. He tore through the qualifiers for the Hot6ix Cup, defeating Impact, ParalyzE, Maru and ByuL to qualify. However while his run was impressive few expected him to get out of a group consisting of INnoVation, herO and Stats. MarineKing proved the doubters wrong by smashing both Stats and herO with his trademark micro. Now a familiar face stands across him, blocking his path to the semi-final. His old rival PartinG.
The rascal toss
While MarineKing's career was plummeting, PartinG's was looking up. Through diligent practice and a whole lot of soul, PartinG managed to not only win the WCS World Championship of 2012 but also WCG. PartinG's stock had risen so much that he was able to negotiate a contract with SKT T1. This was big for PartinG as the telecom titan could reward his skill with far more money than StarTale ever could. It quickly showed as he started putting on weight.
As soon as the rules allowed, PartinG played in Proleague. He became a regular for his team with a soild 14-12 record and defeated notable names such as Stork, Flash, Zest and herO. His ceremonies earned him the nickname "rascal toss" and everyone anticipated his next move. But while his team league performances for SKT T1 were good, he suffered in individual leagues in both 2013 and 2014. He lost to Soulkey in the GSL, was eliminated from the OSL in a 3 zerg group and was bounced out of the next GSL by soO. It looked like the soul train had finally ran out of steam. To rub salt into the wound soO became a constant roadblock, like his former teammate Life.
On SKT T1 PartinG only won a single tournament, Red Bull Battle Grounds New York, by defeating reigning world champion sOs. Unfortunately it was a far cry from the size and prestige of the WCS World Championship from a year before.
Ultimately PartinG decided to leave the telecom titan, citing a desire to travel the world again and interact with his fans. After a few weeks he would surprise everyone by joining yoe Flash Wolves. In the end it seems to have been the right call for PartinG, as he looked revitalized at Homestory Cup. He tore through his group stages, only losing 2 maps in total and not dropping a single set on his way to the finals. There he faced Flash whom he defeated in a close, back and forth 4-3 series.
Even in his worst years PartinG has still managed to remain relevant: he always found a way to win at least one tournament, he was in the top 10 best performing players of proleague with a 19-11 record and he could still reach the RO16 of the GSL. PartinG however hasn't yet rediscovered his old consistency, suffering an early exit from the Hot6ix Cup. But by the miracle of bad scheduling, he managed to win his way back by defeating TY and Flash in the tiebreaker to fill Rain's vacant spot.
Now, at a crossroads in their careers and with two hard years behind them, MarineKing and PartinG face off once more. This time it is MarineKing who's stock is on the rise and PartinG suffering from consistency issues. Both have had to face different challenges to get here. PartinG had to fight to remain relevant on a team full of titans, while MarineKing struggled not only against the ever changing Starcraft landscape, but also against his own emotional nature. Through it all they clung on to their identities, their signature micro and their lovable personalities. This is a great opportunity for MarineKing as protoss seem to be struggling at the moment against his brand of aggressive terran. On the other hand PartinG's form in Korea has been questionable for the entire year.
Both MarineKing and PartinG play a very micro focused style. MarineKing has incorporated safer builds into his repertoire—he seems to favor 1 rax or reaper expands. Staying true to his old self MarineKing still likes to take risks by opening with greedy build. The sole focus on the early game is to facilitate a safe and smooth transition into the mid game were MarineKing's micro explodes. Against both Stats and herO it was on point; saving individual troops with quick pickups, displaying brilliant splits and, fluid bio movements -- allowing him to slip between forcefields and snipe colossus.
PartinG is also a big fan of micro focused builds, however he utilizes these tools differently. For PartinG the early game is an opportunity to get ahead via cleverly constructed builds. Blink pressures or all-ins, oracle openers, you name it PartinG does it. After a favorable early game the rascal toss will look to either finish the game via a powerful timing or ultimately go to his favorite tech, storm. PartinG's late game PvT is one of the scariest in the world. He invented his own templar style, and while it's a lot harder now to pull off, if he should get there then no place on the map will be safe.
Given how erratic both player's performances have been lately, it feels extra difficult to predict. If this was MarineKing 3 months ago I wouldn't have given him any chances, however his TvP has looked ferocious lately. I can't really give PartinG an edge even though he won HSC X, due to the underwhelming way he lost in his group. Thus, I'll defer to my gut instinct here and give it to MarineKing, but barely.
MarineKing 3 - 2 PartinG
Soulkey vs Zest:
Soulkey vs Zest:
Out With the Old, In With the New
“Out with the Old and In with the New”
When KeSPA officially made the switch to SC2 in 2012, Rain led the initial charge by establishing KeSPA’s foothold in a new era. When Rain eventually cooled off, a new leader of KeSPA rose in the form of Soulkey who absolutely dominated 2013. But for some unforeseen reasons, Soulkey fell off the map in 2014 and left the KeSPA throne vacant, making room for a new champion. Dashing, confident, and ruthless, KT.Zest rose to the occasion and became the new face of Korea’s foremost SC2 organization. Now for the 7th time this year, Zest must once again do battle against his predecessor. On each and every occasion, the KT ace has proved his mettle by thwarting the old king’s attempts at reclaiming his title. However, this is much more at stake this time around in the final big Korean tournament of the year. On one hand, Zest is looking to solidify his claim to “best player of 2014”, and he wants to be at the helm as the KeSPA ship sails into the new year. On the other hand, the Hot6ix Cup will be Soulkey’s last chance at salvaging a disappointing year and restoring his reputation. A great deal of personal pride and honor hangs in the balance in this clash between two of KeSPA’s most iconic champions.
The Exiled King
Once at the summit of the Starcraft world, Soulkey had distinguished himself as the best and most consistent player of 2013. Last year, the former #1 ranked player made top eight in every tournament he took part in and won a GSL and WCG. But just when he looked to be entering his prime, Soulkey’s results plummeted in 2014. Unlike his former teammates soO and INnoVation, Soulkey didn’t have the luxury of attending any international events, forcing him to compete in the cutthroat Korean leagues. While his 20 wins in Prolegaue were crucial to SKT’s runner-up finish, Soulkey’s greatest individual accomplishment was a quarterfinal finish in GSL S2. When his season 3 campaign was cut short by none other than Zest, Soulkey vanished in the month of September. To many people’s surprise and delight, Soulkey roared back in November by topping a stacked Ro16 group in the Hot6ix Cup. He crushed sKyHigh with standard macro games and sent God packing with two quick baneling busts. After slaying two talented terrans, Soulkey must now play his worst matchup against the world’s strongest protoss.
Victorious in only one of three matches in the past two months, Soulkey has been stumped by ZvP and is showing no signs of overcoming these woes anytime soon. He lost both series to Zest in the GSL S3 Ro16 and then suffered losses to MyuNgSik and herO in the WECG qualifiers. Though Soulkey can occasionally mix in some cheeses, he typically wants to reach late game in this matchup. However, he often has trouble reaching this stage because he struggles with fending off protoss timing attacks. Soulkey has shown that he is capable of defending against such attacks but just not on a consistent basis. But whenever his greedy play shines through, Soulkey can be unstoppable with aggressive SH sieges and WoL-esque queen/broodlord/infestor compositions. If he can keep his cool and scout thoroughly, then Soulkey has a decent shot at taking down KT’s ace.
The Hot6ix Cup is the last premiere Korean tournament left in 2014, and it’s Soulkey’s last chance for redemption. Once at the top of the SC2 world, Soulkey has fallen from grace but he is determined to pick himself up. Having parted ways with SKT, his performance at this event could also be pivotal to attracting a new team. He is determined to prove that he is a champion who’s here to stay and not just another programer whose time has come and gone. Soulkey can send that message and put an end to the jokes of him returning to BW by dethroning the current King of KeSPA.
In the constantly changing landscape of the Starcraft scene, only a handful of players have managed to dominate the game and captivate its audience like KT.Zest. The breakout player of 2014 (arguably the best), Zest won GSL S1, the GSL Global Championships, and the KeSPA Cup. At certain times, he was surrounded by an aura of invincibility akin to the one historically associated with FlaSh. He dominated his opponents with flawlessly executed attacks and impeccable defenses. His control is on par with PartinG’s and he plays the standard protoss style better than Rain. But despite all of his previous successes, Zest has recently shown that he is not totally invulnerable - especially in PvZ. After being eliminated by soO in the GSL semifinals, Zest was defeated by Solar in the IEM San Jose qualifiers and by Life in the first round of Blizzcon. In response to these disappointments, Zest bounced back by taking out his frustration on the IeSF Open in which he went 13-0 to claim first place. So what has changed to cause this minor annoyance for the renowned PvZ expert?
Well, it would appear that his standard and predictable style is starting to get figured out. Zest once said that he executes his builds so well that his opponents are powerless to stop him even though know exactly what to expect. After his recent games, that may not be entirely true. This was made clear in his series against Life in which the Startale Zerg broke through a supposedly bulletproof playstyle. Great standard players like INnoVation and Rain faced similar situations in the past and were forced to adapt, and now Zest must do the same. He has demonstrated a willingness to evolve by incorporating strategies such as cannon rushes, proxy DTs, and even a wonky sentry drop with cannons that he used against Soulkey. With such sharp mechanics and instincts, Zest can become as dominant as Mvp by adding an element of unpredictability to his play. He needs to realize this if he hopes to remain KeSPA’s champion.
Zest may still be regarded as the best player of 2014 for now, but two consecutive early exits in Blizzcon and the Hot6ix Cup could cast serious doubt over that claim. The Hierophant has become the face of KeSPA but the story of Soulkey has shown that a king of the SC2 world can be cast down just as easily as he was brought up. There is much more than just personal pride at stake here for the poster boy of SC2; can Zest finish 2014 with his legacy still intact?
Overall Thoughts and Predictions
In 2014 alone, Zest and Soulkey have faced off on six separate occasions - 3 times in Proleague and 3 times in GSL - and the KT Protoss has walked away victorious each time. Zest currently leads 11-3 in the head-to-head but this rivalry is not as one-sided as the scores suggest. Soulkey has come just a few steps short of unseating Zest on several instances. Let’s not forget that Soulkey is an experienced champion who once erased an 0-3 deficit to steal a GSL away from a then-unstoppable INnoVation. Though the results may not clearly show it, these two players are on similar levels, and this match may very well go to whomever comes better prepared. If Soulkey can keep a level head and refrain from throwing away games on ill-advised 10 pools, then he has a decent chance at surviving the Kingslayer.
As for Zest, he must still keep faith in his standard phoenix -> colossus build; it’s his bread and butter and has worked wonders in his hands. In addition, this build provides all the tools he needs to survive against an opponent who is unafraid to unleash the cheddar in big matches. Still, Zest knows his standard is no longer as invulnerable as it once was, and so he will almost certainly come prepared with some new tricks. Soulkey’s time has come and gone, and that fact shall be solidified tonight. A new generation is upon us, and Zest will be the one to guide us into this new era.
Zest 3 - 1 Soulkey