GOMTV Hot6ix Cup
Hot6ix Cup Ro4 and Finals
MVPMK vs Zest
sOs vs sKyHigh
Brackets and standings on
Marineking vs Zest:
Marineking vs Zest:
Redemption Versus Ascension
What Year is it?
Look at your calendar. Rub your eyes. Look again. Yes, it is 2014. Yes, MVP.MarineKing is back in the semifinals of a Korean league. Pinch yourself. Splash some cold water on your face. No, you are not dreaming. No, MarineKing has not dropped a map yet. In fact, he only dropped 3 maps in his qualification for the tournament. Before that, he had been performing increasingly well in online cups, particularly Olimoleague. Alas, that is the extent of the evidence available to suggest MarineKing's run is not as anomalous as INnoVation flashing his teeth.
The most dedicated fans of Mvp's whipping boy know that the TvP matchup has always been his strongest. He was the founding father of bio play, winning over hearts everywhere when he made it clear that marines do, in fact, split. Between utilizing nonsensical and random numbers of barracks and command centers, and playing greedy almost to a fault, he always managed to get comfortable with a menagerie of marines, marauders, and medivacs. Once his kryptonite, always his kryptonite, TvT still seems to be a weak spot, with his occasionally stellar TvZ somewhere in the middle. Yet, his TvP is not just looking as strong as ever. His entire 7-0 run in the tournament has been in the matchup, against Stats, herO, and PartinG nonetheless. The MVP Terran's idiosyncratic games demonstrated a strong sense for all the possible shenanigans Protoss could throw at him, while maintaining that flair with breathtaking bio control and audacious avarice. MarineKing invoked the Ghost of Past Marineking as he both thwarted an assortment of aggression (but not without looking dead a few times) and held his foot to the gas pedal, never making ghosts. This tournament, he is reliving his career in fast-forward, displaying all of the skills that once set him apart.
On the day Lee Jung Hoon left Prime,
Who is the King of Korea?
Trivia time: What do Mvp and KT.Zest have in common?
+ Show Spoiler +
They are the only two players to have ever won three Korean tournaments in the same year.
Zest could become the first player ever to win four Korean tournaments in one year. He has won one GSL, finished in the Ro4 and Ro8 of the other two, won the GSL Global Championship, won the KeSPA Cup, taken runner-up in IEM Toronto and the Sandisk ShoutCraft Invitational, and was the 8th best player in Proleague with a shocking and brutal all-kill of SKT under his belt (he also won IeSF, but his toughest opponent was Zanster). In today's competitive landscape, that's about as close you get to Mvp levels of dominance. Zest has in one year gone from relative unknown Proleague support to Royal Roader to SKT-Killer and Kingslayer to Protoss Paragon to The Best Player in the World. At times he has stumbled, but he has never completely lost his footing in the climb back up to the summit.
What makes Zest a great player, though? His macro does not falter. His micro is outshined by few. His decision making is unmatched. His execution is comparable to Robespierre's. What, then, makes Zest not a great player? Terran. Although he has struggled against the best players of the other two races, Zest seems at his absolute weakest when playing strong Terrans. In the group stage, Bbyong trounced him. In the IEM Toronto finals, teammate Flash stomped him. How could the Kingslayer lose so easily to two players who are not kings of the matchup themselves this year? Zest's PvT is simply not on the same level as his other matchups. It is a combination his relatively substandard defense and a lack of fearless flair, which are present in his PvZ and PvP, that diminish his aura of invincibility. He can be outmaneuvered, he can be too passive, and is often too predictable. CJ.herO has probably the best PvT in the world right now, and that is largely attributed to his dynamic style: each series he shuffles his deck and shakes up the board. Zest will probably just play macro with the blink into robotics build that has become standard. To break into that tier of elite PvT players, he needs to deploy allins more frequently (not just the once-in-a-blue-moon immortal bust), and break the orthodoxy and conformity of his macro play enough to take away the edge his opponents have of planning to counter it.
What is on the line for Zest? Although he doesn't need to accomplish anything more to convince everyone that he was not just the best Protoss, but the best player this year, he would certainly like the extra cash. He can reassert himself as the top earner of 2014 with a first place victory at the Hot6ix Cup, raking in a total of almost $150,000. He can remind everyone he is still the best player on KT, assuming some are delusional enough to think that Flash still is, or regained that title. He can make MarineKing (and his fans) cry, stopping one of the most miraculous runs this year. He can also establish his legacy by breaking Mvp's record, winning 4 Korean tournaments in a matter of nine months.
Predictions for MarineKing vs Zest
Zest is a king. MarineKing is a kong. Choya is a devil. The contrast between the MVP Terran's and KT Protoss' recent success in the matchup bodes very well for the former, especially when the latter's list of titles does not yet include "exorcist." We know MarineKing is absolutely capable of dropping and splitting Zest to death, and he's already done it to three other fantastic Protoss players. However, we also know that Zest is equally capable of turning it on when he needs to, and he will almost certainly look to flip to tables on his opponent, seeking to punish the greed and counterattack whenever possible. He does have the advantage of being able to study MarineKing's seven TvPs from this tournament, but on the other side of that coin, MarineKing can study the way Bbyong dismantled Zest. Ultimately, it pains me to say the scales still tip in MarineKing's favor, but it is compensated by the fact that he is legally bound to not win in the finals.
MarineKing 3-2 Zest
sOs vs sKyHigh:
sOs vs sKyHigh:
Money Versus Fame
What will you do next?
Don't you wish you had been able to cannon rush, proxy 2gate, use carriers, and blink allin your way to (more than) $200,000? Like it or not, Jin Air.sOs knows how to win when it matters. Give him time to prepare, and he's the best player in the world. Not when he plays by the book or when he respects your honor as a player, but when plays in the way that has come to define him. Whether or not he looked or played consistently like the best in the world, it's hard to argue against two World Championships. However, since his win at IEM Katowice, sOs has performed at a rather unimpressive level, his best achievement a Ro8 appearance in the KeSPA Cup. Making it to the semifinals at the Hot6ix Cup is no doubt an improvement, but does he still have that ruthless mind for going all the way?
The Preparation Protoss almost always lives up to his name. Against herO in IEM Katowice, he opted for back-to-back proxy 2gates. It was not just balls, it was incredibly well-calculated, as herO did not scout the game after San 2gated him in a previous series. Against INnoVation in the Hot6ix Cup Ro8, he devised multiple strategies that punish INnoVation's greedy and passive macro style while showcasing his other great strength: bold decision making. Mixing in hidden and quick third bases, sOs compliments his somewhat unorthodox macro play with a notorious arsenal of cheddar and flexible allins. Fortunately, he's drawn another Terran in sKyHigh, and he has certainly been practicing the PvT matchup lately with TY in his Ro16 group, and then INnoVation. As there are no Zergs left, the only other possibility for sOs in the finals is a Protoss. Although he has very few televised matches in the mirror matchup, he has had great success in the past because of his knack for creative deviations in both build order and follow-up decision making.
The two tournaments sOs has won had the prize of $100,000 first place. Generally, we jokingly predict him to fall short in any other tournament because the stakes don't involve six digits - the apparent prerequisite required for him to evolve into the mastermind that broke Jaedong and herO. But maybe he really does need extensive time to study, develop killer builds, and learn the best way to counter his opponent. Although heavy reliance on such preparation is not ideal for prolific tournament winning, it sure as hell does work on the right occasions. What sOs has brought to the table thus far shows that he's still got it. Was just about four days enough time to continue the impressive run?
How High is the sKy?
If you watched Brood War, you've probably at least heard of sKyHigh. If you started with SC2, you probably haven't. To be fair, he hasn't done anything since Brood War. So where the hell did he come from? We really don't know, but apparently he is currently performing the best in practice, and he's certainly playing like it. CJ is starting to make a habit of producing flashes in the pan. Just over a year ago his hitherto completely unknown Protoss teammate was Sora-ing to new heights, losing against Parting Soulkey to take dual silvers in WCG Korea and WCG Global. Now sKyHigh has nearly matched Sora's prodigious streak, and he looks capable of one-upping the Protoss.
sKyHigh's play is downright confusing. Sometimes his macro and micro reflect his standing as a fringe Code A/B player. Other times, he beats Flash and Classic convincingly. However, he is largely unproven in the TvP matchup. He suffocated Classic with bio pressure, endless drops, and more mines than the Normandy beaches, but that's all we've seen of him. No matter how well played, those were only two games. But in the Terran mirror, there isn't much to contradict that he is phenomenal. His list of victims from both the qualifiers and the Hot6ix Cup itself includes Maru, Reality, Flash, and teammate Bbyong. In those matches, sKyHigh only dropped one map. Although it looks fantastic for him if he plays MarineKing in the finals, he has to get past sOs first. To demonstrate an equal prowess in TvP to his TvT, sKyHigh will need to continue to conjure up confounding combinations of super delayed stim timings in favor of marine drops, and slightly delayed stim timings in favor of bio pokes. He may not have looked as clean as Bbyong in his TvP, but his style - just as we were saying about Bbyong early this year - is so wonky that it has not mattered yet.
Although it seems like there isn't much on the line for a flash in the pan like sKyHigh, it could pay dividends for him to be any more successful in the Hot6ix Cup. CJ Entus had a late start to an otherwise solid Proleague season in 2014, falling just one map short of the grand finals. Now that they have lost some of their core players, a spot in the core four of the roster is up for grabs. It could work wonders for sKyHigh's confidence to perform well too, and he might finally be able to break into Code S or the new SSL if he sustains his momentum. The last CJ Terran to show as much promise as sKyHigh was Bbyong, who has been able to mostly maintain a formidable level of competition since his rise. In traditional passing-of-the-torch fashion, sKyHigh smashed Bbyong on the way to the semifinals, and he's looking more and more like CJ's next big thing. If the sky is the limit for players in such scenarios, then sKyHigh is a good place to be.
Predictions for sOs vs sKyHigh
sOs is unmatched in his ability to study opponents and develop counters to their play. There is not ample material for him to study up on sKyHigh, but he should be able to figure out something to block the CJ Terran's aggressive tendencies. However, sKyHigh brings a completely new set of skills and propensities to the table. The ball of unpredictability lies in his court, as he has shown very little of his TvP, but has seen plenty of sOs' PvT. sKyHigh also quietly planned his series extremely well, astutely adjusting his strategies to the map and what his opponent was likely to do. It might be a toss up who can break out the best builds or commit Inception-levels of mind games, but overall sOs has looked like a stronger player with more experience. In front of an audience in a live venue, sOs is as experienced as a player can be while sKyHigh has much to prove.
sOs 3-2 sKyHigh