Week 3 was basically a mirror of week 2: two sweeps and two barely-not sweeps. So far this round, only one match has made it to the ace while 6 matches have ended 3-0. The last round of the year is supposed to be the tightest and roughest, but it seems as though it's just going to be the strangest. It hasn't exactly been very exciting watching teams get dumpstered, but it's certainly resulting in an interesting playoff picture.
Week 3 Highlights
Jin Air finally win
Whew. Week 3 gave Jin Air some respite as they met Prime in a match of the stragglers. As expected, Jin Air thumped the hapless Prime 3-0. It didn't look pretty, but it barely reminded people of how Jin Air dominated every team not named SKT T1 in round 3. The Green Wings will need more outings like this to climb back into the playoff spots, though after this week it's still difficult to tell whether they've actually turned a corner. Next week's opponent won't be pushovers, but will Jin Air push hard enough?
SKT T1 continue to rule
Samsung had a little bit of momentum going with their 2 solid wins against Prime and Jin Air. In retrospect, maybe that wasn't as impressive as it looked with both teams bottom of the table. Still, fans expected more from the Galaxy team, but it wasn't to be. No one has been able to stand up against the mighty SK Telecom team in round 4: they are 9-0 in maps. A flawless round to end the season would definitely make them favorites for the title for a second year in a row, but this time we'd have no reason to doubt. Just to show how good they are: SKT T1 have 4 players with 70+% winrates. Their worst player is Dark with a 64% winrate. Stats and DongRaeGu are the only other players with 70% winrates with more than 5 games played. That's just disgusting.
The total number of wins SKT T1 will have this round
KT Rolster falter again
At fourth place and playoff security far off, the defending champs still have a lot to play for in round 4. Yet, somehow, this might end up being their worst round of the year. They lost again this week against SBENU, and they thoroughly deserved to get whipped. DongRaeGu vs Flash was an entertaining albeit predictable game if you've seen enough Flash vs zerg. Zest pulled one back against Bomber, but he would be the only one to nab a point. Curious absolutely schooled Life in ZvZ, making every single correct decision while exposing Life's rashness. With the series on the line Stats fumbled the ball harder than anyone against jjakji. He decided to employ the cheeky colossus drop on Vaani—even researching prism speed—but it did no damage and died against two vikings cowering in the corner. At this rate it's difficult to see KT contending at the end of the year.
SBENU and Samsung take position
We discussed in week 1 how only SKT T1 and CJ had booked their spots for the year-end playoffs. The two teams that need a good performance this round, curiously, have ended up struggling. KT and Jin Air are out of the round playoffs right now with few signs of turning things around. The two teams closest behind them, SBENU and Samsung, are currently in the picture. If SBENU and Samsung continue to perform and make it to the playoffs, it could be enough to knock KT Rolster out depending on where they finish. Jin Air can rest easier. They can only be overtaken if SBENU win the round and the playoffs AND Jin Air finish bottom. Needless to say this could still be a very anxious round.
herO: "LOL we won and they didn't even write anything about us."
Week 4 Previews
Overview: Samsung are currently in the playoff spots, but they have benefited from facing Jin Air in a slump and the whipping boys of Prime. A victory against CJ would be a strong statement of intent, but the Entus players are rounding out into form. Sadly, this is going to be 4 straight mirror matches. Fortunately, two of them will be TvT.
What to Watch Out For: Coach Byung Gu shuffled his deck again, and we're not quite sure what to make of it. We're still not sure about Reality, but Bbyong isn't exactly a menacing TvT player. ByuL is strong in ZvZ, but no one can really figure out Solar in Proleague at this point. Hurricane could be a dangerous opponent for herO.
Map of the Match: BravO vs sKyHigh on Vaani Research Station - Could this battle of TvT snipers become one of the best games of the season?
"Did coach even tell you who's playing today?"
Overview: Yeah yeah, the telecom derby should be the focus match of the week. However, it doesn't look like KT Rolster have what it takes to finally give SKT T1 a match loss. The hype of the derby might give KT a boost of determination, but right now, that doesn't look like it'd be enough.
What to Watch Out For: Even though Zest has a losing record in PvT and Dream is 5-1, the Muscle Toss has looked good in the matchup recently. Classic on the other hand is 6-1 in PvT, while TY hasn't played many in Proleague. Stats is the only KT player strongly favored—he is 6-0 in PvZ, the only player other than soO with a perfect matchup record with more than 5 games played. The swing match will likely come down to Flash vs Sorry, which is anyone's game for sure.
Map of the Match: Zest vs Dream on Cactus Valley - Will Zest manhandle Dream like he did Maru?
Overview: If Prime want to finally win a match, this could be their best chance. MVP haven't exactly been poor—in fact, they've played well—but their inconsistency means Prime could snatch a few wins from under their noses. MVP absolutely need to get into the playoffs in order to have any hope of usurping KT for a playoff spot, but right now it doesn't look likely with SBENU ahead of them.
What to Watch Out For: BboongBboong has a 1-10 record, and a loss against Losira would cement his place as the worst player in Proleague (perhaps, history). TANGTANG isn't far behind with a 0-5, and he has to face MVP's best player in GuMiho. YoDa probably has a chance against Proleague debutante Horror, and KeeN—who might be Prime's best player right now—faces Seed, who owns a Prime-like 1-5 record. This could go to the ace match.
Map of the Match: KeeN vs Seed - Will this old school GSTL match live up to its potential?
Focus Match of the Week
Overview: SBENU trumped their closest rivals for a playoff spot last week. Now, they can set their sights higher. A win against Jin Air in week 4 would set them up for a very tight encounter against SKT T1 in week 5. If SBENU somehow manage to end up in first place for the round robin and round playoffs, they could still conceivably overtake Jin Air. For the Green Wings, beating a mid tier team would solidify their hold on that precious spot. All of that makes this the most meaningful match of the week.
Quietly, DongRaeGu is putting together a very strong Proleague season. Though he only debuted in round 3, DongRaeGu now has a 5-2 record. That doesn't sound like much, but if he is able to keep that pace it would make him one of the best players in Proleague by winrate. In fact, it's even slightly better than Maru's 69% winrate. On paper this looks like a bop for the Jin Air Terran, but TvZ has been his bane for the entirety of 2015. In fact, he's a miserable 4-8 in Proleague. The Final Boss just beat The Ultimate Weapon, another guy who can't figure out TvZ, and he could add the Marine Prince to his hit list.
When jjakji's return to Korean teamleagues was announced, many an old fan rejoiced. The former NSH ace used to be the best player on a really bad team. His skill alone made the team somewhat relevant in GSTL, thanks to the all kill format. Unfortunately he hasn't quite been able to kick on in 2015. A win against Stats last week showed jjakji at his best: intelligent, adaptable and decisive. His early 2 vikings denied the colossus drop, and a swift attack on three bases ended the game. Against sOs he will need every ounce of that intelligence, but jjakji has so far spent the year switching on and off. sOs isn't the type of player you can switch off against, since he will definitely have a plan in store on Vaani. It might not be a colossus drop, but it could be just as interesting.
Trap is Jin Air's incumbent alternate and 5th player, but like Cure his performances have so far only made up the numbers. His 6-7 record is good, but this might not be the match that gets him back even. He is 1-4 in PvT, with losses to Hack, TY, Journey and Dream. Fortunately, Bomber himself isn't quite a TvP maestro at 2-4, though 3 of his losses were against Zest, herO and Stats. The SBENU Terran also beat First in Code A and Trust in Code S, so he isn't exactly without a paddle in the matchup. It's his predictable SCV pulls that have often led to his demise, and if Trap studies his patterns acutely, the Jin Air Protoss could get his second PvT win of the season.
It looks like the Curious train ain't stopping yet. After his defeat to Bbyong in week 2, Curious bounced back with a very strong game against Life in week 3. He completely dominated his opponent even though Life played a very good game. The KT Zerg has always been known for a strong mirror and Curious taught him a very rough lesson. Rogue on the other hand is actually one of the best players in Proleague with 19 wins. However, even though numbers are on his side, he still hasn't convinced everyone that he's the type of player Jin Air can rely on to carry them over the top. His 5-6 record in ZvZ is a small liability, as is his sometimes unpredictable style. ZvZ isn't exactly a matchup that allows for creativity, and that could be the reason for Rogue's weakness in the mirror.