X-Team ByuN
Afreeca Curious

Legacy of the Void competitive record:
(T)ByuN: 401-128 (171-58 in TvZ)
(Z)Curious: 24-19 (12-7 in ZvT)

I think it’s fair to say that no one saw this coming. This time last year, ByuN was a recluse. Separated from the rest of PRIME, uninvolved in the weekly back and forth of Korean offline competition, we thought he was done. After his loss to Sacsri in the IEM Sao Paolo Qualifiers in December 2013, he simply vanished from the scene; yet another player who simply couldn’t crack it.

Then, we heard that he was back. Nearly 500 days after his last recorded match on Aligulac, he resurfaced in the Olimoleague in April 2015. Over a weak field, he won convincingly without dropping a map. That began his climb back to the top, a resurgence that’s unique in StarCraft 2 history. To be gone for nearly a year and a half, and to still be this good at the game is absurd. Just look at those stats! Statistics may never tell the whole story, but 70%+ win rates across all three matchups in the 500-odd games of Legacy that he’s played so far deserves respect. You can criticise the quality of the online fodder he feeds on every night in whatever online competitions he fancies having a crack at, but watching his games and the consistency he's demonstrated over months of balance changes and developments in the meta shows he’s here to stay.

His reintegration to offline competition has gone swimmingly. Easy progress in the SSL over soO means he’s still competing in both starleagues, while an encouraging 2nd place finish at IEM Taipei just yesterday was only slightly dampened by sOs’ dominant 2-4 victory in the final. Better players than him have been tried and found wanting by the Jin Air man’s unparalleled big game temperament in a grand final. So let’s throw away the myth of ByuN. Let’s move on from his self-imposed exile, from the nerve-stricken teenager that we remember from Wings of Liberty. Last year, he was resigned to being the butt of everyone’s jokes; now he’s back, it’s time to wipe the slate clean and start anew.

While ByuN’s reinvention of himself was one of the storylines of 2015, Curious was happy to keep on grinding. He’s never been one for quick adjustments, or sudden switchups in style. He’s perfectly content to keep working away, day by day, improving steadily and surely. He’s more a refiner than an innovator, and aside from the notable outlier of his stunning 13-0 sweep through Code A October all the way back in 2011, that might explain why he’s found most success when the game is at its most settled. Ignoring the tricky spectre of BL-infestor, you’re looking at a player whose only two Code S semifinals came in the final years of both expansions, alongside his first trophy at Dreamhack Valencia last year.

While that attitude made him one of the most consistently solid and dangerous zergs of 2015, it doesn’t bode quite as well for him this year. The shift between HotS and LotV is much bigger than the equivalent transition from Wings in 2013, and only time will tell if Curious can put it all together quickly enough to be a force in individual competition. That said, he’s right in his element tonight. The Round of 32 of Code S is his fortress, and more than one promising streak has been fatally cut short by the Gatekeeper returning to his realm.


In his first streamed Legacy games in the Homestory Cup Qualifiers, Curious looked solid in ZvT, beating TOP and KeeN 2-0 each. Then ByuN stomped him into the ground with ease. The terran matchup may have always been Curious’ forte, but when you’re comparing a player of such limited relevant experience to the most practiced player in Legacy, there’s only one way you can call it. If ByuN suppresses the nerves that cost him time and again in GSL campaigns of old, he should easily return to Code S for the first time in two and a half years.

(T)ByuN 3 - 0 (Z)Curious

Afreeca Billowy
Jin Air Rogue

Legacy of the Void competitive record:
(Z)Rogue: 16-13 (7-8 in ZvP)
(P)Billowy: 22-15 (14-9 in PvZ)

After last year’s show of strength, it was almost a shock to see Rogue fail to qualify for the SSL this season. Five quarterfinals out of a six possible starleagues, as well as reaching the top four at BlizzCon, was incredible consistency from a player who’s been improving year on year in StarCraft 2. He may have always been a player worthy of a slot on the Jin Air Proleague roster, but what he’s added recently is the ability to beat the best players in the world on his day.

That’s best exemplified by the range of weird and wacky builds he deployed last year. It’s fitting that when TRUE left Jin Air, his replacement slotted just as well into the team mentality. That makes him exceptionally dangerous in Proleague—both capable of playing out standard games as well as wheeling out something no one’s ever seen before in a Best of One. However, it’s not something which has fully transferred over to his starleague play yet. That’s not to diminish his achievements—obviously it takes a hell of a lot of talent and consistency to have the 2015 he did—but it’s also telling that he was stopped at the round of 8 on each occasion. There’s a sense that while he can be a genius with one off games, he still has yet to master the series planning that’s required to beat the best over five games or more. A career winrate of 59% dips to 46% in Bo5+ series, and that’s certainly something he’ll need to fix if he has the desire to push on.

That makes him similar perhaps to his opponent tonight. Sure, Billowy’s tournament record is nowhere close to the calibre of Rogue’s, but he’s again a player most comfortable in the best of one. Take his defining achievement, for example—the all kill of KT Rolster in Proleague 2014—when a variety of stalker rushes knocked out titan after titan. He’s also a player with a delicious capability for improvisation and one-off builds, such as the only instance of an offensive MSC recall, when a sneaky proxy nexus allowed him to catch Symbol completely off guard. However, at some point, you have to stop resting on your laurels. Will Billowy emulate Sora—having just enough in the tank for one miracle run, and no more? Or will he take heart from his success, and keep on driving upwards? This far removed from his moment of triumph, it’s unfortunate that the latter scenario is now far more likely than the former. But with Legacy already bringing the upsets in Code A, he might well fancy his chances here.


Billowy actually looked pretty good last night, beating RagnaroK to seal the win for his new team Afreeca, while Rogue similarly cleaned up against Ryung. In the absence of much LotV from either, I’ll go for the Jin Air man.

(Z)Rogue 3 - 1 (P)Billowy

Jin Air Maru
KT Zest

(T)Maru in TvP vs Koreans: 7-4 (63.64%)
(P)Zest in PvT vs Koreans: 8-8 (50%)

In what world is this fair? Two of the best players in the world, pitted against each other in the very first hurdle of GSL. No one really knows exactly how seeding was done or what vengeful witch one of them crossed, but the fact is, one of the title contenders is going to be eliminated in Code A.

So far, Zest has yet to set this new world alight. He was ousted by aLive in SSL with a whimper, and that's already a fourth of the tournaments in Korea gone for the KT ace. He even had trouble qualifying for Code A, scraping by in what would have been a cakewalk in previous years. In Proleague, he looked a step behind Dear in his first loss of the season. Fortunately for his fans, Zest is best when the spotlight is on.

Against BravO in the ace match, Zest showed that he was still one of the best when put in pressure situations. All it took to figure out the entire game was a glance at a cyclone hiding behind the terran base. That clued Zest in on the incoming pressure, and his troop of blink stalkers moved out on the map to delay. If Zest had stayed back in his base, BravO would have had an easy time camping the ramp with tanks and pushing with cyclones. Instead, Zest was able to thin out the terran troops and force his opponent to switch gears. And once things stabilized, it was just a matter of playing better as Zest is wont to do. He duly won the ace match, making Stork and BravO's apparently prepared build look silly.

Granted, BravO's execution paled in comparison to the best terrans, which Maru is counted amongst. During the end of the HotS era, there were no terrans quite as scary to face in TvP as Maru. While his method lacked a certain finesse in planning, it did involve a lot of finesse in execution. While his endless drop style seemed haphazard and clumsy to the untrained eye, it involved a lot of decision making, multitasking, and prioritization. Eventually, however, the best protoss began to figure him out, and his streak in the matchup waned.

LotV comes at the perfect time as it gives the little terror a few more tools to work with. We've seen the havoc that a few well timed and well placed liberators can wreak (care of TY), though the window for early harass may have shortened. That has rarely stopped the Jin Air ace, so don't be surprised if this series ends up looking like vintage Maru with a splattering of new units.


There's really no point in predicting this match. While Zest has looked patchy in PvT, we don't know if Maru has switched things up or if he's still intent on dropping people into the looney bin. This has got to be the most anticipated match in Code A, however, and let's just hope it goes the distance.

(T)Maru 2 - 3 (P)Zest

KT Leenock
EG Jaedong

Once upon a time, JvZ meant something. Even at the lowest points in his career, (Z)Jaedong somehow still understood the mirror matchup better than most. His final title, at WEC 2014, came off the back of a desperate ZvZ against Snute. In his debut LotV tournament, the NetEase GPL International Challenge also hosted in China, he lost to the same man in a sorely disappointing outing. He may have finished 4th ahead of eternal rival Flash, yet three different foreigners placed ahead of him. Granted, iAsonu and Snute are both capable zergs (and there was Lilbow, too), but his fans must not have enjoyed the bitterness of a title opportunity missed.

That he qualified for Code A may give his fans some hope, but he only had to defeat no-name BMW to make it here. With no streamed games since GPL International, there's really not much we can say about his form other than to have modest expectations. Roach vs roach has never really been Jaedong's strong suit, but the addition of the ravager may surprisingly be to his favor. The roach evolution now allows smaller groups of units to hold off bigger blobs with good positioning and aim, and we've seen crazy ZvZs so far with roach squads hitting everywhere. That's the kind of pace that Jaedong prefers, but if he can manage to go mutalisks instead, there's a good chance he will. The Leenocktopus actually plays in a similar way, and we could see a clash of similar styles.

(Z)Leenock, now on KT, has had a barren run even longer than Jaedong's. He was the SC2 zerg prodigy before you know who, and everyone believed that he would become the heir to NesTea's zerg throne. Instead, he fell off drastically after his DreamHack Stockholm win in 2013. That was almost 3 years ago, and since then, Leenock has only come as close as the semifinals. In fact, he has yet to make a Code S appearance since Season 2 of 2014, though he did manage 2 SSL appearances last year. It's been tough going for Leenock over the past few years, and the collapse of SBENU must have been heartbreaking. Fortunately for him, KT Rolster decided to rescue him at the very last moment.

So far in LotV, he's been okay. Or at least, better than he has been in a while. Recent wins against Zest and DongRaeGu on the way to Code A should be noted, while he also owns wins against several mid-tier Koreans. It still looks like a very long climb for him to return to his former heights, but the kid's still got time. After almost 3 years that's a little strange to say, yet he's only 20 years old with an entire expansion ahead of him.


ZvZ has always been Jaedong's bread and butter, but with no real accomplishments in over a year, it's tough to say whether he still has that aura of a tyrant. I suppose the same thing could be said about Leenock, who has bounced around trying to find a good fit over the past few years. Maybe KT will finally get the best out of him, but this might be a little too early to see a positive swing. Still, Leenock has yet to lose to a foreigner in LotV, so that must count for something.

(Z)Leenock 3 - 0 (Z)Jaedong