SSL Quarterfinals Winners' Bracket Day2

SKT Classic
SKT Dark

Legacy of the Void competitive record:
(P)Classic: 7-2 in series, 16-5 in maps (3-0 / 5-1 in PvZ)
(Z)Dark: 11-4 in series, 24-10 in maps (6-2 / 12-4 in ZvP)

If you look at their results through LotV so far, Classic and Dark both have quite a few similarities. They're part of the breed of players who have played in all of the GSL/SSL/PL events so far (with quite a solid amount of success, mind you) without doing anything else, they share the same team, they both seized a solid win in Proleague to help SKT 3-0, and both of them have done very well in the PvZ/ZvP matchup so far. Throughout 2015 they were both in the upper tier, although Classic edged out in terms of results which featured multiple PvZ dissections (and a pretty close set in the Blizzcon semifinals against Life!) while Dark was largely a dark horse for most of the year, looking insanely fierce at times but never managing to muster his form long enough for a win. Right now both of these guys fit in the 'very good.. but how good exactly?' category, likely around the bottom half of a top ten list, and the winner of this match will certainly embody a dark horse type persona for the entire tournament. They're both not quite the type of player you see as a champion—as embodied by Dark's eternal underground aesthetic and Classic's underdog story showcased throughout 2016, especially with being called a bubble and his Blizzcon performance—despite their immense skill and their affinity for playing really goddamn good Starcraft. The matchup of styles is especially intriguing, as Classic and Dark both tend to put a twist on the standard macro play. They both have solid macro play (see Classic's match against Curious in Proleague for an example) but they both enjoy spicing things up with rushes and generally clever builds, such as Dark's infamous use of corruptors in ZvT throughout early 2015 or Classic's eternal versatility which remains his greatest strength especially in the unknown territory of LotV.

Even though Classic and Dark both have a similar 'archetype' in terms of storylines and styles, there's quite a few differences between the two. Namely, that Classic has won already. He's won GSL, he's won SSL, he’s won an IEM—he's already been the person with the trophy and the hype and the pride, while Dark lives off of ambition. A year ago he stated that his goal was to win ten individual championships, and despite winning 'Rookie of the Year' in Proleague and becoming a real force to guide SKT's domination of the league and especially of Jin Air, he still hasn't won one. The real reason for that might be his inconsistent ZvZ. Losses to HyuN in the SSL Challenge; soO in his only Korean finals to date; Leenock at Dreamhack Stockholm (where a win would have come with a ticket to BlizzCon) pepper an otherwise strong record, and it's a demon he'll have to face down the road considering the strength of RagnaroK and Solar in the upper bracket, while soO and Soulkey lie in wait should he fall tonight. Right now, though? Right now he faces off against one of the best protosses not only in HotS but also in LotV so far, and considering that ZvP has so far been one of his main strengths it's his best shot to show off that he has the skill to reach his ambitions without failing time and time again. For Dark, this is the first of many matches in Legacy of the Void that will give him the chance to shine, and considering his immense ambitions he'll need to take advantage of the chance or risk becoming another 'could've been'.

Meanwhile, Classic sits on a throne of being the first player to win both GSL and SSL, and considering he was part of SKT's Proleague win as well it's hard to see what he has left to do in the korean world. Perhaps a Blizzcon win? It's easy to grow restless after wins, but Classic has managed to remain vigilant and continue his domination by claiming a double qualification despite a couple questionable PvP losses to Hush and Trust. Otherwise, he's won against good zergs (Rogue and Curious) and solid terrans (aLive and jjakji) alike, and generally looks to be in good enough form to contest a third victory. The clash of Dark and Classic is likely going to be a war of versatility, as both of them have a variety of builds that can intersect quite oddly especially when coupled with their status as teammates and the volatile nature of the meta. Dark seizing a victory here means that his ambitions have a chance of becoming real as he takes his first starleague top eight (top six, even!) while Classic would be making yet another run and continuing to be the best player to go so utterly underrated.


Because of their similar styles, skills and status as being on the same team, it's pretty hard to call this match. However, I find that Classic has more experience making strong runs in Korean leagues while Dark continues to be someone who's resumé hasn't matched his potential skill nor his ambitions. I'm going to side with history here, but as one of the most exciting series in LotV so far this certainly has the potential to go either way.

Classic 3 - 1 Dark

KT Stats
dPix Patience

Legacy of the Void Competitive Record:
(P)Stats: 26-16 in maps, 12-5 in series; vP, 9-4 in maps, 4-1 in series
(P)Patience: 179-135 in maps, 69-40 in series; vP, 44-30 in maps, 19-10 in series

Throughout SC2's history, Protoss has been the race which has seen the greatest change in all three expansions. In the beginning, the warp gate fundamentally changed protoss production. In Heart of the Swarm, the mothership core arrived, whose energy management has been a critical feature of protoss play. Now, in Legacy of the Void, the colossus, the bedrock of protoss armies, was nerfed, while the disruptor, a micro-dependent unit, was added to compensate. In addition, the gateway received the strong, tough adept.

Of course, the result of these changes has been the complete rework of the mirror matchup. From the highly technical and complicated game of HotS, PvP has been greatly simplified, and is now much more focussed on mechanics and micromanagement, with the meta-game favouring a twofold stalker-disruptor composition. However, already there are many different styles with which to apply to this composition. Dear, in particular, showcased what some called a 'suicidal' tactic of aggressively blinking forward to destroy disruptors with their nova active, with great success against sOs.

Meanwhile, some other protoss players have retained their traditional focus on fine details, perhaps to their detriment - Zest displayed masterful knowledge of Dear's critical observer arrival timing in his Proleague match against Dear, as well as performing another highly mechanically-demanding observer snipe right under Dear's nose to set up for his initial DT attack. However, he was obliterated by Dear's disruptors in the late game, proving that this unit may serve the same role as tanks and banelings in their respective mirror matchups as a comeback mechanic.

Now, while the game has changed, some players have not. In 2016, Stats has continued his personal tradition of not appearing in the GSL at all, while retaining the possibility of a good performance in the SSL. People often write Stats off as a mediocre Protoss, citing his inconsistency and lack of a championship as reasons, but they often forget that Stats had two consecutive top 4 finishes at SSL last year, while effectively carrying KT Rolster in Round 1 of Proleague. However, they would not be completely unjustified in seeing Stats in a poor light—he has a habit of losing maps and series to players who should theoretically be on a lower rung than himself. In PvP alone, he has lost to the likes of Stork and Trust in 2015, as well as a crucial defeat in the Proleague playoffs to Billowy, of all people. Thus, he cannot be counted on as a player to reliably defeat those he should be able to.

A coincidence then, that Patience is exactly that type of player. More than three years and four teams on from his debut, he still has not won anything of significance, though he has earned more than $40,000, a remarkable sum for his achievements. His last good placing was at Dreamhack Valencia in July, losing to eventual champion Curious in a tight 2-3. Before that? Examining his records, one will only find a Dreamhack Winter 3rd place finish, all the way back in 2013. Since then, he has remained a persistent force in online cups and qualifiers. But, as stated, this is Stats he is facing—will he be able to upset him?


Both players have not showcased a significant amount of LotV PvP games for us to analyse, and this will be a difficult match to call, not least due to both players' unpredictability. However, Stats has the advantage of being on a top KeSPA team, as well as having access to an excellent practice partner in Zest.

Stats 3 - 1 Patience