Round 1 Playoffs - Match 2
After KT’s easy dismissal of Afreeca last night, it’s time for Jin Air to step up to the plate. The last time the two teams met back in Week 3, it was all too easy for KT as they romped to victory. Maru may have drawn first blood over sacrificial lamb Losira, but the KT triplet of Zest, TY, and Stats did their jobs as the telecom titans took the 3-1 win. However, since then, Jin Air have been on the upswing—most obviously by taking the second seed ahead of KT. Will the all kill format tell a different tale? Please see yesterday’s preview for a breakdown of the KT squad; up next is a look at their challengers tonight.
Jin Air vs KT
KT haven’t messed with their winning formula; Stats is out first again, while sOs is Jin Air’s first choice. What’s particularly notable here is that the map will be Dusk Towers. After last week’s carrier demonstration against Zoun (albeit on Orbital Shipyard), and indeed the one a fortnight ago against Journey (PvT on Dusk Towers), it’s clear that sOs believes that the capital ship endgame is the way forwards on big, split map situations. Equally, it’s clear that Stats has to be aware of that possibility, and should have some options up his sleeve, whether to end things before that stage or to go head to head with a similar composition. Yet again then, this brings into play the sOs meta mindgame; will he stick with his proven tactic, or will he counter Stats’ expectations by opting for a more aggressive game? This is a set balanced on a knife edge, with two truly unknown quantities due to the freshness of the carrier metagame, and one that could well tip the entire match in either direction.
The Core Members
Maru is the clear ace of Jin Air. sOs may well have a similar effective PL record, but aside from Maru’s poor form towards the end of 2015, it’s unquestionable that the little terran has been the go-to man whenever a miracle is required. He is unbeaten in Proleague so far (5-0), and aside from his SSL failure (unstreamed) and Code A loss to Zest (far too long ago to be truly relevant anymore), he has quickly restored his status as one of the premier terrans in the game.
While Rogue’s early season form was seriously worrying for his fans, one curious fact held true; Jin Air kept picking him. Sure, they were hampered by their six man roster, but with Trap and Cure both in decent enough form, they could feasibly have dropped him for a week or two to give him some time off the weekly grind. They didn’t; he was picked on all six occasions. To me, that says one of two things; that behind the scenes he was practicing well, but couldn’t perform in the booth for whatever reason; or that Jin Air knew that they needed a functioning Rogue to be competitive. Either way, that demonstrates just how important he is to the team. You only need to look at CJ Entus this year, and Jin Air last year, to see the difference between a team with two reliable stars and a team with three.
The Long Shots
Well, one thing’s for sure—we probably aren’t seeing Creator tonight. He hasn’t been sent out at all since losing to DeParture in Week 1, and hasn’t shown anything in his short GSL run to suggest that that will change.
The final spot will therefore come down to Cure or Trap. Both have performed pretty well recently, progressing to the next round of GSL, while splitting backup duties in Proleague with three appearances each. It’s notable though that Cure has been picked for the past two weeks, and being chosen third last in the GSL Group Selections last week also hint that his form is hot enough to be taken seriously by his fellow pros. It’s unclear if Trap’s retained his old forte as a PvZ sniper given the huge changes from HotS to Legacy, and even if he has, it’s unlikely that Jin Air will be focussing too hard on Leenock and Losira given the other more serious threats. Unless something funky is being planned, expect Cure.
Well, this is pretty tough. So much rests on the unknown here. Has anyone figured out a counter to carrier PvX? Has Maru figured out how to crack Zest’s lategame? Will Rogue’s resurgence be capped with playoff redemption? With the difficulty of predicting an entire all kill round, here are some brief thoughts:
- KT likely keep the same format as last night (Stats / Zest / TY + 1 zerg, likely Leenock again).
- Jin Air go for sOs / Maru / Rogue / Cure.
- TY and Maru are reserved as the ace picks.
- KT will attempt to send Zest against Maru, while their zerg pick is likely to come out against sOs should Stats lose Set 1.
- Equally, Rogue will be prepared as a sniper. Intriguingly, TY’s notably shown weakness here against SKT a few weeks back—similarly heavy aggression should probably expected if the two meet.
With that said and done, here’s a vague guess at how things will play out. I feel that KT are a little too strong for Jin Air, but with six heavy-hitting multi-kill candidates spread across the two teams, this could honestly come down to one player having a magical run on the night.
sOs > Stats
sOs < Leenock
Cure > Leenock
Cure < Zest
Rogue < Zest
Maru < Zest
Jin Air 2 - 4 KT Rolster