What had been anticipated as another close telecom battle became a show of strength by Stats: an all kill against SK Telecom T1 is not something we get to see every day. For Stats it has been the second time to achieve this feat though—funnily enough his last all kill of SKT was in Round 2 of the 2015 Season, making this a seemingly annual ritual. Stats’ dominance of course hid a lot of information from Jin Air about the other players on the team and what strategy might have been put in place by the coach, had the protoss lost early on.
Luckily for us we must not look all too far back to find a precedent for this match and see for ourselves, what might happen in the Round 2 final.
Jin Air vs KT
Trap <Dusk Towers> Stats
<King Sejong Station>
A look back: The duel last round
Before we take a look at these two teams in their current shapes and forms, let’s take a step back and get our eyes on the last all kill match between KT and Jin Air, which happened last round in the semifinal.
Back then, a PvP on Dusk Towers involving Stats also started us off. The SSL runner-up didn’t face Trap, however. It was sOs he met and beat in battle, with both opting for phoenix-archon-chargelot compositions. Stats had taken the macro advantage and added a mothership as well as blink stalkers to the equation, taking a decisive victory in the great battle at the end of the game.
Of course Maru then came out for Jin Air to take three wins. First he beat Stats in typical fashion, overrunning him with bio aggression while defending the protoss’ DT counter. A close and bloody duel against TY followed, but after trading blows the Jin Air terran had the better tank count and was able to force his opponents’ capitulation. Leenock was sent out by KT on Prion Terraces to end Maru’s streak, but the terran held out with his liberator-turtle strategy, defending everything Leenock threw at him, before countering and defeating the zerg.
It was Zest, who finally put an end to the terran on Lerilak Crest by flooding his base with DTs, while defending expertly at home. A clear victory against Trap followed, but when KT could already smell victory, Jin Air dropped the Rogue-bomb onto their hopes with the debut of his bane drop harass style.
What we can learn from this duel? Maru did most of the work for Jin Air, while Rogue once more took up his position as the ace-sniper. Zest took the same position for his team as Maru for Jin Air, getting the most kills and almost finishing the game. All of these things also count for this new duel we are getting now.
Back to the present: The duel at hand
Let’s start off by talking about Trap against Stats. They have not yet played each other in all of Legacy of the Void, but in HotS they traded wins quite evenly, Trap eventually getting the lead in overall score. If we look at their present PvP form however, Stats clearly looks like the favourite, winning his last five matches and having lots of momentum from Tuesday. For his opponent the picture doesn’t look as bright. His last PvP wins came against Super in Code S back in early March; since then, he's lost to Zest, herO and Hush. In 2016, the he sports a 7-10 record in the matchup, and his only wins have come against Coach Choya and the similarly protoss-phobic Super. Trap has played a very good season so far for his team, going 5-3 overall, but this success comes from the other match-ups. However, his 4-0 record this round has come against three strong terrans (Reality, TY, and Dream) and a zerg coach (horror), so if he gets past Stats, he might cause KT a lot of trouble should they save Zest for the ace match. With Stats in form though, KT look like they’ll get a good start.
But what comes after? It’s very possible this match plays out similar to what happened last time, and as fans and viewers of StarCraft that wouldn’t be too bad at all.
Comparing these two teams, one thing is patently obvious: Jin Air’s success can mostly be attributed to Maru. He’s the best scoring player, only lost two matches so far this season (Zest and soO in the Round 1 Playoffs) and thus leads the ranking. However, KT have three players in the Top 10, with Zest and Stats at ranks 2 and 3, and TY at 8. For Jin Air there is only Rogue up there besides Maru, ranking at number 10.
Trap has a solid record, but lacks severely in the match-up he’s about to play. sOs has been sub-par all season long, especially PvP being the weakness here as well. Cure is sporting an average record, and he's perhaps unfortunate that his strength in TvZ is somewhat mitigated by KT's lack of a star zerg, while TY's bound to exploit his weak TvT should he come out. All the other players have failed to make any impact whatsoever. Realistically Jin Air’s best assets are the strength of Maru and Rogue’s abilities to pull brilliant snipe builds out their magicians’ hat. To their credit, that was enough last time. But what if Maru is sniped early on? Will sOs take up the challenge and repeat his inspiring performance against KT last season? It’s possible, but his PvP being vulnerable as it is, Zest would be a huge favourite against him. Generally Jin Air seem to lack in the anti-protoss department, considering Maru being countered by Zest and Rogue probably being held back to snipe the KT ace.
Jin Air might have gone into the finals first, but they’ll probably leave in second place once again. There’s no escape from this Kong status if Maru is picked off early.
Trap < Stats
Maru > Stats
Maru > TY
Maru < Zest
sOs < Zest
Rogue < Zest
Jin Air 2 - 4 KT
Time until Jin Air vs KT