Table of Contents
The Grand Reunion
CJ vs MVP
Samsung vs Afreeca
Jin Air vs SKT
MVP vs KT
The Grand Reunion
Unlike the UK, Proleague is bringing people together this week. A good number of players are meeting each other for the first time in Legacy of the Void, giving us an interesting insight into just where they stand right at the moment compared to before.
KT lead the table with an unbeaten 3-0 record, followed closely by Jin Air who still have a game in hand. SKT have fallen hard and fast, as their 0-2 record makes a win over Jin Air almost mandatory. This week could prove to be vital in the battle for playoff spots.
- Playing two games a week is always a double edged sword. Sure, having to practice for two maps is probably less efficient than focussing on the one, but when your team wins both matches comfortably, it’s got to feel good. KT inarguably ‘won’ week 2, first sweeping Samsung 3-0 before taking out their telecom rivals 3-1. Over the past couple of months, it’s become clear that KT are the true rivals for Jin Air this season in Proleague, with SKT slipping up. In 2014, KT pushed their way to the finish line with hard carry performances from Flash and Zest, while the rest of the squad stepped up whenever called upon. That they have three players in ace calibre form this time round is a little scary.
- Onto the vanquished then. Samsung were probably a bit hard done by their 0-3 scoreline. Dear switched it up from the disruptor-based style he’s preferred since launch. Once upon a time in 2013, his HT / colossus PvT play was the envy of the world (go rewatch those two semifinals against Maru again!), and he showed the same basic style here on Frost in a great game against TY that could’ve gone either way. Zest’s dismantling of Reality was complete and absolute (a feat he repeated in the SSL on Thursday), while BrAvO slowly bled out from Trust’s multitask harass. It’s always a bit of a shame when your best terran gets matched against Zest, and things could’ve well been different if Reality lined up against Trust while BrAvO was ritually sacrificed.
- For their part, SKT hardly fared much better. INnoVation got them off to a good start, defending well against TY’s aggression, before transitioning into a strong mech composition. As we’ve seen from pretty much every recent TvT, air control is still the most vital aspect of the matchup, and once INnoVation established his viking / liberator count it was all over for TY. Stats drew one back for KT, catching Classic’s tech heavy army out on the map before crushing it with a pure gateway force. Losira’s win over soO was one of the biggest shocks of the week—beating the ZvZ king in a ling bane war—before Zest closed it out with yet another PvT win for the year over Dream.
- As dominant as KT looked, Jin Air were determined to match them. Maru’s micro was far too much for Blaze, crushing his blink stalker all-in; Seed looked awful as he took poor stalker vs immortal fights time and again against sOs; while GuMiho’s hellbat drop failed miserably against Cure. There can’t have been many easier Proleague matches this year.
- Are we still in Round 2? Just as he’d done three times last round, herO came up big for CJ, winning both his matches on the night against against Bomber and Super, while Bunny displayed his TvZ chops again with a win over Curious. ByuL still seems to be struggling hard, while MC couldn’t replicate his PvP success from last week against Super. For now though, if herO continues to carry his team in Proleague quite this hard, CJ should be the favourites among the chasing pack to make that vital 4th spot in the overall rankings.
CJ vs MVP
herO <Frost> Forte
Looks like MVP will be starting the match by sacrificing young Terran Forte for some kind of blood magic—or at least this is what it seems to be. He was handed a humbling defeat by ByuN recently in Code A, so his morale shouldn’t be all too high at the moment. TvP-wise his last match was a month ago against Billowy, which he was able to win 2-1.
herO is not Billowy however: He hasn’t lost a PvT in Proleague since the beginning of April, and even though he couldn’t advance out of his group in SSL Challenger, he went 1-1 there against both Maru and Reality. So while his score might not be perfect at the moment, he’s still doing quite well. And as much as herO is not Billowy, Forte is also not Maru. We should expect a victory for herO here, if Forte can’t take matters into his own hands and surprise us all.
MC <Dusk Towers> GuMiho
This should be an interesting one, to say the least. MC was able to qualify for Code S by defeating Journey recently. The series went the full distance, demanding all of MCs experience and trickery to snatch victory from his opponent. Journey is quite solid these days, but GuMiho should be considered a tier above the Samsung player still. So MC will be hard pressed to gain the initiative here, but that is historically when he’s at his strongest.
GuMiho on the other hand will do anything in his power to deny his opponent the space to maneuver and do MC-things. The MVP Terran wasn’t looking very good against Protoss earlier this month, but he seems to have recovered though, taking out Hurricane in SPL two weeks ago and defeating sOs online, and most recently his stunning performance during the SSL Challenge. So even though we don’t want to count MC out in any way—he’s MC after all—, GuMiho should be the favorite going into this match.
Bunny <King Sejong Station> Ryung
Another good draw for MVP. Bunny did win against Curious last week, but his TvT results are much more mixed, with defeats at the hands of Jjakji, Maru and Reality, and victories against Jjakji and Bomber over the last two months.
Overall Bunny’s TvT is definitely weaker than Ryung’s, who regularly duels with the likes of GuMiho and ByuN online, trading wins and losses evenly. A Terran mirror match on King Sejong Station is especially delicate of course, as the map structure allows for a lot of unpredictable strategies and attacks. And Ryung—as we well know—is a specialist for these scenarios. We're giving him the advantage going into this match.
RagnaroK <New Gettysburg> DeParture
Both players meeting here have qualified for Code S by defeating their Code A opponents 3-2. For players such as RagnaroK and DeParture, who oftentimes struggle to keep up with the top players in Korea, this is a really important step and should take a lot of pressure off their shoulders for now. Overall this should be a rather evenly matched duel, with a very slight advantage for DeParture.
The MVP player defeated Armani in Code A, proving his ZvZ in a whacky series, and he won over Curious in SPL a month prior as well. In his last ZvZ series RagnaroK was eliminated from the SSL qualifiers by Impact. Both are known as tricky and aggressive players, and with New Gettysburg involved—a map no-one has completely figured out yet—we might be in for a crazy ride.
Ace: <Frozen Temple>
CJ probably won’t send out ByuL, as they are clearly giving him a break to regain his form—it’s his first time on the bench since joining the team. So the best option—as always—is herO. MVP might send out GuMiho for a TvP, or they could surprise us with a Seed pick for a PvP snipe.
herO > Forte
MC < GuMiho
Bunny < Ryung
RagnaroK < DeParture
CJ 1 - 3 MVP
Samsung vs Afreeca
Dear <Dusk Towers> Super
Samsung and Afreeca provide us with excellent matches, Dear versus Super being the first. The vampire Protoss recently was able to take some huge wins, beating Maru and MC in Proleague, as well as advancing through the toughest SSL Challenger group—defeating Zest 2-0 and going 1-1 against herO along the way. Super is probably in the form of his life at the moment, and morale should be high for him.
Dear, despite also advancing in SSL, did not have such a glorious showing, but is no less of a force to be reckoned with. He won the majority of his Proleague PvPs and has never lost a series to Super over the course of his career, taking two Proleague wins against him this season already. This will probably be their closest and most competitive encounter yet.
Reality <Frozen Temple> aLive
Another great mirror match-up follows, as Reality and aLive continue their teams’ struggle. Reality recently had some mixed TvT results: He got swept 0-3 by Maru in Code A, before avenging himself in SSL Challenger against the Jin Air player, taking his SSL spot and probably a measurable portion of his will to live.
His opponent aLive is doing quite well at the moment: He qualified for both individual tournaments with relative ease and even beat Dark two weeks ago in SPL, showcasing strong play in all matchups. His only nemesis seems to be ByuN, against whom the Afreeca ace lost several series over the last few weeks—as has Reality, coincidentally. Both players are known for their solid standard play, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see a longer game between these two.
Solar <Frost> Bomber
There are good and bad news for Samsung fans here. The good: Solar seems to have broken his Proleague curse this season, sitting at an overall positive score and contributing to his teams’ efforts. The bad: He is 1-3 against Terran this season, and looking at results from other tournaments doesn’t paint a brighter picture. And that is without taking into account the generally bad ZvT situation in Korea right now.
Bomber was doing alright against Zerg even before. Reminder: Bomber beat Dark in a macro game with pure bio/medivac. So all things considered Bomber is in a comfortable position going into this match.
BrAvO <Overgrowth> Patience
BrAvO against Protoss is a curious subject right now: His Code A match against Classic turned out to be a super close affair with BrAvO performing surprisingly well, only to be defeated by a Dark Templar build in the last game. Three days later he fell to Trust in Proleague, who himself had an equally surprising showing in SSL Challenger. So even though the Terran doesn’t really have the wins to build up confidence, he did definitely not disgrace himself on the battlefield either.
Patience has not played against any Terran offline in a long time, and even online he’s not meeting a lot of them. There are wins over GuMiho and ByuN, as well as a defeat against Journey from last month in online tournaments however. And of course the Protoss is doing quite well in general at the moment, taking big wins against SKT and CJ so far this round. So the advantage should probably lie with Patience for the moment—BrAvO is a fighter though, not to be counted out easily, as he’s shown against Classic.
Ace: <New Gettysburg>
Samsung has several options for the ace position, so it’ll probably be a spontaneous decision who’ll get sent out. With Dear, Solar and Reality there are strong choices for all the races available, while Afreeca is most likely bound to field a Terran or Protoss. Both Super and aLive have a lot of momentum behind them at the moment, making them the most reasonable picks.
Dear > Super
Reality < aLive
Solar < Bomber
BrAvO > Patience
Dear > Super
Samsung 3 - 2 Afreeca
Jin Air vs SKT
Rogue <Dusk Towers> Dark
SKT are standing with their collective back against the wall and every map will count for them from now on. Starting us off in this duel of giants are Rogue and Dark with their first ever meeting in LotV. Rogue should go into this as the favorite to win as he’s 5-0 in ZvZ this season, making him the best ZvZ player in the league. For comparison: Dark is only 1-1 and was eliminated from Code S in April by Losira.
Above all else, even though the SKT Zerg had his fair share of ZvZ victories during his SSL championship run, he's definitely not unbeatable at the match-up. As we keep repeating—and this doesn’t seem to change for all we can see—this mirror match-up in particular is not very consistent, with so many possibilities for an early ending through build order wins or control mistakes. Both Jin Air and SKT fans should get some popcorn for this one.
sOs <New Gettysburg> Dream
Fielding sOs on what is probably the most unexplored map in the pool is certainly a statement—it is quite fitting, that the master of chaos himself bloods a new map. The Protoss was delivered another setback recently, as he once again wasn’t able to qualify for SSL through Challenger, which has seemingly triggered his participation in more online cups, where he actually lost to both GuMiho and Ryung. And that exact piece of news should be of great interest to SKT fans.
As is the case with Rogue and Dark, sOs and Dream surprisingly also meet for the first time in LotV, which is really showing how shaken up the Korean scene has been in the last months. For Dream in particular, the release of the new expansion hit hard: His Proleague season has been quite bad so far, with him sitting at 3-4 overall—his TvP record at 1-3. sOs on the other hand has been doing well against Terran, he's at 3-1 this season. The online results mentioned above do throw up some questions about his form though, so this might be Dream’s chance to strike back.
Maru <Frost> Classic
Guess what: Another pair that hasn’t met in LotV so far! And what a reunion this might be, with Maru coming straight out of a humbling experience in SSL Challenger—collecting a 2-4 score against Protoss there—the Jin Air ace's confidence might actually be shaken up a bit. Two weeks ago he had his SPL win streak shattered by Super. Of course Maru has shown an ability to set the past aside, but most other players might at least be a bit frustrated about how the last two weeks have gone.
For Classic on the other hand things have gone quite splendidly—at least in his individual endeavors. He qualified for both Code S and SSL—the latter with an almost flawless performance—and finally seems to be in the place he wants to be again: Contesting with the best of the best. His slump is over for good, and even though he struggled a little bit against BrAvO in his Code A series, he should have the means to bring Maru to his limits. This might very well be the best match of the week.
Cure <King Sejong Station> INnoVation
And to fill up the quartet of reunified pairs, let’s move on to Cure and INnoVation and their first LotV duel. King Sejong Station seems to be a preferred battleground for Terrans these days; this week alone has three mirror matches on it. Cure has had good TvTs in recent weeks, winning against Bomber in SSL Challenger, as well as defeating GuMiho again in Proleague. Overall he brings a recent 3-2 score in TvT to the table.
His opponent won over TY last week, securing SKT’s only win in the telecom war last round. INnoVation has won three of his four Terran mirror matches in SPL so far. It should be mentioned that his victory over TY also happened on King Sejong Station, which certainly indicates that the Machine feels comfortable on the map. It’ll be interesting to see if he once again opts for mech here, or if he mixes things up.
The options here are basically endless: Jin Air might choose the reliable pick in Maru to deal with SKT’s ace, or they might have prepared sOs or Rogue for that role. On the SK Telecom T1 side Classic, Dark or INnoVation fill the same category. Statistically Protoss have done the best so far on Overgrowth, so Classic seems to be a solid option for SKT. sOs’ PvP score has been rather weak so far, so maybe a Rogue snipe or Maru are more likely than him being used.
Rogue > Dark
sOs > Dream
Maru < Classic
Cure < INnoVation
Rogue < Classic
Jin Air 2 - 3 SKT
MVP vs KT
Pet <Overgrowth> Stats
It’s always heartbreaking to see pets die, but Pet is probably going to be run over by Stats in brutal fashion regardless. The Protoss has virtually all the advantages on his side, from overall success to general form to matchup form. Stats has recently beaten—among many others—Zerg players such as soO, Dark, Rogue and Solar. Pet on the other hand only won games against Creator online and was defeated in Code A by HerO. So even though the Zerg showed promise from time to time in the past, this probably won’t end well for him.
Ryung <King Sejong Station> TY
Ryung’s second TvT on King Sejong Station this week is against TY, a tough opponent to say the least. The KT player may have lost his last mirror match against INnoVation during last week’s telecom war, but overall he’s still doing very well in the matchup with his second last defeat at the hands of Maru dating back to March. Ryung’s match against Bunny might deliver some hints about how this game is going to go, but as things stand now, TY is the large favourite.
GuMiho <Dusk Towers> Zest
Well, GuMiho’s assignments certainly aren't getting any easier. Zest demolished Reality, Dream and Maru this month alone in flawless victories, reasserting his PvT dominance in Proleague and SSL Challenger. just in case anyone was beginning to doubt it. As said above, GuMiho is a strong and crafty TvP player, and no stranger to upsetting Zest by any means—even when the booth breaks down around him—, but if even Maru couldn't find a way to stop the reigning GSL champion, then it’ll be extremely hard for GuMiho to find the right path.
Blaze <Frozen Temple> Losira
Probably the most even and unpredictable game is going to be this last one. Blaze doesn’t have the best track record in PvZ lately, losing series to soO and Impact last month, while Losira took maps off of Super and Zest in SSL Challenger—even though he didn’t advance in the end. With both carrying negative stats into the matchup at hand, confidence might not be super high on either side, but I’d still give Losira the advantage. He's by no means unbeatable though, and as we all know Blaze does know a good build or two.
A GuMiho versus Zest rematch might be the most probable event here, with them being the best players on their teams, as well as being the standard ace choices. Stats is also a possibility. And, as always, a gambling man might bet on Choyas weekly surprise ace pick.
Pet < Stats
Ryung < TY
GuMiho < Zest
MVP 0 - 3 KT
Time until Proleague