A protoss-heavy group awaits, as we finish the first week of the Round of 32. (P)HerO stands alone, fighting for survival in the harsh world of progaming. (P)MyuNgSiK wants to prove he’s a mainstay of the world's greatest StarCraft 2 league, providing some comfort for his struggling team SK Telecom T1. (T)Cure stands alone to defend his race's honor, with hopes to repeat last season's semifinal finish—he knows the pain of falling into obscurity after a great run, and this fate is not something he wishes to replicate. Last but not least (P)Stats, one of the best players on the planet, aims to prove he’s the supreme authority in Korean SC2 right now. He tasted gold for the cross finals, now he wants to grab a championship for both individual leagues. The stage is set. Glory awaits.

Favorites First

Group B starts off with a match between the two favorites. The winner of Group B has a reasonably good shot against whoever makes it out of the second series, so a victory here might already be the most difficult part of the journey.

And difficult this part will be, for both players. Jin Air’s Cure did not have to go through the grueling Code A qualification process—a reward for last season's impressive run—and thus evaded the stress his compatriots suffered just to reach this stage. It certainly allowed him to turn his focus elsewhere such as getting into SSL, which has more humane methods of gatekeeping. Stats did have to go through Code A, but mastered this obstacle gracefully; meanwhile, he enjoys a direct seed into SSL thanks to his runner-up placement. Stats may have made it one round farther in SSL, but both fell short of the ultimate goal: gaining the championship. They both got a taste of victory, just to have it snatched away. But the hunger lingers and with spots in both leagues this time, they’ll work double shifts to make their dream come true.

Looking at current form, I have to give the clear edge to Stats. Including the playoffs Stats is the player with the most Proleague wins, able to boast an all-kill against SK Telecom T1 and one ace victory. After his SSL defeat at the hands of Dark he avenged himself at the Cross Finals, beating both Dark and GSL champion Zest; one day later he triumphed over GSL runner-up TY in the Kung Fu Cup finals. He may not have won the championship, but he showed that he certainly could have. That said, his most recent victories came in PvZ and PvP; in fact his last PvT was said Bo7 against TY, over a month ago. There is some justified uncertainty concerning his exact strength and more importantly, about his preferred strategies.

The overall form doesn’t leave Cure far behind Stats. Record-wise Cure is doing quite well, finishing a solid season of Proleague as well as qualifying for SSL. He cannot boast near-flawless play like his opponent though. Every impressive victory he has had can be paired with a rather embarrassing defeat, making consistency a huge problem for the Jin Air player. Cure has played many online tournaments this year—making his stats a bit less useful for interpretation—but there is something I can say with confidence: TvP is not his best match-up. This might become a problem in this particular group, but preparation might partially fix that. Looking back at his recent matches there are a lot of losses to sOs, which could be attributed to the team kill factor and maybe online play. But Cure is an excellent online player. After all, he fought himself through IEM qualifiers on the EU server with high ping once—after playing for almost 24 hours straight! Then consider his SSL Challenger League results. He may have advanced, but he went 1-1 against Trap (which certainly is no shame) and Hush (which might qualify as an upset). This inconsistency is apparent in other match-ups such as his sloppy TvZ versus Leenock in last week's SPL.

Cure is fast, smart and has excellent training partners for both TvP and TvT. Preparation should counterbalance some of his inconsistencies and bad habits, so a TvP-only group might even turn out to be quite fruitful for him. He can challenge Stats but victory is unlikely; HerO and MyuNgSiK, though, are not nearly as fearsome. So Cure does have nice odds even if he begins the group with a loss.

The Lost Protoss

The match of the underdogs features an odd pair. MyuNgSiK is somewhat of a stable face in Code S, despite being an agent of chaos, while we haven't seen HerO's face often these days.

The former Liquid player has not transferred over to any of the Proleague teams, is not hiring his skills out as a mercenary, and is not playing any online tournaments at the moment. All he does is play for the single purpose of qualifying for GSL, which he did twice this year. Overall this leaves us with a big question mark concerning his shape (mental and otherwise), playstyle, and everything else remotely useful for predictions. That's good news for him, as his opponents will also be in the dark. In total HerO has only played four competitive series this year, all of them PvZ matches. He hasn’t played a single official PvP game in LotV yet, not a single one! Historically HerO has been a solid mirror match player, no doubt about that. But for the most part, history has lost all cache with the changes of the last expansion. All MyuNgSiK can do is anxiously await what HerO will bring to the table. He’s capable of great things, and with unadulterated concentration he might surprise us all.

Of course, “Surprise” is MyuNgSiK’s second name. He is known for his unorthodox approach to SC2: aggressive and tricky plays based on builds tailored to the opponent and map. The SKT protoss is not a one trick pony by any means though. He’s shown very solid macro games before, making him actually quite well rounded—his image is already his first trick though, enabling him to work with certain expectations. His weak point has always been, and remains to this day, decision making. All that said, we have a similar problem with MyuNgSiK: how can we make judgment without games? His last SPL match was two months ago, a lost match against Dear. In the SSL qualifiers his PvP failed him as well, as he was eliminated by sOs and Super. He did make poor Jjakji a victim of his stratagems in Code A, but that's as informative as HerO’s narrow win over Pet. Both had very lucky draws in Code A and might not be in optimal form.

Since we know relatively little about MyuNgSiK and even less about HerO, this is a hard match to predict. HerO has the heart and skills of a champion but he’s easily tilted, and the prospect of playing against MyuNgSiK might impact HerO’s mental attitude. So I give the slight advantage to MyuNgSiK.


Win or lose, both members of the second series will be underdogs against Stats and Cure. The KT protoss and the Jin Air terran are probably in better shape, have far more success in recent times and will be hungrier for add onto their accomplishments. MyuNgSiK is always an uncertain factor—who knows, what he might conjure up—but he’ll need some inspiration to get out of this one.

Cure 0 - 2 Stats
HerO 1 - 2 MyuNgSiK
Stats 2 - 0 MyuNgSiK
Cure 2 - 0 HerO
Cure 2 - 1 MyuNgSiK

(P)Stats and (T)Cure advance into the Ro16!