GSL vs. The World 2019After a thrilling undercard featuring no-holds-barred combat between StarCraft II fans during the voting phase, it's now time for our main event. Beginning August 15th, eight WCS Circuit players will face off against eight GSL players at GSL vs. The World 2019.
A World of Possibilities
Ahead of the tournament, the TL.net writers submitted their bracket predictions and elaborated on the key points in the competition (some were more serious than others). Enjoy the preview, and let us know who you think will win!
Finally, the Dream Matchby Orlok
There's a case to be made that Serral vs Maru was never a 'real' rivalry, given that they barely ever played each other at the peak of their powers. However, the fact that Maru vs Serral is still one of the most hyped matches possible at GSL vs. World proves that a rivalry that exists inside the heads of fans is just as valid as one that plays out in actual StarCraft II matches.
Of course, we have to contend with Maru's traditionally poor performances in weekenders. Maru has been more than a little off of his game (suffering GSL Ro32 elimination in the previous season), and he's never been as dominant in weekender tournaments as he has in Code S to begin with. It's quite likely that he advances a round or two before being unceremoniously knocked out by a hefty opponent (most likely Dark in this bracket). Serral too, has looked mortal in his last few bouts of competition. TY, Reynor, Stats, and even TIME have either given Serral a stiff challenge or defeated him outright. Even if the lower bracket is comparatively weaker, it might be Serral who fails to live up to his end of this fan-made bargain.
However we have reasons to hope. Serral is only “slumping” compared to his previous, ridiculously high ceiling—in what world is 1st, 2nd, and top 4 at your past three events not impressive?' As for Maru, his ruthless takedown of Reynor at WCG 2019 for the $25,000 1st place prize suggests he's woken from his stupor, and he's ready to be a monster player if there's a monster payday to be won. Maybe the best case for a Serral vs Maru final can be found in your gut: At the end of the day, do you really feel comfortable betting against these two?
Reynor Levels Upby Soularion
There's a lot going on this tournament, and realistically a lot of it will disappoint. I imagine TIME and HeRoMaRinE won't find much success against their Korean opponents, even if soO is a bit off as of late. Elazer vs Dark is a fun call-back to their 2017 BlizzCon set, and it's fun to imagine Elazer finding another upset. But even if he did, that would only further guarantee the winner of Maru/Stats a path to the finals (it's not like Neeb has a great shot either).
Speaking of, it's always difficult to imagine what version of Maru shows up to a weekender like this. Peak form Maru wins this event comfortably, but we don't know if peak form Maru even exists anymore. Personally, I expect the familiar weekender pattern to repeat itself—he'll lose to a credible opponent in the later rounds (I expect it to be Dark who topples him this time).
That leaves me with Reynor as the player who has the best chance to surprise and outperform expectations. Reynor should beat his first round opponent SpeCial, as he's typically taken care of business against the Mexican Terran at big events (WCS Summer, WCS Montreal, WCS Valencia, WESG). Reynor would most likely face Classic next, which would be a huge swing match and possibly the hardest one of his entire tournament. IF Reynor can overcome that hurdle, his likely reward would be a semifinal match against Serral. The word 'reward' isn't even sarcastic here—Reynor is an extremely peculiar player who has a significantly better chance of beating Serral than championship-caliber Koreans.
If Dark manages to defeat Maru, Stats, or whoever else comes out of the top half of the bracket, then Reynor would challenge for the GSL vs. World title using his Serral-beating, arguably world-best Zerg vs Zerg. Put it all together, and there's a surprisingly realistic scenario where Reynor wins the whole thing: Serral takes care of Trap and TY, Dark takes care of Maru or Stats, and Reynor sweeps up the ZvZ pieces.
But can Reynor really get past Classic, the best Protoss player in the world for the first half of 2019? Probably not. Even if Reynor won a Code S series against Classic last year, his overall record against top-tier Korean pros is quite shaky. However, an upset is far from impossible. And more than anything, it would be the most interesting story for competitive StarCraft II.
A Totally Plausible Predictionby TheOneAboveU
I know what you are thinking right now. 'More foreigners in the quarterfinals than Koreans?! What is this fool thinking?!' But hear me out, and just try to envision the following scenario:
After crushing the foreigners at Assembly Summer and proving that they still run this scene, the Koreans come under unexpected assault on their home turf. Riding a wave of TvZ momentum from Assembly, TIME scores the first upset by defeating soO in the Ro16. The ever-cheerful soO sees the silver lining in his loss: he's TY's substitute caster whenever TY has a match, so why not collect a few more checks by helping TY advance as far as possible? Unfortunately for TY, soO ends up being the worst possible sparring partner for a match against Serral. 'How come he didn't suicide 50 supply of ultras for no gain?' wonders TY as he types out his last GG in a 0-3 sweep.
In the final foreigner vs Korea match of the first round, HeroMarine scores a huge upset over Code S runner-up Trap, proving the superiority of EPS over Code S once more (the following week, he presents his two map losses as proof of Protoss imbalance on his stream). Suddenly, the Koreans are outnumbered, and there is a chance of a foreigner-only top four. Korean elitists and foreigner fanboys engage in all out war on TL.net, but they're both swallowed up in a deluge of Chinese memes when TIME wins his first map against Dark.
Alas, Dark proceeds to crush TIME with three roach-ravager busts, while Stats does his patriotic duty by winning a close series against ShoWTimE. One Korean is guaranteed to be in the finals—the catastrophe has been averted. On the other side of the bracket, Big Gabe bunker-rushes Serral for two quick wins and tries a third, but the Finnish Phenom finally catches on and defends, proceeding to win the series. Maynade's post-match speech hyping Serral goes on for so long we actually miss Classic vs Reynor, though it's later reported that Classic won with glaive adepts or whatever.
Dark secures a spot in the finals with a clean victory against Stats, and the community begins to get hyped for a Dark vs Serral grudge match. So, of course, Classic crushes Serral with a mixture of immortal all-ins and other Protoss bulls***. The final turns out to be quite a mixed bag, starting with one-sided all-in games before serving up a couple of intense macro games with non-stop action. In the end, Dark comes out on top, and channels DRG's old disrespect ceremony by handing Classic a military uniform. The final image on stream is Classic chasing Dark out of the studio, trying to whack him with his runner-up trophy. The final audio is Maynarde, who still hasn't finished praising Serral from two days ago.
In Which We Tell You Not to Have Funby Ziggy
Weekend, marathon-esque tournaments featuring talent from both Korea and the foreign circuit have become a rare treat for the StarCraft II scene. While GSL vs. The World's vote-based system is a topic of contention, one can hardly complain about the overall level of play and collective resume of the tour's participants.
Do allow me to get one, possibly controversial opinion out of the way: GSL vs the World is more of a 'showmatch' type tournament. It doesn't grant WCS points. It's a closed event, where the invitees are determined through a community vote. It's a weekend tournament. That's why I don't think it should be held in as high regard as Code S, IEM World Championship, or the Global Finals.
Serral's victory over Stats last year was praised as the end of an era—a well-selling headline. On the one hand, he 3-0'd INnoVation, took down Korea's strongest Zerg in Dark, and narrowly reigned supreme over a Protoss legend in the grand final. A remarkable performance, no question about that. And yet, given that it already happened before, wasn't the storyline of Korean dominance finally being matched a bit far fetched? Didn't the same thing happen with Neeb's win in KeSPA Cup or Scarlett's IEM Pyeongchang victory? All three tours took place on Korean soil. And all of their results were remarkable in their own right.
But there's is clear comparison to be drawn between Guillaume Patry's win in the year 2000 and the three foreign champions in Korea of the past three years. He won a Starleague, and that Starleague tradition (in a vague sense) has been passed down through GSL Code S. The results achieved by Neeb, Scarlett, and Serral matter. The tours themselves? Not so much. Serral didn't magically legitimize GSL vs the World by winning—he legitimized himself.
Perhaps, to most fans, that's not an important distinction. My point is: enjoy the games, enjoy the tournament. But don't read too much into what it means. Unlike BlizzCon, unlike Code S, the narrative can be spun in myriad different ways.
Ere, the Sun Still Rises!by Wax
TY is one of those rare players whose reputation supersedes his short-term results, and his fans have been vindicated for believing in him through a brief, spring slump where he was eliminated in the Code S Ro32. Since then, he's finished second place at HomeStory Cup (narrowly losing 3-4* to Serral in the grand finals), beat Maru to advance to the Code S Ro16, and racked up enough online-offline wins to put him at #4 in the Aligulac.com rankings.
A tough first round match against Serral obscures the fact that TY should be considered one of the top candidates to win. He's recently defeated Stats and Maru in major tournaments, and went a combined 4-6 against Serral over two series at HomeStory Cup (he even beat Classic in the online Alpha X Pro Series, though Classic's online results rarely seem indicative of how he'll do in bigger offline events). Those matches against Serral seem to have given TY confidence—he recently said he thinks he has a 50:50 chance against Serral come GSL vs. The World.
If the brackets break correctly for TY, GSL vs. The World has the makings of being a weird, reverse-order boss-run. If he can edge out a victory against Serral in the first round, everything that follows would seem easier in comparison.