Dragon KaiZi Gaming
Bracket and standings on Liquipedia
Dragon KaiZi Gaming
Bracket and standings on Liquipedia
World Team League - 2023 Summer Seasonby: Nakajin and Wax
After 11 weeks of regular season play, it is finally time for the 2023 World Team League Summer playoffs to start. Will the underdogs continue to shock the league? Can DKZ hold on to their birthright for one more season? Will BASILISK walk the royal road? All those questions and more will be answered this week.
WTL Playoffs Bracket & Format
- Rounds 1 & 2: Friday, Aug 11 10:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
- Rounds 3 & 4: Saturday, Aug 12 11:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
- Semis and grand final: Sunday, Aug 13 11:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
WTL Playoff format
Basic format: Unlike other SC2 teamleague formats, WTL is based around a LOSE CONDITION rather than a win condition. Each team has four 'lives,' and the first team to reach zero lives loses the match.
As in the regular season, the teams play a series of best-of-two matches. Only the initial players for each team are predetermined, while the remaining players are chosen as the match progresses.
If a match ends 2-0, the winning player remains active and plays in the next match. The losing player is eliminated and their team loses a life. The losing team then picks a new player to play in the next match.
If the result of a match is a 1-1 tie, then both players are eliminated, both teams lose a life, and both teams must send out a new player for the next match.
Revives: Each team is allowed a single revive prior to the ace-match (see below), returning an eliminated player to the series.
Should the series go to an ace match, each team is given another revive. However, this 'ace-revive' cannot be used on a player that was already revived (no double-reviving).
Ace Matches: If a match ends in a 1-1 tie when both teams are down to one life, they will have effectively reached zero lives at the same time (the team that goes up 1-0 first does NOT win; the second game of the match must be played). In that case, a single BO1 ace match is played to decide the outcome of the series. Ace match players may be selected/revived as described above.
In short, the format tries to balance the top-heavy nature of a pure all-kill format and the equitable style of the usual WTL format. That means teams with a particularly strong ace tend to perform better than in the regular season, but good snipers and utility players still retain much of their value.
The gauntlet format seems incredibly favored for the top team, but it’s interesting that ‘’only’’ 4 out of the 7 first-place finishers managed to seal the deal. Also, we’ve seen plenty of miracle runs from the bottom of the bracket. Longtime WTL/SCBOY fans will remember Scarlett and Dream going on a 19 map winning-streak to bring Brave Star Gaming into the grand final. More recently, Oliveira and Reynor dragged KaiZi Gaming from the bottom rung of the playoffs all the way to the grand finals.
Even if our current 6th and 7th teams, PH and SSLT, will be playing mostly for the chance to be crowned the tournament's ultimate dark horse, everything from there on out could be quite unpredictable.
Playoff Teams Overview
瘦死骆驼/Starving Camels (#7 seed): 15 points, 4-7 record, -5 map differentialRoster and regular season records:
Platinum Heroes (#6 seed): 17 points, 6-5 record, -3 map differentialRoster and regular season records:
- DnS (12-11)
- goblin (9-9)
- ShaDoWn (7-7)
- ArT (0-2)
- HateMe (0-2)
- Didn't play during regular season: AqueroN, eGGz, Iba, Rodzyn
Whatever happens in the playoffs, this season is already an enormous success for 白金骆驼/Platinum Camels. Neither team seemed to have a realistic shot at the playoffs before the season started, and even relegation was a possibility if they made a few missteps. Instead, they performed well beyond expectations, passing Shopify Rebellion and PSISTORM Gaming to reach the playoffs for the first time in their respective team histories. Now that they're playing with house money, how long can they keep their rolls going?
The answer to that question lies in how the two teams got here. Let's start with Platinum Heroes. Consistency was the theme of the Heroes' season: When you look at the final regular season standings, Platinum Heroes lost to every single team above them and beat every single team beneath them. To punctuate those results, all their key players recorded close to 50% win-rates.
In contrast to the Platinum Heroes, the Starving Camels arrived in the playoffs by way of drama and chaos. Their individual performances were hugely unbalanced, with Firefly excelling as ace but the rest of the squad being extremely hit or miss. Still, each member of the supporting cast gave a clutch performance at the perfect moment (Cyan 1-1 MaxPax, TooDming 2-0 trigger, Silky 1-1 ByuN), which allowed the Camels to scrounge the points needed to get over the postseason cutoff line.
In comparing the two teams, the Platinum Heroes have a higher floor, but the Starving Camels have a higher ceiling. The Heroes have four steady players who can win all their matches where they're 50/50 or better—including against Starving Camels, who they drubbed 5-1 in the regular season (not to say they have no upset potential; they DID 4-2 Shopify to clinch their playoff spot). They're the favorite to beat the Camels in this playoff rematch, but they will seriously struggle to advance any further (especially with Protoss-killer Cure lurking on ABYDOS).
On the other hand, the Camels' wildcard factor gives them a slightly better chance at upsetting one of the top five teams—IF everyone is clicking at the same time. Say one of TooDming's 30% all-ins happens to hit, Silky randomly plays a godly macro game like he did against ByuN, or Cyan out-thinks someone in PvP… …it could be enough, combined with a strong showing from Firefly, to take down an ABYDOS or TL.
Honestly, part of this assessment is just vibes. It's not like goblin, DnS, and ShaDowN can't cheese—heck, they're probably better at it than the SSLT players. But when you consider what both teams went through during the regular season, you can't help but think that SSLT is just a bit more wild and dangerous.
ABYDOS (#5 seed): 22 points, 8-3 record, +10 map differentialRoster and regular season records:
- NightMare (11-7)
- Creator (10-4)
- Cure (9-5)
- DongRaeGu (4-4)
- sOs (3-1)
- Mondo (2-6)
- Jinioh (0-2)
- Didn't play during regular season: Quanta
Though ABYDOS only finished 5th place in the regular season, they are still fringe championship contenders in the playoffs.
The team was rarely at full strength during the regular season, partly due to Cure missing several weeks from an arm injury, and partly because the team decided to field its amateur players Mondo and Jinioh in several matches. Yet, in a testament to the team's depth, they still made the playoffs rather comfortably without anyone playing over 20 games—even the technically-retired sOs contributed with a 3-1 record. Now, what if you paired that depth with an ace like Cure playing in every match? That's potentially a recipe for a deep playoff run.
The big question for ABYDOS is exactly how good of an ace Cure is. Sure, he's playing some of the best StarCraft II of his career at the moment, and comes in off a runner-up finish at Gamers8. However, that result is somewhat deceptive: despite placing second, he also happened to lose to three of the most dangerous aces in the WTL: Serral (0-2), Maru (0-2), and Reynor (1-4). That trend holds when you look at other tournaments as well, with Cure struggling to beat the arguable top three players in the world.
Still, one can still hold out hope for ABYDOS. The WTL is a different environment than individual tournaments, especially the offline ones. Cure, despite making massive strides in improving his offline consistency, should still be strongest when playing online. In fact, last season's finals (in February) ended with a vintage online-Cure performance, where he went 3-0 against Reynor and 2-0 against Oliveira to clinch the championship for DPG. It can't be entirely ruled out that the same version of Cure will show up again.
Team Liquid (#4 seed): 22 points, 8-3 record, +16 map differentialRoster and regular season records:
After several seasons of underperforming, Liquid finally earned a regular season finish befitting their roster. Filling the Harstem-sized gap on their line-up with SKillous was certainly a boon, but the most critical factor was Clem performing like an S-tier ace again with a fantastic 19-5 record.
Assuming everyone can maintain a similar level in the playoffs, Liquid might be another dark horse contender to win the championship. It really helps that the team is racially balanced, giving them two solid mirror match-up snipers in Elazer and SKillous (who can also take care of business against the weaker members of opposing teams).
But, as is often the case in a semi-all-kill format, it's your ace-caliber players who are most crucial to success. In the case of Clem, he's still quite the enigma due to his sharply contrasting strengths and weaknesses. As his five ESL Europe championships show, he's the only Terran who can fight evenly with—or perhaps even has the edge over—the big two of Reynor and Serral. If you were building a team with the sole goal of beating BASILISK, a lot of people would take Clem as their first pick.
On the other hand, Clem has been infamously vulnerable against his fellow Terrans. Yes, Clem did 3-1 Maru at Gamers8, but one big win doesn't negate a years-long trend. Forget beating Cure or Maru in a rematch—Oliveira and Ryung could also be extremely tough draws. If Liquid is to go all the way, they need Gamers8 to have been a true TvT breakthrough for Clem.
Dragon KaiZi Gaming (#3 seed): 25 points, 8-3 record, +29 map differentialRoster and regular season records:
While the Gamers8 results were a mixed back for most of the WTL playoff teams, it was unilaterally bad news for Dragon KaiZi Gaming. Of their three core players in Dark, herO, and Oliveira, none of them managed to make it past the RO16 group stage. Not only that, but herO has been in a severe GSL slump this year, which bodes poorly for DKZ headed into the playoffs.
This is where you have to think about how much the online/offline difference in StarCraft II really matters. Regardless of what happened in individual events, herO and Dark have been killing it online. As you can see from their records above, they were some of the top players from their respective factions—heck, herO even won our 'best regular season Protoss' award. Not only that, but they've continued to rack up wins in the ESL Open Weeklies as well.
While it's hard to put the WTL in a specific bucket, it does lean more closely to the ESL Weeklies side than the GSL. If we disregard all individual events (well, let's count Dark's Code S Season 2 runner-up finish) and look at just WTL performances, Dark and herO could very well carry DKZ to yet another championship. Also, you can't discount the Oliveira factor—he was massive for KaiZi Gaming in last season's playoffs, going 15-5 as he helped lift his team from the bottom of the playoffs all the way up to second place.
Momentum might be against DKZ at the moment, but there's a good chance the team performs above their temporarily lowered expectations.
BASILISK (#2 seed): 26 points, 11-0 record, +30 map differentialRoster and regular season records:
We can't help but talk about Gamers8 again as it's the most recent point of reference for the top WTL players. For BASILISK, the rumble in Riyadh told a mixed tale. Serral, the WTL's regular season MVP with an absurd 23-1 record, was shown to be mortal as he suffered a 0-3 loss against Solar. Reynor, mocked during the WTL regular season as the "50/50" man, achieved his best ever offline result at Gamers8 and took home the $150,000 championship. Trigger, well, he played some ESL Open Cups and did fairly well.
While we've been wary of reading too deeply into Gamers8 results for other players, Reynor's mighty ZvT could carry over. He benefited from Lambo's coaching ahead of the tournament, and generally looked unstoppable in the match-up—those learnings could have a long-lasting impact. It's also an encouraging sign that Reynor's previous WTL campaign started with a so-so regular season and ended with a much better playoff run. Perhaps he's saving his best for last again?
As for Serral's loss to Solar, it merely confirmed that one can only 'dominate' ZvZ for so long before you're brought down again by the almighty coinflip. Even before Gamers8, fans should have known that players like Dark, Solar, and maybe even DRG were going to be the biggest danger to the Serral/Reynor duo in the playoffs.
Taking the hazard of ZvZ into consideration, BASILISK still seem like the favorites to win it all. Serral had the best regular season in WTL history, Reynor just won a World Championship caliber event, and even trigger has slowly improved through the course of a season into an upset threat. That's not to say they're unbeatable—in any given match, Reynor could revert to 50/50-man form, and Serral could split a crucial ZvZ 1-1. But, odds are, in the midst of a stacked playoff field, BASILISK will emerge with the WTL 2023 Summer Championship.
ONSYDE Gaming (#1 seed): 29 points, 9-2 record, +30 map differentialRoster and regular season records:
ONSYDE Gaming might have taken first place in the regular season, but that doesn't necessarily make them the favorite to win in the playoffs. For them, it's all about the match-ups.
Ryung was a huge part of the team's success in the regular season. Expected to play a supporting role as the third option, he actually outperformed Solar with a fantastic 14-6 record. However, his 8-2 TvT accounted for a large part of that, and that match-up would be entirely irrelevant should BASILISK advance. TvZ—especially against top level players—has been a huge problem for Ryung since his return from military service, which would mostly nullify him in a likely match-up against BASILISK. On the other hand, he could be ONSYDE's most important player against Liquid or ABYDOS. Against DKZ, he'd fall somewhere in the middle.
As for Maru, he's in a similar situation as Ryung, though not nearly as polarized. While Maru's TvT has declined from its god-like tier in 2021-22, he's still the best player in the match-up. Whatever percent chance you would give him to beat Clem/Cure/Oliveira, that number is definitely higher than you'd give him against BASILISK's Zerg duo. Maru faces Serral and Reynor fairly infrequently, but the recent results are in the Zergs' favor (, ). Overall, Maru seems to be a slight underdog against the BASILISK Zergs, with his ability to turtle and grind out late-game wins being a potential X-factor.
That leaves us with Solar, who looks to be equally important against every potential opponent for ONSYDE. Against all the non-BASILISK teams, his value is in simply being a strong, all-around player. In the BO2 format, it's basically a wash between Solar and players on the level of herO/Dark/Clem/Cure, and he could soften their teams up nicely for everyone else (or even multi-kill himself if he's feeling it). Of course, against BASILISK, he'll be a key player due to the ZvZ vulnerability of the EU Zerg duo.
All in all, ONSYDE fall just slightly behind BASILISK in our championship estimation.
PredictionRound 1: Platinum Heroes > 瘦死骆驼 (Starving Camels)
Round 2: ABYDOS > Platinum Heroes
Round 3: ABYDOS > Team Liquid
Round 4: ABYDOS > Dragon KaiZi Gaming
Round 5: BASILISK > ABYDOS
Grand Finals: BASILISK > ONSYDE Gaming
Credits and acknowledgements
Writers: Nakajin & Wax
Stats: Aligulac.com & Liquipedia
Writers: Nakajin & Wax
Stats: Aligulac.com & Liquipedia