TSL3 on Liquipedia
With the blessing of the Emperor of Starcraft, the TSL2 champion, and one of the best casting duos in the sport, the TSL kicks off on Saturday with a slate of phenomenal matches. Yet the TSL does no do sophomore slumps. Indeed the second day of the TSL will a set of intriguing and close contests. Featured is the GSL3 winner oGsMC, the talisman of the foreign starcraft scene, and Liquid's own Jinro and HuK. Matched against them are two hot zergs from Denmark and Sweden, the GSL-tested champion of China, and a deadly rising protoss from Germany. The matches will not only be fiercely contested, they may also go a long way to deciding the progress of the tournament, as these players all have higher ambitions than just the next round. There are championship contenders and spoilers alike in this series, and when the countdown ends, it's anyone's game.
There's no beating around the bush here; much of the discussion about this match is not whether Ciara can beat MC, but rather if he can even make a good showing of himself. Make no mistake, MC is the best SC2 player on earth right now, and probably has been for longer than we all realized; his GSL January loss was not indicative of his overall skill. Now he's reached his second GSL final and looks unbeatable. Meanwhile, Ciara is an adept player who has been more prolific than most people realize. However he has yet to show any real dominance among his European peers, nor unorthodox play that could prove difficult for MC to decode. Ciara's strength comes out of his confident attitude, in part born out of a fruitful WC3 career with several WCG runs. With international experience, he is unlikely to be unnerved by playing a Korean. But it does not seem likely that confidence and solid play will be enough to give him a foothold against the world's best.
Bracket Contest: I don't see Ciara winning this, and I have a feeling that there is fairly widespread agreement on this. MC is solid in many ways, and he is the least likely of the Koreans to underestimate the surprise potential of foreign play. I don't imagine that Ciara will go down with token resistance, and I expect good games here. But it's hard to imagine a scenario in which MC would give this series away.
Bracket Stat: oGsMC was picked to win in 99% of brackets (3224 to 44, okay to be fair thats only 98.65%).
This is a really fascinating match-up. There were high expectations for China at the release of Sc2. Chinese esports is growing faster than anywhere else in the world and with a pool of talented Wc3 and BW players to draw from, it seemed like China was well positioned to carve out a significant place in the Sc2 scene. Instead, Loner exists as the only significant player from the Middle Kingdom, and he has shown inflexible and ineffective play in the GSL's. In particular, he has relied on two-base timing and tech strategies that have been pretty quickly decoded and defeated. His opponent in this series needs no introduction. White-Ra has been the foreigner scene's stalwart for nearly the totality of stracraft history. He is both a thinker and a doer and can be counted upon to bring good preparation and excellent fundamentals to the table. His dominance of the international scene in the last few months has cemented him firmly as one of the elite players in the foreign scene, and a serious threat to Korean dominance.
Bracket Contest: For a career built on consistency, White-Ra can still lose individual series and games in unexpected fashion. Luckily for him, Loner has not shown a good deal of individuality nor the ability to elevate his game when the situation requires. He is a solid player, but White-Ra is more adaptive and resourceful an opponent, and the Ukrainian should make this the most comfortable foreigner vs asian series in the tournament.
Bracket Stat: White-Ra picked to win in 85% of brackets (2763 to 503).
The mystery match-up of this opening round, everyone would love to know how this series will turn out. HasuObs has been on the Sc2 radar since the beta, but only recently has he begun to solidify his position as one of the best protoss in Europe. Several good TLOpen performances had put him in striking distance for the final event, but he powered through to win the whole tournament and deliver his teammate Strelok into the TSL. Meanwhile, his opponent needs little introduction on TL. HuK's electrifying run into Code S has given the foreign scene a protoss savior in Korea. His force fields and practice regimen have become more famous than his four gating past. He does, however have a widely known weakness in PvP, and that gives HasuObs an opening that he will aim to exploit. HuK lost to Socke at Assembly, and Hasu will doubtless be watching those games for inspiration. PvP is not usually a match-up that leads to a lot of anticipation, but this is the exception.
Bracket Contest: PvP may well be HuK's worst MU, but he qualified for Code S in a PvP series, and won 6 PvPs at Assembly before losing to Socke. Indeed, his 66% winning percentage in foreign competition in that MU is proof enough of his skill. HasuObs is an excellent player with a lot of great results recently, but HuK plays more and at a higher level, as well as playing a ton of PvP lately. The protoss mirror is unforgiving and unpredictable, but HuK has the micro and experience to be considered the strong favorite.
Bracket Stat: Huk picked to win in 86% of brackets (2785 to 441).
Maybe it sounds contrived by now, but each and every one of these Sunday TSL matches look to me like the finals of a major tournament. For the final match of the first weekend, this is Swedish Nationals. In a nation of nine million, two Swedes have consistently risen above the rest. Jinro's accomplishments in the GSL are extremely well known, but his participation in foreign online tournaments has not been quite as dominating as his offline play. He remains one of the most methodical preparing players in the game, and his game knowledge is tremendous. Against a zerg he will be at home. MorrOw meanwhile, has made a remarkable transformation from one of the international scene's best terrans to one of the international scene's best zergs. In the process he's had ups and downs, but has emerged even stronger than before. His macro and defensive play; ever so important for the swarm, is superb. He will also be playing his best match-up here in ZvT.
Bracket Contest: This is a very close match. Jinro plays his best starcraft when he's had time to prepare and he will have had that cushion here. His showmatch against IdrA in particular showed what Jinro is capable of in the TvZ match-up. MorrOw is up against the wall here, but he is a tremendously talented player and his successful transition from terran to zerg is a testament to his hard work and ability. In TSL2, MorrOw didn't perform as well as he would've hoped. In TSL3, MorrOw has an outside chance to make amends, but Jinro should still win.
Bracket Stat: Jinro picked to win in 94% of brackets (3051 to 209).
The TSL will be in full swing by Sunday, and with half of the Ro32 done, answers to some important questions will start to emerge. How can foreigners stack up against Koreans? Will racial or server imbalances play a role? Will their Korean training benefit those foreigners with GSL experience? Can a North American protoss take the third TSL as well? Forum posts will fly, irc chats will rage, and liquibets will be made. But ultimately the answers to these questions can only be found one place. Tune in, watch everything, cheer hard. The TSL is at full steam.
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