The results weren’t shocking, but the latest WCS America finals, games were thrilling. The three players with a chance at upsetting the BlizzCon attendees were out early, and at the end it was Bomber took the top rank, ousting HyuN from his long-held position after a wild TvT match-up. The former is also protagonist on the first of 8 epic pairings for the ultimate championship.
Bomber vs. Jaedong: On top vs. on the edge
Let’s just recap Bomber in the last two years: Season 2 America 2014 second place, Season 3 winner 4-2 over Heart, Red Bull Atlanta winner, Red Bull Finals in Washington winner, 4-0 over Cure, Season 2 2013 winner. All matches over 56%.
The Red Bull Terran player’s worst fight is against Zerg, but Jaedong, who at rank 16 is his opposite, has only once been able to drop Bomber, on a single map at MLG Anaheim in June.
Jaedong’s position at BlizzCon was precarious through the semifinals in Season 3 America, but other players’ losses meant his win, and he kept his rank as Scarlett, Pigbaby and HerO all fell in the round of eight.
Jaedong, though, gave a better performance in 2013 all around, nailing several silvers to the wall. Right now, his ZvT is his least successful matchup.
However, the Legend Killer wasn’t named that for nothing. Can he take on the legend that is Bomber?
And consider this: if Bomber wins here, he’ll face either MMA or StarDust. His TvP has improved steadily in the last six months, and his recent drops of Polt and Heart show he’s ready to face any Terran. He could definitely be moving onto the semifinals.
Stardust vs. MMA: Winners and opponents
The faceoff between MMA and StarDust is the least extreme, given rank. However, while MMA is just coming off a Season 3 Europe win, StarDust took Season 2 and didn’t hit the round of eight that MMA topped. The myInsanity Protoss impresses us with PvP, but facing Terran – especially someone like MMA – can be a tough road for him. He and MMA haven’t been opponents in standard league play since 2013 at DreamHack Winter, where StarDust lost 2-0.
The Acer Terran has the opportunity to showcase something we didn’t get to see a lot of in Season 3 – his TvP play.
What we did see: a 2-0 defeat of First right off the bat, and a 3-1 knockout of San in the semifinals. MMA’s points came flooding in with wins in Season 3 (a repeat of 2013) and DreamHack Open: Moscow, plus a second place finish in Europe Premier League Season 1.
If he’s looking at meeting either Jaedong or Bomber in the next match, he could be in for a repeat here, too – Bomber beat him at the Global Finals in 2013 3-2. Against Jaedong, MMA is 5-0 in HotS.
MC vs. herO: Lone mirror match
There’s so much to say about each of these players we have to just dive in blindly. Here’s the splash:
CJ Entus’s herO has taken his points from second place wins at KeSPA Cup and the Intel Extreme Masters Season VIII World Championship. He took back-to-back Intel Extreme Masters wins with a first place finish at Singapore, then one at Sao Paulo. Importantly, Sao Paulo was a 4-1 victory over MC.
Yes, PvP is his worst matchup, but herO is never out until he’s out. Then again, neither is MC. In fact, he’s always in. However, lately MC has been showing some rough results against Protoss, with losses to San, StarDust and Welmu in Season 3 Europe.
Still, MC makes it to the round of eight nine times out of ten – he’s always headed for the top with his aggressive blink stalkers in tow.
Whoever wins here will take on either Polt or Classic, who they’ll have to beat to get into the semifinal. Either player is terrifying (though we’re sure they feel the same way about MC and herO). The quarterfinals should be hugely entertaining.
Polt vs. Classic: Skill in all the right places
Polt’s record is one of the best in the game. With his lowest win rate (against Terran) sitting at 60%, Captain America is certainly a threat. He even had a TvT moment to shine during the WCS America Season 3 Finals when Bomber’s repeated medivac mistake led to a full-on massacre.
Polt beats a Protoss over 67% of the time, and Classic is no exception – Polt took three of five against the SK Telecom T1 Toss at Intel Extreme Masters Cologne Season VIII.
However, Classic’s record isn’t so bad. Like Polt, his best matchup is this one. Winning GSL Code S Season 2 against soO brought Classic to BlizzCon, and he’s here for a reason. Unfortunately Classic hasn’t had the opportunity to face a lot of the incredible powerhouse Terrans lately, and his PvT win rate has declined in the past six months.
If he holds up against Polt and has to confront a fellow Protoss, he’ll need to work hard. The beginning of this year saw Classic struggling with the mirror match and it’s possible he hasn’t fully regained his footing.
San vs. jjakji: Unpredictable outcome
San has been consistently in the top this year, but wasn’t able to pull off any WCS Season wins. Still, he nabbed a top four finish last season in Europe and a second place spot after a rough 0-4 loss to StarDust in Season 2.
On the one-to-terrifying scale, San’s always on the terrifying end. His PvZ is unmatchable, and his recent play against jjakji, who he beat 2-1 at Intel Extreme Masters Shenzhen and 2-0 at Dragon Invitational 4 in August, has been more than satisfying. If San wins here and has to face Life, he’s got a solid shot at moving through the quarterfinals. Against Zest, we’re guessing he’d be less confident.
jjakji hasn’t been ‘the winner’ this year. He hasn’t taken it all, but he has earned his place at BlizzCon through a series of valuable top eight or four finishes, like those in WCS Europe Season 1, DreamHack Open: Moscow, and Intel Extreme Masters Sao Paulo. jjakji’s TvP isn’t on par with his other play, but it is close – and on a good day, he could take this match. Can he comfortably face Zest or Life? A win there remains to be seen.
Zest vs. Life: We can’t even
How this came to be is less important than that it did, but we’ll tell the story anyway.
Zest solidified his position as one of the best Protoss players in the world with a GSL win in Season 1 Code S in 2014. He followed it up with a GSL Global tournament win, and then top eight and top four finishes in Code S Seasons 2 and 3 respectively as well as the KeSPA cup win. Zest’s brilliant record cemented him a home at BlizzCon. Life’s year was slightly less successful, but a series of top twelve and eight finishes and some key wins, such as his DreamHack Open: Bucharest title, earned him rank 14.
Coming into this match, Zest is at almost 64% vs. Zerg in HotS, having taken Life’s blood at Intel Extreme Masters Toronto with a 3-1 win and beaten Soulkey twice in GSL Code S Season 3. The KT Rolster Protoss is undeniably at the top of his game.
Can StarTale Life, who himself is 62% vs. Protoss, do damage to the best? We’ve seen him 2-0 MC and StarDust and trash both Rain and Classic, so we know it’s more than possible for him to topple his Toss opponent with some quick wit.
TaeJa vs. soO: Unfamiliar foes
The Summer of TaeJa had a good run, but it’s now definitely over – it’s even snowing in some places. Given his opponent’s record of making it to the finals in tournaments, the Liquid Terran should maintain a healthy level of fear. For soO, though, we’re sure it’s impossible to watch TaeJa’s play and look at his record and not feel the same.
TaeJa is at 69% in TvZ, his best matchup at the moment. He had an incredible run at Homestory Cup XI, Intel Extreme Masters Shenzhen and DreamHack Open: Summer 2014. He’s faced some challenges in WCS play, including a loss to HyuN, but most of his struggles can be pinned on Pigbaby, who seemed as though he made it a personal mission to beat TaeJa. Against Zerg players like Jaedong and viOLet, the Terran is in a good spot.
soO, though, is nearly guaranteed a win here, if only proven by his past. Four GSL Code S finals later. With Terran as his best match, we just can’t vote against the SK Telecom T1 Zerg until he hits the end game – even knowing what we know about TaeJa. These games should at least entertain, especially as these two have never met on stage before.
HyuN vs. INnoVation: Sorry, we thought we misheard you
INnoVation. Is he back? Is he all in? Is he going to show us all that he’s just been saving his nastiest play for the end game?
With over a 68% win rate against Zerg and a very solid overall record, it’s no secret that the newly traded SK Telecom player is a force. His 4-2 domination of soO at the GSL Season 3 Code S finals and that 3-0 smackdown of DongRaeGu earlier in the season are more than enough proof that INnoVation’s TvZ is scorching hot. Another fun fact: he’s beaten HyuN every time they’ve met. But if that happens here and TaeJa takes his match, too, INnoVation could be in hot Terran water – he’s only taken eight of 21 maps against the Liquid player.
We’re just guessing, but siege tanks might come into play in this first matchup.
And for HyuN, who held his spot as number one until the last moments of Season 3, roaches might (maybe?) be involved. HyuN’s overall record is a thing of beauty, though not quite on par with INnoVation’s. Still, there’s nothing to be said about the ROCCAT Zerg having a lack of skill, talent, or anything else, really.
Against Terran, he’s netted 159 wins. The unreal volume of games he’s played alone makes him a top choice for all-out winner. But the end of last season in America and DreamHack Open: Stockholm saw HyuN faltering slightly against Heart and MaNa. It’s a toss-up as to whether or not this incredibly hardworking player (who traveled the world all year to ensure his points would stack up) will oust the reigning GSL champ. And if he does – how will he fare against soO or TaeJa in the quarterfinals?
Tune in on Saturday the 1st of November at 19:00 CET to find out who will move forward to weekend two of BlizzCon, and don’t forget to set up your fantasy team here.
For the record: despite being a Terran fangirl, this author picks Zest to take it all. His trajectory this year has been unstoppable, and I want to see it continue.