by: Nakajin

WTL Summer kept bringing on the surprises in Week 3—or at least, the Starving Camels did. The underdog squad forced BASILISK all the way to an ace match, further establishing their wild card credentials. The other surprise of the week was PSISTORM’s 2-4 loss to Platinum Heroes, which may have started a crisis for last season’s 3rd place team. PSISTORM owner KJ tweeted that roster changes are coming, leaving us rather curious who the reinforcements will be.

Looking ahead to Week 5, the marquee match looks to be Shopify vs Team Liquid. TL has performed well since adding SKillous, but lost handily in their most challenging match vs ONSYDE. A win against Shopify would show us that this TL squad has truly leveled up from previous seasons and can hang with the playoff teams.

Also, the Starving Camels are on upset watch again as they go up against ABYDOS. Perhaps ABYDOS didn’t get the memo that SSLT are the most dangerous team in the league at the moment, deploying Mondo over NightMare or DRG. This gives the Camels a chance to force another ace match against a stronger opponent, or even get the win.

Week 4 Recap

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Top 7 teams qualify for the playoffs.
Bottom 2 teams must requalify.

Points are awarded as follows:

  • 3 points for a victory in a series that does not require an ace match
  • 2 points for a victory in a series that requires an ace-match
  • 1 point for a loss in a series that requires an ace-match
  • 0 points for a loss in a series that does not require an ace match

瘦死骆驼 (Starving Camels) 3 – 4 BASILISK
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After some scheduling confusion, TooDming and Trigger opened the 4th week of WTL Summer (the Liquipedia graphic above lists the ‘official’ match order, but the actual match order was TooDming vs Firefly, Silky vs Serral, and then Firefly vs Reynor).

Things were seemingly benign for the Protoss player going through his build progression in game one, but only because he didn’t realize the impending danger. Trigger only found out about TooDming’s Roach-Bane all-in when it already reached the middle point of the map, and he ended up losing his vulnerable third base after panic-warping units behind some defensive sim city. Despite this, Trigger still had a card to play by hunkering down on defense and playing for a longer game, but he misread ToodMing’s intentions once again. Trigger stepped out onto the map just as TooDming was getting ready for a second wave of attacks, which meant he ended up walking headfirst to his doom.

Looking to keep up his momentum, TooDming followed with a good old Queen-Nydus all-in on Altitude. Had his Nydus Worm been spotted a second earlier, his initial attempt in the main may not have worked, but luckily for him, hypotheticals don’t go on the scorecard. TooDming took the 2-0 and put the Camels in a fantastic starting position. (By the way, just so everyone remembers they’re old, Trigger said in a post-match interview that he didn’t even know who TooDming was. Still, you figure SOMEONE who watches the WTL should have told him TooDming is one of the cheesier players.)

After stunning Shopify’s ByuN with a 1-1 last week, Silky didn’t come close to delivering SSLT the needed upset this week against Serral (although we did get to see a pretty quirky Muta-into-Lurker build). Serral took the 2-0, leaving it to Reynor and Firefly to break the tie.

If one could frame a game of StarCraft and hang it like a painting, Firefly’s game one against Reynor deserves a prime spot on his wall. After showing air-tight defense against Reynor’s infamously slippery Lings, Firefly also pulled off a near-perfect hold against the committed Roach-Ravager-Bane-Queen attack off of cour bases. That left Firefly with four Colossus and a huge army, which he used to shove the Zerg’s head under water and keep it there. For the second week in a row, Firefly had the opportunity to close a match with PvZ on Dragon scales. He chose a similar idea as last week’s match versus Lambo, going for a Stargate into a greedy quick fourth with double-robo Colossus behind it. Despite his build being a bit safer than last week, Firefly could not psych out Reynor the same way he did to Lambo. Reynor’s mass Roach hit while Firefly was still weak, cutting through him like a hot knife through butter.

With Serral not being one to stand between a man and his ego, we saw Reynor line up for the ace match to decide his BO3 against Firefly. Reynor once again chose aggression with Roach-Ravager-Queen drop harass that was again defended by Firefly—this time through nail-biting Blink-Stalker control. The Camels could probably taste victory for a second, but Firefly got carried away in pursuit, leading him to lose a lot of his Stalkers for nothing. With the game slowing down, Reynor displayed his uncanny ability to play from behind, creating an opening for himself with a Ling drop in the Protoss main while he pushed the fourth with his Roach-Ravager army. That move dealt major economic damage, which allowed him to safely tech up to Vipers and win the game cleanly.

Overall, SSLT followed their eye-opening performance versus Shopify last week with another surprising showing, highlighted by Firefly’s performance. The #7 seed and a playoff berth seems very much in play for SSLT, and taking a single point against Basilisk may end up being hugely valuable. As for Basilisk, dropping a point is far from the end of the world, but the #1 seed might become an unrealistic goal if ONSYDE continues to dominate and collect full points.

Berserker eSports 1 – 5 ABYDOS
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Two familiar faces led the charge for Berserker, although ultimately it was a charge into defeat. First, Spatz played a respectably close PvP against Creator before bowing out 0-2. #3 Finnish Zerg Mixu almost stole a tie against Cure, as his Queen-Ling-Nydus basetraded against a Hellbat-Marauder timing in game two. However, Cure managed the chaotic situation much better and clinched the 2-0.

Continuing their rather endearing commitment to giving everyone a chance to play in the WTL, Berserker sent out their 8th different player of the season in TeebuL in the final match. The former DHM Oceania champion salvaged a point for Berserker in the very last game, thanks to every Plat-2 player’s favorite build ‘’nothing into DT’’.

Team Liquid 5 – 1 Starlight Twinkle
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Spirit and SKillous clashed in their 63rd match against each other, this time with their teams’ success in the balance as well. SKillous took game one, absorbing a lot of damage and surviving some scary moments before prevailing with his Colossus-Gateway army. Looking to get the 2-0, SKillous went for a two-base Blink attack in game two. However, a bit of anti-micro saw him lose his Prism during his first attack, and he had to content himself with a 1-1 tie.

Clem did not give an inch to Nice in our second BO2 of the night. On Gresvan, Clem denied any scouting by the Protoss and surprised him with a three-rax attack for the win. Things were looking more promising for Nice on Royal Blood, with his good defense against a Mine drop giving him a shot at winning with Glaive Adept + Phoenix all-in. However, Clem seemed to sense something and stayed on mass Widow Mines, and blasted Nice’s army to smithereens.

The final match opened with Cham trying to be the aggressor in the Ling-Bane phase, but he couldn’t find any holes in Elazer defense. That strong initial Ling-Bane control proved decisive as Cham’s follow-up Roach attack off of 45 Drones fell just short of breaking his opponent. It was then Elazer’s turn to go on the offensive in game two, and he found much more success with a similar Roach-Ling attack on 45 Drones.

Overall, it was a strong showing for TL, who are looking more and more like a safe pick to make the playoffs. As for SLT, they’re running out of ‘winnable’ matches, and a playoff spot could be out of their grasp unless they activate SSLT mode.

ONSYDE Gaming 6 – 0 Shopify Rebellion
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ONSYDE preserved their perfect record for the season, taking down Shopify 6-0 to improve to a monster +20 map differential.

Maru improved to 8-0 on the season with a 2-0 against Scarlett in the opener. Taking advantage of Altitude in game one, Maru busted out a battlemech composition to start. While Scarlett didn’t get totally bullied, she wasn’t able to impede Maru’s ghost-mech transition at all, and eventually tapped out to a pre-Brood Lord timing. Game 2 was a weirdly impressive display from Scarlett, where she managed to keep things close for a while despite two absolutely boneheaded moments: losing a full hatch to three Reapers, and trading about 30 Banes for two tanks. Could she have stolen the tie otherwise? Perhaps—but as mentioned above, WTL doesn’t deal in hypotheticals.

Solar and Lambo played a gentlemanly match on Gresvan to start, mirroring builds for much of the early/mid-game. Both players went for Overlord drop harass as well, but Lambo added Tunneling Claws on top of that. It seemed like the German Zerg got the better of the exchange by taking out 15 Drones, but Solar’s decisiveness on the counterattack paid off. Possessing a temporarily higher Roach count, he secured a great fighting position outside of Lambo’s fourth base and forced a fight that was enough to win him the game. In game two, Lambo once again found himself in an advantageous position, this time sniping Solar’s third base with his early Ling pressure. But despite being a base down and on the same Drone count, Solar somehow not only kept up with Lambo’s economy but actually overtook it. He expertly slipped in just a few more Drones into his army mix without exposing himself on defense. Solar then went on to defend Lambo’s Roach-Ling push, and from there rode his advantage to victory.

Ryung has yet to play a match that actually affects the outcome for ONSYDE, but he continued his quietly excellent campaign with a 2-0 over ByuN. The old fox out-positioned ByuN in two back-to-back marine-tank TvT’s, completing the sweep for ONSYDE.

Invictus Gaming 1 – 5 Dragon KaiZi Gaming
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It was another predictable blowout loss for iG, who are extra strained by a brutal early schedule. herO did pull off a rather interesting build in game 1 vs Macsed, going for a mid-game timing with late Glaives after a DT opening. That was pretty much as interesting as it got—BreakingGG vs Oliveira went long but was never particularly close, and XY vs Dark was also one-sided as expected.
Platinum Heroes 4 – 2 PSISTORM Gaming
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After a harsh slate of games in the first three weeks, PSISTORM were looking to get their first points of the season against Platinum Heroes.

DnS’s faked an Oracle against SpeCial’s Reaper scout in game one, and the mind game was perhaps the reason why SpeCial marched a Cyclone, four naked Marines, and a Medivac across the map. There, he was welcomed by a couple of Stalkers and Phoenix that cleaned up the push. SpeCial doubled down on aggression, but that only deepened the hole he had dug for himself, and the game ended in a loss. DnS’s early game success continued in game two, getting the build order-win with a proxy-Gate opening versus a Reaper-expand. After dealing disastrous early damage to the Terran, DnS held off a one-base all-in from SpeCial (which did look threatening at moments), to give his team an unexpected 2-0 lead.

That gave Goblin an opportunity to close out the series with a good PvP performance against Gerald. It started well for Goblin, as Gerald panicked when he couldn’t find his opponent’s hidden second Pylon and played overly defensive in game one. After figuring out he was safe Gerald tried to move out with Immortals, but Goblin chose that moment to Blink into the main, forcing a frustrated Gerald to turn back after losing a bunch of Probes. The PSISTORM Protoss tried to go for some sort of last-ditch Disruptor play, but Goblin finished the game before they could reach critical mass.

A visibly distraught Gerald had the weight of his team on his shoulders and opened game two very safely against any possible threats from his opponent. The game progressed into a similar Robo vs Blink scenario as game 1, with Goblin gearing up for a two-base killing blow while Gerald transitioned to Disruptors. Gerald put up a valiant effort on defense, but he couldn’t stop Goblin’s all-in attack and had to sign off on another loss for PSISTORM with his GG.

MaxPax’s 2-0 over ShaDoWn came too late to change the result. All in all, it was a great result for PH and a ponderous loss for PSISTORM.

I said after last week’s 2-4 defeat at the hands of ABYDOS that it was not yet time for PSISTORM to press the panic button. However, we have passed that threshold and the button has been vigorously pressed.

While we wait to see what roster changes are coming, it should be noted that there’s a waiting period for new signees to become eligible to play in the WTL. The current roster needs to hold the fort until the reinforcements are allowed to play, so there should be plenty of more stressful matches ahead for PSISTORM.

Weekly MVP: (Wiki)PH.DnS

In a week full of one-sided matches, it was hard to pinpoint our ace. Reynor did manage an ace win, but considering he was a heavy favorite going into his match, it would be wrong to crown him. Conversely, Firefly did steal the best 1-1 tie of the week against Reynor, but he can’t be MVP with an overall negative 1-2 record.

Elazer and Goblin put in valuable 2-0 performances for their teams, but I think another 2-0 winner had the bigger impact: Platinum Heroes’ DnS. The Frenchman’s 2-0 victory over SpeCial, who is ostensibly PSISTORM’s second best player, was the main reason PH managed to prevail. While PSISTORM’s losing streak might be what stands out first, it was also a crucial win for the Heroes that put them a step ahead of Berserker and IG in avoiding relegation.

Weekly MVP’s:

  • Week 4. PH.DnS
  • Week 3: Everyone on SSLT/瘦死骆驼/Starving Camels
  • Week 2: ABYDOS.Cure
  • Week 1: BASILISK.Serral

Preview: Regular Season Week 5

Friday, May 19 12:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00) Matches

ONSYDE Gaming vs Starlight Twinkle

ONSYDE look likely to continue their perfect season against a Starlight Twinkle team that has a rough road ahead of them.

Maru will be headed into his match with Nice just two days after the GSL RO4/Finals—Nice’s only chance is if Maru is afflicted by a celebratory hangover or is in a catatonic despair state.

Spirit has a much better match-up against Solar. The two players are 50/50 against each other since the start of the year, and Spirit is playing the best SC2 of his career. Spirit has yet to give up a 0-2 this season, while Solar has not even dropped a map. With one of these streaks forced to end on Friday, I lean toward Spirit taking the 1-1, but it would be a strong statement if Solar could stay spotless.

If Spirit does in fact take a map (or two), Ryung will have to play his first consequential match of the season against Cham. It’s not the best match-up for him to draw, as TvZ has been his weakest match-up since his return from military service. Also, with the GOMTvT going on at the AfreecaTV studio, we can bet that he has probably spent the last week practicing the match-up with Maru rather than preparing for the WTL.

Will the few inklings of an upset compound into anything real? Doubtful—ONSYDE has been stellar at shutting underdogs down.

Prediction: ONSYDE Gaming 5 – 1 Starlight Twinkle

Invictus Gaming vs PSISTORM Gaming

An uncomfortable feeling of dread will be surrounding our second match. This match versus IG should be where PSISTORM stops their downward spiral. They are favored in all three matches and have an almost guaranteed ace win if it somehow gets there, but there’s a lingering worry that things could go horribly wrong if they let the pressure get to them. If PSISTORM can suppress the nerves they were showing last week and play their own game, they should be able to start their comeback.

Prediction: Invictus Gaming 1 – 5 PSISTORM Gaming

Saturday, May 20 12:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00) Matches

瘦死骆驼 (Starving Camels) vs ABYDOS

We get the very first appearance of Mondo in Code S! Surprisingly enough, it won’t be Cure getting a day off after the Code S final four, but rather Nightmare/DRG who are on the bench.

Ironically, after back-to-back overperformances by the Camels, I think they won’t be able to take advantage of this stroke of fortune. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a decent chance that Silky or Cyan slip something past their opponents. But with Creator playing some damn fine PvZ at the moment and Cure being maybe the best TvP player in the world, ABYDOS should be able to withstand having a weak link this week.

An ace match between Cure and Firefly would be a treat though…

Prediction: Starving Camels 2 – 4 Abydos

Platinum Heroes vs Dragon KaiZi Gaming

Platinum Heroes’ bottomless roster strikes again, this time with HateMe and ArT making their season debut (they were mainstays in previous Heroes campaigns in the WTL). There probably won’t be any fanfare for their arrival, considering DKZ are 5 to 1 favorites or better in all three matches according to Aligulac, but it’s still nice seeing the team’s veterans getting a chance to play again.

Prediction: Platinum Heroes 0 – 6 DKZ Gaming

Sunday, May 21 12:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00) Matches

Berserker eSports vs BASILISK

A top 2 team in the league against a bottom 2 team in the league in the game should be a done deal, but we could get some worthwhile entertainment. It obviously won’t be coming from Serral who will easily move to an 11-0 record, but Spatz can look at Trigger as someone he can upset on a good day.

If Spatz gets the 1-1, that could raise Rotti’s stress level going into Reynor’s match. Since the last WTL season, Reynor has won only two out of his fifteen regular season matches (the same as MacSed). Now I’m not saying the youngest player with $500,000 in career earnings is cursed in the WTL… …but I’m also not saying he’s NOT cursed. So, here’s to hoping he somehow breaks his 1-1 streak with a LOSS to PAPI to make this narrative as funny as possible.

Prediction: Berserker eSport 1 – 5 BASILISK

TeamLiquid vs Shopify Rebellion

While TL and Shopify have often looked similar strong on paper, the Rebellion have constantly overperformed in the WTL whereas the boys in blue have often disappointed. However, TL could turn the tables this season, especially if they can beat Shopify directly.

SKillous opens the match against the opposing team’s ace Terran once more, and will again be looking to get a 1-1 for his team. However, ByuN is even scarier than Spirit, and the maybe-new-GSL-champion should be a favorite to get the 2-0 victory.

Clem’s reputation as an unbeatable TvZ player has taken some hits over the years, especially when he’s played against Korea’s best players. However, a closer examination of the match-up shows that in the last year, he has lost exactly one TvZ against foreigners not named Serral or Reynor. Amusingly enough, Lambo is the foreign Zerg who managed to snatch that one win, but it’s buried under a mountain of many more losses to the Liquid ace. I’m ready to give this match to Clem.

Elazer and Harstem have played 40 matches and 104 games against each other in their careers, and in that span, Elazer leads by a 2:1 ratio in games (76-38). Incidentally, that’s the chance Aligulac gives Elazer to win a BO3, with the statistics website predicting a 2-1 as the most likely outcome. A 2-1 needs to be a 1-1 before that, so by that logic, I’ll say Harstem manages to take the tie and force the ace match.

If that scenario comes to pass, it will be interesting to see who gets TL’s vote of confidence to face Shopify’s likely ace in ByuN. Clem has lost to ByuN in previous ace matches, but Elazer and SKillous aren’t exactly great alternatives against a player of ByuN’s caliber. Whatever choice Liquid makes, ByuN is the favorite to close it out.

Prediction: Team Liquid 3 – 4 Shopify Rebellion