DISCLAIMER: When I was still actively playing SC2, I never got beyond rank #1 in my Diamond League, so I'm clearly not good enough to really understand the nuances between the players at the very top.
However, I'm also Honorary Chairman of the League of the Ultra-Opinionated Gentlemen, and as such I'm always happy to share my point of view.
As I spent most of yesterday watching the events at WCS Ro16 unfold, I greatly enjoyed the high level of play yet at the same time came away a little disappointed because of the many one-sided series. Here are some of my impressions:
Fantasy - Hero
After a super-exciting first game, the series turned the way everybody including myself expected. Hero was too strong for Fantasy, and let's face it, Hero simply belongs in a WCS final, at least Ro4
Classic - Byul
I've been following the Korean SC2 scene for a long time, but for some reason I've always been pretty much indifferent about these two players. Whenever that happens, I usually root for the player whose advance would keep the race balance intact, Byul in this case because there were only 4 Zergs at this tournament, and I expected Maru to beat Rogue.
Decisive victory for Classic - I didn't know that apparently this always happens when they meet in a tournament, but it seems to me Byul sold himself short in this series. I'm not really sure what went wrong for Byul, but losing 0-3 just doesn't do him justice.
I recently read an interesting article about "The Strongest Chess Players Who Never Became World Champion". I hope Byul won't one day become the topic of a similar article about Starcraft.
Innovation - Zest
It's almost a shame that the WCS finals are so stacked because this match was definitely worth of the WCS final, especially ~6 months ago before Zest fell into a slump. Given all the hype around this series, the outcome was pretty disappointing. 3-0 just isn't good enough for players of this caliber. I'm always rooting for the terran, but in this case I felt sorry for Zest.
Yes, this was an excellent performance by Innovation, but where I seem to differ slightly from a lot of other commentators and observers is that I don't think this has made Innovation the favorite to win WCS just yet.
Life - Lilbow
I don't like Life because he beat Parting in the GSL final, and I don't like Lilbow because he's French ;-) Given the race distribution of this tournament (way too many Protoss) I was rooting for Life. Also because Life's the bigger name and would make for more interesting matches later on.
Other than that, again somewhat of a disappointment, 3-0's just aren't very exciting. Obviously Life was the clear favorite to win this series, but considering that he's no longer the UBER-ZERG he once was, I was hoping/expecting Lilbow to win at least one game. And yet, for the life of me (pun intended) I don't understand why Life's opponents always play as if they didn't know that he's known for early ling aggression.
Polt - Rain
Pretty clear cut on paper: Rain, a recent 2015 GSL champion the heavy favorite vs. Polt, who's fallen off the radar a little bit in recent months. And yet I think Rain was the lucky one here and advanced when Polt was playing slightly better. I guess this is one of those times where you can play better than your opponent and still lose the match.
SOS - Parting
I know SOS's results are pretty solid overall, but I do feel that people are giving him too much credit because he won those $100,000 a while ago. At the same time though, Parting is also no longer the dominant force he once was. Maybe his lifestyle is finally catching up with him. Anyway, my money was on Parting because I thought that his superior micro would prove decisive. Parting has always been one of my favorite players ever since I started enjoying Protoss games.
Parting's Immortal Micro Making Headlines
Oh well, at least I can look forward to more unorthodox strategies from SOS.
Dream - Hydra
Well-deserved win by Hydra, though it was a shame to see another terran eliminated. I think Hydra played well beyond expectations and should be proud of making it to the next round.
Maru - Rogue
What can I say. I'm a huge Maru-Fanboy, and I hate saying it, but: As I have said many time, Maru is overrated. He didn't deserve to go down 3-0 like this, yet at the same time he's had a few too many disappointing results this year - especially in Proleague - to be conveniently explained away.
At the same time, hats off to Rogue, beating Maru 3-0 in a Bo5 will forever be a highlight in his career.
A few general observations:
- I don't like one-sided series. Even when I have a clear favorite, I want "my" player to win 3-2, and not sweep the series 3-0. It's like that cheesy Stallone line "It's not about how hard you can hit, it's about how hard you can get hit and still move forward". Or something like that.
- Where are the high level terrans? Yes, there's Innovation, but who else? As I stated above, Maru is overrated, and there's simply no other terran with the stature of Innovation in sight. Too bad Taeja and Bomber in particular aren't around anymore.
- I expect Hero, Innovation, Rain and Rogue to make it to the semi final. It's clear already that names like Zest, Byul, and Maru are sorely missed at this point. No offense, but it just wouldn't feel the same if "second-rate" top players like Classic or Hydra were to win WCS 2015