The Team Liquid Starleague has become one of the biggest events of the year. TSL is known for changing the lives of many young pro gamers looking to make a name for themselves. This TSL will be no different in fact with the upcoming launch of HOTS this might be the tournament for someone to build their career.
Tonight kicks off the first four games of the Ro32. 8 players will battle it out in a bo5 to advance to the Ro16 of the most prestigious online event.
The first match of the tournament will kick off with a prime example of what this tournament is all about.
Juan Carlos Tena “Major” Lopez Vs Seok Hyun ‘HyuN’ Ko
For many reasons the match to kick off the tournament says a lot about the TSL 4. Hyun is a former BW pro gamer going up against all be it a known foreign player but still someone who has a lot to prove.
Although Hyun wasn’t a top tier BroodWar pro gamer he still has a very amazing RTS skill set which we’re seeing applied to every tournament he enters. With each day Hyun gets better, there’s no doubt that he is a player Major would have liked to avoid but this is what TSL is all about. Major on the other hand is a fantastic player, his mechanics are top notch and his ability to consistently be at the forefront of the Terran meta game is like none other. However he definitely has something to prove in this tournament.
Terran Vs Zerg has been the subject of a lot of controversy as of late with balance doubts being thrown all over the professional scene and the community. Despite this Major still puts up very good results in this match up, were as Hyun has had a very difficult time with TvZ.
It’s very difficult to call this match but I feel it will be what many consider an upset. I give the edge to Major, although both players showcase a very high mechanical ability I feel Major will have the upper hand due to being around the game longer.
Prediction: Major 3 – 1 Hyun
Won Pyo ‘Curious’ Lee Vs Faton ‘LaLuSh’ Rekathati
Up next we have the battle of the Korean verse a high level Swedish pro gamer. Sweden much like Ukraine has a nack for producing some of the best talent we’ve ever seen. TSL is the breakout tournament for players exactly like our Swedish Zerg Lalush. Last year we watched Swedes Thorzain and Naniwa dominate the tournament beating multiple Korean opponents. Maybe the same fate is destined for LaLush.
Chances are though you didn’t hear about LaLush for his skills in StarCraft 2 more likely you heard about his antics outside of playing the game. As for Curious you know him as Startale’s ace Zerg player. With many accomplishments ranging from winning GSL Code A to being a very consistent Code S player.
This match up will be the most intriguing of the opening day as it’s Zerg vs Zerg and anything can happen. Both players are here for a reason and both have displayed amazing skill in their run so far. But I would be lying if I said Curious wasn’t the favourite. However a lot of people were quick to write off Thorzain last year in his opening match and for LaLush the stage is set, his best match up will is ZvZ so he does have confidence in his play. He has five games to work with but it’s going to be very tough. However I personally feel it won’t be close at all, but I’ve been wrong before!
Prediction: Curious 3 – 0 LaLush
Juan ‘VortiX’ Moreno Durán Vs Jon ‘BabyKnight’ Andersen
It would’ve been the perfect setting for either of these two to have the chance to battle it out verse a big name and have the opportunity to make a huge name for themselves right off the bat. But only one of them will advance to the Ro16. They will meet the winner of Welmu vs Keen which is exactly the type of match either of them want.
But they will need to get past each other first. BabyKnight who qualified based on points to this TSL is by far the most anticipated rising European Protoss players. He was recently picked up by FXO and the thing that caught their eye was his ability to put up big results consistently. On the other hand we have Vortix, it’s been a while since we’ve seen another top Spanish player that wasn’t Lucifron and yet here we have his brother in the Ro32 of TSL. Vortix however also like BabyKnight is probably one of the most under estimated players coming into TSL. Most known for dismantling Golden 3-0 and the destruction of Team Empire in IPL.
This match will be everything TSL set out to be, two up and comers making a name for themselves. Which ever way this match goes one of them will have a new life after the Ro32. On paper this series could worry a lot of people, Vortix has the ability to compete with some of the best Protoss players in the world were as BabyKnight struggles in PvZ. However the beauty of TSL is the preparation time. It’s hard to stop a player who wants something and both of these players want to go through to the next round so badly. I think it will be a very close 5 game series, but I give the edge to Vortix.
Prediction: Vortix 3 – 2 BabyKnight
Joseph ‘Ret’ de Kroon Vs Hyun-Woo ‘Squirtle’ Park
To cap of the opening night we’re treated to what should be the best match of the night. With one of the biggest foreigners matching up verse one of the biggest Korean players. This match has the potential to be an NASL final or an MLG final, as both players are really at the peak of their game.
For Ret he has always been heralded as one of the best foreign players but he simply lacks motivation to practice. Time after time pro gamers will say going against Ret who has been practicing is their worst nightmare. As for Squirtle it’s been a little bit tougher for him. Korea is stacked with some of the best Protoss players in the world such as MC, Seed, and Alicia. So as much as TSL may be a chance for up and comers to prove themselves it’s also a chance for big time players to make their mark and show why they are the best.
Ret is a very well rounded player, he isn’t particularly weak in any match up but with that being said Squirtle is sitting with a 63% win rate vs Zerg going into TSL.
As I said before this match has the potential to be the finals of an MLG or NASL but lucky for us we have this in the first round of TSL. The last time these two players met it went to the wire in a 3 game series and I have a feeling it may be the same again here. This tournament has meant a lot to Ret over the years so I’m going to assume he has been practicing hard for this match.
Prediction: Ret 3 – 2 Squirtle
There’s no doubt we are about to witness yet another amazing season of the Teamliquid Starleague. The action kicks off tonight at 8pm CET over on Team Liquid.