GSL Finals: Confronting the Second-Place Curse

Blizzard Entertainment

The Global StarCraft II League (GSL) Season 1 for 2017 is coming to a climax this weekend, and it’s been an incredible journey so far. We’ve seen surprise upsets like the fall of ‘ByuN’ Hyun Woo and Lee ‘INnoVation’ Shin Hyung, potent aggressive styles from players like Park ‘Dark’ Ryung Woo and Kim ‘sOs’ Yoo Jin, and uncanny mechanical skill from players like Jun ‘TY’ Tae Yang and Kim ‘Ryung’ Dong Won. But now that the semifinals are over and we’re left with two remaining players, all focus shifts to the clash between Eo ‘soO’ Yoon Su and Kim ‘Stats’ Dae Yeob. Neither of these players have won a GSL finals before, so we’re going to see a new champion of the Korean scene regardless of how this final match pans out.


soO has a curse to lift. He has a history of making it to the GSL finals only to be knocked out and settle for second place. More specifically, it’s mostly been Protoss players who have bested him to take the championship from his hands. This weekend he finds himself in this spot once again with the greatest Protoss player in the world standing in his way. Fortunately, soO seems more ready this season than ever before.

We’ve seen soO’s absolute best games this season, and he seems ready to bring his new patient mindset to his clash against Stats. In his semifinal match against sOs, he was prepared for all the aggressive, cheesy plays that his opponent is known for. Each time sOs tried something sneaky or unconventional, soO punished him hard. Then once the game settled into a more traditional style, soO would take his established builds and expert reactions to victory. Stats isn’t known for being an overly aggressive Protoss, however, so soO will need to have a very polished mid to late game if he wants to defeat such an exceptional player.


Throughout both GSL and Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) Katowice, Stats has easily proven to be the best Protoss player in the world. His builds are streamlined, his transitions are flawless, and he reads the battle effortlessly. It’s little wonder he has the most World Championship Series (WCS) points in Korea by a huge margin. While his huge lead in WCS points almost guarantees him a spot in the WCS Global Finals this year, he’s hungry for a GSL championship. He’s never gotten this far in the GSL before, and he recently finished second place at both IEM Katowice and IEM Gyeonggi. While he’s doing very well this year so far, this may be the event at which he can finally declare himself as the best.

Stats is incredible when it comes to compounding his advantage. In his set against Ryung, we saw Stats take early losses and overcommit to unfavorable fights multiple times before ultimately winning the game. This was immediately apparent in their first game together as Ryung took a very fast early lead with great Widow Mine hits and Liberator harassment. But after recovering, Stats won small victories consistently and crawled his way back into an advantageous position. He doesn’t slip up easily, so soO’s gameplay must be its sharpest to beat this Protoss powerhouse.

The GSL Finals take place this Sunday at 3:00 a.m. PDT.

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