The only group without a Korean in will see which two players will be completing our RO8 of the Winter League. Fan favorite DIMAGA can be nothing but a favorite going into this, though it does not mean it will be easy for him. UK Zerg JonnyREcco has been making more and more of a splash lately and will put up a strong resistance to try and take first in the Group. Our two Protoss players Adonminus and Sjaak will also be looking for some good games and are definitely not out of the question from advancing.
DIMAGA is the only player in Group D who has not played in an SC2Improve event before. Adonminus is the reigning Winter League Champion, JonnyREcco came second in the Summer League and Sjaak nearly beat him in their Group before finishing 9th-12th after a loss to Lucky.
All of this might mean something if this was a major tournament or anything close to it, but it really isn't - but I have to make it sound dramatic somehow, right? DIMAGA is actually the most experienced player in the group. He is the oldest by a large margin and though his recent results are lackluster we have to remember he is a Dreamhack Finalist and a WCS semi-finalist. 2014 really hasn't been his year just yet, but everyone needs to have their downtime at some point as consistency is something very few people in the foreign scene are familiar with.
His experience will definitely come into play, but it won't carry him through on it's own. His first match against Sjaak he will be put to the test as Sjaak has shown some impressive skill lately in team leagues and online cups. I don't know what style to expect from either of these players, but DIMAGA will have to have his whits about him to make sure he doesn't die to some sneaky all-ins.
Actual Fresh Meat and the Potential Rematch
Sjaak is the only player of the four to not have experience in a major event. At 15 he is too young to play in WCS and so has to stick to online cups and qualifiers. Recently offline he placed third in the Dutch Starcraft League Spring Invitational, taking down uThermal 3-0 in the 3rd/4th place match.
If you watched the Summer League you will remember that possibly the best night of the whole tournament came in the RO16 with Group B - when we saw Sjaak open the evening against JonnyREcco. He should have won, but he just missed out on an opportunity in the Winner's Match. It was a great start to an amazing evening but unfortunately in the end he fell to Lucky, who was defeated by JonnyREcco. Sjaak vs JonnyREcco could happen again in Group D and if it does many will be expecting another great series.
Will the 15 year old prodigy make another splash? We will see.
Return of a Champion
Tuesday 19th February 2013, 1915 CET. The SC2Improve Winter League 2012/2013 Finals Night. Adonminus cruised through the semi-finals with a 3-0 over Mix before entering what at the time was an epic PvZ which he won 4-3 against Shibbxyz. He became the Winter League Champion in front of 70 people. He won £25.
A lot has changed. Going into Group D he will play in front of maybe 1000 people to move on in a cup where he can win up to 200 Euros. He is not new to the spotlight as he has now played in a few seasons of WCS. He has come a long way in just one year - but so have we all. Adonminus' first title defense was in the Summer League, where he made it through the RO16 before losing 1-3 to Noname in the RO8. This is his last chance to defend his title and it will not be easy.
Earlier today after taking 3 maps against ESC to push his team Cascade into the semi-finals of the SC2ITL he told me he was not confident, as he didn't have that 'dominating' feeling he usually does against Zerg. Unfortunately he is going to have to beat at least one Zerg to make it out of the group, but will it be JonnyREcco? JonnyREcco has looked frightening since he joined Core and upped his practice. I can't help but feel Adonminus is going to have to pull out his best tricks to pull this one off- but if anyone is known for pulling out tricks, it is him.
He Who Should Have Been a Champion
Yes, I use the word 'Champion' as though this isn't some small online event for these players. Get over it! JonnyREcco was meant to be the one. He should have won the Summer League, but he didn't. He lost 3-4 in the finals to Noname after move commanding his Swarm Hosts in Game 7 on Bel'Shir Vestige. He struggled continuously against Mech in the series, winning all the games he played which was not a Mech style from Noname.
He is back and he will be looking to go far again - he didn't spend the time qualifying for this event as practice. As long as he doesn't let up his guard he should make it past Adonminus. Solid scouting and not being overly greedy is going to be the way to move past this first barrier and if he can do this he will have two shots of advancing to the RO8. Most likely against DIMAGA first and then if he fails once again against one of the Protoss players.
I will reiterate anything can happen in this group, but I really will be surprised if JonnyREcco does not make it through. It would actually seem kind of wrong to see him (or DIMAGA) drop in the RO16. Actually it would be weird to see Adonminus fall so early. Then you think again that Sjaak has the skill to beat any of these players on a given day. Group D - is this going to be our closest group?
After having seen only three series so far go to the third game I sure hope so. The RO16 has passed far too quickly for my liking so far and I hope we get to see a bunch of long drawn out series tomorrow to test the endurance of my vocal chords!
Alright well, it's predictions time. Honestly I'm going to cop-out. There's no point me picking the favorites and making all the matches 2-1s because I think they will be close. DIMAGA and JonnyREcco will be the favorites, but the Protoss players have the potential to win against anyone in the Group, so nothing is going to be set in stone. If I was putting money on the Winter League, I wouldn't bet on the outcome of Group D.
But hey, we can always look to our good friend www.aligulac.com to give us some statistical predictions at least! So I leave you all with this and I shall see you all in the Group to see what surprises await us. (P.S. Please note how even Aligulac thinks this group is going to be close!)