StarCraft Esports: GSL Season 1

I haven’t written an article in awhile, I would like to start this by apologizing for the lack of content on SC2 Swarm and that I plan to pick it up more again in the near future.

Intro to GSL 2018

If you are familiar with the GSL format and what the GSL is, you can skip this section.

GSL is one of, if not the most prestigious StarCraft 2 tournament. It is the most important tournament in Korea and it is consistently the tournament where we see the highest level of play. The bottom line is that all of the top players in the world want to win this tournament and that it means more to them than almost every other tournament.

The GSL begins with qualifiers that allow 32 players into the beginning round of the tournament. The top 2 players from the previous season are already qualified for the tournament. Once the 32 players are selected, they are seeded into 8 groups of 4 players. 5 series are played for each group. The first two series determine which players move to the winners match and who has to play in the loser’s match. Then the winner of the winner’s match moves onto the round of 16 and the loser of the winner’s match and the winner of the loser’s match play in a final match to see who the second player is to advance to the round of 16. If that was confusing, it is essentially just a double elimination bracket of 4 players.

The round of 16 works in the exact same way as the round of 32, except that the players select their groups.

The round of 8 forward is a single elimination bracket, the round of 8 is best of 5 and the semi finals and finals are best of 7.


Group A

INnoVation (T)
Creator (P)
Solar (Z)
Leenock (Z)

Group B

sOs (P)
SortOf (Z)
ByuL (Z)
Dear (P)

Group C

Rogue (Z)
Billowy (P)
Scarlett (Z)
aLive (T)

Group D

soO (Z)
NoRegret (Z)
Zest (P)
Bunny (T)

Group E

GuMiHo (T)
Hurricane (P)
Losira (Z)
TY (T)

Group F

Dark (Z)
Trust (P)
Trap (P)
ByuN (T)

Group G

Stats (P)
Impact (Z)
jjakji (T)
Classic (P)

Group H

herO (P)
Ragnarok (Z)
KeeN (T)
Maru (T)

Results so far

The first group of the GSL Season 1 2018 began with group A began on the 6th.

INnovation swept group A 4-0 without dropping a map. Leenock was able to defeat Solar twice in the first and final series while losing to INnovation becoming the second player to advance. Creator took a map off of solar in the loser’s match, but was not able to close out the series.

This is a very disappointing result for solar, as one of the top zergs of 2017 (I would personally put him as fourth after Dark, Rogue and soO, at least in terms of the korean players) and just missing blizzcon of last year he needs good GSL results to be able to break into blizzcon for 2018. Dropping out in the round of 32 is a huge disappointment for him.

Leenock being able to absolutely crack Solar is interesting. There wasn’t anything particularly special about Leenock’s play in 2017, but handily defeating Solar in the start of 2018 looks promising for him. I am still skeptical of how he will perform in the rest of GSL, since while losing to INnoVation isn’t very telling of his ZvT match-up, we have only see him perform in ZvZ.

After INnoVation won the last GSL, it isn’t surprising to see him playing so well at the start of this GSL. Especially with a seemingly shaky solar and no other top players in his group.

Zergs to Look out For

A total of 12 Zerg players qualified for the round of 32 in GSL season 1 2018 Including:


Swarm Leaders

There are three zergs that stood above the rest in 2017 and I fully expect them to be the top players coming into 2018.

Rogue – Dark – soO

Rogue ended 2017 with a GSL super tournament win to barely clutch a blizzcon slot where he crushed the competition and won it all. Rogue’s 2017 started slow but he has seemed untouchable for the end of 2017. I expect Rogue to continue to play to the highest level of play and for him to be much more of a force than he was in the beginning of 2017. However for him to continue to play like he did at 2017 blizzcon will be tough and if it is possible for him to be untouchable like he was previously remains to be seen.

Dark had a good 2017, he performed better than most players in all of the tournaments he attended. However after his 2016 performance, winning SSL and placing second at blizzcon, his 2017 was a little disappointing. He looked great going into blizzcon 2017 after a second place in the second season of SSL and a round of 4 finish in the final season of GSL. However he fell in the round of 16 at blizzcon in a disappointing fashion. Since then he has gotten two accounts up to over 7000 MMR on the korean ladder and performed very well in smaller tournaments like the ultimate battle series (beating INnoVation, Zest, TY and others). It is clear Dark has been working very hard since his blizzcon performance and I believe he is going to make somewhat of a comeback to his 2016 dominance.

soO had an amazing 2017 but it continued to be a disappointing one for him and for his fans. Three separate second place finishes (2 GSL, 1 Blizzcon) means that he is still looking for that first place finish. soO is an incredibly strong player and I think he was consistently either the best or second best Zerg throughout 2017 (except for maybe a small period around the third gsl where dark and rogue were better). I think 2018 will be similar for soO in that fashion. Don’t expect soO to be anything but a top 2 or 3 zerg for all of 2018. However we will have to see if soO will finally be able to close out a tournament and get the first place finish he deserves.

Dark Horses

ByuL – Impact

ByuL was once one of the best zergs in the world and his play looked promising in the start of 2017 with a strong SSL finish. However ByuL dropped off hard at the end of 2017 and was not playing well at all. Watch out for ByuL to see if he will come out strong in 2018 and live up to be one of the best zergs again which we know he is capable of, or if he will just fall over like the end of his 2017 would suggest.

Impact had one great performance in 2017 winning a VSL. I don’t expect him to play amazingly in 2018 but I do think he has the potential to play better and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had another breakout performance like in VSL of last year.


NoRegret – SortOf – Scarlett

NoRegret is a cheese player, it is as simple as that. I don’t expect him to play much better than he did in the last GSL where he went 0-4 in the round of 32. However with that being said, his best match-up is ZvZ which he has in the first match against soO. I can’t see him defeating zest or bunny, however I also wouldn’t be surprised if he was able to make the series against soO close.

SortOf is in his first GSL, I doubt he will be able to make a huge impact, as even zergs like elazer haven’t made the round of 16 in their first gsl (no foreigner made the round of 16 in 2017 though). However new players competing in the GSL is tough to judge, his group contains three other players that have been inconsistent in the past and if SortOf is feeling good on the day he plays and doesn’t have any problems with the headsets, he could very well be the first foreigner to make it into the round of 16.

Scarlett has the most experience competing in GSL of all the foreginers by a lot, competing in all 3 GSL’s in 2017. She has yet to make the round of 16, but as she becomes more comfortable being on stage and continues to practice in Korea, I believe she will make the round of 16 eventually. The only question is when, and will this finally be the GSL that she is able to make it past the round of 32. Her group looks promising, while I doubt she will be able to defeat Rogue, aLive and Billowy are certainly within the scope of her skill level.


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