The ASL came in at full speed the last week with whats at least the high level of excitement that comes with a tournament of this caliber if not the quality of all games(I’m looking at you sSak). This week we continue with more “Fan Favorites” in action like Sharp, Mini and Mong and an actual tournament favorite Bisu making a return for another season.
Lets see who Ziggy thinks will advance to the Ro16!
The what do i say about this group group
Sharp has had a bumpy few years. A promising start to the AfreecaTV era with two back-to-back podium runs in the VANT36.5 National Starleague and ASL Season 1 was followed by a two year lull with two top8 finishes before Sharp once again made it to the finals of a premier tour in KSL Season 2 at the end of 2018. What seemed like another shot at glory ended up being a damp squib followed by two more quarterfinal appearances and a dry-spell lasting up until this very day. I struggle to pinpoint the cause of Sharp’s inability to capitalise on his self-evident competitive capabilities. When you watch him play it becomes apparent how much work he’s put into getting where he is right now. He has the micro, the macro, and the game sense necessary to succeed, yet always seems to fall short of meeting expectations. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very fond of Sharp. But there’s no player worse to talk about in previews or predictions of any sort than Sharp.
Bisu has been playing StarCraft professionally for 15 years (minus the time he spent in the army, granted). And yet I can’t shake the feeling he’s lost his competitive drive. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way suggesting he’s looking the worse for wear as a result of his one-and-a-half-decade long tenure in esports – far from it. He’s still a prominent figure on the scene, a permanent fixture in tournaments and the like. But this Bisu doesn’t feel like the three-time MSL champion Bisu. This Bisu feels like a streamer. Maybe that’s why his offline results have been in a steady decline since ~2016-2017, all the way to the point where he got knocked out in the Ro24 of ASL10 at the hands of two Terrans in Leta and JyJ. While I still share the general sentiment he should by and large make it out of this group as a clear favourite, I wouldn’t be too upset if he didn’t, because if he did he’d end up restreaming the rest of the tour. That seems enough to keep a lot of people happy.
PianO is such a polymath. He competes professionally, streams, casts with KCM. I bet he also plays an instrument in his spare time. The recorder or something. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to his ASL11 appearance solely on the grounds that while his online exploits speak for themselves, he hasn’t had as much success in offline tours. His best ASL results to date are two Ro16 finishes in ASL Seasons 1 & 7. While Group E certainly isn’t the easiest, it’s doable at the very least. That also extends to ggaemo and his chances of making it through in second place, even if he has only ever qualified for two ASLs before.
The ambiguity of professionalism and what the term stands for is a clear-cut case of how consensus rules in biased space. Vagueness of definition, paired with interminable attempts to encompass the idea of professionalism in competitive StarCraft have over the years distorted what once stood for professional and amateur. The KeSPA days, however despised by the anti-establishment bunch, were quite straightforward in that regard. You won a courage tour, got a licence, got drafted – bosh! You’re a pro. No fannying about. It used to matter so much that even now professionals refer to themselves as ex-pros, and anyone with no KeSPA-era experience, however skilled or proven in the post-Proleague landscape, is still an amateur. And it needs to change.
It is my belief that a clearly defined and generally agreed upon cut-off point for the status of professional is a necessity for a healthy competitive economy to not only emerge but also become self-sustainable in the long run. My reasoning is based on one fundamental aspect of PR / marketing in a wider sports context – competition boils down to who’s better than whom. The whole point of competing (not really, entertainment is obviously subjective, but please play along) is to establish a pecking order within a certain space. And if it’s not there… how do you sell your product to advertisers? It matters, because of one simple question – who, in the context of (e)sports marketing, legitimises whom – does the player legitimise the competition, or does the competition legitimise the player? Is FlaSh good, because he’s won four ASLs, or is the ASL good, because Flash plays such a prominent part in its legacy? Should I ever get good at writing I’ll surely try and explore this subject in more detail than three paragraphs worth of random musings on the matter but for now – you get the point. The scene needs to recognise ASL as both the legitimiser and the legitimisee – you make it into the ASL, you’re a pro. Not an ex-pro, a semi-pro, or amateur. Pro. End of story.
Enter Group F and soso’s TV debut. Do I expect him to make it past the Ro24? Absolutely not. But you can bet your bollocks to a barn dance I’ll be in his corner when he bombs out in last place and (inevitably) has the piss taken out of him on the interwebs. Why? Cause, as far as I’m concerned, you make it to the ASL, you’re mustard. I’d understand not being excited about soso as a player, I get it. It’s his first time, we know nothing about the guy (including his preferred ID for that matter); but not being chuffed there’s a new kid on the block looking to throw hands with the big boys? Unacceptable. That out of the way, I expect the group to be a relatively straightforward affair with Mini and MIsO battling it out for first place and a better seed in the Ro16. As much as I’d like to back my claim with tangible results / stats, sponbbang is down. So… MIsO graced us with a surprisingly out-of-the-ordinary showing in ASTL2 and Mini plays Protoss. Does that work?
- first time
- The Block