The two StarCraft favorites lose in the Round of 16 to set up a wide open field for the finals.
Just when it was starting to look like WCS America might be totally drained of drama this season, two of the clearest favorites for the quarterfinals took a tumble in this week’s round of 16. The near-invincible Yoon “TaeJa” Young Seo was smashed by Lee Jae Dong and Axiom’s Kim "Heart" Min Hyuk, while Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn fell apart against the Protoss pair of Xiang "MacSed" Hu and Kim "Oz" Hak Soo.
TaeJa’s loss may be the biggest upset, given his near-perfect play through the summer and fall. But Jaedong was in terrific shape this week, bouncing back from a game 1 defeat to take the next two from TaeJa and advance into the quarterfinals.
From that point on, TaeJa seemed shaky. His Terran vs. Terran matches are usually quite good, but in his deciding series against Heart, he seemed to be lagging behind in every respect. Heart was on the attack and TaeJa was misreading his plays and getting caught in bad matchups. Even basic plays, like cloaked Banshee harassment, were going Heart’s way.
In two games, Heart was on his way to the quarterfinals and TaeJa was going home. He’s still a lock for the Global Finals, thanks to his consistency all season, but it was a still a shocking setback.
As nasty a surprise as TaeJa got, he came out of the week in much better shape than Scarlett, whose entire season was ended by the Protoss matchup she’s taken issue with since Heart of the Swarm came out. Scarlett showed her complete mastery of Zerg vs. Zerg by demolishing Lim "NesTea" Jae Duk in her first series.
Going into this round, that matchup seemed like the main attraction, a battle of the Zerg titans. But the script changed as she moved onto face MacSed’s Protoss. She had him with his back against the wall in their first game - her Zergling pressure having undone his early game. He was forced to roll the dice on an attack cross the map in the hope of taking out a hatchery and perhaps returning to the game to even, but her growing Infestor force and strong position made that a very unlikely hope.
But as the fight commenced, Scarlett seemed to throw everything into the battle and trust the weight of numbers to do the job. But it was a huge mistake against MacSed’s sentry-heavy army. Her fungals rooted his army, but thanks to his force fields, there was no reason he should have to move. Instead of a neat surround, her forces got taken apart piecemeal and MacSed’s pressure turned into an all-out attack into her base. From a strong position, Scarlett had lost the entire game.
And that seemed to break her for the rest of the evening. She fell to MacSed again, and then had just as bad a time against EG’s Oz. It’s possible her health issues came back, as she was rubbing her wrists painfully between games, but either way she seemed unable to find an answer to Oz’s Sentry-Immortal all-ins. After the match, she changed her Twitter profile to read, “Protoss please die!”
If she had advanced, Scarlett would have been in great shape to make a run at the Global Finals, but as things stand she must wait, like many other StarCraft hopefuls, until next year.