Eo "soO" Yoon Su has been here before. Once again, he's on the cusp of a GSL championship after defeating a number of more famous players on his journey to the final. Once again, he's facing a Protoss player who has seemingly come out of nowhere to become the hottest StarCraft II players in Korea.
Always a Bridesmaid
If reputations were just a question of consistency, if a sporting career were just judged on how long a player stays near the top, then soO would be celebrated as one of the finest Zerg players of his generation. He'd be a name on par with Kim "Soulkey" Min Chul or Park "DongRaeGu" Soo Ho.
But runners-up tend to be forgotten in the conversation about all-time greats. We remember champions, and soO has never won a major championship. The closest he has come was in WCS Korea at the end of last year, when he was defeated by Baek "Dear" Dong Jun.
It was disastrous timing for soO. Dear was in the midst of the greatest run of great performances in his entire life. He won the Season 3 Korean title, then went on to take the Season 3 overall title just a short time later. SoO's achievements vanished next to Dear's blaze of glory.
But he still has to play Joo "Zest" Sung Wook for the title, and here's where soO has to be worried. If you look at their respective performances this year, there can be no question that Zest has accomplished much more this year, and been the better player for much of it.
Vulnerable in Proleague
All season long, soO has shown up when it matters. He's been practically flawless throughout his run in GSL this season. But if you take Proleague into account, the picture is a bit less rosy.
While soO's teammate Soulkey remains one of SK's top players, soO has received very few opportunities to play in Proleague, and he hasn't done a whole lot with them. More worrisome, his Zerg vs. Protoss matchup performance in Proleague stands at 2-2. It's a small sample size, but it's still a coin-flip.
Zest, on the other hand, has been one of the stars of the 2014 Proleague season, with a 12-7 record and a terrifying 83% win percentage against Zerg. He may not be as well-rounded a player as soO, but there can be no question that he's built to win matches like this one. That's why KT Rolster have had him in such heavy rotation.
More ominously, Zest and soO already met in Proleague this season, and it did not go soO's way.
On the other hand, Proleague is one thing, GSL is another. Zest has looked good in GSL, too, of course, but his Proleague record reflects one-off games against single challengers. SoO has more successful tournament experience, and he showed how resilient he is when he beat Life in seven games. Zest might be able to take a game off SoO with ease, but taking four them will be much harder.
Rebuilding a Rivalry
In many ways, then, this is more than just a contest between two players. It is also another stage for the SK Telecom T1 and KT Rolster rivalry to renew itself. Both organizations have had a week to prepare their players for this moment, to look at entire season of GSL and Proleague play and figure out the keys to winning a seven game series. SoO has the experience, but Zest has the momentum.
Now, on Friday night at 10 PM PST, they find out who will come away with the first GSL championship of 2014, and who will be a runner-up who slowly fades from memory.
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