Running the Table: GSTL Week 5 - StarTale vs AZUBU

Team StarTale
© Seokyong Lee/Red Bull Media House

While all the attention is focused on Proleague and WCS, it'd be a mistake to overlook the GSTL.

With two new teams and a new expansion, the matches have never been more exciting. And few things rival the excitement of the Winners' League format. Two teams send out a player, and you fight until you lose. The first team to four wins takes it home. All-kills, reverse all-kills, on-the-fly player selection, and the first glimpses of tomorrow's champions: the GSTL has always been the most dramatic of StarCraft II's leagues.

This season, as of Week 5, StarTale sits on top of the table with a 2-0 record – consisting of a 4-0 against New Star HoSeo and a 4-2 over Prime. Showcasing the absurd depth of their roster, the lesser-known Sound was the one to take the All Kill against NSH, while their super-ace Life cleaned up three kills in a row with the team down 1-2. With an enormous roster and players known for performing well in the team league, StarTale is easily one of the deepest teams in StarCraft II.

GSTL current standings

This week, they're up against AZUBU – one of the the season's two newcomers. Currently sitting on a 1-1 record (with a 4-0 win over NSH and a 4-0 loss to Prime), AZUBU is a team that's hard to judge. A motley collection of players left homeless for various reasons, they certainly have a strong roster in theory. viOLet and GanZi have both performed at a high level consistently, Symbol is a solid ace and a top-tier Zerg, and their supporting cast all have quirks that could make them great situational picks in the team league. They just need to put things together, and as a new team they have yet to earn that faith. Additionally, we have yet to see viOLet play this season. If he moved back to America for WCS, that will be a huge blow to their roster.

The first match, decided ahead of time, pits StarTale's Hack against AZUBU's Symbol. Sending their ace first is a surprising move, but AZUBU clearly looks to grab early momentum – gambling that StarTale would begin with a weaker player. Their gambit seems to have worked as Hack is certainly not favored against Symbol, especially considering his success just last week in Code S. But even so, StarTale should still be favored to win the match. Hack still has a shot, as he's a tricky, aggressive Terran with strong prepared builds, but even if he falls StarTale's remaining roster is much stronger than AZUBU's. Life is favored to win against anyone AZUBU can offer, and should Life fall, Bomber and Curious are a formidable supporting cast.

After Symbol, GanZi and the remainder of AZUBU simply don't compare to StarTale's depth chart. They'll need to pull out some fancy prepared builds and play to a much higher level than usual if they want to take this win. And Symbol has been known to put his team on his back before, as a big part in keeping TSL relevant in their final seasons of GSTL. But StarTale goes into this match as the hottest team in the GSL. AZUBU will need more than one ace player to keep up.

You can watch the match at GOMTV.net, on Friday, April 19 at 2:10 A.M. PST.

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