Top Seed Looks to Hold Off Open Winner
Ret Will Meet PuMa in Round 1
When the list of participants for the NASL Open Tournament was finalized, very few looked to PuMa when picking a favorite. The list of signups included the entire TSL team, various other Koreans, and top level foreign players such as ThorZaIN, DIMAGA, and Lalush. PuMa was so under the radar that he wasn’t even included in the list of Notable Signups on Liquipedia. But after storming through the Open Bracket, he secured a spot in the finals and will be matched up with top seeded Ret. The Team Liquid player secured the top seed with an 8-1 record in a division that included players such as SeleCT, Ace, and MC.
A Surprising Winner
It isn’t particularly surprising that a current or former member of Team SCV Life claimed the 16th seed by winning the Open Tournament. What is surprising is which member that was. Clide, aLive, Rain, and Revival were participating and have all shown better results than PuMa in Korea. This wasn’t a victory that was secured by luck either. PuMa defeated DIMAGA, NightEnD, and Clide on his way to the final match in which he took down aLive 3:2.
It also seems unlikely that this will be a fluke occurrence for the Korean. There are a number of very strong players in Korea, such as DongRaeGu, who haven’t been able to qualify for Code A. PuMa displayed a similar strength in the GSTL against Prime, defeating BBoongBBoong, MarineKing, and Polt to give TSL the 4-1 victory. Additionally, he has defeated Lucky and sC in previous GSTL tournaments. With his recent success, PuMa may be a player on the brink of becoming a force to be reckoned with.
#1 With a Bullet
Coming off first round losses in TSL3 and both of his attempts in Code A, Ret was not considered a favorite to even take the top spot in his own division. But 3 months and a move back home from Korea later, Ret has shown that he is still a force in Starcraft II by claiming the overall #1 seed. His resurgence was reinforced by a 7th place finish at MLG Columbus, taking matches against ThorZaIN, SeleCT, MajOr, and HayprO.
The top seed was certainly not given to Ret. After dropping his opening matchup with ACE, 8 straight wins took him to an 8-1 record. In fact, only 2 total maps were dropped against a group of players that included MC, Stalife, and SeleCT among others. With the recent success of HuK, Ret has a chance to proclaim Team Liquid’s dominance among the foreigner teams with a run through the NASL Finals.
Unlike most of the matchups in the finals, it is unlikely that Ret and PuMa will be familiar with each other’s play style. PuMa may look over the VODs from the regular season or other recent events such as MLG Columbus. Ret will have little recent information, most likely relying on the Open Bracket qualifier games and his opponent’s recent GSTL appearance to get an idea of his playstyle. There are multiple ways to approach an unfamiliar opponent. Some would say it is best to play standard and trust your mechanics as the better player, while others may attempt riskier strategies to catch their opponent off guard. Ret has shown himself to be an incredible macro player, and standard games would likely give him the best chance of victory. Ret holds a 61% winrate against Terran in international events at 41-26, while PuMa is 2-0 in his only appearances against Zerg in competition.
Anticipation will be high as the inaugural season of NASL comes to a close and players compete for their share of $100,000. Players will need to manage the pressure and stress of playing a weekend-long tournament for such a large sum of money. Tune in July 8-10 or head over to nasl.tv for more information or to purchase tickets to watch the finals live in Ontario, California.