Tonight, the second round of the SK Planet Proleague Season 1 continues with the combined Evil Geniuses-Team Liquid Proleague team trying its luck for a second time against KT Rolster, a Korean eSports Association progaming team with deep roots in Brood War. The last time these two teams met in round 1, EG-Liquid were beaten badly 4-0. You can watch them play again tonight at 3 AM GMT / 10 PM Eastern on Twitch, starting with a game between Revival and Flash.
The Proleague is an eight team tournament that will last through most of 2013, with the two finalists splitting almost $280,000 between them. This year’s edition is the first that features the participation of non-Korean teams, in the form of the EG-Team Liquid partnership. EG-Liquid finished the first round in fourth place with a 3-4 record.
You can read an interview with EG-Liquid coach Park “trOt” Sung Jin over on the Evil Geniuses website, in which he explains some of the challenges the team faced in round 1 and his decision-making during some key moments of the round.
One key point he makes, in response to a question about whether the Western team has underperformed, is worth emphasizing: “KeSPA teams run their teams with the Proleague as their main focus. They place more emphasis on the Proleague than anywhere else. On the other hand, our players also work hard elsewhere such as other events, providing fanservice and streaming. I did think that these aspects will slow our adaptation to the Proleague, but the players’ form have raised to a certain level now.”
The Proleague tournament format is very different from what most international circuit pros are used to. Here in round 2, they are using an All-Kill format, which means that winning players remain to take on the next challenger and losers are eliminated, until one team racks up four victories. Other rounds use the Proleague format, where the team choose a player to compete on each map of the tournament map pool. This means both players know who they will be playing and where well in advance. Both formats, plus the relaxed pace of the Proleague tournament itself, make for a very different experience than the endurance runs that characterize tournaments like DreamHack, MLG, and IPL. Proleague teams have years of experience at this kind of tournament, while most EG-Liquid players have trained for the international scene.
The EG-Liquid team should soon be getting a new weapon as Ilyes “Stephano” Satouri makes his way to Korea this week, to take his spot in the GSL Code S tournament. They also have Lee Jae Dong, a Brood War legend, who has his own storied rivalry with KT Rolster’s Lee “Flash” Young Ho.
While EG-Liquid have access to a ton of talent for this tournament, expectations are commensurately high, and this is a new challenge for many of these players. Fortunately, the sheer length of the season means that they have time to find their feet, and they already survived round 1 in decent shape. Still, it will take a lot for them to overcome KT Rolster and Flash, whose talent could be decisive in the all-kill format.