Snute, the perennial favorite of StarCraft II, has reached the top four six times since December. That's some unreasonable consistency and it would be tough to imagine him dropping out during the Round of 16 in this, his 12th Intel Extreme Masters.
Snute enters IEM Shanghai fresh off the back of a solid run at Valencia, which included a 3-0 thrashing of Lilbow. However, his time was cut short by the brick wall of MarineLord. Snute could not find his way through the Frenchman and he left DreamHack with his latest top four finish.
Because he's come so, so close, Snute's losses have been hard ones. His 3rd-4th place finishes have come at the hands of Protoss like Harstem, who beat him 3-0 at HomeStory Cup XIII, and Neeb, who beat him 3-1 in Austin. What has been keeping him away from winning these matches and tournaments?
Even with his sixth near-miss finish barely in the rearview, the Liquid Zerg player should arrive in Shanghai with no lack of confidence, and that can only be bolstered by the extra dominance the recent queen changes have added to his already sturdy defensive play. Some of that confidence will be a result of his invaluable positive experiences with the IEM stage. He has grown steadily as a player through the seasons and across the globe, beginning back in 2012 at IEM Sao Paulo.
Then we have PiLiPiLi.
Snute's Protoss opponent isn't so much a candidate for the regular tournament winner position. That also means he walks into Shanghai without the same pressure on his shoulders.
He qualified through the NA Regional Qualifiers by beating MaSa and puCK, two players in the Shanghai bracket. These wins seem to be a good indication that he does truly belong at Shanghai, where IEM marks his third shot at disrupting the scene with a powerful Kazakhstani presence. He had the first chance against MaNa at Katowice. Next was Polt at Austin. Both times, PiLiPiLi was beaten - and the games weren't close. So will the third time be the charm for the PSISTORM Gaming Protoss?
It will be a difficult mountain for him to summit. After all, Shanghai marks his first IEM and the rest of his major tournament experience is similarly limited. Going up against Snute, an IEM mainstay, will be a major challenge.
But then, there is this. In NA Ladder Heroes in May, PiLiPiLi was able to beat Hydra. Sure, it's an online tournament. Sure, it happened in May. But if the 20 year old PiLiPiLi can find it in him to beat Hydra 3-2, then there's at least some hope for the underdog against Snute.
Tune in to the match on Friday, July 29 at 8:45 local time to find out if we'll see a PSISTORM shock or a Snute sweep.
Article by: Karin Krisher