Hello, and welcome to the Shinhan Tank Proleague Season 3!
Before we go on, I'd like to first give a big shoutout to our fantastic sponsors who make this all possible.
STPL Season 3 Group Stage Preview
If you haven’t seen the Shinhan Tank Proleague before, we’re heading into the third season, and we’ve got 11 top teams from around the world battling it out in a round robin group stage. I thought it would be nice to introduce you to these teams, their STPL history, and some of the top players from each respective team.
aSh joined the STPL in Season 1 with their primarily German roster containing players such as TeH and Goody. They faced off against a lot of incredibly strong adversaries and struggled by the end of the long tournament to maintain activity. Tashadan stepped down from captaining the STPL squad and was replaced by the Protoss player Dentarg. Dentarg had been a mainstay in the STPL roster for them in Season 1, and while he struggled to get the team over the finish line, they made it. With the Ghost King Radley making a name for himself, they did it with style. Until his debut, no other player had made use of ghosts in STPL games, and I believe only one has made use since.
In Season 2 aSh was reborn. HitEmUp a.k.a Logan took over as captain of the team with the departure of Dentarg (after his departure to Japan) and started adding many more strong players. A few old school names showed back up to test their mettle in the modern era, including Kwark, Shad, and SquaLL, and with an increase in overall consistency, aSh made their way up the leaderboards in Season 2 and almost made it into the playoffs. They finished 11th (5 Match Wins, 8 Match Losses) in Season 2, which even though it doesn’t appear high, every single team was neck and neck up to the very end.
When the Ghost King Radley returned closer to the end of Season 2 he found himself pit up against BishOp one of the best Amateur Terran players in Korea and for the first time ever in STPL we had two ghost users facing off against each other in an epic Terran vs Terran on Neo Arkanoid. Nukes and Lockdown were thrown out by both players in an incredibly tense game, but unfortunately in the end the Ghost King would have his throne usurped.
Bull joined the STPL during Season 1. Primarily a Bolivian team, Bull have always fought their hardest against increasingly stronger opponents and shown how strong the Bolivian players can be on the global stage. Headed up by Zerg player dAiO, they struggled in Season 1 and failed to make it to the playoffs, but they did come close. They haven’t added too many players throughout their STPL history, but the players they have on the team have gotten stronger and stronger.
Much like aSh, BuLL found themselves doing much better in Season 2 by taking matches off some very strong teams such as iRk and NaS. Four game losses cost BuLL their chance of making it into the STPL Season 2 playoffs and dashed their dreams, dropping them to 9th overall. The two names I think of when I think of BuLL are fly_mio and Raynor. Both are very strong Terrans who come out, week in, week out, to play for their team. In Season 1, we had a big lack of non-Korean Terrans, so their addition was very welcome!
dM joined at the very beginning of STPL Season 1 and found early success making it into the Season 1 Round 1 playoffs. Given the ever improving skill across the seasons and the ever increasing rosters, dM haven’t been able to recreate that success as of yet but still perform consistently. Their overall match record of 2-11 in Season 2 is very misleading. The score makes it appear as if dM get completely dominated, but within the games themselves they always put up an incredible fight with some very close games.
Their squad is primarily from the Americas and includes some great players like Defiler, PrI, J1, Kyrie, and Tech. During Season 1, Tech received the nickname the Ultimate Ace. If dM ever made it into the final game in the Bo5, Tech would come out and win his game. Tech struggled during Season 2 due to the map pool not suiting his style, but I’m very excited to see how he and dM will perform again in Season 3! PrI doesn’t have the highest win rate in the STPL for dM—Zerg player Defiler does—but if I were to pick a star player from their roster it would be PrI. PrI has given us carriers vs Zerg on multiple maps now, with the most notable one on Holy World SE, and he’s had many more appearances for dM than Defiler has.
eF were one of our new teams for Season 2, and they brought a lot to the tournament as a diverse roster and showed some very good series with even the best of teams. eF unfortunately didn’t make it into the playoffs. Much like BuLL, they were tied with Red on Match wins/losses but lost in the comparison with overall game losses. With a very respectable match score of 6-7, eF are certainly a team to look out for.
eF themselves are a hybrid clan with lots of South American and South Korean players. Headed up by kingtoss and Bob Malcolm, they proved with players such as Gosudark, Chaelyn, and Pinkbrush in their weekly matches that they are formidable opponents. With the sad closure of NaS, they welcome the Peruvian Powerhouse TerrOr, who finds himself 16th overall in the STPL Rankings with a current win rate of 67.5% across all matchups!
iRk are one of the strongest non-korean teams in the STPL, and since the beginning they have performed incredibly well. In the first round of Season 1, they were the only team to beat both SouL and WHITE, and since then they have been consistently high scorers. Over the 15 month, 4-round Season 1, they found themselves in the playoffs three times with two finishes in third place (including an overall third place finish) and a second place finish in the first round. In Season 2 they held onto their bronze crown by taking down the incredibly strong team NetWars at the end of the season.
When thinking about strong rosters, you don’t need to look much further than iRk. iRk’s roster may not be as large as WHITE’s roster, but they certainly pack a punch. The highlight of this is for certain the Trio de Dangers Dewalt, Favorit, and OyA. Dewalt is ranked 5th overall in the STPL rankings with a whopping 77.4% win rate which, given his total of 53 games played, is the highest overall in the STPL. Favorit and OyA are no slouches either, both finding themselves in the top 50 and each offering a very aggressive and meticulous style which can take down even the best of players.
NW, or Netwars, are a bit of an enigma. Very rarely (at least in Brood War) will you be able to form a strong team of just one nationality. When casting, I’ve often called Poland the Korea of Europe in terms of skill, and in the STPL they’ve certainly shown that. In Season 1 they finished overall with one third place finish and two second place finishes. In the Season 1 finals, they lost narrowly to WHITE after three Bo5 matches, the last of which went all the way to the ACE match. It took Mind stepping up to the plate to take down Bonyth to give them the win.
Bonyth and trutaCz left the team at the end of Season 1, but even that wasn’t enough to slow them down. They finished the group stage with a 7-6 match score tied with NaS, which qualified them into their fourth playoff appearance that ended in a respectable quarter final finish. Their roster is still incredibly strong with Yeti in 9th overall STPL rankings and kogeT actually holding onto 3rd place just behind Scan and nOOB from SouL. He is actually placed higher than Famas2, Dewalt and eOnzErG with an 83.3% win rate overall over 42 games!
It’s no surprise that kogeT is the star player for NetWars given his position/record, but I would love to draw attention to Yeti as well. Despite a wrist injury, he has been one of the most consistent players in the STPL. He currently holds the record for most games won in a single streak with thirteen games in a row. Given the Bo1 format and number of different opponents, that is mightily impressive. He’s also one of the two non-Korean players to take down the ASL qualified ByuL, which he did in a 45 minute macro carrier PvT on Athena 2 back in Season 1.
Red are a primarily European team who formed in 2017 in order to bring a group of friends who had been chatting with each other since 2011 to competition. They’ve been in BWCL since and found themselves winning Season 44. While this success hasn’t been replicated in STPL, they’ve still had two strong seasons. They narrowly missed out on the grand final playoffs of Season 1, but in Season 2 they found themselves qualifying to the playoffs with a match score of 6-7. Unfortunately, their run through the playoffs was cut short by NetWars who, after a close series, knocked them out of the tournament 3-1.
On paper, Red’s roster isn’t something many would write home about. Many of their players don’t make it deep in individual leagues, but when you put the players together in a teamleague format, their comradery shines brightly. Their highest rated player in the STPL is Cryoc who, over the course of 23 games, has racked up a whopping 60% win rate and closely following behind is LML (60%) and the legendary Liquid’Drone a.k.a Eriador with 51%. Their roster certainly isn’t one any team should sleep on as we head into Season 3. These Red warriors are ready to fight.
Clan Revolution (ReV), like iRk, are one of the oldest clans in Brood War. They first formed in 1998 and found themselves active until around 2008 when Incomplete, their then leader, had to step down for personal reasons. This wasn’t the end for ReV though, and they rose from the ashes of the StarCraft Remastered and found themselves competing once again in teamleagues. Season 1 of STPL for them was a rough ride where they often found themselves in groups with arguably the strongest clans in the league, and with Incomplete adopting the stance of making sure everyone had a chance to play if they wanted to, sometimes they found themselves a little outgunned.
This didn’t discourage them however, and with the start of Season 2 they came back with a vengeance. With the dynamic duo of MadiNho and Avi-Love as well as a host of other fantastic players including Spain’s Indi and Latvia’s Crvt, they found themselves taking down teams left and right. Close to tied with NetWars and NaS, they qualified for the playoffs, where they found themselves fighting against the now unfortunately disbanded NaS in the first round. It was a close match, but Avi took a win over TerrOr in the ace match to advance...only to lose in the quarterfinals to the very strong iRk. If you were to look at ReV in Season 1 and compare them with Season 2, it’s like looking at an entirely different team. The new ReV are scary and certainly not a team to be taken lightly.
If you have followed STPL from the beginning, this team will need no introduction. SouL, led by ex-Quantic manager Fujikura are two time champions in the STPL and Liga Latina Starcup. SouL are a hybrid team with many members from both inside and outside of Korea. Their roster includes some of the best Korean amateur players, including the number one in the STPL rankings Scan. Recently they’ve added Castermuse as an official Korean manager and caster, and with that have managed to secure both Soma and Shine on their roster. Looking at their non-Korean roster, you might say it pales in comparison to the Korean side of the team, but with the likes of Bonyth, Dandy, G0rynich and Ty2! They’re an incredibly strong team on their own and would be tough for any team to beat! In addition to this, they’ve also added the legendary Sziky into their roster, so SouL are looking even scarier heading into Season 3.
Season 1 SouL found themselves winning two of the four rounds and demolished their way through the grand final playoffs to face their rivals WHITE in a Bo7. The series was incredibly close, and with many back and forth games, we found ourselves in the ace match where ex SKTelecom T1 Protoss BeSt faced off against nOOB in a PvP on Gladiator. The match could not have been more tense. Both players opened DTs, and after one of the scrappiest PvPs I have ever seen, nOOB found himself victorious and took the championship for SouL.
Season 2’s SouL were even more dominant. They only dropped seven games overall and only one match in the group stage. In the playoff finals, they once again found themselves against WHITE and once again we made it all the way to the Bo7 ace match, this time with Beast (one of SouL’s newer additions) facing off against the ex-Hwaseung Oz Zerg Killer. SouL reached the finish line once again in first by a hair and cemented themselves as the two time winner. Are SouL heading for their third championship in a row or is someone going to be able to stop them?
Valhalla Team joined us in the middle of Season 1 with their primarily Central and South American roster. Given their strong opponents, they didn’t make a huge splash and unfortunately failed to make it into the playoffs of any of the rounds they participated in. Crossy, one of their Korean members well known to the foreign community, was also a member of the Korean clan WiCo. WiCo expressed interest in taking part in STPL, but as we were packed to the brim already with amazing teams, we were unable to open a spot for them. vT’s leadership saw this as an opportunity, and given Crossy’s close relationship to both parties, the two teams decided to merge under the vT banner for STPL. This gave the team a larger, deeper roster and gave them the ability to better contest some of the stronger teams in the league.
In Season 2, this addition was noticeable. vT found themselves tied with WHITE with an incredible 11-2 match record. The deciding factor which earned vT second place was only a 4 map loss differential. Seeded into the semifinals, they found themselves up against WHITE and despite sending out their ace in the hole, Action, they were unable to win a single map against the previous season’s runner-up...and the rest was history. vT, much like WHITE, do their best to send a relatively balanced roster, and while they may not always send their best players against the teams they may view as weaker, the mainstays of Forever, DK, and the Protoss Last appeared many times throughout the group stage and won many crucial victories for their team.
WHITECLAN joined us at the beginning of Season 1 in the hopes of bringing both the Korean and non-Korean scenes together. They brought with them their entire roster and have shown they’re not afraid to use a variety of members to overcome their opponents. At first, their inclusion made many apprehensive; they’re the only Korean born team in the STPL, and you would think their roster strength was unrivaled.
Their roster includes BeSt, Mind, HiyA, and Killer who have all debuted in the STPL at different times. This quartet of power within WHITE have at times been considered close to the best in the world at their respective races. WHITECLAN, however, like to give their diverse roster room to breathe, and the quartet of powerhouses are not the WHITECLAN players we’ve come to know and love. Instead, we’ve learned more about Terran trio Famas2, Bye, and YESMAN, who all find themselves high up in the STPL elo rankings. Famas2 currently holds 4th place with an outstanding 83.3% win rate.
WHITECLAN have had their shortcomings though. In Season 1, they started off dominant in the first two rounds, but as the season progressed they found themselves picking up unexpected match losses. They lost the round three semifinals to SouL 4-0 and found themselves failing to even qualify for the playoffs in round four. It almost felt like they underestimated the strength of the other teams in the league, and while they still qualified for the grand finals with the first two round victories, they didn’t do it with the dominance many were expecting. WHITECLAN would once again meet SouL, and this time WHITE were not pulling any punches. Killer and BeSt rounded out the first and final game in the series, and after pulling it to the ACE match in one of the most tense series I’ve ever had the pleasure to cast, BeSt unfortunately fell at the last hurdle to nOOB.
Season 2’s WHITECLAN fought back to the finals after taking revenge on the renewed vT who had beaten them earlier in the season and once again found themselves fighting against the reigning champions SouL. The games of the series came thick and fast with some amazing tailored strategies for the maps, such as HiyA rushing bio on Neo Arkanoid against Mighty. After another tense set of games, the two teams found themselves yet again in the ace match. Killer was sent to bring home the victory but fell as BeSt did. With a head to head match score of two wins, four losses, are WHITECLAN ever going to be able to overcome the two time champions?