Head to Head: N/A
After a set of ZvP matches that are sure to be thick with exciting battles, Nerchio and Cyan will no doubt have much to live up to when they fight for the last quarterfinal spot.
Judging by stats alone, Nerchio has a significant advantage over the Chinese RYE E-SPORTS player. Experience in tournaments, too, indicates the Zerg will easily rise above his Protoss opponent.
And of course, everyone has born witness to the incredible narrative that’s unfolded over the past nine months, culminating in Nerchio’s huge win at DreamHack Open: Valencia. Playing at his best to crush PtitDrogo and ShoWTimE (his newly emerged rival whom many would consider the number one EU Protoss) on his way to a 4-0 win in the finals, Nerchio solidified what we already knew: he’s one of the best.
He’s now a handy favorite for taking it all in Shanghai. His recent stellar play, which has manifested since he cleared out his schedule for SC2, has sent him rolling through ShoWTimE several times to cinch a top four spot at the Winter Circuit Championship and a semifinals finish in Spring. Today, heading into IEM Season XI, everyone knows Nerchio is more than back. He’s better than ever.
So what can Cyan, one of the lowest rated players, offer in the face of such apparently overwhelming odds? Well, he certainly doesn’t need to meet any community expectations, making his performance an opportunity (in contrast to Nerchio’s, which is a must). But perhaps his most important inspiration will come from the fact that he’s on home turf, and can expect fans in the crowd to lend him both cheers and confidence.
Even so, the odds are ever in Nerchio’s favor here, unless the mounting pressure of being the best non-Korean becomes too much for the Euronics player, as it has in the past for players like Snute, Bunny and Lilbow.
“(Winning) adds a little bit more pressure because having a terrible result after winning a tournament would feel very disappointing,” Nerchio told ESL in a recent interview. He continued, “I need to break my curse of bad results in Asia because I've been there like three times already and the best result I had was top eight as far as I remember.”
Within those two sentences may lie any hope Cyan truly has to beat this Titan. If our most recent champion flops completely in his next tournament, which isn’t unheard of, Cyan’s star will rise significantly. But just knowing what Nerchio is capable of could throw anyone off their game, and Cyan is certainly no exception.
Tune in on Friday, July 29th to find out if the underdog will break through Nerchio’s hot streak and shock both his home country and the StarCraft 2 world.