Before last season’s stop at San Jose, where he placed in the top eight before falling to herO, Snute told ESL he used to be less comfortable with the Intel Extreme Masters stage. However, having now attended more Intel Extreme Masters events, they’ve grown on him. Like many Intel Extreme Masters attendees, he made a note of appreciating the spectators’ energy.
This year, again, the fans’ energy seems to be a key motivator for the Liquid Zerg. In a recent ESL interview, he shared that his favorite moment from last season’s Shenzhen involved the fans, and gave an extra shoutout to their ability to cheer him up in the face of some of his more trying results. Since the April patch, those have been more common.
The entire StarCraft II fanbase knew about Snute’s infamous swarm host build, and about what would happen to his efforts against Protoss after April 9th. Though his win rates show that Snute has indeed struggled in all his matchups since the patch, his ZvZ - like Jaedong’s - has suffered most.
Whereas Snute boasted a 74% mirror match win rate through the beginning of 2015, that number has now fallen to 57.6% over the past three months. He’s aware of the drop, but said he’s still more concerned about practicing his ZvP after losing the ‘mech’ build option, and that he still feels strong in the mirror match.
That makes sense: the things that make Snute Snute remain, regardless of the missing swarm host build. He consistently displays an in-depth understanding and control of the macro game, solid creep spread and a high degree of ling, bane and muta control.
And when it comes to Snute, ultimately the player is more valuable than the build. His innovative spirit is the type that creates the builds which solve problems for Zerg players across the globe.
But does that mean that he has a chance at Shenzhen? Yoan “ToD” Merlo and James “Kaelaris” Carrol shared their thoughts on Snute’s history and opportunities at the event:
"Snute is a regular at the Intel Extreme Masters, where he has shown in the past that he’s definitely capable of doing very well but can also bomb out of the group stage pretty quickly. He has drawn a group where he will not be allowed to play anything less than his very best if he wants to advance.” - ToD
"Having placed in the quarterfinals of Intel Extreme Masters three times last year, Snute has positioned himself as a clear favorite among the non-Korean participants of any Intel Extreme Masters to come. However, his hardest challenge in Intel Extreme Masters to date lies ahead of him, as the most recent SSL champion and GSL champions look to continue on their dominant road.” - Kaelaris
What will be the outcome when Snute begins his group against some of the most powerful Protoss players in the world, Classic and Rain? Will the strength of Protoss get the best of him, or will his intelligent playstyle, disciplined practice and intense concentration push him to a win that pleasantly surprises both himself and the fans? Tune in on Thursday to find out!