Code A RO24: Day One Preview
By: Fionn & Waxangel
MvPDongRaeGu vs ST_Virus
With nearly half the year gone, DongRaeGu's shocking collapse in GSL Code S Season II is already looking like one of the biggest mysteries of 2012. His abrupt 1 - 4 defeat and elimination from the GSL Ro32 was sandwiched between a GSL championship before, and two finals appearances in MLG after. With almost nothing suggesting that he suffered a real dip in skill, DongRaeGu's disastrous day invites all sorts of speculation. Did his championship win go to his head? Did continued ZvP practice hurt his ZvT ability? Was his style overexposed?
Whatever the case, DongRaeGu has come a long way towards burying that embarrassment in the past, winning MLG Spring Arena 1 while blazing his way through Code A (AcE did prove to be more trouble than expected). If we are to truly believe that this season's RO32 was just a blip, a fluke, something to never be repeated in a hundred years, then it's easy to predict that DongRaeGu will crush Virus and return directly to Code S.
However, while DongRaeGu was enigmatic for just one day, Virus has been vexing viewers for most of his career. After originally confusing people with his uncanny ability to stay in Code S, he complicated the situation this season by defeating GSL superstars MC and Nestea, and playing with a hitherto unseen level of skill.
If Virus plays at the very top end of the wide range of skill he has shown us, could he take triumph over DongRaeGu in an important series? I think the answer is an unequivocal yes. Decisively beating proven masters of not only Starcraft, but the GSL system in MC and Nestea is evidence enough. The real question is if that particularly deadly strain of Virus will show up to the games.
Prediction: DRG 2 - 1 Virus
BBoongBBoongPrime vs MvPGenius
Though no one's received confirmation from Genius, it seems pretty safe to say that he couldn't be happier with his Code A opponent. When you think about his choice of NaNiwa as his RO16 opponent, you might say Genius is not the best at appraising other players. However, if you can look past that pick as just a typical (and sadly understandable) case of Koreans looking down on foreigners, you'll remember that Genius picked BboongBBoong as his RO32 opponent earlier in the tournament. Whether Genius decided on B4 because of well publicized poor ZvP stats, or other research of his own, it was a choice that paid big dividends as he claimed an all-around impressive victory against the Prime Zerg.
In the month and a half since that meeting, we haven't seen anything to suggest the two players' relationship should have changed. B4 still looks shaky in ZvP (even losing to the infamous walkover warrior, urGGanDoL). Genius has ranged from looking great to looking spectacularly mediocre in PvZ – either of which makes him better than B4 as we last remember him.
But these are two players whose skill levels seem to be continuously in flux, and a few weeks have passed since we last saw them play their relevant match-ups – an eternity in progaming time. Genius will be favored to win, but knowing these two, B4 might have been able to drastically turn the tables in time for this match.
Prediction: Genius 2 – 1 B4
TSL_Symbol vs. NSH.Jjakji
Time sure does fly, doesn't it? It seemed like only yesterday when Jjakji made his run to the Code S finals, defying all the odds, and upsetting the heavy favorite Leenock in one of the best finals we've ever seen. Now, over a half year later, the player who expected nothing yet won is finding it hard to perform with the weight of expectations on his shoulders. Jjakji's TvP and TvZ are considered some of the best in the world, and he has shown his championship self on occasion, but he is still showing consistency issues.
His TvT still is by far his weakest match-up, usually resorting to using one base 1/1/1 variations to get wins in important matches. Luckily for him, he doesn't have a Terran this round and gets to show us if his TvZ is still as sharp as it was in the November finals. It might surprise you, but Jjakji has barely played any Zergs in the GSL. His last games against Zerg were all the way back in January where he rolled over Sen 2-0.
Even with his scary TvZ record backing him up, Jjakji has a tough test ahead of him in Symbol. A lot like Jjakji, Symbol started off with few expectations around him. But after getting 2nd at Iron Squid and defeating Seed and sC in the first two rounds of Code A, people are looking to him to as the player to put Zerg back on the map in the GSL. With his second place finish in the MLG Korean Online Qualifiers where he 2-0'd both Polt and MMA, Symbol is riding a wave of momentum against Terran heading into tonight's match.
Jjakji is the veteran here, already having a championship won, but will face immense pressure to get back into Code S without having to face the daunting Up and Down matches. For Symbol, a win would be nice and continue his meteoric rise, but as one of the newer players to the GSL, getting to the third round is already a huge accomplishment for him. Both are very good in the TvZ/ZvT match-up, and while Jjakji's TvZ record and play in the GSL has always been great, Symbol is the one with the better streak of play lately.
Prediction: Symbol 2 - 1 Jjakji
FnaticRCaLive vs. FXOLeenock
Here are three major points going into tonight's match between Alive and Leenock:
1. What has happened to Alive's TvZ? On paper, it still is statistically his best match-up in Korea, but if you look closely, he's been having trouble lately. He was eliminated from this season's Code S by losing to Zenio and July, and he has had even more trouble with his TvZ overseas where it was the main reason where he got eliminated from MLG Columbus.
2. Leenock might be in Code A, but look at who he lost to this season. He lost 0-2 to Squirtle in the RO32, but where is Squirtle now? The Code S Finals. Leenock also lost to HerO 1-2 in the RO16, but where did Hero end up? In the semifinals, getting eliminated by the aforementioned Squirtle. Finally, Leenock got eliminated from Code S by MVP, losing 1-2 in not only a close series, but the best we've seen so far in this season's GSL. MVP is now in his 5th finals and going up against Squirlte on the 19th of May. Leenock was only defeated this season in his worst match-up (ZvP) against the hottest player in the world (Squirtle) and in two close series against the other finalist and a semi-finalist.
3. Leenock recently defeated Alive 2-1 in the MLG Korean Online Qualifiers and got his spot in Spring Arena #2, eliminating Alive in the process. Revenge will be on aLive's mind, and Leenock will try to make sure he doesn't have to worry about Up and Down matches during his trip to New York City this weekend.
Alive finally lived up to his full potential, getting to the GSL semifinals and winning IPL4, but he still needs to work on his TvZ. Leenock, who only got beat by 3/4 of this season's final four, is still one of the best ZvT players in the world and will have the extra motivation of not wanting to juggle both the Up and Down matches and Spring Arena.
Prediction: Leenock 2 - 1 Alive
Writers: Fionn and Waxangel.
Graphics and Art: Meko.