Terran Down the Walls
One season ago, Code S looked like a more depressing version of the Planet of the Apes. At least 4 people made the crash landing at the beginning of the film – a virtual tribe compared to the 2 terrans who hit the Ro16! Now we have 2 terrans after 2 days of competition, and no doubt fans are itching to see more representation by the end of the Ro32 group stage.
Luckily for them Jin Air.Maru isn’t susceptible to shifts in form. His consistency made him a quiet hero during the first half of 2014 as terran approached the brink of extinction. When all other terrans flubbed to protoss trickery and the zerg deluge, Maru rose to the occasion and became a world-class threat. Over the last year, he has been the second-most consistent GSL player; since winning it all in 2013 WCS Season 2, he’s never finished lower than the Ro8. Only soO can boast better results with his 3 consecutive finals (ignoring the Kong line inheritance, of course). Maru’s recent record is clean with the exception of TvP, where he is only 3-10 in the last 2 months. Granted, 4 of those losses were against Classic in the GSL semi finals and the rest come from great opponents. But it could prove to be a spot of trouble if Maru is forced to exclusively play the matchup due to the Swiss format. Fortunately this is one of the weaker groups in the Ro32. Only 1 player should be a meaningful threat if he matches up against Maru twice, and that would be odd considering he is the other favorite to make it out.
Of course I am referring to Trap. A former STX SouL sniper turned lukewarm IM pickup turned unsigned champion, Trap is perhaps the hottest free agent in the Korean scene. The trademarks and limitations are still there: PvZ that can alternate between inspired and sad, a “go with the flow approach” to PvP that yields the type of results you’d expect, PvT that constantly irritates opponents into bad decisions with warp prism harass and excellent drop defense. But he’s playing on an inspired level since MLG Anaheim, particularly in regards to his underappreciated PvT. Prior to 2013 WCS Season 3 it was his flabbiest matchup, one where he lacked confidence in his macro play and exclusively relied on gimmicks like immortal/sentry timings. Now he’s on a 16-1 streak over the last 2 months with wins over Bbyong, Reality, KeeN and a 6-0 sweep of Polt at Anaheim. Sure it’s not scary at face value. That streak is not the stuff of legend that would make Reality or Maru quake in their boots. However, it means Trap goes into the group with both great confidence and great momentum. That combination has already proven more than enough to get EffOrt and Cure through, so Trap’s chances are as high as they will ever get.
Nevertheless, let’s not dismiss CJ.Hush so quickly. It’s true he had a relatively easy road to this point, getting his 2 wins over an underperforming TAiLS, and couldn’t handle the pressure against Flash. He has not grabbed our attention with outstanding showings in other tournaments; his 7-5 Proleague record lacks the 'oomph' to make others take notice). He is not a monster in any single matchup. Despite all this damning evidence Hush seems unusually fearless for a rookie. During his Code A winner interview he was positively jocular, laughing at his teammates’ doubt and wishing for a rematch against Flash. First-time Code S players usually suffer from anxiety and doubt, so it’s refreshing to see Hush display such flippant confidence. If only he had more bite to go with the bark. Confidence and momentum are usually enough to trump experience, yet Hush is desperately missing that burst of results necessary to form an advantage. Perhaps he will reach that point soon but it doesn't appear to be his time.
Samsung.Reality is the best terran on his team. To clarify, that’s not a comforting thought. Whether it’s a mental block or a skill deficiency, Reality has hit the wall of the Code S-Code A divide hard. His success in the GSL has been lackluster so far: either he flames out in the Ro48 of Code A or fights up to Code S, only to be booted out. During the 2012-2013 Proleague season he went 19-20; this year it was 7-8. He’s made Code S twice and has yet to get past the Ro32. Almost everything else is either nondescript or not worth recording. Even his RBBG qualifier run was pretty meh on reflection, his only impressive victim being SuperNova. Additionally Reality’s TvP has been an issue over the last few months, good enough to take on middlemen but insufficient against the best. With the exception of taking out a struggling herO in his Code A group, Reality has consistently lost against top-tier protosses like sOs and PartinG. This bodes poorly when TvP looks like your ticket into the next round.
The group outcome ought to be obvious. Maru and Trap are simply better than their opponents and it would take some epic choking for them to forfeit that advantage. Right now Trap’s PvT appears to have no major weaknesses and a helluva lot of strengths, including caution in the early game. He has the clear advantage against Reaity in the first match and very good odds against Maru if they meet at any point. Now if Hush beats Maru and Trap beats Reality, Hush has a decent shot of upsetting Trap since Trap’s PvP is still wonky. However, this is assuming Maru’s TvP degeneration is even worse than expected. Reality is going to have a tough time of it as he will likely have to beat Maru and Trap to advance, and his current condition isn’t screaming “upset” right now.
Maru > Hush
Reality < Trap
Maru < Trap
Reality < Hush
Maru > Hush
Trap and Maru advance to the Round of 16.