GSL Code A Day 1

Code A. One word and a letter, only a side note in Liquipedia and for most fans, and yet almost no other competition invokes so much fear and respect as GSL Code A. Often described as a rocky path through hell, Code S’ pre-stage is one of the hardest tournaments that exists: only one slip-up, a single mistake can cost a player half a year of his life, shutting him out of Code S—and with it the chance to gain glory, prizemoney and recognition. To make a living.

With the new WCS system in place this is the case even more so than ever before. For many players, Code A is going to decide if they can continue chasing their dream, if they can continue to be a progamer, or if they have to call it quits. Code A 2016 will be the hardest, most cut-throat competition we have ever witnessed. The ones that bite the dust might literally never be seen any more in StarCraft 2. The stakes could not be higher.


Stats (in Legacy of the Void vs other Koreans)
(Z)ByuL vT 12-3 (80%) in maps 6-0 (100%) in series, overall 23-9 (72%) in maps 10-2 (83%) in series
(W 2x jjakji, Bomber, Maru, Forte, TOP)

(T)aLive vZ 22-10 (69%) in maps 10-4 (71%) in series, overall 56-39 (59%) in maps 25-15 (62%) in series
(W 2x Gamja, Mamuri, 2x TRUE, 2x Symbol, Solar, 2x horror; L RagnaroK, TRUE, Losira, Soulkey)

Depending on who you ask, fate has either been cruel or benevolent to ByuL in 2015. He has had the most successful year of his entire career, has been labelled the best zerg player in the world and he has built a fan base all around the planet. But he wasn’t able to achieve what every progamer strives for: he didn’t win a championship. Instead he was called a kong after taking three silver medals in a row, struggling with this fate more and more the longer the year went on.

But despite being broken again and again in the most crucial moments, ByuL never fully surrendered. Yes, he had to type out of the game and that was painful. However he never accepted those defeats. He stood up and fought on. At year’s end his spirits finally seemed to fall to their wounds though. Similar to soO in 2014 a year as a kong left its marks on him.

Legacy of the Void is a new start for this zerg, who always hovered so close to the edge of losing just to start a daring comeback. ByuL got into the game well enough it seems, doing well in every competition he's entered so far. His ZvT—already a thing of greatness in Heart of the Swarm—did not take a hit from the switch. Indeed the CJ player probably benefited greatly from the gameplay changes and could very well hold his position in the elite rank of zerg players for the time to come. With such a story and skill behind him, he certainly is the favourite to take this Code S spot against aLive.

Of course the SBENU player—subject of some jokes—is not one to be trifled with. Believe it or not, this man was once thought of as the best terran player in the world. Kind of. aLive’s standard, textbook play may not have been the most electrifying and exciting thing, but it lead him to win IPL 4. Unfortunately for him it didn’t lead to a lot of sustained glory and fame. Indeed this terran could be called one of the most forgettable champions of all time, almost confirming the stereotypes about the so-called ‘no-personality Koreans’ some foreign fans so detest.

Although aLive hasn’t won anything significant since 2012 he’s still around until now, an accomplishment by itself, showing his will and ability to continue the struggle of progaming even under bad circumstances. Legacy of the Void seems to fit the SBENU player so far, allowing him to claim this Code A spot with a chance so ascend even further. His opponent is a hard nut to crack of course, but aLive has collected a lot of experience in online competitions, so he might have some trickery up his sleeve. Or he could very well connect to his old self and show every terran in the world some standard play, once again leading his race.


(Z)ByuL 3 - 1 (T)aLive

SKT T1 Sorry
Jin Air Cure

Legacy of the Void competitive record:
(T)Sorry: 8-8 (4-0 in TvT)
(T)Cure: 16-14 (6-0 in TvT)

Who would have thought—we start 2016 pretty much as 2015 left off. Just as the Proleague Finals kicked off between two of SKT and Jin Air’s respective junior terrans, so too does 2016’s all important first season of Code A. Cure emerged victorious the last time they met, holding off a rather odd proxy tank rush. It’s always been slightly strange that Sorry has such a distinct preference for early rushes, when he’s also clearly capable in a longer macro game. His emergence was one of the highlights of last year’s Season 2 Code A, starring in an engrossing, lengthy back and forth series against TaeJa, but there’s also a sense that his predilection for aggression may be starting to precede him. His games against Symbol in the first GSL Preseason Tournament featured another couple of the reaper rushes he's become known for, while in the Proleague Finals Cure played on the defensive, clearly expecting early harassment. Perhaps that’s just a by-product of his role as a specialist sniper for SKT in the Best of One format though, and hopefully we’ll see some more balanced play from him tonight in the longer format.

While Sorry’s star seems to be on the rise, Cure’s has been waning ever since a breakthrough couple of months in 2014. His rise and fall has been rapid—following up two seasons of Code A with a top four finish in GSL Season 3, before lurking at the Code A / Code S boundary again in 2015. He’s well known by now as much for his formidable macro as for his less than stellar micro, preferring to bulldoze his way through opponents, and there was a sense in that final year of HotS that his slight lack of sophistication hindered his play at the top level. In that regard, Legacy of the Void might suit him—with no clear standard build orders or timings yet fully established, he has the opportunity to take his opponents by surprise with more units than expected.


It’s always going to be odd predicting how these games will pan out in a fresh expansion. We’re still yet to see either play a televised TvT, although both are unbeaten so far in LotV, with two 2-0s against TOP for Sorry, and wins against aLive, TheStC and an amateur player for Cure. While aLive proved his credentials by qualifying successfully for Season 1 of the SSL, it’s still hardly the most testing selection of matches, and we have absolutely nothing to go on here apart from non-streamed results and their gameplay from HotS. Based on that then, I’m inclined to go for Sorry, and if he mixes it up instead of continuing his rather one note recent tendencies, he should have too much for Cure.

(T)Sorry 3 - 1 (T)Cure

SKT T1 Dream

In WoL, (T)Dream became known as a potential child prodigy, upsetting the then red hot Rain and reaching 2nd place at IEM Katowice. The early stages of his multi-tasking style were also beginning to surface, but they wouldn't truly take shape until HotS where he played his famous games vs Scarlett on Red City and then Polar Night. Dream finally bloomed in late HotS after joining SKT1.

In many ways he resembles Maru: he likes to be aggressive, he loves his multi-tasking and micro and he struggles with cheeses every so often. Dream does however distinguish himself through his heavier emphasis on multi-tasking, his more reactive style and his strategic choices. Whereas Maru loves bludgeoning his opponent to death with pure micro, Dream would rather make his opponent rip his hair out of frustration. Also, Maru very rarely techs to the later parts of the game, often forgoing even vikings in TvP or thors in TvZ in favor of a pure and unrelenting bio force. Dream on the other hand embraces all these elements and he has shown that he is willing to tech up to ghosts in late TvP as well.

While we don't have games to judge him by, Legacy looks right up Dream's alley. He gets another option for early game harassment in the reaper's new grenades, and a potential new cheese too. His love for mid game weaponry can now be augmented with the liberator. And if he fancies it, he could shore up his weaknesses with some tanks and then go for some tankivac micro just to show off.

(Z)HyuN though could be an even bigger beneficiary of Legacy of the Void. Ever since the time of WoL, HyuN has loved his roaches and has attempted to use them in every match up and against all likes of opponents. And they have served him well in his long years of gaming, delivering him 2 golds, 5 silvers and numerous other prizes in every tournament under the sun for the past 3 years. Now in Legacy, HyuN gets to upgrade his favorite unit to a very strong zone control and siege unit, one he can use to break entrenched positions, deflect cheeses and execute even deadlier attacks of his own.

Speaking of cheeses, HyuN does not shy away from the cedar, willing to do busts of all kinds when he senses the time is right. Now if he so chooses he could even take a page out of his brother Symbol's book, and go for some invincible nyduses. Or he could go the other route and take advantage of the gold bases on some of the newer maps to supercharge his economy just to get into the mid game quicker or to mount even more brutal attacks.

Going by momentum, neither HyuN nor Dream have looked in the best of shape towards the end of HotS. While HyuN's steady decline has been happening since mid 2014, Dream had a much sharper ascension and fall. Going by most recent peak, Dream should be favored since he made two Starleague finals and the Ro16 of BlizzCon. However the way Dream lost to Hydra, in his fan-favorite matchup of TvZ is worrisome, especially with him going up against an even more ruthless opponent. For while HyuN didn't make it to BlizzCon, his Dreamhack Stockholm run where he eliminated FanTaSy, Rain, Reality showed he still had much left in the tank. His tooth and nail fight against FanTaSy proved he still has the heart of a champion beating in him, and we all know how Dream fares against champions.

(T)Dream 1 - 3 (Z)HyuN