Code A continues with three high stakes series tonight. Last week we already saw the Gatekeeper Curious denied entry into Code S by SKT's Impact—the same way his lings were denied exit from Impacts base in this highlight. ByuL and Creator delivered a close series, reflecting the zerg player's struggles, but in the end it was enough for him to get through. And at last a lost son returned into Code S: after over a year of hiatus TRUE finally managed to come back into SC2's hardest competition, advancing over CJ's Bunny. Tonight we will add three more names to the list of Code S participants, and also three names to the unlucky victims.
Disposing of team mates is something Stats has had a lot of practice in recently, as he eliminated Zest from the WCS Korean Cross Finals and won Kung Fu Cup 2016 Season 1 over TY. The protoss isn’t only on a hot streak against his own colleagues though. Really, the last weeks have been hugely successful for Stats. He all killed SK Telecom T1, took two wins against Jin Air Green Wings, was victorious in KFC and avenged himself against Dark in the Cross Finals. This small event—created to seek the worlds’ best player—opened up more questions than it answered however. Is Stats the very best at the moment? He certainly made a strong case for himself in the last couple matches he played, but if he fails to qualify for Code S now, his candidacy will receive a large setback. There is one question that may have been answered though; the one hole is Zest's 2016 resumé is that he has few convincing wins over big zergs. Stats' own form in the matchup has been superb, and after taking the revenge win over the SSL champion, should be regarded as the best PvZer in Korea right now.
His opponent can only dream of the success Stats is enjoying at this time. Leenock did not qualify for SSL, making this Code A match perhaps his last individual league game of 2016—and it is only May. KT have used him repeatedly in Proleague, but the zerg's performances have varied quite a lot, so that might not be the best prospect for him. Leenock was eliminated by Classic in the SSL qualifiers, but was able to take some ZvP wins in his Proleague appearances however over Super and herO. So despite his overall quite average form the zerg might pose a bit of a threat to his team mate, given the circumstances.
Stats sits in the comfortable seat of already being qualified for SSL and has a tsunami of positive energy he’s riding on, while Leenock has had quite the tough time recently. Unfortunately for him this series will likely make it worse.
Leenock 1 - 3 Stats
Well, this is an odd one. SpeeD only recently left KT Rolster, making both of these players ex-team mates, but still probably very acquainted with each others’ playstyles. Similar to the first match one of the two players is facing full elimination from individual play in this Code A duel, and after having left KT for unknown reasons, SpeeD's entire career might be on the line. Being teamless without a tournament to play in truly is a gruesome fate for any progamer in the Korean scene. The stakes could not be higher for the terran, and his prospects are not looking too good. He lost to Super and MyuNgSiK in the SSL qualifiers, suggesting that his TvP is not up to par at the moment. There couldn’t be a worse time to struggle in the match-up, which had secured him the qualification to Code S in Season 1.
Trusts position is a bit more comfortable. The protoss hadn’t played any official match since February before progressing in both individual league qualifiers this time round. He played several PvTs during the qualification process, winning against Apocalypse, PolarBear and BrAvO, while losing to GuMiho. While the first two terrans on that list are pretty much irrelevant in the pro scene, his win over BrAvO is certainly notable, showing that Trust has what it takes to beat a regular Proleague terran.
Given the form of these two players Trust is certainly the favourite to take the series and qualify for Code S. He seems to have used his time off-stage well and is in a more comfortable position, while SpeeD is facing huge pressure to win here. His back is against the wall, which might make him fiercer and more desperate on the battlefield—it could also break him though.
SpeeD 2 - 3 Trust
Jin Air HyuN
Returning to KeSPA hasn’t helped HyuN regain his strength so far. The zerg is struggling in every match-up, was eliminated in the first round of the SSL qualifier by an unknown protoss player named Eagle and his Code A qualifier run wasn’t all too impressive either—two wins over Sleep sandwiching a loss to CJ's struggling protoss Hush. Really the only positive thing for HyuN is the nature of ZvZ at this point. It’s volatile, unexpected things can happen and educated build order choices oftentimes can win a game outright. But even that is sometimes not enough, as we’ve seen in HyuN’s Proleague match against ByuL in the beginning of May. HyuN had the better ideas, the better build and was able to get the advantage. His opponent still was able to outplay him, turn the game around and ruin the Jin Air zerg's debut. And everyone knows ByuL isn’t playing at his best at the moment either. There's one glimmer of hope though—he had a pair of incredible 3-0s last year in the SSL Challenge over Dark and Losira in Seasons 2 and 3. Granted, that was an entirely different game, but ZvZ is the matchup which has changed the least, and the same fundamentals of planning out a series could serve him well.
Still, soO is one of the most intimidating opponents that HyuN could have drawn. While his play in the other two matchups remains inconsistent, his ZvZ dominance has transferred over—the SKT zerg sits on a solid 4-1 in ZvZ in SPL, only losing a game to HyuN’s colleague Rogue. It also really doesn’t matter what kind of game it is: soO is rock solid in ling/baneling micro, has excellent positioning with roach/ravager and knows when a tech switch to mutalisks can bring him victory. Perhaps HyuN’s single advantage is the fact that soO has to prepare for the SSL Challenge as well, because he's due to fight it out as the sole zerg in his group on Thursday.
The Jin Air zerg has surprised us with excellent preparation in qualifier matches before—such as his upset against Dark in the SSL Challenge last year. But his overall form is really not scary for anyone at the moment, while apart from the loss to Rogue, soO has looked quite unstoppable in ZvZ.
soO 3 - 0 HyuN