Code A is almost done! ByuN, GuMiho and MC were able to advance into Code S on Day 7, with both terrans taking dominant victories over their opponents Forte and DongRaeGu. Only the protoss had to fight fiercely for his spot in Code S, eventually reverse-killing Journey and cementing his return to professional SC2.
Now the three final tickets to this year’s second and last Code S season are on the line—and, as always, half of the interested buyers have to be rooted out.
Another unfortunate duel between team mates opens up the day. Super recently shocked everyone by defeating Maru in Proleague and thereby ending his season-long Round Robin win streak. However the game didn’t really show any extraordinary skills on the protoss player's side, and looking at his other recent PvT series also doesn’t really make him the favourite here. He lost series to aLive and GuMiho, and boosted his stats by winning against online warriors such as NaTuRal, who can’t really be counted on the level of Bomber. It is to be mentioned that only one day after this Code A series, Super will have to compete in an SSL Challenger group involving a wild mixture of match-ups—including PvTs against Reality and Maru. Adding that to his Proleague duties on the weekend there is a lot of stuff going on for Super right now, with three tournaments and different opponents competing for his attention, so he really has to be on point with his practice schedule.
His colleague Bomber on the other hand has already successfully played in the SSL Challenge, showing very good performances against several protoss opponents. He did lose a Bo3 in the qualifiers to herO—and repeated this misfortune in SPL this weekend by getting ‘adepted’—, but defeated Seed, Trap and Hush (including qualifiers). With one tournament already out of the way for him, the pressure on him is less heavy, as well as making focused preparation easier.
Bomber might be able to adapt better to the team kill situation. Every one of the original set of early WoL SC2 icons who's still around has accrued thousands of games worth of knowledge; the difference with Bomber is that he actually shows it time and again, digging back through his old box of goodies to find something that no one would expect. He's got such an array of options open to him that you can't really ever say that you know what he'll do for sure, and I don't think the team kill factor will change that too much. Super is definitely not a player who’s totally dependent on cheeses or allins. He can play excellent macro games. But Bomber can probably play them better, if he survives that long. This might become an odd series… which is to expected with Bomber.
Super 2 - 3 Bomber
This might become quite the short and ugly series for Hush. The protoss doesn’t really have any advantage on his side, coming out of a devastating SSL Challenge group, in which he only managed to win a single map (against Cure), losing every other game he played. Despite being lauded by his teammates time and time again for his clever advice, he just cannot seem to bring this smartness onto the battlefield himself.
His opponent is hard to judge, because his recent ZvP stats are largely coming from online tournaments against non-Korean players and are not all too reliable. There is a victory over Zest in SPL from a month ago though, as well as wins over Patience and Super a bit further back. And the fact that he wasn’t upset by any of his last foreigner opponents does speak for a solid form of the Samsung player. This Code A series is the last chance for of them to steal some individual glory for themselves this year, so there will be some pressure on both of them. Solar will probably deal better with that, seeing as how Hush regularly crumbles even in early rounds of tournaments. There is a certain amount of pressure on him though. Hurricane, Armani, BrAvO, Stork, and Journey have all already fallen in Code A. Reality will also play on the final day (we'll get to him in a second), but let's face it—not too many of us are backing him there. To prevent the full Samsung whitewash, Solar needs to perform.
Seeing Hush taking this series is very unlikely. He might have a good plan for a map and taste victory once, but Solar should prove to be the better player, not only in the game, but also in the mental aspect of it. In the end it's about the execution, and the ability to keep your mind clear—as a multiple time champion, Solar knows this by heart.
Solar 3 - 1 Hush
Jin Air Maru
A sick TvT will end Code A for this year, as Reality and Maru meet in the final series. Funnily enough they will again face off against each other one day later in the last SSL Challenge group, so this series isn’t only important because of the Code S qualification—it could also have an impact on their next series. Both Samsung terrans—Reality and BrAvO—are known for quite solid and strong TvT gameplay, especially when mech was dominating during HotS. Reality is a versatile player with very good mechanics, who is very smart about positioning his armies and pushing his opponent into a checkmate.
His disadvantage is definitely multitasking against the Jin Air terran. Maru is faster than Reality and he’ll probably be the aggressor in this match, trying either drop harassment or cloaked banshee play. Maru's TvT form is quite good, with no losses in recent times, be it in Proleague or the qualifiers for GSL and SSL. Reality honed his skills in many online tournaments and thus has his share of losses to ByuN, but is overall in quite good shape as well, sporting more wins than losses. The Samsung terrans had a hard time adapting to LotV, as they were generally very defensive players in the last expansion, preferring to let the opponent decimate themselves by throwing armies against their tank lines. With the power and mobility of the new tankivac, LotV TvT is more volatile and punishing than ever, and favours players such as Maru, who like to be everywhere at once, always on the offensive.
We’ll see if Reality has adapted well enough by now to challenge the master of multitasking. The Samsung terran is a resourceful player—he likes to be defensive, yes, but he can play the aggressive part of a game well enough to surprise his opponents. Maru is of course in excellent shape at the moment and is very hungry to show it in the individual leagues as well as in Proleague—he’s the clear favourite, there’s no way around that. I expect Reality to fight back fiercely though.
Reality 1 - 3 Maru