Back again?

Yeah, it's Code S. With a stellar group to kick off, I might add. The defending champion once again enters the tournament as one of its biggest favorites. He has to prepare for tricky opponents of all races, however, all of whom have shown in the past that they're capable of beating him. Will they do it again?

Who Beats Zest?

That is without a doubt the main question in Group A. (P)MC will be the first to try, and despite declaring Zest the new king of protoss himself, the Boss Toss does have potential to work with.

In fact, he made his Proleague debut for CJ Entus against Zest and beat him straight away. Now, that was a Best of 1, and this is not. But it does give his fans some hope. No matter the result, their series should be one to watch purely for historical reasons. The only two Protoss players in history to ever win two GSL championships meet in the first match of a new Code S season? That's cool, no matter how you look at it. And with Zest dropping maps in recent weeks, some of which have been PvPs, there's a possibility for a real upset to start the new season.

(Z)Solar and (T)GuMiho play the second game of the night. With Terran considered highly favored against Zerg in Korea, GuMiho should at least have a slight upper hand in their series. Add to that Solar's mixed results against Terran recently and GuMiho's historically quite decent TvZ (plus his 3-0 destruction of (Z)DRG in Code A to get here), and you really shouldn't be surprised if he does end up winning the series.

Unfortunately for him, he's almost guaranteed a loss in the Winners Match. Remember how we talked about Zest's PvT winrate before the GSL Finals? Well, it hasn't changed. He still has not lost a Bo3+ against Terran in 2016 and we're past the halfway point. The only "series" he's lost was a Bo1 in Proleague - to Maru. 5 map losses total. That is the level we're talking about. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that no player has ever dominated a matchup as hard before as Zest is currently doing. Sorry (T)GuMiho, you're not changing that.

(Z)Solar on the other hand might have a real shot at beating the reigning champion. Zest's PvZ was largely untested until he had to face Rogue twice in Proleague last weekend. The results were fascinating, as Rogue outplayed him hard and took both maps with ease. At some point we need to start asking questions about the Kingslayer's vs Zerg matchup, and that time is now. Especially because Solar knows how to beat him; he leads their head to head record 10-7. His own form might be his biggest hurdle however, since Solar right now is not the championship winning player he was in the past.

It isn't likely that any of these three beat Zest, but I'd put my money on Solar. Only if I really, really had to place a bet, though.

Who Beats the Rest?

I'm not going to pretend to expect an upset. I expect Zest to win the group. The contest for second place could be highly entertaining, though. Solar, GuMiho and MC are all unique players within their respective races and all usually bring something special to the table. They're all in comparable form and all beloved players in the community.
Personally I'd give GuMiho the best shot at advancing in second place. With TvZ being as it is, and Solar's strongest matchup still being PvZ, he may only have to beat the Zerg twice to advance. And even if MC does beat Solar, I would favor GuMiho against him as well.

One thing is for certain however: expect builds you haven't seen before. These three, paired with Zest, should make this a festival to kick off Code S. Start the fireworks!


Despite losing maps here and there, Zest is still Zest. I'm expecting him to win the group. He may drop the odd map, but he won't lose here. Second place is where the fun is. As said above, I'm going with GuMiho advancing over Solar and MC. Sorry, MC fans.

Zest > MC
GuMiho > Solar
Zest > GuMiho
MC < Solar
GuMiho > Solar

(P)Zest and (T)GuMiho advance!