herO departs amidst dark hurricane

After a month of competition, Code S wraps up this week with our final two groups. While Rogue managed to put one on the scoreboard for zerg last week, there’s no arguing the fact that zerg representation looks like it’ll be a bit light in the Round of 16. However, it’s also true that none of the zergs that have fallen so far were massive favourites to do so. GuMiho and Zest are certainly both performing better than Solar, for example, as indeed have Classic and ByuN in comparison to Losira. Personally, I expected TaeJa and Maru to get past soO and RagnaroK as well, given the latter’s struggles this year (SSL S1 excepted). Wrapping things up, Impact was the least heralded in his group (sOs / TY / Super), while Rogue topped his group with ease. Still, one zerg from six groups played is a stark statistic; one that hopefully will have improved come the end of the night.

That’s because it’s finally time for (Z)Dark’s turn on the stage. With the collapse of his challengers, Dark stands unrivalled as top dog in the Korean zerg rankings. Rogue might be looking good right now, but Dark’s achievements in Season 1 still stand far above those of any other zerg this year. That said, he has underperformed considerably since his championship win over Stats back in early April. He is 15-18 in all competitions since the finals, a set of results that includes a 4-9 run in Proleague. There’s been no greater symbol of SKT’s collapse in Proleague than in their sole championship-calibre player in Legacy struggling hard in the latter rounds of the competition.

His ZvT still seems adequate (wins over TY and INnoVation , losses to aLive and Maru), but that’s the one matchup he won’t play tonight. He’s only won one of his past four ZvZs, trading wins with Solar in Proleague while losing to Rogue and DeParture. The loss to Rogue shouldn’t trouble him unduly tonight—Rogue’s the best ZvZer in Korea right now—but he should be wary of DeParture’s penchant for aggressive builds. Dark lost to a roach / ravager bust from the MVP player in Proleague, and it’s likely that we’ll see something similar here. ZvP is the final question, and it’s difficult to know what side of Dark to trust in here. On the one hand, Dark’s just beaten Zest and Trust comfortably in the SSL; on the other, he’s been continually bested by Stats since that final, while Patience has also beaten him in Proleague. To make matters more confusing, he’s traded sets with herO in Proleague in the past couple months as well. A common theme behind most of his games though is a focus on early aggression to slow down the protoss, and his willingness to take on protoss in the macro game seems to have diminished. Expect him to be aggressive against herO in particular. One final curiosity is his game against Zest on King Sejong Station, which went against the grain of his recent matches—a macro game with a lurker focus. KSS’ 4th base was famed as a swarm host haven, and switching the composition to lurkers doesn’t seem to have affected that reputation at all.

The other zerg hoping to join Rogue in the Round of 16 tonight is (Z)DeParture. The excitement around him has died down considerably since the start of the year, when poor performances and results stalled his progress. He’s still a player who occassionally shows great games, rather than a great player right now, and that consistency is hurting him in all competitions. Still, 2016 has been his most successful year of progaming so far (in Korea—of course, he won a Gfinity event last year over First, Snute, Bunny and MarineLord). He’s qualified for both seasons of Code S—notable in particular because he hadn’t even qualified for Code A previously—and his 5-7 record in Proleague has been passable, if nothing special. Still, he’s been marked as one to watch for such a long time that this slow and steady improvement is almost a disappointment. Progress from this group though, and that will all change.

Alongside Dark, the big name in this group is undoubtedly (P)herO. The CJ protoss has been one of the most interesting players to follow over the past few months. His Proleague form in particular has been magnificent, and he is the sole reason CJ came so agonisingly close to qualifying for the season playoffs. His 16-6 run over the final few months, including five ace wins, deserved better. While he’s been pretty good in all three matchups, PvP was the foundation of his success, and his 11-2 record in the matchup is plenty of evidence that he ranks among the best in the world right now. Multiple wins over Dear and sOs put him in the top tier, although losses to Stats and Classic (and losing 0-2 to Zest in the SSL) show that he’s not quite the best just yet. The state of his PvZ is a bit uncertain though—he simply hasn’t played very much of it. He was tactically outmaneuvered by Stephano last Sunday in Shoutcraft Kings (albeit on a map unplayed in Korean competition right now), and similarly by Rogue’s ling play in their crucial Proleague Playoffs match. His game against Curious the previous day was hardly pretty either, falling to a roach / ravager bust. Then again, he’s also beaten Dark and Rogue in Proleague in the weeks before as well. Much like everything else in Legacy so far, there’s still so much uncertainty surrounding the players given the lack of games and tournaments played. As with his PvP though, it’s likely that his PvZ is good enough, while not quite reaching the level of dominance and control he showed in HotS.

The final player in the group is (P)Hurricane, and all signs point to a quick exit. Ever since his promising start in the SSL, beating herO with some cheesy DT play, things have deteriorated for the Samsung Protoss. Losses in Code A to SoulKey and Rogue have been ugly to watch, while he’s barely been fielded in Proleague, looking poor on the rare occasions we’ve seen him. There was no more fitting player to win the Code S Wildcard spot following TRUE’s forfeit—Hurricane has been promising great things for years now with his online play, before crumbling as soon as he enters the booth. If you’re a Hurricane fan desperate for a reason to believe, I guess that his most recent Proleague appearance ended with a win over Impact? Sure, Impact bungled his baneling drop all-in badly following critical DT damage, but a win’s a win, right?


It’s very likely that herO and Dark will both emerge from this group pretty easily, and the only question to be answered is who’ll come out in first. While DeParture is a threat, I don’t think that he has either the experience or the consistency to get out over one of tonight’s titans, although he could certainly give either a scare. Hurricane should be a banker for elimination tonight, but his obsession with DTs makes him a wildcard that you can never quite count out.

herO > Hurricane
DeParture < Dark
herO < Dark
Hurricane > DeParture
herO > Hurricane

(Z)Dark and (P)herO to advance to the Round of 16.