Code S RO16 - Group A Preview:by Destructicon
Maru, Impact, Bunny, Patience
Friday, Mar 08 11:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
Group A initially looked to be the very definition of clear cut. Maru used his #1 seed advantage at the group selections to pave himself an easy road to the playoffs, pitting himself against three saps who would be happy enough to merely reach the first Code S quarterfinal of their careers. Then, all four players went to IEM Katowice, where some crazy results went down and complicated everyone's predictions for this group.
All signs up until February 28th indicated that Maru would challenge for the championship at IEM Katowice. At the very least, it looked like he'd make it to the RO12 playoff stage again. After all, how could the three-time Code S champion fail to finish top three in a group with Lambo, Leenock, Neeb, Trap, and Dark?
However, things immediately got off to a rocky start as Maru lost 0-2 in his first series with Trap. It just kept getting worse from there, with Maru losing the following series to Leenock, and then even getting KO'd by his former TvP sandbag Neeb. While Maru saved a bit of face by defeating Lambo and Dark to close out the group, it was too little and too late—he was eliminated from the IEM RO24 as fourth place in his group.
In the grand scheme of things, this might just turn out to be an extreme outlier case of Maru under-performing. Travel fatigue? Gross overconfidence? Whatever the cause, one would think his IEM embarrassment will have served as a wake-up call. It's one he'll certainly need—his GSL groupmates aren't terribly weaker than those at IEM, and they should be emboldened by seeing Maru's mortality revealed.
The story of Impact's slow-but-steady progress arrived at an important chapter when he reached his second consecutive Code S RO16 this season. It proved that his RO16 advancement in the previous year was not a momentary blip, and that he had made real strides in bridging his online and offline performances. For his troubles he was rewarded the 'prize' of facing Maru as his first RO16 opponent.
Somehow, that joke gift may have turned into a real gift overnight. The original plan of taking second place in the group is still perfectly valid: Bunny is prone to spontaneously combusting, and Patience was regarded as one of the weakest players in the RO16 group selections.
But now Impact also has a small glimmer of hope that he might be able to also blindside Maru, should the opportunity come. Maru looked panicked and sluggish in his loss to Leenock—a far cry from the 2018 Maru who seemed like he'd never lose to inferior players. The cheesy approach employed by Leenock shouldn't be the hardest to imitate.
Speaking of cheese, Patience also lurks in this group. He's no longer the cheese-only player of old, but we all expect him to bring the unexpected in important matches.
Patience was good enough to earn a coveted online-qualifier seed at IEM Katowice, but his actual performance in the live, group stage in Poland was poor. Though we might brush off his PvP losses to Zest, Stats, and herO as being meaningless in this particular group, it wasn't encouraging to see him lose to Terran player SpeCial (who is definitely no Maru).
Patience doesn't seem like he has much of a shot of making it to the RO8, but who ever thought he'd make it through the IEM Katowice online qualifier in the first place? Whether it's by hitting opponents with the stupid gun or through pure Protoss devilry, he has a knack for beating the odds.
But of the three underdogs in the group, Bunny is the one that's best equipped to surprise everyone and make it to the Code S RO8 for the first time in his career. Not only did Bunny qualify for IEM Katowice in convincing fashion (getting through the FIRST Korean qualifier), he even scored some fantastic wins in the IEM group stage: he beat an extremely strong TvT player in TY, and defeated the eventual tournament champion in soO. As for TvP credentials... well Aligulac says Bunny's TvP win-rate over the past few months is 61%, which means he should be able to beat Patience, right?
While it's easy to predict a slump for a player after a bad tournament result, in all likeliness IEM Katowice was just that for Maru: A single bad tournament. It could be the result that pushes him to the next level, like his near-elimination from Code S at the hands of KeeN last year. While all three of the other players have the potential to move on, Bunny impressed me the most so I'll give him the nod to advance.
Maru 2 – 0 Impact
Bunny 2 – 1 Patience
Maru 2 – 0 Bunny
Impact 2 – 1 Patience
Bunny 2 – 1 Impact
Maru and Bunny to advance.