Code S RO16 - Group D Preview:by Orlok
TY, GuMiho, soO, Rogue
Saturday, Mar 09 4:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
IEM Katowice has come and gone, leaving a multitude of winners and losers in its wake. In GSL's Group D, the biggest winner of them all looks to build upon his success and wind Korea's grandest prize.
Whether it be due to meta shifts or plain bad luck, Terran's early 2019 success came to a screeching halt at IEM Katowice. TY was no exception. Swift and decisive moves gave him an easy road to the round of 16 in GSL Code S, but his run in IEM Katowice left a lot more to be desired. He may have been the last surviving Terran, and the only one to make it out of the group stages, but his RO12 playoff match against Solar ended in a crushing sweep. TY was able to keep some of the games close, but what will stick in the minds of Terran players around the world is the 0-3 scoreline.
It may be unfair to call TY disappointing after one bad outing—his 2018 resume placed him as the second best Terran in the world—but he's fallen short of lofty expectations. It's difficult to succeed in SC2, even without everyone nitpicking your every match, but TY must once again prove his quality if he is to advance from this group. His play is definitely top tier, but at IEM, he didn't display that razor-sharp edge of perfection we’ve come to expect from championship-class players.
Veteran Terran GuMiho stands at the edge of a precipice. With Maru and INnoVation delivering off-putting performances in Poland, GuMiho could have seized the spotlight and stood tall as the top Terran for the first time since 2017. Unfortunately, he joined INnoVation at the bottom of his RO24 group with losses to Rogue, Serral, Solar and Ragnarok. His losses against top-tier Zergs Rogue and Serral were understandable (and he put on quite the show vs Serral), but losses against Solar and Ragnarok—both eliminated in the Code S RO32—were less palatable for a Code S RO16 player. As more time passes with middling results, it’s dragging down GuMiho’s champion reputation. Though he remains a fan-favorite, he's spent a few seasons being treated as a relatively easy opponent by his peers during GSL group selections (though he's bloodied a fair share of noses in return). GuMiho hasn’t provided enough in terms of results to definitively shut up his doubters. A deep run in the GSL holds perhaps more than just monetary benefits for GuMiho. He needs it to dispel the notion that he is slipping into the mold of forgotten champions, who merely cashed in on the stars aligning for a single miracle.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there's a player in Group D who has completely reversed his career momentum. soO the protagonist of the ultimate tale of sorrow in Starcraft II, finally found his silver lining amid the stormy clouds of his career, winning a premiere title win after seven failed attempts. It can be argued that this chapter is the most emotional and impactful one in all of Starcraft II’s history, and soO will definitely be able to retire a happy man when the time comes. However, that time isn’t yet upon us. Sure, soO quenched his thirst for career-defining victory and put a fitting end to his saga as a Kong. But even with the IEM trophy in hand, there is still one nagging thing remaining in soO’s career: a GSL victory. The GSL is the league that forged soO’s legacy as one of the best and memorable players in the game, and it's unacceptable to our sense of StarCraft justice that he might never grasp the championship in that arena. With the end of one tale comes the beginning of another. Will soO can finally cash in his raincheck on becoming a GSL champion and fulfill another part of his destiny?
Coming back down to earth, we have another directionless player in Rogue. The defending champion of IEM Katowice came into this tournament with a clear swagger, brandishing his skill like a personal battle-standard. He had rare bravado at the GSL group nominations, brimming with confidence in his abilities and even calling out INnoVation. However, reality came to shoulder-check Rogue much faster then he anticipated. Despite keeping his word and crushing INnoVation, losses to Serral, GuMiho and Solar cut his tournament run short in the group stages. Losing to Serral? Understandable. Losing to Solar, who got whipped out of GSL by Bunny? Not so much. The current of tournament favorites underperforming at IEM swept Rogue away, and he’ll be looking to dry himself off and make up for that bad outing. The common mantra from IEM is that "one bad run doesn’t tell us a who a player is." But with so many players having bad outings, surely it must hold meaning for at least one of them? We'll be eager to see what kind of player Rogue reveals himself to be.
Despite all the raw talent and championship pedigree present in this group, soO has all the momentum in the world to assure himself a first place finish out of this group. After all, if winning a tournament and removing the shackles of the Kong-line curse can’t elevate your motivation, nothing else can. Apart from soO, everyone else has a decent fighting chance to make it out. TY, GuMiho and Rogue may have all fallen short at IEM, but one slip up isn’t a large enough of a problem to remove their individual threat factors (although GuMiho perhaps needs to step up a bit more than the others). It’ll be an entertaining show, that’s for sure.
TY 2 > 1 GuMiho
soO 2 > 0 Rogue
TY 1 < 2 soO
GuMiho 1 < 2 Rogue
TY 1 < 2 Rogue
soO and Rogue to advance.