The format is simple: I have chosen five players from the Ro16 I consider to be serious contenders for the title and one outside bet that has the potential to make a deep run in the tournament and maybe even win the thing. So without further ado, Let's get into it.
No. 1: Classic
This should come as no surprise to anyone really considering the form Classic has been in lately. Having already won a premier title in the GSL Super Tournament and making the finals of the previous GSL the chintoss is in fine form. In fact since the turn of the year, Classic has only lost one offline match (that being the Bo.7 GSL finals to Maru) making him the player to beat now that Maru has gone out. Possessing possibly the best PvP in the world right now, as well as being incredibly solid in both other matchups it is hard to look past Classic as the favourite for this season's GSL.
And it's hardly as if Classic's group is particularly difficult either. Consisting of RagnaroK, FanTaSy and Hurricane besides himself, it's hard to see Classic doing anything but topping this group. But you never know, stranger things have happened in the GSL.
No. 2: Dark
Where would a list like this be without the bad boy of the Korean Scene? Dark has a strong claim to being one of the main contenders for this season on the back of impressive semi-final runs in both Season 1 and IEM Katowice, however, his tendency to choke at the semi-final stage can't be understated. Since the beginning of 2018 Dark has only progressed twice past the premier semi-finals stage out of seven tries (Those being at GSL Super Tournament Season 1 2018 and WESG 2017) and if one looks at his record in just the GSL it makes for even grimmer reading. Dark has never made a GSL final in his career which for such a high calibre player is quite shocking. Furthermore, Dark appears to be somewhat fragile to top tier Protoss having been handed an 0-2 loss in IEM Katowice by Dear and losing to Classic 3-4 in the GSL season 1 semi-finals. He was also bested by GuMiho in the GSL ST1 2-3 in the Ro. 16.
The group he's in is also a far harder challenge than the likes of Classic. Stats and InnoVation both present rivals that historically Dark has struggled to overcome when it counts while Patience is just an absolute mad man who is likely to pull out God knows what in order to try and force a win. However, should Dark get out of his Ro.16 group, he is likely to be met with a significantly easier quarter finals opponent than anyone in his group so the key for Dark is to get out of the Ro.16.
No. 3: Stats
It really is a testament to Stats' consistency that he has been a constant contender for the GSL title since probably the beginning of 2017. The second best Protoss in the world after Classic currently, Stats has already made a premier finals appearance at IEM Katowice. While results elsewhere have been somewhat disappointment (a Ro.32 exit in GSL S1 and losing in the Quarter-Finals of the GSL ST) the protoss player seems to be in the form currently that had him dubbed The Shield of Aiur back in 2018. He breezed through his Ro.32 group claiming the scalps of Leenock and FantaSy along the way, seeming unfazed throughout. While, his PvP is probably second only to Classic's currently but it is hard to tell where his PvZ and PvT are right now. With PvZ it is mainly down to the lack of games he has played against top tier Zergs combined with the very new Robo meta which makes it hard to pinpoint exactly where he stands while in PvT he contested arguably the best game of the year so far against Maru only to lose 0-3 GuMiho immediately after in the Super Tournament.
In theory Stats should make it out of his group without too much of a problem. InnoVation is having some well documented problems with his PvT currently which should mean that Stats is favoured in his first match of the Ro.16 while his history with Dark we've already mentioned. As for Patience, Stats has not lost to him since 2017 going 5-0 in series since then. All things point towards Stats making out of his group.
No. 4: InnoVation
Now I'm going to preface this by saying this could so easily have been GuMiho. In fact it probably should be based on GuMiho's recent finals run in the GSL ST. However, it's not. See despite him being notably weak in PvT with the very real possibility of having to play Patience in the loser's bracket of his group, if he can fix his PvT he will have quite an easy ride out of his group. Boasting pretty solid TvZ and TvT the only thing really holding him back is his inability the previously mentioned matchup. The problem is that it is very hard to bet against InnoVation. He is one of those players that can just turn up one day, switch on and then cut a swathe through his opposition. He's already won one premier tournament this year in WESG, going through both the no.1 Terran and no.1 Zerg at the time showing his credentials in those match ups but like I have said his TvP is godawful at the moment (insert joke about InnoVation not being able to play in a poor meta here).
Whether or not he makes it out of his group hinges in his TvP. Going up against Stats first will not be easy but if he were to beat him the likelihood is he'd be looking at Dark which is a very winnable match up for The Machine. From there he would be poised to make a deep run into the GSL bracket and potentially win the entire thing. However, if his TvP is still as poor as it has been recently there is also a very good chance that he just bottoms out of his group.
No. 5: soO
Like InnoVation it is arguable as to whether or not soO should be on this list but its my list so if you don't like it write your own. soO makes for an interesting study as his ZvP winrate is sitting at a pretty abysmal 42% according to Aligulac while his first opponent is Dear, who beat him 2-1 in the Ro.32. However, all is not lost for the Angry Zerg. Besides Dear, the other two players in his group are GuMiho and PartinG. Against GuMiho, soO has been doing quite well recently (beating him 6-1 online on May 5th) while PartinG's weakest matchup is his PvZ, sitting at 53% compared to 57% in Pvt and 61% in PvP. As such soO may actually be in a position to exploit this, maybe not getting out in first but very possibly getting out of the group. And once soO gets into the knockout stages more often than not he's headed straight for the finals which, with a little newfound belief from winning IEM, could spur him on to lift the trophy he's coveted for so long now.
Like I've already said, I don't think soO will be the first out of his group as I think Dear does just have his number. However, I would favour him against both PartinG and GuMiho and, should he avoid Classic and Stats in the knock outs, I can easily see him picking up the steam which carries him all the way to the GSL title.
The Outside Bet: PartinG
There were four players I had in mind when I was considering who to pick for this dark horse and those were FantaSy, GuMiho, Trap and PartinG. All of these players are well known for various reasons, FantaSy being an often meta-defining player, GuMiho being the Mech God and Trap being Gemini's God. However, I chose PartinG.
There were three reasons for that. Firstly, PartinG has come off a respectable semi-finals finish in GSL ST which no one really expected in which he acquitted himself rather well in beating both RagnaroK and Hurricane eventually falling to GuMiho. Secondly, I personally feel that the winner of this GSL is most likely to be a Protoss which may seem pretty obvious considering the racial distribution. But the main reason is the way he prepared for his ro.32 group. He had an incredible variety of builds that used a range of skills from cheese to surprisingly strong macro (as seen in his last game against Cure) which is exactly the sort of thing you are going to need when going into the later stages of this tournament considering how preparation orientated it is. While I'm not even sure if PartinG will make it out of his group, if he does I can definitely see him making quite a few surprise upsets and he may even make it all the way.
So there you go guys. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it and who knows? Maybe I'll write another.