Code S RO16 Group A Preview:by Destructicon
Classic, RagnaroK, Hurricane, FanTaSy
Start time: Wednesday, May 22 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
It's time for GSL competition to heat up a notch as we enter the round-of-sixteen. Maru's early elimination will have many of his past victims eager to take advantage of his absence and take aim at the title, but they'll have to take care not to suffer elimination themselves in this season of upsets.
With the ability to pick TWO of their RO16 opponents, the #1 seeded player in the Code S group nominations is usually guaranteed a cream puff group. With Maru eliminated early, that privilege passed down to Classic this season, and he was indeed able to craft himself a fairly easy group. In fact, he was so pleased with his group’s final composition that he elected to not even exercise his final swap privilege.
While Classic does face the difficulty of having to prepare for all three race match-ups, he doesn’t really need to fear any of his opponents in particular. All three players are performing poorly against Protoss, with RagnaroK actually having the best vs P win-rate at 50% (13-13 win-loss) over the past 2 months, while FanTaSy and Hurricane sit at a mere 32% and 31% respectively over the same period.
As a GSL Code S runner-up and Super Tournament champion in 2019, Classic seems like one of the biggest favorites to win the Code S championship in this Maru-less season. However, it's worth repeating that this has been a season of upsets, with Patience playing a part in eliminating Maru, FanTaSy contributing to Rogue's downfall, and RagnaroK ushering TY out of the RO32. Classic should prepare with all of his usual diligence lest he get blindsided by his ambitious opponents.
RagnaroK has once again managed to surprise us after reaching the RO12 playoffs at March's IEM Katowice. While it was impressive to see him defeat GuMiho, INnoVation, and Solar in the IEM group stages, it seemed more like a fluky performance when he lost 2-3 to PartinG in the first round of the Super Tournament. When he was put into a Code S group alongside sOs, TY and SpeCial, it seemed a far stretch to imagine he could escape the RO32.
Yet RagnaroK did just that, dodging sOs but administering a double knockout against his Terran opponents. RagnaroK impressed by outplaying his more accomplished opponents in macro games, reminding us that he nearly even beat Maru in the last season of Code S before blowing his in-game lead. However, his underdog journey might come to an end right here as he must defeat at least one Protoss to advance. While his ZvP record isn’t bad per se, it's not like his ZvT where he's several beaten high-profile players in major offline tournaments. Furthermore, the two Protosses have been monstrous against Zerg in the past two months, with Classic going 7-0 in matches (15-6 map score) and Hurricane going 17-8 in maps. Classic looks like a particularly fearsome opponent, having beaten all of Korea's 'top' Zergs in Dark, Rogue, soO and Solar, while Hurricane has bested Rogue and Solar.
It's clear that RagnaroK has the ZvT chops to take down FanTaSy, so his best bet might be to go ham on preparing for what could be a series of decisive matches against Hurricane.
Hurricane's form has fluctuated quite a lot this year. After early year eliminations from Code S RO32 and from the IEM Katowice open bracket, his PvZ let him rebound from those lackluster performances. A 3-1 victory over Rogue saw him reach the quarterfinals of the Super Tournament, and he's playing in his first Code S RO16 in over a year thanks to two RO32 victories over Solar.
I actually like Hurricane's chances in this group. His very shaky PvP series against PartinG in the Super Tournament makes it seem like he's not gonna make the cut against Classic, but he still has a solid shot against the two other group members. I’ve already mentioned that his PvZ is quite strong, but he also has decent results in PvT as well with victories against TY in the Super Tournament qualifier, and against TaeJa and aLive in the Code S qualifier. If this turns into a battle for 2nd place, Hurricane may very well be the favorite.
FanTaSy is quite hard to get a read on. His Aligulac stats make the outlook seem bleak in this two-Protoss group, but at least his TvZ has been solid. He showed a lot of strategic variety in his against matches Leenock and Rogue in the RO32, but unfortunately, there's only one Zerg player in this group, and that Zerg won his most impressive victories in ZvT.
On paper, FanTaSy's win-rate against Protoss is atrocious. And yet, FanTaSy did play a close 1-2 series vs Stats in the RO32, where he prepared a variety of unusual builds to try and get an advantage (mech vs Protoss, liberator range rush). And, during the group nominations, FanTaSy didn't seem concerned with his group composition—rather, he seemed pretty happy with how it all turned out.
I don’t really have much faith in FanTaSy to show up with elite TvP after a week of prep, but he might just be able to pull off an upset if he can surprise Hurricane with some of his wonkier strategies.
I think Classic will take group A quite handily—he has the skills, the resume, and experience with GSL-style preparation on his side. As for the rest of the players, this is looking much like one of Maru's RO16 groups from 2018, where everyone seems to have a reasonable chance at taking second place. I think Hurricane has the best shot at coming out after Classic. He's an inconsistent player without many notable GSL results, but that can also be said of RagnaroK and FanTaSy. However, the stats say that Hurricane has the advantage in the individual race match-ups, giving him the edge over his competitors.
Classic 2 – 0 RagnaroK
Hurricane 2 – 1 FanTaSy
Classic 2 – 0 Hurricane
RagnaroK 2 – 1 FanTaSy
Hurricane 2 – 1 RagnaroK
Classic and Hurricane to advance.