Code S RO16 Group B Preview:by Orlok and Wax
GuMiho, PartinG, Dear, soO
Start time: Saturday, May 25 4:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
Group B sees members of the eSF old guard go up against a pair of former KeSPA "invaders" in a throwback rivalry from Heart of the Swarm. Those factional rifts have long-since healed, but nostalgic fans might still cheer for their old favorites to prove they still have what it takes to hang with the best.
GuMiho and PartinG represent the old guard, or perhaps the very-old-guard considering the pro-player base in Korea. They're the ones who won glory all the way back in Wings of Liberty and have somehow managed to maintain their relevance in 2019. They took wildly divergent paths to get here, however. GuMiho actually peaked in Legacy of the Void, his years of effort finally bearing fruit in the form of a Code S trophy in 2017. Meanwhilst, PartinG faded into StarCraft II obscurity after trying to go pro at other games, only to belatedly return to the game where he was once a star. However, their more recent trajectories have gone opposite ways. GuMiho has failed to turn his Code S triumph into a lasting legacy, while PartinG has slowly been grinding his way up and back into the spotlight. And now, they'll face each other at this perfect midway point: the Code S RO16.
GuMiho might have crushed Stats 3-0 and PartinG 3-1 in the recent Super Tournament, but there are still some nagging doubts around his play. GuMiho followed those wins by losing 1-4 to Classic in the Super Tournament Finals and then lost 0-2 to Trust in the first match of his Code S RO32 group. That four-match sequence in GSL showcased the infuriating nature of his play—absolutely brilliant or falling apart on his feet. Mechanically speaking, he shouldn’t struggle with lesser opponents, but his occasional micro slips could spell disaster in this rematch with PartinG. GuMiho needs to be on his guard for Protoss timing-attacks are still very much a thing, and one ill-timed decision could make this group very hard to advance from.
As for PartinG, he still seems visibly rusty. There's the occasional questionable decision making, and the lapses of macro and micro are all too glaring at times. He's a far cry from his infamous Soul-Train heyday, where his near-perfect execution let him telegraph his strategy and win anyway. It's anyone’s guess as to what kind of form he'll show up to this group in. He's likely to bust out some innovative or well-modified form of Protoss aggression to even the odds, but one has to be skeptical about his success rate against opponents of this caliber. GuMiho, soO and Dear are all much more consistent than Cure or the semi-retired DRG he beat in the previous round.
soO and Dear were both part of the KeSPA vanguard, the elite of the elite who stood tall as elephants in the room while their peers toiled to adapt to StarCraft II. While they rose to prominence a few years later than GuMiho and PartinG, their longevity is also something to take note of. The two have a personal history as well, with Dear being the catalyst for the entire silver SoOfer saga (or Zest, depending on who you ask). Throughout their careers, they’ve both been champions, runner-ups, has-beens, and admirably resilient veterans.
soO might have rode to the IEM Katowice championship on the back of strong ZvP, but that championship didn't dispel his jinx against Dear. soO's loss to Dear in the RO32 reminded us that Dear is personal his personal demon, with a 9-0 match record against him (6-0 excluding BO1's) in offline matches. Add in soO's outbursts of frustration when streaming ZvP ("Protoss does whatever they want and wins!"), and things don't bode well for him. While it's understandable to see soO hit with burnout or the post-championship slump, being able to reset to a healthy mindset might be the key to advancing in this two-Protoss group.
Somehow, Dear slipped into this group as quiet as a mouse. His PvT hype-train was derailed in the previous season when Maru planted Widow Mines on the tracks, but it doesn't take away from Dear's understated consistency in 2019. Dear modestly crushed Creator and soO in the RO32, setting himself up to reach another Code S quarterfinal and his third overall on the year. While Dear may not have massive hype or momentum behind him, he has won or drawn every single PvT match since his loss to Maru, and has the advantage of facing his personal punching bag soO in his initial match. A PvP against PartinG might be tricky, but there's more than a decent chance that he won't have to play him at all.
ALL THAT SAID... I’m (which one of us could it be?) bored of making safe and boring predictions that never materialize, so I’m going full YOLO and picking what I WANT to happen. PartinG will conjure up a modified soul train against an unsuspecting GuMiho and crash the round of eight party. soO will reignite his passion-burners for one last time, demolish everyone else, and take second place. GuMiho will play some incredibly entertaining mech games before going out, and Dear will play normal and leave normal.
GuMiho 1 - 2 PartinG
soO 2 - 1 Dear
PartinG 2 - 1 soO
GuMiho 0 - 2 Dear
soO 2 - 1 Dear
PartinG and soO to advance.