Code S Season 3 - RO32 - Group G Previewby Orlok
What an eventful GSL this is turning out to be. We’ve had it all, from routine dominance by players like Dark, surprisingly strong showings from un-retiring pros such as Super (who actually managing to take a map off Maru), to star players such as soO and INnoVation faltering at the first hurdle. The upcoming Group G could give us a repeat of the latter two items, with a pair of former Code S champions with clipped wings fighting against two GSL returnees.
Matches start at Wednesday, Jul 17 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
GuMiho has lost a lot of his glamour from the previous years. After looking solid-if-unremarkable last year with two Ro8 appearances in Code S, he has since spiraled down into obscurity. His rash playstyle of inciting chaos regardless of the consequences has seen his results dip. He's gone from back-to-back quarterfinal appearances in the Code S 2018 to barely scraping by to the round-of-16 this year. He did have a renaissance moment in the first Super Tournament, heroically taking Terran to a second-place finish whilst ousting the likes of Dark and Stats. But ultimately, he failed to rediscover whatever magic led him to his Code S title back in 2017, and was handily defeated by Classic in the Super Tournament finals.
While GuMiho has rarely looked straight-up bad, his level of play simply has “average” stamped on every facet of it besides creativity (with mech becoming quite popular among Terran pros, it's hard to grant him even that). His gumption will now be put to the test—an early exit here will likely mean a second straight year where he fails to qualify for the WCS Global Finals. While the names in this group don't look like they'll offer the toughest resistance, GuMiho’s current form doesn’t paint him as a strong favorite either. He lost two Bo3 series to Super in the Code S qualifiers and had to beat the likes of Rex, Trust, MaSa and Losira to even make it this far. GuMiho will definitely need to step up his game and stay at peak awareness, as one mishap could lead to a big upset.
As for Armani, who returned to competition in 2019 after returning from military service, it's difficult to pinpoint where he stands. On one hand, he has cleared the first hurdle for returning pros, having qualified for two consecutive seasons of Code S (he even found a foreign team to support his participation at ASUS ROG 2019). On the other hand, he’s a living and breathing example of just how impossible it is to really succeed as a military returnee. Armani's first Code S last season run was incredibly short-lived, as he suffered quick elimination at the hands of Maru and INnoVation. Both of his qualifications paths were relatively easy as well, winning against the likes of fellow returnee Bomber, content creator NoRegret, or Ro32-level pros such as Losira (the best players he managed to beat were SpeCial and Bunny). His level of play online has been rather opaque as well—despite frequent participation in online cups, most of his limited success comes from beating up on foreigners. Since his return, Armani is putting up sub-60 percent win rates in ZvP and ZvT, with only his ZvZ slightly above that line. As it is with most returnees, a hefty dose of luck will have to accompany Armani if he wishes to make it to the next round.
Speaking of returnees, FanTaSy is a slightly different kind. He’s been back for a year, and during that year he has slowly but surely regained some of his previous prowess. Despite still having his fair share of agonizing macro slips and micro mishaps, Fantasy has managed to claw his way to the middle of the pack in terms of skill standings. Last season, he made the important step of reaching the Ro16, showcasing impressive preparation against the likes of Rogue, Leenock, and Stats. If he was found lacking in terms of his mechanics, he had enough hand-crafted, perfectly honed build orders to earn a Ro16 spot. While he was ultimately knocked out in the Ro16 by Hurricane and Ragnarok, one cannot deny that FanTasy is definitely a much better player than when he first came back to the scene. Unfortunately, he hasn't quite kept his momentum going since that Ro16 run. His qualifier run this season was less than convincing, making it on the back of wins vs foreigners and non-pro Korean players. Overall, his strong TvP (68.75% win rate) has been heavily offset by abysmally weak TvZ (42.86% win rate). While it's hard to peg FanTaSy as a favorite to return to the Ro16, anything could happen if he demonstrates the same level of preparation from the previous season.
Last but not least, we have Dear to complete this island of misfit toys. He mirrors GuMiho, a former champion who is seemingly long past his prime. He still a solid player, and sometimes he sprinkles in a dash of brilliance to take him into the deeper rounds of a tournament. Those performances, such as this PvT epic against Maru, remind us why he was called the best player in the world for a fleeting moment in the far past. However, that kind of brilliance has never quite returned to manifest itself on a consistent basis, and it shows in Dear's results. After a steady showing in the early part of the year, where he made it to the quarterfinals of the first Code S and IEM Katowice, Dear was eliminated from the Super Tournament Ro16 by Zest. Then, he was bounced from the Code S Ro16 by soO and GuMiho. Despite all this, he looks to be favorite by default in this group. Ever since Dear's last Code S appearance, he's gone 4-1 against in PvT—including two Bo3 wins against GuMiho—which should serve him well in this two Terran group.
With no prohibitive favorite in this group, there's the potential for any kind of result. That being said, even if GuMiho and Dear aren't quite as strong as the top players in other groups, it might all just play out 'normally' regardless, with the duo of continuously competing pros utilizing their superior fundamentals and mechanics to steamroll the returners.
GuMiho 2-0 Armani
FanTasy 1-2 Dear
GuMiho 1-2 Dear
FanTasy 2-0 Armani
GuMiho 2-1 FanTasy
Dear and GuMiho to advance.