This season's 'group of death' lived up to its name as Stats and Solar saw their recent hot-streaks cut short by the Jin Air duo of Rogue and Maru.
Rogue—who suffered Ro32 elimination in the previous season—was the first to redeem himself, advancing with victories over Stats and Solar. Stats' reputation in PvZ had skyrocketed after his 3-2 victory against Serral at Assembly Summer, but Rogue made short work of him with a two-base Nydus strategy, followed by a hardy defense against a cannon-rush in the next game. While Solar managed to force Rogue to a game three in the winners match, Rogue was able to force his way to quarterfinals with a decisive, Hydra-Lurker-Nydus backdoor attack in the series-clinching game.
Maru—who was also humiliated by an Ro32 exit last season—had a tougher path back to the playoffs. He was instantly humbled in his first game against Solar, whose mastery of Brood Lord-Infestor was too much for even Maru's infamous, nuke-laden, and infinitely patient mech play. After that series ended in a 1-2 loss, Maru was then faced with an elimination match against Stats—the very player who had 3-0'd him at the recent GSL vs. World tournament. Yet, just two weeks later, Maru came back looking like a totally different player. He obliterated Stats with late-game nukes in game one, and then outlasted a series of ever more desperate attacks from Stats in game two.
Facing Solar again in the group decider match, Maru opted to shelve mech for bio-based play. This approach proved to be more effective—although Solar continued to play well, Maru was able to overpower his opponent before he could put together his dreaded end-game composition. After the matches, Maru said his decision to switch to bio was an on-site improvisation. While he had practiced mostly mech (and been quite successful in practice), his comprehensive loss to Solar in his initial match forced him to change strategies.
Group C's results significantly impact the WCS Global Finals race as players look to finish in the top eight. #10 ranked Rogue remains a firm contender to make a push to the cutoff, while Stats sees his hold on the #7 spot grow more tenuous. Unfortunately, #13 Solar will need a Super Tournament 2 championship combined with abject failure from his rivals to secure a Global Finals spot.
The Code S round of sixteen will conclude on Saturday, Sep 07 4:00am GMT (GMT+00:00) with Group D, featuring Classic, RagnaroK, Dear, and Zest. The Code S quarterfinals will be held soon after between September 10th and 11th (check out Liquipedia for more information).