Code S Season 3 - RO16 Group D:Start time: Saturday, Sep 07 4:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
Classic, RagnaroK, Dear, Zest
And here we are, at the very last GSL group of the 2019 season. While this group may not be as stacked as the prior group of death, it's just as unpredictable. All of these players are capable of amazing play when they're at the top of their games, which means any two could advance into the playoffs.
The closest thing to a sure thing in this group is Classic, who is really making the most out of his twilight year before military service. Much has been made over the fact that the 27-year-old is typically the oldest competitor in a given match, having to adjust his game-style to one more focused on cheddar-infused preparation. And it's worked! Classic has enjoyed one of the most successful years of career, earning a a minimum a top 4 finish in every tournament he’s participated this year, from second place in the first GSL to a championship in the first Super Tournament. And while his his play is a far cry from the macro beasts we normally associate with championship caliber players, Classic is getting the wins where it matters.
However, a year is a very long time to stay consistently excellent, and Classic has shown signs of slippage lately. He was imperiled in the Ro32, losing to Creator in his initial match before clawing his way through in second place (getting revenge on Creator and defeating INnoVation). His narrow victory over SpeCial at GSL versus the World, followed by his loss in their rematch during the team competition also cast some doubt on his form—even if SpeCial performs best when he has time to prepare for a specific opponent (much like Classic). This group will tell us if this hardy veteran has the mental stamina to keep his farewell tour going.
As a seeded player, Classic selected RagnaroK as his initial opponent during group selections. Given RagnaroK's results in recent tournaments, and the fact that Classic already used him as a stepping stone in Code S Season 2, it's hard to argue with the choice. RagnaroK occasionally plays a brilliant game against a top player and has put up a near 75% online win-rate since June, but does any of that really matter when he can never seem to bring his best play to the AfreecaTV studio? Again, statistically, there’s nothing bad about RagnaroK’s chances in this all-Protoss group: his match-up win rate is near 75% percent, even if it's padded with victories against foreigners. What RagnaroK needs to do is bring his online brilliance offline, like he did during his Ro12 run at IEM Katowice, or when he staved off Classic's all-in last season and briefly made him regret picking him as an opponent.
Dear might have a far better career resume than RagnaroK, but lately, he's fallen into the same mold of being a player who's inconsistent about delivering on his potential to be great. He was fantastic at the beginning of the year, making a run to the top eight of IEM Katowice and even racking up a ridiculous 20-0 streak in PvT. Then, two 'big match' players got in the way: herO, who scrambled Dear's mind with PvP trickery in the IEM quarterfinals, and Maru, who laughed off Dear's PvT streak and broke him with constant aggression in their GSL playoff match. Dear has been so-so since then (Ro16 in Code S Season 2 and top eight in at ASUS ROG Summer), which bodes poorly for him as he now faces what could be the biggest matches of his season.
Dear currently has a tenuous grip on the #8 spot in the WCS Korea standings, with late-starters TY and Rogue chasing furiously behind him. Both TY and Rogue have advanced from their Ro16 groups: Dear needs to advance as well to stay in the race. There’s not much to write home about this one: either he’ll play with a little bit of the championship magic from years past, or he'll see his BlizzCon dreams go up in smoke. If these stakes can't motivate him to play at his best level, what can?
Finally, Zest enters as the most mysterious player in this group. Despite being shamed with Ro32 elimination in the first two Code S seasons of the year, he was still somehow the last player taken during the group nominations. Even if you consider that the players seemed to fear Protoss in general, that's a bit of a mind-bender.
The offline/online split for Zest seems to be as bad as ever in 2019. In 2018, offline Zest seemed to be able to shrug off the laughable macro slips, bad map awareness, and control mishaps to force out victories and even reach the GSL finals (though that ended in a brutal drubbing from Maru). This year, offline Zest has been getting pummeled in all competitions, at least until he managed a semifinal run at ASUS ROG Summer. However, he remains an online beast, with a 75% match win-rate since June, with wins against the likes of Cure, Trap, Dear, Maru and Rogue. Zest fans will be hoping his ASUS ROG run signaled a turning point, and that his fellow progamers had good reason to be afraid of him during the group selections.
This group is the embodiment of the word 'coin-flip'. Not only is it laden with PvPs, but it seems to be an utter toss-up as to how well the non-Classic players will perform. Personally, seeing as RagnaroK has never managed to punch through once I’m more inclined to believe it’ll be a PvP showdown between Zest and Dear to decide the final winner.
Classic 2 - 0 RagnaroK
Dear 2 - 1 Zest
Classic 2 - 1 Dear
RagnaroK 1 - 2 Zest
Dear 1 - 2 Zest
Classic and Zest advance.