Code S Season 1 - Round of 16by Orlok
Following a lively day of games in the minor-group of death, we move on to Group C where the predictions might be even harder to make.
Group C Preview: Trap, Bunny, PartinG, soOStart time: Wednesday, May 13 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
Trap makes his Code S debut in 2020, having earned a bye to the RO16 due to his top-four finish in the Super Tournament. He's also the group's top seeded player, his reward for an awesome 2019 campaign that saw him place runner-up in two Code S finals.
For Trap, this group will be about proving he's still the top-class player who was the best Protoss of 2019. Despite rightfully taking away the title of most consistent Protoss from Stats, he hasn't been quite the force he was last year. His Super Tournament run was solid (PvP wins over PartinG and Zest), but he was eliminated from the IEM Katowice group stage due to weak PvZ. Lately, he has been virtually everywhere in online tourneys, from ESL open cups to Olimoleagues and ITax matches. A particularly bright spot ahead of this group was his qualification for TeamLiquid Starleague 5, as he defeated group-mates Bunny and PartinG along the way. However, the big picture statistics simply fail to flatter. Since the Super Tournament, he's put up a mere 54 percent win-rate in PvT and an abhorrent 47 percent win-rate in PvZ. Considering how lively soO and Bunny have looked lately, a scenario where Trap fails to make the RO8 is certainly in play. At least he should be favored in a potential match vs PartinG, having a massive 76 percent win-rate in the mirror. Overall, we're trusting in Trap's experience and the "he's done it before" factor to get him through—his recent momentum doesn't paint the rosiest picture.
Bunny enters as the lone Terran of the group. He might have hoped that flipping the calendar to 2020 would help him break out of the slump he was in since making the Code S RO8 make in Season 1 of 2019. The results so far have been a mixed bag. He failed to quality for the Super Tournament and was eliminated in the IEM Katowice group stages, but did manage to return to the Code S RO16 after defeating TRUE and a semi-rejuvenated sOs in the RO24. Some players even pointed to Bunny as the most underrated player during the GSL Group Selection Q&A's! On the other hand, Dark was on the verge of targeting Bunny as the easiest, first-pick of the Group Selection until Bunny begged him to show mercy.
Despite being active in online competitions, a glance at Bunny's record since his last GSL group reveals he hasn't beaten anyone we'd consider a lock for the Code S quarterfinals. Mostly, Bunny has been beating up on mid/low-tier Code S players—which you could argue PartinG and soO are in their current state. But those two players have a far longer history of big match success than Bunny, and are solid-if-not-spectacular players at worst. In his current state, Bunny will have a rough time trying to beat his three group-mates in straight-forward games, so strategies similar to the two-base timings he used to upset sOs could be his best bet.
Mr. Big Boy PartinG is the second Protoss competitor in this group. His major tournament results so far in 2020 have been good but not remarkable: Group stage elimination at IEM Katowice and a quarterfinal run at he Super Tournament. His RO24 performance in Code S wasn't that impressive either, as he had to fight Dream tooth and nail to advance in second place. Despite all that, PartinG's infamy as a cheeser makes it enticing to pick him to sneak into the quarterfinals, even if the logic behind it isn't totally sound. We'll explain this line of thinking by asking a question. What was more memorable: PartinG's group stage elimination from IEM Katowice, or the cannon-rush fueled upset of Dark he scored along the way?
In terms of recent stats, PartinG has the same caveat as the other players in this group: a lack of wins against notable opponents. Since playing in his last Code S group, PartinG's online successes have come mostly at the expense of foreigners and some of the fringe Code S players. He beat players like Bomber and Super to qualify for TSL5, but lost to players like Zest and INnoVation in WardiTV's Spring tourney. Thus, the key to PartinG's games is going to be how well-prepared he is, and how great an homage he can pay to the vanquished sOs.
soO rounds out the group as somewhat of a surprise participant. No one would blame you for accusing soO of coasting since winning that invaluable championship at IEM Katowice 2019, nor would anyone blame soO for indulging in said coasting. Still, it's going to factor into these predictions.
soO's 2020 started with tepid showings at IEM Katowice (group stage elimination) and the Super Tournament (a 0-3 beatdown at the hands of INnoVation in the RO16). There wasn’t much fanfare for soO prior to the Code S RO24, but he upended expectations to advance in first place with 2-0 wins over both Bunny and sOs (whose cheeses soO deflected with ease). It was a brief reminder of how good a player soO can be, and it was refreshing to see him put in a pretty dominant performance after nearly a year of mediocrity.
soO hasn't been as active online as his competition in this group, but he also made it to the TSL5 main event by beating Hurricane, TRUE and Dokyung/Billowy. But, AGAIN, like his fellow Group C players, the most impressive thing he did lately was advance from the RO24—there aren't any big online victories or statistical streaks to fuel the hype. If he keeps up his RO24 level-of-play as a solid, defensive-minded macro player, he should survive whatever his opponents throw at him and advance.
The GSL casters might have mocked this group as a group of life, but it's certainly one of the toughest groups to predict. However, I’m going with the favorites on paper in Trap and soO. Now, Bunny and PartinG have a decent chance to advance, and both were rightfully pleased at the end of the group selection ceremony. But, if we look at everyone's body of work over the past year, Trap and soO simply have a far better record of big tournament success than the two challengers.
Trap 2 - 0 Bunny
PartinG 1 - 2 soO
Trap 1 - 2 soO
Bunny 1 - 2 PartinG
Trap 2 - 0 PartinG
soO and Trap advance.