Barely two weeks after TY won his first Code S championship in the Season 1 finals, GSL Code S returned on Saturday with its second season of 2020.
The beginning of a new GSL season also brought the ending of an old GSL career. With his military service set to begin in October, soO looked to make one last, glorious run in what was likely to be his final GSL season. Unfortunately, SpeCial's mech proved to be too treacherous an obstacle for soO to surmount in Group A, leaving the six-time Code S finalist to take his final bow in the round-of-24.
Zest and SpeCial ended up being the players to advance from Group A, with Zoun joining soO in elimination after failing to make an impact in his debut Code S appearance (though he did earn his first Code S map win against Zest). Unfortunately, the specter of conscription also loomed over one of the advancing players, as Zest mentioned in his post-match interview that he, too, would soon have to fulfill his military service.
The opening series between Zest and Zoun showed us that PvP can still end in the blink of an eye, even with the newly introduced Battery Overcharge. An unscouted proxy-Oracle build gave Zest a quick win in game one, but Zoun tied up the score just as easily when he read and defended against Zest's proxy-Immortal all-in in game two. The final game on Submarine had potential to go long when the early game passed with neither player taking crippling damage, but instead the game ended before the nine minute mark when Zest easily held off Zoun's Immortal & Glaive-Adept all-in.
SpeCial and soO abruptly shifted gears to start off their series, playing a prolonged Mech-Terran vs Zerg game on Ice and Chrome. SpeCial seemed to set himself up for success by taking map control with Blue-Flame Hellions against soO's Zergling-based force, but soO took the initiative back with slick Zergling runbys and a surprise tech switch to Mutalisks. This let soO cover the map in expansions, while SpeCial was forced into a defensive posture. Unfortunately for soO, all of his negative stereotypes ended up being fulfilled as the game went on. He drove his Lair-tech army straight into the teeth of the Terran defenses, and he donated Brood Lords to SpeCial after failing to defend them against Vikings. Eventually, the wasted resources caught up to soO, and SpeCial was able to roll out and take the victory with his mech army. SpeCial followed up with a sharp performance in game two on Submarine, keeping his initial Reaper at home against soO's pool-before-hatch opener, and then getting several kills with a Hellion-Reaper poke (using a cleverly placed grenade to dislodge blocking Queens). This early harassment transitioned smoothly into a fast Battlecruiser, which transitioned again into Marine-Tank push. Having played the entire game on the backfoot, soO just didn't have the army or upgrades to stop the attack and GG'd out.
The winners match began with a truly 'SpeCial' build, as the Mexican Terran went for proxy-Hellion drop into fast Battlecruiser into a Marine-Tank push on Golden Wall—all off one base! The strategy was so crazy that you couldn't blame Zest too much for going up to three-bases against it, even though it guaranteed his doom. Zest recovered his bearings in game two, tying up the score by hitting SpeCial with a Stalker-Zealot attack at the perfect timing during the Terran player's mech-transition. The deciding game saw SpeCial put all of his chips on a two-base Marine-Tank-SCV all-in, which looked like it might succeed due to the infamous 'Zest bank' rearing its head. However, even with a thousand minerals saved up, Zest still had enough units to stave SpeCial off and advance to the RO16. Zest was his own harchest critic in the post-match interview, expressing disappointment in his play and vowing to resume practicing immediately upon returning home.
Down in the losers match, soO survived Zoun's Glaive-Adept play to earn a second chance at RO16 advancement. soO didn't have much trouble holding off Zoun's Adept harassment in game one, which led to him eventually overrunning Zoun with Lair units. The second game was a far more chaotic affair, as Zoun was able to meet his objective and trade his Adepts for a significant number of Drone kills. This turned the game into a low-economy brawl, but soO came out on top nonetheless after catching several of Zoun's crucial Immortals in transit.
The rematch between soO and SpeCial began with a mirror-match from their first series, with SpeCial bringing Mech-Terran to Ice and Chrome once more. Again, soO took map control and built up an economic advantage with his Mutalisk-play, but erred by making too many of them and staying on Muta-tech for too long. SpeCial patiently gathered a force of Tanks, Thors, and Battlecruisers for a huge offensive, doing enough damage to cause a soft 'reset' of the game. soO had the resource advantage as the two players rebuilt their armies, but was once again wasteful with his units. His Ultralisks achieved little to nothing against SpeCial's Cyclones, and he repeated the error of not providing his Brood Lords with sufficient anti-air support. Eventually, soO bled himself dry, and had no choice but to GG out.
SpeCial opened up with a non-proxied 2-rax Reaper in strategy in game two, which soO responded to by going for an early game Roach-Ravager pressure. SpeCial was barely able to hold it off with SCV's mass-repairing a bunker, and continued on with his fast-Battlecruiser into bio strategy. soO misread the situation completely and prepared for another BC-mech composition, staying with Roaches on the ground while teching up to Corruptors. Though soO did manage to scout SpeCial's bio army in time to cancel his morphing Corruptors before it was too late, he was already in a horrendous position without the Banelings or Ravagers needed to stop a bio army (Special later said his initial plan was mech, but he switched to bio after soO's initial Roach pressure). With the army composition advantage on his side, SpeCial had little trouble tearing through soO's forces and extracting his final GG.
After the matches, SpeCial shouted out Rogue for telling him he'd surely lose if he went bio against soO, and advising him to play mech instead. Meanwhile, Korean caster and reigning champ TY seemed to revel in SpeCial's advancement, seeing his pupil as a prime candidate to pick during the RO16 group selections.
Recommended games: While there were no outstanding games on the day, the two Ice and Chrome battles between soO and SpeCial had plenty of dumb, bloody combat to enjoy.
Coming up: GSL Code S will resume on Wednesday, Jun 24 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00) with Group B of the RO24, featuring Dark, Astrea, Impact, and Stats.