The second group of the round of 24 went chalk, as Dark and Stats advanced to the RO16 ahead of Impact and first-time Code S participant Astrea.
Astrea opened the group by giving it the good ol' Protoss try in his first game against Dark, seeing if he could shake the 2019 Global Champion with heavy Adept pressure. While Astrea went for some bold Adept dives, ultimately he sacrificed too many of them for too few Drone kills. Once the Adept harassment petered out, it was all too simple for Dark to gather his forces and take the game. Game two took on an entirely different tone, as the two players stared each other down and built-up for the late-game. Astrea actually outplayed Dark during the middle portions of the game, taking map control and preventing Dark from expand beyond a 6-base cluster. Unfortunately for Astrea, that was all Dark needed to win, as he hunkered down and turtled up while building his ultimate army. Astrea, despite having a powerful Carrier-based army and considerable bank, couldn't crack Dark's defenses. When it was time to break out, Dark seemed to take Astrea completely off guard with a mixed army of Hydras, Ultras, Corruptors, and supporting spellcasters. Breaking the core of Astrea's force once was enough for Dark to seal the game, as Astrea was unable to convert his bank into troops fast enough to recover.
Stats versus Impact started with another 'honorable' game of StarCraft II, as both players were content to let each other built up (minus some requisite Oracle harassment from Stats) before they clashed in the mid-game. Alas, this wasn't the greatest game plan for Impact, as he failed to exploit the superior mobility of his Muta-Ling-Bane comp against the sheer strength of Stats' Templar-backed ground force. Once Stats rallied his army and rolled out across the map, Impact had no choice but to GG. Unfortunately for Impact, the less orthodox game of the series didn't go any better. He opened with a Hatchery-block at Stats' natural in game two, only for Stats to reply with a blocking Pylon on his own. This early exchange seemed to affect Impact's concentration far more than Stats', as Impact gave up seven Drone kills to two Adepts that just casually walked across them map. From that advantageous position, all Stats had to do was mass Glaive-Adepts and send them Impact's way to take the 2-0 win.
Dark had won his last four matches against Stats headed into the winners match, and he extended that streak to five matches as he advanced from Group B in first place. They gave the fans a macro game to sink their teeth into on Eternal Empire, with Dark eventually carrying the day by with Brood Lords followed by a huge Roach-Ravager remax. The second game took a turn for the bizarre, as Dark went for a fast Spawning Pool into a proxy-Hatchery right up against Stats' wall. This resulted in several minutes of low-tech fighting at Stats' natural, which ended with Dark backing off once Stats had gathered enough Adepts to stabilize. With his own natural expansion established and having delayed Stats' expansion considerably, all Dark needed to do to win was buy some time. However, Stats understood his position precisely, and hit Dark with a deadly one-base Glaive-Adept attack before the Zerg economy could kick in, tying up the series.
Glaive-upgraded Adepts were on Stats' mind again in game three, although this time he went for them in a more normal fashion against Dark's standard three-base start. The interaction favored Stats once more, as he was able to kill off a decent amount of Drones before both players headed into the mid-game. However, Dark was not a player to let Stats sit back and play his advantage out slowly, and he pulled out one of his old, signature moves to turn the game back in his favor. Maxing out on Roach-Ravager, Dark launched a predictable frontal attack on Stats' fourth base—but also went packs of Tunneling Claw Roaches to infiltrate Stats' other expansions. Dark's plan worked out perfectly, as he killed over thirty Probes AND forced a cancellation on Stats' fourth with the attack. Stats couldn't recover from that devastating economic blow, and had to GG out to the following waves of Roaches.
The losers match between Astrea and Impact started off with Astrea getting his first ever GSL map win, challenging Impact to a macro game and rolling over him comfortably with a Colossus-centric army. Impact changed course in game two, tying the series with a Roach-Ravager-Queen all-in off forty Drones. Astrea then had a chance to get his first GSL series win in game three, as his Warp Prism-Adept combo navigated the terrain of Golden Wall to do severe damage to Impact's Drones in the early game. However, Astrea defended poorly against Impact's last-ditch Roach-Ravager attack, and allowed Impact to move on to the group decider match against Stats.
Though Impact managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against Astrea, his efforts ended up being all for naught. His attempt at revenge against Stats in the decider match went even more poorly than their initial series, as Stats simply Glaive-Adepted his way to the RO16 in under twelve minutes of playing time.
Recommended games: Dark's proxy-hatchery against Stats was the most creative strategy we've seen so far this season, but Stats responded to it well by showing us one of the season's best defensive efforts (VOD). Dark said in his interview that it was a strategy that netted him wins in nine out of ten games in practice, which really speaks to Stats' composure and decision making while dealing with a cheese he was seeing for the first time.
Coming up: GSL Code S will resume on Saturday, Jun 27 4:00am GMT (GMT+00:00) with Group C of the RO24, featuring Solar, Super, TaeJa, and Rogue.