2020 GSL Code S Season 2 - Round of 24by Orlok
After an unsurprising Group B which gave us the exact results Aligulac.com predicted, we're onto another group where the end result seems like a foregone conclusion on paper. Is there any chance of an upset here? We take a closer look in our preview.
Group C Preview: Solar, Super, TaeJa, RogueStart time: Saturday, Jun 27 4:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
For a long time, TL.net previews referred to Trap as the most 'hardstuck' group stage player in GSL Code S—perhaps it's time to turn our attention to Solar in 2020. For all his prowess in online competitions and short-term tournaments like the Super Tournament or Assembly, he's really struggled to play up to his reputation in GSL Code S over the past few years. Ever since his last quarterfinals appearance in 2017, he’s failed to advance from the group stage in six consecutive attempts.
Last season, Solar was eliminated from the RO16 with 0-2 losses to TY and Stats, another reminder that he's just not a serious championship contender in Code S anymore. Despite never hitting a massive slump or period of bad form, Solar seems just stuck in the middle. Despite all this, it's hard to think the RO24 will present too much of a challenge for a player who is excellent in all other competitions. Like many of the favorites in the RO24, Solar's true test lies ahead in the RO16, where he'll try to take down some of the real contenders to prove that he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath.
Super, on the other hand, is already in extreme peril in the RO24. Like all other returnees from military services, he's had a rough time trying to rekindle his StarCraft II career. It’s a sad but true fact that returnees generally max out at Code S qualification, with even RO16 advancement being a huge success. For the most part, Super has had the same tough go of it. He came, saw, and failed to conquer at IEM Katowice (he literally didn't win a match), and barely qualified for this season of Code S at all. Alongside Impact, Super was one of the last two players to advance from the third and final round of qualifiers—his overall map win-rate over the course of those qualifiers was barely over 50%. While Super deserves credit for his heroic, one-man army performance in the GTC, the reality is that most of his opponents in the Chinese teamleague were below Code S quality. Thus, you hardly have to be a pessimist to predict Super to get destroyed here in this group. The only chance he has is to go full-Has and cheese every game, and see if the gods of Chaos favor him on the day.
The prospects for TaeJa, the other military returnee in Group C, are just slightly rosier than Super's. Last season, he managed to get over the RO24 hump, defeating Hurricane and SpeCial in his first group. They weren't the toughest opponents, but it was progress nonetheless. While he was eliminated in the RO16 with losses to Dear and Dark, he showed us glimmers of the old TaeJa in his TvZ games. When TaeJa was able to set up his economy and allowed to execute parade pushes from a decent position, even Dark had trouble matching his strength in pure macro games. On the other hand, TaeJa fell apart when Dark took the action to him. Ling run-by's ruin everyone’s day, but they're especially hard on F2-addicts like TaeJa—once Dark stopped trying to fight him head on and just focused on counter-attacking, TaeJa fell apart. If TaeJa can stay in the drivers seat, then he has an outside shot of advancing into the RO16 for a second consecutive season. Solar's proclivity for playing macro-games might make him a good match-up, but the aggressive and cunning Rogue is sure to be a nightmare of a first match.
Rogue is back in our lives after what seems like forever. In what's becoming an embarrassing tradition for Rogue, he followed his momentous victory at IEM Katowice by getting eliminated in the Code S season that immediately followed, falling to Scarlett's cheeses in the RO24. Even so, Rogue comes into this group as the favorite due to his reputation, as he's the only player in this group that's won a championship in the recent past. Taeja and Solar could unseat him given some favorable circumstances—perhaps Rogue will have his foot half on the gas for yet another season, content to take it easy until the next $100k tournament approaches (Rogue himself admitted that he didn't go all-out in 2019 until he realized balance was favoring Zerg heavily). This group will be as much of a check-up on Rogue's drive as it will be for the other players' skill.
Predictions: While Rogue is the clear favorite out of sheer respect, the second place player is harder to predict. Yes, Taeja showed some great gameplay last season, but that was in absolute best-case scenario games. Solar has just been consistently strong for the longest time, while Super still has Protoss devilry in his back pocket. I'm going to go out on a limb and put my faith in TaeJa having patched the holes in his game, and predict him to advance in second place.
Solar 2-0 Super
Taeja 1-2 Rogue
Rogue 2-0 Solar
Taeja 2-0 Super
Solar 1-2 Taeja
Rogue and Taeja to advance.