2020 GSL Code S Season 2 - Round of 24by Wax
Cosmic law dictates that for every group of death, there must be a group of life.
Thus, when Maru, Zest, INnoVation, and RagnaroK engaged in mortal combat in last season's RO16, it was inevitable that the universe would balance things out sooner or later. Now, we see that natural order come into play. We present to you the group of life, where everyone has a chance of surviving.
Group D Preview: Dear, DongRaeGu, Dream, sOsStart time: Wednesday, Jul 01 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
The nominal favorite in this group is Dear , who comes in as the "Tier 1" seed after collecting points from Code S Season 1 (top 8) and the Super Tournament (top 16). But, with all due respect, I think Dear has to be the least intimidating of all the Tier 1 players. The reason is, that while Dear grinds out enough wins to advance through every qualifier and group stage, he's been getting annihilated in just about every big match he's played in 2020. He got mangled by Zest at IEM Katowice, lost to Cure in the Super Tournament, and got beat down even harder by Cure in their Code S rematch. Even in the abrupt Dreamhack Summer Finals play-in match, Dear got swept by Trap. Not only that, but he recently lost an important playoff match against Dream in the Gold Series Team Championship, which contributed to powerhouse KaiZi Gaming suffering an embarrassing upset to BSG in the semifinals. Long story short, Dear has a case to be called the absolute least clutch player of 2020.
The question is, how much does that matter in the easiest round of Code S? For all the jokes we make about his inconsistency and highly variable skill-level, Dear has advanced to the RO16 or higher in three consecutive Code S seasons before now. Some of the BO5 matches Dear has played this year make it feel like a stretch to call him a 'solid macro player' (the bonjwa of clichés)—a solid player wouldn't be so bad at defense and straight-up die to early attacks so much. Really, I'm at a loss to say what makes Dear good or bad—he just wins games, except when he doesn't. A prediction in favor of Dear here is effectively saying this irregular regular is still a better bet than two military-returnees and the wildest card in the GSL deck.
I hadn't really been noticing DongRaeGu so much for the games he plays—rather, he's been on my mind because of the regular stream of shout-outs he gets from other Zerg players in Korea, who thank him for helping them out with their Zerg theorycraft. Maybe, in an alternate timeline, KeSPA Proleague would still be around and DongRaeGu would have continued his post-military career as a coach. Alas, he's stuck in our present reality, where players who return from military service have to claw and scrap to even sniff the Code S round of sixteen.
DRG looked a bit out of his depth last Code S, as he lost 0-2 to Zest and lost 1-2 to Impact in the RO24. Recently, he looked better in the AfreecaTV BJ Destruction match (a mini team league), where was far from being a weak link on team "3ERG" alongside RagnaroK and Rogue. DRG went 1-1 against Cure playing straight-up macro games, went 1-1 against Zest's glaive-adepts, and generally looked like a player who would look okay in the RO16. DongRaeGu has also been excellent in recent Olimoleague weeklies, reaching the finals in three consecutive weeks (presumably skipping last Monday's tournament due to his upcoming GSL match). All this makes me nervously excited for a strong showing from DongRaeGu in this rather easy group—even first place seems to be in play. My big worry, as always, is that online matches are a rather sketchy predictor of how a player will do in the AfreecaTV studio.
The other military-returnee of Group D is Dream, who continually teases us with the hope of a huge breakout performance before letting us down. In the Autumn of 2019, he strung together a few weeks of solid team league and online cup performances as he headed into the Super Tournament. He got destroyed. This spring, Dream 3-0'd Dark in straight-up macro games in the Kung Fu Cup right before his Code S group. He got destroyed. Last weekend, Dream went on a twelve game winning streak in the Gold Series Team Championship playoffs, including an all-kill over KaiZi gaming where he defeated INnoVation, Dear, Time, and INnoVation a second time. If there was ever a time StarCraft II needed the 'm-m-m-monster kill! sound from Quake/Dota2, this was it. Man, I really hope he doesn't get destroyed.
TaeJa might be a bigger fan favorite, but for me, Dream is the player that I'm hoping will prove there is life after military service. In his best games, he shows great mechanics that are are close to that of the top Terrans in the scene. That's a crucial part of his potential. Slowdown of in terms of mechanics, where the hands can't follow the brain, is something several players who return from the military (or have simply grown older) cite as a serious problem in staying competitive. If Dream still has 70-80% of the blazing hands he had back in 2015, then it's very realistic that he could become a Code S playoff player in the present.
Finally, we have sOs, who defies any kind of conventional assessment. Let me dig up what I said about sOs before IEM Katowice:
For ruthlessly cheesing his way to that victory, as well as paydays at BlizzCon 2013 and 2015, sOs has earned infinite "you can never count him out" credit. I don't care that all those achievements were in Heart of the Swarm or the fact that sOs never got out of the Code S group stages in 2019. For all I care, he could be retired for 15 years and be stuck in Bronze League, and I'd still consider him one of the most dangerous competitors on the planet.
Nope, I don't think anything has happened to make me change my mind. Not even his RO24 elimination last season, his suspicious lack of games played since then, or his meager 6-5 match record in those games. I have to give you the requisite reminder that sOs is especially dangerous in new patches and new map pools. Yes, this map pool and balance patch aren't really that 'new' anymore. No, I don't think there's a way to use offensive battery overcharge that isn't horribly, horribly bad. But, I must remind you all again: this is sOs. He'll figure something out.
Predictions: (Not that this has anything to do with my predictions, but I decided to check out TY's YouTube previews to see if I could get any insider hints on this group of closely matched players. Alas, he decided to his preview entirely through One Piece analogies that I did not get.)
DRG > Dear
Dream > sOs
Dream > DRG
sOs > Dear
sOs > DRG
Dream and sOs advance.