Gold Series Team Championship: by: TheOneAboveU
2020 Fall Season
The world’s premier StarCraft II team competition returns! Eight rival clubs will compete in the 2020 Gold Series Team Championship (GTC) Fall Season, which will take place between August 10th and October 11th. The competition will be even fiercer this time around as as CTC 2019 Season 2 champions Jin Air Green Wings have returned after a one season hiatus.
Additionally, the Twitch streaming issue from the previous season has been resolved, and Wardi will resume his English language coverage of the tournament on Twitch.
The FormatThe eight teams assembled for the 2020 Fall season of GTC will play each other in a single round robin group, and the teams with the top five records will advance to the playoffs. The group stage/regular season matches will be played in the same format as last season: three best-of-two series, where the team with the higher total map score wins the match (all three series are played, even if a victor is decided in the first two matches). A best-of-one ace match is played in the case of a 3-3 map score tie. Line-ups are submitted and announced beforehand, giving the players time to prepare for their opponent. Each team must field at least one player from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Macau in each match.
The regular season runs from August 10th to September 29th. The playoffs and an accompanying all-star tournament will take place from the October 8th to 11th.
Fall Season Preview: Meet the Teams
Dragon Phoenix Gaming (GTC 2020 Spring Champions, NeXT 2020 Spring Champions)
Dragon Phoenix Gaming won every title it could in its inaugural season, taking home the double crown of GTC Spring and NeXT Spring. They finished the regular season of GTC with a perfect 8-0 record, and proceeded to crush Brave Star Gaming 4-1 in the playoff finals.
Can DPG continue to dominate the Chinese team scene in such a fashion? Dark has been fighting pain in his wrists for months now, and his individual tournament performances suggest he's slowly losing the battle. Despite that, he still came through as a clutch performer when DPG needed him as their ace in key team league matches. Still, it might be prudent for DPG to try and get more out of the rest of their roster.
Fortunately, Cure is continuing to cruise along quietly in beast-mode, remaining very solid and dangerous. PartinG looks like a consistent top 8 Code S player (and seems to rate himself) as the 3rd best Protoss in the world), showing consistency in spite of his micro-intensive, aggressive play-style. And then there is Firefly, the Chinese-quota player who's proved to be far more than an anchor weighing the team down. His consistency isn’t where you'd want it to be, but he's been a dangerous Proleague-style "sniper" who can take maps off strong opponents in big matches. Altogether, DPG certainly look like a strong defending champion, even though they might find the title race to be more competitive this time around.
Brave Star Gaming (GTC 2020 Spring Runner-Ups, NeXT 2020 Spring 3rd Place)
The latest few months of team and individual competitions have established Brave Star Gaming as a club that can't be underestimated. Their most glorious moment came in the GTC Spring playoffs, where Dream scored a dramatic all-kill over KaiZi Gaming. The team was also impressive in the NeXT Spring tournament, where they finished third (and beat KaiZi in the group stages).
Ace player Dream won our overall MVP award last season (playoffs + regular season), and it wasn't a surprise to see him reach the Code S RO8 in this current season. With the loss of Hurricane, it looks like Dream will have to carry this team hard—a task he may very well be up to.
Scarlett’s own all-kill of Team LP in the last playoffs certainly shows her potential to wreak havoc and Cyan recently proved to be a tough challenge for #1 Chinese player TIME to overcome in DH Masters China. However, their consistency in team competition has left much to be desired. If the BSG players can play at their peak level, they can definitely be a threat to the big three of DPG, KaiZi, and Jin Air.
KaiZi Gaming (GTC 2020 Spring 3rd Place, NeXT 2020 Spring Runner-Ups)
What a transformation KaiZi Gaming has gone through in these last couple of weeks. They released Nice, Bunny and Dear, but also added Solar in the same timeframe. This shrinks the squad down to merely three players, which is a contrast to the super-deep line-up they had last season. That said, what they have left is a scary triple-threat: TIME is the most consistent and strongest Chinese player in the league, not dropping a single map during the Spring regular season.
Solar, too, has a reputation of being one of the Chinese team league’s most solid players, though last season’s performances were a bit wasted on a hopeless Triumphant Song Gaming squad. Then there is INnoVation, who is regarded as an ultimate weapon of sorts, but hasn’t actually done that much to deserve that kind of title in GTC. Last season, he needed six weeks to get a win rate of above 50% during Regular Season. And while he dominated the All-Stars tournament, he failed to stop Dream’s miracle run in the playoffs, just as he had failed to defeat Dark in the NeXT finals ace match. INnoVation is undoubtedly a great player, but he simply hasn’t been there for KaiZi Gaming when they needed him most. Still, KaiZi reaching the playoffs is absolutely expected once again. The only question is: which military returner will all-kill them this time?
Jin Air Green Wings (CTC 2019 S2 Champions)
Creator, sOs, Trap
Welcome back! The champions of CTC 2019 Season 2—the predecessor league to GTC—return to claim the title they must see as rightfully theirs. Obviously, they are immediately catapulted into a position among the strongest teams in the league, boasting multiple ace-caliber players such as Maru, Rogue and Trap. Rogue, famously, carried them through the playoffs last year, raking in victory after victory.
Taiwan's Rex returns as their Chinese-region player, being picked up by them once more. The last time he played for JAGW, he was fully integrated into their team house structure and we could track his improvement during the season, with a straight-up macro game victory over SpeCial at the beginning of the playoffs as his crowning performance. While the Zerg is by no means weak, he's only mid-tier among the regional quota players, meaning his Korean teammates will likely have to do most of the work.
While Jin Air have a roster that could dominate the regular season, they'll probably be reserving their power once again. During Jin Air's championship season, Maru and Rogue were used sparingly until the playoffs, and the team was content to just barely qualify for the playoffs with a 3-2 group stage record. One might thinking losing Cure would force their star players into action... Nope! Instead, we're seeing Creator—who didn't play a single match in CTC 2019—being deployed in their week 1 line-up. It will be interesting to see how Jin Air adjusts the line-ups as the season progresses—especially if they lose some early games and are thrown into a tight playoff race.
Placing amongst the top four teams last season was a fantastic success for the debuting underdogs from Alpha X for sure, but now the wildcard is a known threat and teams likely won’t underestimate them a second time. Not that the American organization needs the element of surprise to be successful: having beefed up their roster with the additions of RagnaroK and Nice, Alpha X can field a very solid line-up of players. Nice has been one of the most solid options for the Chinese-region spot for a while and definitely strengthens his new team.
RagnaroK had a very strong start last season, taking an initial 2-0 victory for Chivo SC before the team abruptly disbanded for COVID19-related economic reasons. Indeed, it was quite surprising to see no one pick him up during the season as a reinforcement. As it is, the Korean Zerg will make for an excellent ace-caliber player for the golden dragons in the absence of Astrea, who won’t be able to participate in the tournament as he's relocated back to the USA from Korea (another pandemic related loss). The only player left over from the miracle team of the previous season is Zoun, who didn’t shine as much as his American colleague, but managed to impress a lot of viewers with his preparation skills and gameplay. Zoun was already a very solid contributor in the middle of the line-up, and with continued good preparation, might be able to follow in Astrea's footsteps as one of the top regular season performers.. Alpha X are still underdogs when compared to the league’s powerhouses, but they’ve shown that with adequate preparation no one is safe from them, and another top four finish is well within reach.
The all-Chinese line-up managed their best ever finish in the team league circuit last season, reaching sixth place when the dust settled. Having forced three ace matches against teams, which were overall regarded as superior in strength, Invictus Gaming truly made some underdog magic happen. They may not have been able to win any of these decisive contests, but even getting there has been an improvement for them and got them enough additional points to catapult them to their record placement.
Do we expect Invictus Gaming to reach the playoffs? Not really. But we do expect these old-timers to come back week after week with renewed fighting spirits and steal some points from people, just like they’ve been doing in the previous edition: XiGua utterly crushing Bomber out of nowhere? XY almost outsmarting top 4 GSL Terrans just to crumble due to mechanical overload? Coffee SCV-pulling every week until it finally works? If that’s the stuff you’re here for, Invictus Gaming are your team to cheer on.
Things look bleak for Team GP. With Super gone, they’ve lost almost the entirety of their firepower. And this is no exaggeration, the Protoss went 14-6 last season, including a 3-1 in ace matches, securing GP all three of their victories. Bomber and GogojOey both went 3-13 respectively, not exactly giving Super much help.
Former CJ Entus and Alpha X Terran Rookie, returned from military service, has exactly one advantage over the Protoss player: He is destined to all-kill INnoVation and KaiZi gaming should they ever meet. But, to do that, Team GP must somehow make the playoffs. I wouldn’t get my hopes up. There is also the x-factor of Prince, the flamboyant almost-Maru-slayer from GSL Code S. Considering the creative builds he showed in Code S, and the fact that GTC is likely to be one of his top priorities in terms of preparation, he might end up being one of the most entertaining and dangerous snipers in the league. If you need a scrappy underdog team to cheer for, this team might be for you.
With Impact starting his military service in August, Team LP have lost their once-upon-a-time-ace and Regular Season MVP. And while the Zerg showed none of these qualities in his swan song season, he was always good for a critical map win, such as against Alpha X, when his decisive Ling-flood won the ace match over Astrea. So a Chinese Zerg will have to fill his big shoes from now on, not an easy task whatsoever, especially for unknown characters such as QzDdb (the official SCBoy observer) and Wanted.
The remaining strength of Team LP is clearly in their unpredictable, chaotic, cheesy, disgusting and absolutely hilarious Protoss duo of Patience and Patience Junior aka. Jieshi. Proxy cheeses, economy cheeses, Dark Templars everywhere: you name it, they do it. With the addition of sOs and Prince to the league, the amount of Protoss creativity in GTC will be very high this season, so be prepared for the highlight reels. We shouldn’t expect great things from LP during the coming edition, but similarly to Invictus Gaming they have great upset potential and may steal a critical point here and there.
Which team is your favourite to win GTC 2020 Fall? Who are you cheering for?
Week 1 PreviewMonday, Aug 10 11:00am GMT (GMT+00:00) Matches
Jin Air Green Wings vs. KaiZi Gaming
Trap < Submarine > TIME
Rex < Ice and Chrome > Solar
Creator < Eternal Empire > INnoVation
Ace: < Golden Wall >
SCBoy have scheduled a blockbuster match to begin the season, but Jin Air don't seem quite interested in living up to their end of the 'bargain.' It's all about the long game for Jin Air, it seems, as a weak regular season showing didn't stop them from crushing everyone in the playoffs the last time around.
At least the opening match is well in their favor, with JAGW.Trap facing off against KZ.TIME, against whom he has a 5-1 map lead so far this year. That said, TIME’s current best match-up is his TvP and he has been on a roll in general recently, showing very strong performances in the ESL Open Cups Korea as well as in OlimoLeague and the War Chest Team League. Even Stats sought out TIME as a practice partner ahead of his Code S match against TY. A map split does not actually seem all that unlikely and such a result would not bode well for JAGW, because their next two match-ups are not all too favorable.
The return-debut of JAGW.Rex for the Korean team is unlikely to be the triumphant kind, as he faces KZ.Solar in his own debut for his new employer. Rex was not all too visible for Western fans since leaving Jin Air after CTC 2019 S2, and if his name was mentioned it was more due to his vocal criticism of practices by Blizzard, which he saw as disadvantageous to the Taiwanese scene. Now he will be in the spotlight in-game again. Without repeating the usual platitudes about ZvZ once again, let’s say that Rex definitely has a shot at taking a map here in this match-up. However, Solar generally has shown a pretty good grasp of the mirror and seems very open to include influences from all over the world in his style, so we can't even make jokes about "suboptimal Korean ZvZ" here. With a win rate of over 70% in the match-up, Solar looks poised to secure two map wins here.
JAGW.Creator just can’t catch a break. Last year, when Jin Air were flying to Shanghai to compete in playoffs of CTC 2019 S2, the Protoss player was the only man left behind in the team house. Now, finally, he gets to represent his team in a league once again, and is promptly matched with KZ.INnoVation. Ouch. With a personal record of 18-48 over their careers, Creator looks clearly outmatched. From time to time, he manages to land an upset against INnoVation, but usually those happen during GSL Qualifiers (all of Creator’s wins over INnoVation in 2019 were achieved there). Maybe Creator and the rest of the team can cook something up to make the Machine stumble, but the odds definitely do not look good. KaiZi may make this a very unpleasant return for the Green Wings.
Prediction: Jin Air Green Wings 2-4 KaiZi Gaming
Dragon Phoenix Gaming vs. Brave Star Gaming
Firefly < Submarine > Dream
Dark < Ice and Chrome > Scarlett
Cure < Eternal Empire > Cyan
Ace: < Golden Wall >
In the rematch of last season’s Grand Final, Dragon Phoenix Gaming start their title defense against the very team they bested to claim the championship. Brave Star Gaming tend to get off to poor starts in new seasons, getting hammered 1-5 in both CTC 2019 S2 and GTC 2020 Spring during their opening matches. Things might be rough once again, with BSG.Dream starting out against DPG.Firefly—BSG should get an initial confidence boost. The Terran, who won our accolades last season as the best overall player of his race as well as Regular Season and Playoffs MVP, has a 12-1 record against the Chinese Protoss player this year. Firefly is also more of a PvZ specialist, so this is really not a match-up he is expected to win. Stealing a map would be the best possible outcome, but even that is going to be tough.
However, Firefly being sacrificed to Dream also means that DPG.Dark is free to deal with BSG.Scarlett, which is a much better pairing for him. The Canadian Zerg did manage to take a map off of Dark for the first time in her career in GSL this year, but the Korean got payback at the GTC Grand Finals, besting her 2-0 in the team competition. It seems that even an injured Dark remains an obstacle too high for Scarlett to overcome. Still, the crafty Canadian has two chances to make something work against the reigning world champion to reach a map split at least, which could already force an ace match, giving Dream a shot at securing the 4-3 in the end. If Dark loses.
It’s hard to say whether Scarlett or BSG.Cyan got the more difficult job, since DPG.Cure is hardly an easier opponent than his Zerg team mate. The Terran has now won the CTC/GTC two times and with two different teams, and the weekly online grind of these competitions seems perfectly suited to his skillset. So far, Cure is 8-0 against Cyan in 2020, including a 2-0 win last season. Cyan has shown much improvement during the latest edition of the team league, especially in his PvT and was able to even defeat TIME during the Chinese DreamHack Summer qualifiers, before ultimately falling to him in the re-match. But as good as TIME is, Cure is on a different level still. If Dark can do his job, Cure is well-positioned to finish the series.
Prediction: Dragon Phoenix Gaming 4-2 Brave Star Gaming
Tuesday, Aug 11 11:00am GMT (GMT+00:00) Matches
Alpha X vs. Team GP
Nice < Submarine > Rookie
RagnaroK < Ice and Chrome > Prince
Zoun < Eternal Empire > GogojOey
Ace: < Golden Wall >
Alpha X got a fantastic start into last season with their initial coup against BSG, they should be able to pull off a similarly impressive showing against Team GP—only this time, they are the clear favorites. αX.Nice has drawn a very good match-up against GP.Rookie, who was formerly on Alpha X for a short time. The Taiwanese Protoss has shown some very solid performances in the ESL Open Cups AM as of recent and with an impressive PvT win rate of over 70% he looks like he could outmatch the unproven Korean Terran, which is not something we get to say very often. Having a player in the Chinese region-slot who can overpower Korean opponents from time to time will prove a very strong advantage for Alpha X over the course of the season, as every point will count at the end of the regular season.
Another pair of debuts await us in the second match with αX.RagnaroK being challenged by GP.Prince, both of whom are new additions to their teams. As unpredictable as his Protoss opponent is likely to be, Alpha X have proven to be masters of preparation and will warn RagnaroK to be extra careful against last season’s Code S-newcomer. In general, PvZ seems to be Prince’s weaker match-up, but someone able to reach Code S is never to be underestimated. That said, the expectation here should definitely be a clean win by the Zerg and possibly a decided series in favor of the American team.
αX.Zoun and GP.GogojOey are in the final match, coming in as the only two players who played for their respective teams last season. Zoun had an especially solid debut season in the spring, making important contributions to the team’s surprise success, despite being outshone by his American team mate αX.Astrea. Having also made Code S for the first time this year, GTC practice seems to have helped the Protoss improve quite a bit. The Zerg hailing from Hong Kong performed not so bad himself, matching GP.Bomber’s three victories last season. With their former ace player gone, however, he’ll have to step up his game massively. While he could certainly score surprise wins against opponents underestimating him that really won’t be the case with Alpha X: they take this league very seriously and their own experience has shown what an underdog can do to favourites when they don't pay attention.
Prediction: Alpha X 5-1 Team GP
Team LP vs. Invictus Gaming
Jieshi < Submarine > Coffee
Wanted < Ice and Chrome > MacSed
Patience < Eternal Empire > XiGua
Ace: < Golden Wall >
Invictus Gaming may start into this new season with an initial victory. Sounds crazy to say it, but this Team LP line-up looks beatable for the all-Chinese roster and I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for the fun of it. LP.Jieshi and iG.Coffee are quite evenly matched, though recently the Protoss seems to have gotten the better of the Terran player. If things haven’t changed too drastically during the break, Coffee is likely to rely on his SCV-pull-powered tank pushes to score wins over Jieshi, and being predictable against the kind of Protoss he is, is always a precarious predicament. A map-split between these two seems likely, which is the best-case-scenario for LP, who have to go with TSG’s strategy from last season: score at least one win and pray for the Korean to do the rest. Only, the Korean is Patience. Better pray really hard.
We haven’t seen LP.Wanted at all last season, but the Zerg has been playing actively, actually scoring some map wins against solid players from his home scene, so it’s not out of the question that he could bring home some points for Team LP this season. However, iG.MacSed is more experienced, better practiced and has shown himself to be a very solid GTC player last season. Furthermore, PvZ seems to be his speciality recently with a win record of over 70%, which can not to be ignored. This pairing should be a clear win for Invictus Gaming.
Which leaves us with LP.Patience, the core player of Team LP last season, and iG.XiGua, who has probably started playing video games around the time his Korean opponent was born. Their sole historical meeting happened in 2016 and can safely be discarded as irrelevant, their abysmal records in the match-up they’ll play (around 22% for Patience, 25% for XiGua) at least tell us that this isn’t going to be a comfortable match for any of them. Two very unstable forces meet each other in this match and while Patience must surely be the favourite, the odds for the Chinese Zerg to steal a map here are not bad at all. The pressure is definitely on him, because if the Protoss can force the ace match, he’ll probably win that as well. XiGua has to end it before that can happen, otherwise the Korean ace match dominance will kick in.
Prediction: Team LP 2-4 Invictus Gaming
Credits and acknowledgements
Written by: TheOneAboveU
Stats: Aligulac.com & Liquipedia
Written by: TheOneAboveU
Stats: Aligulac.com & Liquipedia