2020 GSL Code S Season 3 - Round of 24by Wax
The first three round of 24 groups went predictably. The two that followed featured major upsets. What kind of results will we see in Group F, as we close out the RO24?
Group F Preview: PartinG, ByuN, Patience, BunnyStart time: Tuesday, Sep 15 8:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
After two years and two months, ByuN is back in Code S for the first time since Code S Season 3 of 2018. We've welcomed back plenty of former champions from their military service, but you have to feel extra amped-up for the return of a former BlizzCon champion.
While 'returners' have generally fared poorly in their first GSL back, there's reason to believe that ByuN isn't just here for just a one-night welcoming back party, and that we'll be seeing him a few more times this season. Even before his formal discharge, there was much talk about ByuN's high ladder MMR. Then, in this season's qualifiers, he made a strong run where he beat Cure, Dream, and Hurricane—a feat somewhat equivalent to clearing a Code S RO16 group. It was also encouraging to hear Maru both praise and tease his old PRIME teammate in his Code S winners' interview, saying that ByuN had taught him a few winning builds—but that he had to pick the good builds out of the many poor ones ByuN suggested.
On the other hand, there are reasons to be wary of ByuN as well. His last year of progaming before before military service (2018) was rather forgettable, as he placed RO32, RO8, and RO32 in three seasons of Code S. The legendary "one man army" ByuN existed long ago in 2016, and he definitely declined after making his fairy-tale BlizzCon run. A good comparison for ByuN might be Dream, who despite his tremendous talent, still needed a few seasons of readjusting to competitive SC2 to get out of the first group stage.
Down the line, I think there's a great chance that a motivated ByuN could make a deep run in the Code S playoffs. After all, DongRaeGu and PartinG's primes were even further removed from the present than ByuN (2012 in the case of the ancient DRG), but even they managed to rebuild their skills and reach the Code S semifinals. However, looking at ByuN as a favorite to advance (as is the case among most Liquibet players) seems far too optimistic—I think it's more of a toss-up as to whether or not ByuN advances.
The first player welcoming ByuN back will be PartinG, who must be cursing his awful luck. The other top seeded players in the RO24 drew amateurs and fringe Code S players like Spear, Bomber, or Creator. Instead, PartinG has drawn THE most hyped returner ever. I don't think it's an absolute disaster for PartinG for the reasons stated above, and I still think he'll beat ByuN in their initial match. Even so, the match-up is a far cry from the auto-win draws most of the top seeds have enjoyed in their first match (they're 5-0 in initial matches so far, with a 10-1 combined map score).
The overall group draw, however, is still quite favorable to PartinG. Since the 4.12.0 patch (the overcharge patch), he's maintained his reputation as a Terran-killer, boasting an impressive 14-5 match record against Korean Terrans. Really, as long as PartinG isn't going up against TY and his galaxy-brain Hellion drops, it feels like he can take down any Terran in the world. That was quite apparent last season, when PartinG defeated Bunny and INnoVation in the RO16, only to get completely outplayed in the early-game by TY during the quarterfinals. One point to be cautious about: Bunny did take a series off Parting in this latest qualifier.
Overall, I think PartinG is the only true favorite in this group, with his two playoff runs in Code S 2020 far outstripping the other players.
The third player in our group is Patience, the requisite 'cheesy Protoss wildcard' that seemingly exists in half the GSL groups. Truly, he is the player who epitomizes the 'can beat anyone, can lose to anyone' characteristic of a cheesy Protoss. Unfortunately, he's been leaning more on the side of 'can lose to anyone' in 2020, and he even failed to qualify for Code S Season 1 after he lost to TRUE and Kiwian.
However, I do find it notable that lately, Patience has been better at playing his role as a dangerous spoiler in the Gold Series Team Championship. As the Team LP ace, Patience earned 1-1 ties against both PartinG and Trap, with the latter result helping force an embarrassing ace match out of Jin Air (alas, Patience could not overcome Rogue in a BO1). Furthermore, he managed to beat INnoVation in his Code S qualifier run—is the Patience pendulum moving back toward the side of 'can beat anyone.'?
...well, the stats don't quite back that up, as Patience has a sub 50% match win-rate since the 4.12.0 patch. But wait! That number is being yanked down by his abysmal, sub 25% win-rate PvZ, and there are no Zergs in this group. When you take that into consideration and adjust accordingly, I feel like Patience has a 50/50 coin-flip chance against his Terran and Protoss opponents. Yes, I know that's not how statistics (or logical inference in general) works at all. Ehhh, blame American education.
Rounding out the group is Bunny, who has quietly enjoyed a comeback year in 2020 after playing in only one out of three Code S tournaments in 2019. He comes into the group with the 2nd place seed, which he earned by merit of making the RO16 in the last two seasons. In Season 2, Bunny actually caused a stir by winning his RO24 group outright, taking out both Trap and RagnaroK with solid standard play. Though Bunny did lose to PartinG and Dark in the following round, his overall 2020 performances make it seem like he's back to being who he used to be before his 2019 slump: A solid group stage player who might luck into a playoff spot if drafted into Group A of the RO16.
However, I am a bit concerned about how poorly Bunny played in the War Chest Team League—the only significant competition he was in between seasons—where he only put up a 3-7 record. While I frequently talk about how you can't read too deeply into online results, I feel like a non-GSL title contender like Bunny would probably have taken the money-making opportunity of the WCTL rather seriously—at least, compared to someone like the 5-7 Rogue.
All-in-all, while the GSL results say Bunny should be favored to advance in second place, I just can't confidently pick him over a wildcard like Patience or a super-returner like ByuN.
Predictions: While I think the race for second place will be pretty close, I'm going with ByuN for sentimentality's sake.
PartinG > ByuN
Bunny > Patience
PartinG > Bunny
ByuN > Patience
ByuN > Bunny
PartinG and ByuN to advance.