2020 GSL Code S Season 3 - Round of 16by Orlok
While we might all be looking ahead to Group D and the carnage that might ensue there, Group B looks to be extremely competitive in its own way. Whether you go by Liquibets, gambling odds, or Aligulac predictions, it's clear that these four players are extremely closely matched, and we could easily see any two advance to the playoffs.
Group B Preview: Cure, DongRaeGu, Solar, ZestStart time: Friday, Sep 25 4:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
What comes to mind when one thinks of 2020 Cure? Does one consider him the great success story of the year, a player who managed to break his shackles of mediocrity and reach the finals of the GSL? Or does one consider him a bittersweet tale, a player who was on the cusp of greatness, but fell terribly short at the final hurdle?
Whatever image pops up, we can at least say Cure is an excellent player who has shown incredible dedication to his craft. Sure, watching someone grind away in the GSL group stages isn’t enthralling, but there’s no denying the outcome. And sure, his impact is a tad mitigated due to just how long he’s been playing and his still existing image of mediocrity, but the jump has been impressive nonetheless.
However, once you make the leap and attain success, you run into the new problem of how to sustain it. After his finals run in Season 1, Cure suffered a disappointing RO16 elimination in Season 2. While it was understandable given that he faced Stats and Zest, it was a momentum killer nonetheless. This season, Cure only advanced from the RO24 in second place in his group, and was vocal about how he's struggling in TvZ and TvP at the moment. Even his vaunted online statistics have come back down to earth since his loss to TY in the Season 1 finals. This group could be an important turning point for Cure: Can he work through his issues, get over the hump, and return to the playoffs? Or will he keep letting mediocrity creep back up on him?
Like Cure, DongRaeGu is another player who broke out in 2020. Only in his case it was more of a 're-break out.' Last season, the 2012 Code S Season 1 champion made the deepest run of any military service 'returner' yet, climbing all the way to the RO4. But, with all due respect to DRG, we have to question whether or not that miracle run will lead to sustained success.
Given the prior results for 'returners' and the mechanical demands of StarCraft II, old age and time off from the game have to factor heavily into anyone's predictions. DongRaeGu has made the most headway in shattering this framework, besting Code S regulars like Dear, sOs, Special and even championship favorite INnoVation to make it to the semi-finals. last season. Rogue blew DRG to smithereens in the semis, but his sudden ascent was fascinating as it had been totally unforeseen. Is this a sustainable level of play for DongRaeGu? His match stats since losing to Rogue suggest perhaps not, as he's hovering around a 63% win-rate since then. But, as we always say, Code S is a different stage from any other competition, and maybe DongRaeGu will prove to be a better big-match player than his three opponents.
Solar comes into this group with arguably the most to prove, as his last quarterfinals appearance in Code S was three years ago. While Solar has been a strong, playoff caliber player in just about every other competition (even getting to the medal stand on a few occasions), Solar must be irked by his dreadful run in GSL Code S.
No one showed as much early promise as Solar during the beginning of the LotV era, and while his peak bestowed a SSL championship with a smattering of high place finishes, a meaningful Code S run has always eluded him. And, without those precious WCS Korea points from Code S, it's caused him to narrowly miss out on BlizzCon on a few occasions. Solar's career doesn’t necessarily have blemishes, but it will always lack a sense of completion without a Code S win, the highest accolade the Korean scene will always offer. This group isn’t the easiest, and it looks a lot like past groups where Solar gets out-strategized while trying to play macro. Still, I'll tip my hat to Solar to advance here. He recently got engaged, and if we can't send him a wedding gift, then at least we can pick him to reach the playoffs. Let's just hope this doesn't end up being a case of the dreaded TL.net curse.
We close out the group with Zest. Ahhh, Zest. TL once detailed him as the great Protoss enigma, a player with a worrying lack of small-scale precision and finesse, but in possession of the big-picture vision and decision-making to win anyway. He may never bulls*** out a victory against Zerg through Force-Field use like PartinG, but he probably didn't have to since he was annihilating the Drone line with a Zealot warp-in all the while.
That stylistic element is still at the forefront of his play, and as ever leads to perplexing results. No one expected him to beat Serral at IEM, but beat him he did (although one could argue Serral overthinking Protoss all-ins had SOME part to play in his loss). Then he gets completely outclassed by Rogue in four straight games, negating the wow factor of his win over Serral and again making his whole run frustrating to understand. Just what is his current ceiling? What is his floor? Are his results a product of acing the coin flip consecutive times, or more so his opponents inability to deal with all ins? All these questions have not been answered, and are probably unlikely to be answered due to just how Zest plays. All we know is that Zest continues to plod on, and remains a constant within Code S. He’s similar to DRG here, in the fact that he’s someone you can both expect to win or lose given the circumstances. He doesn’t have mad momentum coming into this match, but that’s never been a large factor for him; the form he shows up in the studio is all that matters.
All groups this time around (apart from group A, sorry) have a multitude of plausible outcomes given just how close the players are in terms of what they can show and what they probably will show. Cure is the closest to being the favorite in this group, but if he slips up DRG, Solar and Zest can certainly take advantage of that opening. I’ll actually just flip a coin and put some stock into Solar’s recent happy engagement. It truly is a coin flip outcome for the coin flip group.
Cure 2:1 DRG
Solar 2:1 Zest
Cure 1:2 Solar
DRG 2:1 Zest
Cure 2:1 DRG
Solar and Cure advance.