2020 GSL Code S Season 3 - Semifinals Previewby Wax
Semifinal #2: Armani vs MaruStart time: Saturday, Oct 24 4:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
Well, this is awkward. Every preview involving Armani this season has basically been an obituary, where I pay him some token compliments (he's a solid macro player who plays the late game particularly well), re-tell my favorite quaint anecdote about him (he was on the verge of retiring before this season, but somehow broke through the group stages for the first time ever after learning how to relax), and then solemnly wish him peace and happiness in the GSL afterlife.
Only, Armani isn't dead.
Last week was supposed to be the nail in the coffin for Armani, when he went up against an established star player in Zest. It didn't matter that Zest's 2020 PvZ stats were down in the gutter, or that his form was about as consistent as a Dragoon's pathing—a two time Code S champion was obviously going to beat a player who had never made it out of the first round until this season.
Instead, a trainwreck of a series ensued. When the smoke cleared, we saw Armani limp out of the wreckage, with broken bones and a brake spring sticking out of his side. It wasn't pretty, but he had survived to fight another day.
Sure, there are some things you could nitpick about Armani's run. For one, he qualified for the RO16 as the second place player in Group A, the designated 'charity' playoff spot. And while Armani played pretty well against Zest, you could also say that Zest choked pretty hard. But that's not Armani's fault—TY was the one who made the decision to draft Armani to Group A, and Zest has no one to blame but himself for the fatal mistakes he made in a big match (forgetting Storm while going for a Storm-timing?). The only thing Armani could control was whether or not he beat the opponent GSL put in front of him, at which he's been successful for three rounds so far.
All that said, it's time to get awkward again. I'm getting the shovel back out of the shed—there ain't no way Armani is surviving an encounter with his next opponent.
I mean, when Maru is on a roll, who CAN you pick to win against him? With Maru coming off a championship run in King of Battles, and having dominated Trap 3-1 in the quarterfinals, the his hype-train has recovered from a creaky, shaky summer and is roaring ahead at full speed.
Now, I was going to make the point that all of Maru's 'quality' wins in this short, autumn run have come in TvT and TvP. In fact, he actually lost 1-2 to Serral in the King of Battles group stage, and his last win against a 'top-tier' Zerg was against Dark in June's DreamHack Summer Korean play-in match. I was also going to make the point that Armani is part of the Cure TvZ riddle: Cure got absolutely shellacked by Armani and DongRaeGu in GSL Code S, but then went on to eliminate Reynor and Serral from King of Battles. While [Armani > Cure > Serral > Maru] is terribly faulty logic, my point was that it's at least worth thinking about.
But who's got time for that s*** when Maru's winning? I've thrown my dumb TvZ points underneath the wheels of the hype-train and watched them get pulverized into powder. It's time to bring out the G5L trophy, baby!
Not surprisingly, the TL.net community sees this as one of the most one-sided semifinal matches in Code S history, if not THE most one-sided ever. At the time of writing, the Liquibet on the match favoring Maru by about 390 to 20. I went back and checked on some of the more lopsided semifinal series of LotV for comparison—sOs vs MyungSiK (2016), Cure vs TY (2016), Zest vs Dear (2016), Stats vs Ryung (2017)—and none of them even come close to that ratio. The nearest comparison was Hurricane vs Dark from Code S Season 3, which capped out at 387 picks for Dark, and 61 for Hurricane.
Of course, the venerable TL.net users are frequently wrong—I, a TL.net user, incorrectly predicted the last three Code S matches. But this one? C'mon. Even AfreecaTV went for the dramatic framing in their promo image (the one in the banner). This prediction has to be a gimme... right?
Prediction: Maru 4 - 0 Armani