2020 GSL Super Tournament 2by Wax
RO16 - Day 2 Preview
The Super Tournament continues with its second slate of RO16 matches, headlined by Maru vs. Cure in an elite Terran vs. Terran duel.
RO16 Match #5: Dream vs StatsAfter nearly a year of stanning Dream as the post-military player with the most potential, it was a bit startling to see ByuN blow past him and win ASUS ROG barely three months after finishing his own military service. Fans who are more cynical than me might feel that Dream has maxed out as a solid Terran player in the "pretty good" tier, somewhere between Bunny and Cure. However, I'm still optimistic that Dream has room to grow—he was briefly a championship-caliber player back in HotS, and that potential can't have faded by age 24. Unfortunately, I don't think Super Tournament 2 will be Dream's chance to prove himself, as his first round opponent is the beastly Stats.
Despite a worrisome, growing tendency to throw games off weird mistakes, Stats is still arguably the best PvT player in the world (if you claim Trap, I won't argue much). Stats has a monstrous 27-5 match record in PvT since the last balance patch (though he's a more modest 74-37 in map score), and in the bigger picture, he's on a SEVEN match winning streak against Dream. As the DH Winter runner-up and one of the top championship candidates in this tournament, it's hard to see Stats being stopped in the very first round.
Prediction: Stats 3 - 1 Dream
RO16 Match #6: Armani vs INnoVationDue to the quirks of the Code S RO16 group selection system that lead to the inevitable creation of the 'Group A of life,' it's hard to rate players like Armani who make it to the playoffs through that group. Since his miracle run to the Code S semifinals last season, Armani has put up a rather pedestrian 53-39 match record in all competitions (57.61% win-rate), which is even less impressive when you consider that he often plays sub-Code S level competition in online cups. Yet, something about Armani brings out my inner Artosis, where I appreciate him for trying to play the 'right' way against superior players by going for straight-up macro games. I end up focusing more on his successes like his appallingly inefficient yet ultimately triumphant late-game brawl versus Maru in the Code S semis, instead of dwelling on his failures (almost every other game in the aforementioned series).
Hence, I think Armani has a fighting chance against INnoVation, who is dangerously close to having the least interesting year of his SC2 career. Instead of vacillating between champion and chump, INnoVation has spent much of the year as a consistent, very good player. There was a brief, fever dream-like stretch in the spring when it seemed like he had found a spark of inspiration, and was free-styling strategies and pulling off stunts like beating Maru with proxy-BC rushes. But that flame soon sputtered out, and INnoVation has been consigned to mere very good-ness ever since. Though he's recorded multiple playoff finishes in tournaments, he hasn't really looked like he had a chance of beating the Serral's or Reynor's of the world.
Still, INnoVation is definitely a tier above Armani, and has a dominating 6-1 head-to-head record against him on the year. The Armani optimist in me would like to point out that Armani's one victory came very recently in the Kung Fu Cup, where he looked like INnoVation's equal in straight-up macro games. But the realist in me predicts that while Armani will put up a spirited fight against INnoVation in the Super Tournament, he'll ultimately be the one typing the final GG.
Prediction: INnoVation 3 - 2 Armani
RO16 Match #7: Rogue vs BunnyRogue has concluded three consecutive tournaments with disappointing results, ending Code S Season in the RO16, placing top eight in DH Fall, and finishing top eight again in King of Battles. You all know what that means: he's due to win a major tournament very soon. The question is, will that tournament happen to be the Super Tournament?
Bunny better hope it's not, because he's 1-8 against Rogue on the year. At least the desperation factor is on Bunny's side, as he's not 100% locked in for IEM Katowice 2021 yet, and he'll be pulling out all the stops to get whatever extra points he can. With good preparation and inspired play, Bunny might be the player who makes Rogue hit rock bottom, thus inspiring him to win the next major tournament of TSL6.
Prediction: Rogue 3 - 0 Bunny
RO16 Match #8: Maru vs CureOriginal Raven fanatic Cure takes on the corvid convert Maru in this rematch of October's King of Battles finals. Back then, Maru came out on top in a dominant 4-1 victory, signaling his return to championship form. However, while that particular finals was one-sided, I don't think it's indicative of the relative skill-levels of these two players (at least in TvT).
When you look at competitive TvT results over the last few months, it's been a match-up with a ton of parity where all the top-tier players are capable of beating each other on a given day. You can make all sorts of daisy chains with results from major tournaments—for example, King of Battles + Code S gives you Maru > INnovation > Cure > TY > Maru. Throw in ASUS ROG and DreamHack, and you can add ByuN and Clem to that chain (the only player who I might say stands above them all is Code S-buffed TY, but we're not going to be seeing him until 2021). The respective recent form stats for these two players are similar as well, with Cure having a 45-27 TvT record (62.5% win-rate) in the latest balance patch, while Maru is just slightly better at 25-13 (65.79% win-rate). While I'll give Maru a slight edge due to his career resume, I see this match as being very even.
Prediction: Maru 3 - 2 Cure