2021 GSL Code A Season 1 - Day 3 Previewby GhostForGood
Just one more day of Code A remains, where four players will battle for the last two tickets to GSL Code S. In the first match, the underdog Bunny will face the illustrious Stats, who comes off a championship run at StayAt HomeStory Cup 3. The second match features The Big Boy PartinG going up against Dark, pitting two Code S-worthy players against each other at an unfortunate juncture.
Match #1: Stats vs BunnyFresh from winning the StayAt HomeStory Cup #3, Stats will be heading into Code A looking to add to his already long list of GSL achievements. Getting drawn against Bunny, however, might be a tougher challenge than expected. TvP is Bunny’s strongest match-up this year, and he comes in with a 70%+ win-rate in matches against Protoss. Despite boasting an overwhelming advantage in total career contests, Stats has been somewhat overrun by Bunny in their recent encounters. Looking back to Super Tournament 1 in January, Stats was largely outplayed by Bunny, who defeated the Protoss by a convincing 3-1 score. Bunny would defeat Stats again in the recent GSL qualifiers, winning by a 2-1 score line. Stats ended up losing to another Terran later that day, losing 1-2 to Cure (a mirror result of their IEM Katowice 2021 group-stage fight).
Funnily enough, we have been seeing somewhat of a small reboot of Stats’ old Brood War "Stats'd" moments of late, with the Protoss’s weakness to Widow Mine drops becoming something of a problem in a few of his recent PvTs. This became rather apparent in Stats’ epic IEM war-like match-up with Cure, whose Widow Mine investments paid huge dividends for the Terran. In Game 2, when opting for his usual early mass Stalker/Blink push tactic into the Terran’s main, we witnessed all but one of Stats’ Probes back at home be obliterated by Cure’s mine drops. If Stats had reacted quickly, I can’t help but feel the game would have ended in an eventual surrender by an impoverished Cure. We did also see some decent, albeit less significant, Widow Mine connections in the Super Tournament's Bunny vs Stats match, where Bunny opted for a Drilling Claws/Widow Mine drop in game one to blast away a sizeable portion of Stats' early-game Probes. Although this wasn’t a major problem for Stats, who would go on to take that game, it was certainly a small, unwanted thorn in his side that could have been avoided with some faster reactions.
Widow mines haven’t been the only pesky PvT dilemma for Stats. Interestingly, we saw some further uncharacteristic defensive mistakes from the Shield of Aiur in his GSL qualifiers Bo3 against SpeCial. The Mexican Terran found some success with an early Hellion drop, resulting in a great reduction of Stats’ worker count, due to, once again, poor Probe control. Although Stats would ultimately defeat SpeCial, it does appear that Stats has been struggling with early PvT aggression, especially in regard to keeping his Probes safe and sound. Bunny could make use of this in his forthcoming match with the Protoss; an early lead in worker count might make the world of difference against such a strong opponent as Stats.
On the subject of Bunny, the Terran has been hammering away in the TvP scene. As mentioned above, Bunny has won the majority of his matches against the Protoss faction in 2021. While some of the wins have come against weaker opponents like Creator and Patience, he also has quality wins against the likes of Stats and ShoWTimE. In fact, Bunny’s strong TvP was what led to his eventual qualification into Code A, as he took out the outmatched ViVid 2-0 in both of their Day 2 matches. It must be noted though, that despite Stats' troubles against Bunny, his PvT has been strong throughout the year, currently sitting at a 17-6 match record for a 70%+ win-rate.
Therefore, while I would be loath to predict a disappointing result for Stats (being a Carno fan myself!), I feel that this match-up could be very rocky going for the Protoss. Despite being a strong and consistent PvT player, I believe that Bunny’s advantage in head-to-head results, as well as his impressive track-record, holds the Terran in good stead against Stats. Regardless of the result though, we should be in for a very thrilling display of SC2 mastery!
Prediction: Stats 3 – 2 Bunny
Match #2: PartinG vs DarkIn my opinion, PartinG has been one of the most fun, surprising, exciting, hilarious, and eccentric of all the pro-players we've seen play over the last few months. With his wide-range of Protoss trickery—from the unorthodox ‘Carrier rush’ exhibited against Rogue in their IEM Group D, to the glorious cheese-fest cannon rushes that have almost become his go-to tactic—what’s not to love about the one and only Big Boy PartinG?
Despite the understandably slow start to his new year campaign at the DHM: Last Chance 2021 event, in which he failed to pass the ‘group of death’ featuring ByuN, Trap and Rogue, PartinG’s game has subsequently been on fire in both top-tier and minor events. Excelling in PvT and PvZ, PartinG has been winning matches galore against Terrans and Zergs throughout 2021. Who can forget his outstanding IEM campaign in which he reached the semi-finals, scoring wins against Rogue, RagnaroK, Cure, INnoVation and TY? While admittedly having some difficulty against fellow Protosses (Aligulac states PartinG’s 2021 PvP match win-rate to be roughly 64%, whereas his PvT and PvZ stand roughly at around a whopping 79% and 85% respectively), it goes without saying that PartinG is showing peak Protoss performance at the moment.
As for Dark, the 2019 world champion has been rather quiet in the professional SC2 scene in 2021. Playing only 63 games in both online and offline events—a stark contrast to PartinG's 218 games across a wide range of competitions—it’s tougher to get a handle on Dark's form. While producing dominating results in ZvT (where Dark has a breath-taking 11-0 record with wins against the likes of Cure, INnoVation and TY), Dark has been less convincing against top Protosses. After being dismantled by Zest 2-0 in Super Tournament 1 qualifiers, Dark did manage to find some brief solace by defeating Creator 2-0, resulting in his qualification into the main event. However, the Zerg was immediately eliminated from the competition, after falling short to eventual champion Trap and his early aggression/strong macro play. Dark would go on to perform better against Protoss in the recent GSL qualifiers, beating Hurricane and TAiLS without much trouble at all, but fell short when facing the more imposing sOs in a seeding match. Dark, unable to contend against sOs, was defeated 0-2, leading to him receiving a low Code A seed, which in turn has led to this difficult match against PartinG (sOs drew a much easier match against Percival).
As a result, with the year that PartinG has been having, one would be forgiven in assuming that it is PartinG, and not Dark, who is the favorite heading into their first head-to-head of 2021. Indeed, if last year’s results are anything to go by, PartinG would definitely be the ‘favorite on paper’, with the Protoss winning 3 out of their 4 battles last year. In spite of all this, it remains terribly hard to predict how Dark will fare against the Protoss, considering the small sample of eight matches he has played against the faction this year. Also, fans will know the level of play Dark is capable of delivering in the most prestigious of events—Dark may just bring his absolute best to the arena. As always, we shall have to wait and see, but here is my bold prediction nevertheless:
Prediction: PartinG 3 – 1 Dark