2021 GSL Code S Season 1 - Round of 16by Poopi
This group will be TY last’s Code S RO16 appearance for at least two years, as he is expected to begin his mandatory military service in the summer of 2021. While TY brought that up as a reason for picking himself an easy group during the group selections, history shows that it’s always been his modus operandi as the #1 seed (to the displeasure of fans who hate the inevitable RO16 group of life’).
Still, Group A is 'balanced' in its own way: all three races are represented, and there are three underdogs who get a better shot at a RO8 berth than they might have otherwise. If there is one player that might be able to spice things up in this otherwise bland group though, it is definitely Bunny. TY has previously given up the #1 spot in groups of his own creation, so chances of an upset are not to be dismissed.
Group A: TY, Bunny, Hurricane, DongRaeGuStart time: Monday, Apr 05 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
The obvious favorite here is TY. He had a top notch 2020 campaign in GSL Code S, winning the first and third seasons while placing in the top four in season two. That would be a candidate for one of the best GSL years ever, if not for Maru and his back-to-back-to-back Code S victories in 2018 (followed by another victory in GSL Code S 2019 season 1…). TY’s online results and international tournament results contrasted sharply with the GSL, however, as he was eliminated in the round-of-eight of every DreamHack Season Finals. He did a bit better toward the end of the 2020/21 season, placing top four in the DHM: Last Chance tournament as well as King of Battles, but his online form still didn’t even come close to being as impressive as in the GSL. So, it probably wasn’t a huge surprise that he finished in the top eight of the all-online IEM Katowice 2021—a good result, but disappointing for the #1 seed out of Korea.
Thankfully for TY’s fans, the GSL continues to be held offline in 2021 (though still without a studio audience). TY might have had some minor troubles in the GSL qualifiers, losing bo3 to RagnaroK and Creator, but he ultimately defeated Prince 3-1 in Code A to land back where he belongs in Code S. Since it is potentially the last GSL of TY’s career, we should expect him to be well-prepared and in his best form. Come Monday's games, I do not see him in any place but first.
Bunny has a tough road ahead of him. To his credit, he surprised a lot of fans by overcoming Stats in Code A, cracking the Shield of Aiur by using clever strategies. A powerful Marine-SCV all-in, using a ‘secret’ passage unlocked by a MULE, allowed Bunny to catch his opponent completely off
guard in game 1. They had more standard games and were tied 2-2 before Bunny unleashed a deadly Mine-drop into Thor-Marine timing attack to seal the deal in game 5.
Can Bunny bring his tactical prowess in TvP to other match-ups as well? His worst match-up seems to be TvT, where he has a dismal 4-9 match record this year (that puts him at around 9th place in Aligulac.com the TvT rankings. His record versus TY makes the outlook seem even more grim: he has a 4-12 all-time record against TY, with his last victory coming over two years ago at IEM Katowice 2019. No wonder TY was super confident in picking Bunny as his first opponent during the group selections! The best bet for Bunny is then to beat both Hurricane and DongRaeGu and qualify in 2nd place. The former should be easy fodder for Bunny given how well he performed against Stats. While DRG will be a difficult beast to bring down, he won’t be out of Bunny’s range. Indeed, Aligulac.com sees this match as virtually dead even, favoring Bunny by the tiniest of margins. Considering how Bunny used well-prepared strategies to overcome the odds against Stats, one has to think he has a great shot at making the payoffs despite a difficult first match against TY.
Bunny beating Stats was such a huge Code A upset that it almost made us forget about Hurricane beating RagnaroK to qualify for the Code S RO16. While the names involved in that match weren’t as big, there’s a statistical case (at least according to Aligulac.com’s predictive formula) that it was just as big an upset. Aligulac.com paints Hurricane as an underdog against DRG as well, but not by as huge a margin as against RagnaroK. Combined with DongRaeGu’s self-professed lack of confidence in ZvP, Hurricane just might have what it takes to win his initial PvZ series against the Team NV Zerg. Even if Hurricane manages to beat DRG, he would most likely have to face TY in the winners match. While Hurricane put up a solid fight in a 2-3 loss to TY in 2020’s Super Tournament 2, it seems very unlikely that Hurricane will steal an upset against TY in his final tournament run. On the other hand, it’s not like a match against Bunny projects to be that much easier for Hurricane, especially after we saw what Bunny did to Stats. With there appearing to be no match-up where Hurricane is favored, there’s not much hope for the sole Protoss in this group.
DongRaeGu is probably second to TY in terms of popularity, but the actual battle for second place in this group will be a lot trickier. DRG might have downplayed his ZvP abilities in his Code A interview, but he’s still the favorite to beat his initial opponent in Hurricane. If things go as predicted, DRG should move on to face TY in the winners' match. Despite DongRaeGu’s impressive 3-0 win against SpeCial in Code A, and DRG saying ZvT is the match-up he actually is comfortable in, it’s not enough to convince me that he’ll overcome TY on his last ride through Code S. Given the match-ups in the group, I expect it all to come down to a close decider match between Bunny and DongRaeGu for second place. While DongRaeGu had some troubles against Terran after returning from his military service, it’s once again become his best match-up like in the WoL days, and I expect him to slowly return to top dog status. While his immaculate 3-0 against SpeCial doesn’t mean quite as much against TY, it’s something you can look to as a sign of strength as he goes up against Bunny. Albeit, in a short BO3 series, one has to be wary about Bunny and his tactical surprises.
TY 2 - 0 Bunny
Hurricane 1 - 2 DongRaeGu
TY 2 - 1 DongRaeGu
Bunny 2 - 0 Hurricane
Bunny 1 - 2 DongRaeGu
TY and DongRaeGu to advance.