2021 GSL Code S Season 1 - Quarterfinalsby GhostForGood
The GSL S1 Ro16 group stage has concluded, leaving eight top players to fight it out for 2021 Code S glory. In the upper-half of the draw, we have an exciting TvT between Bunny and Dream, followed up by a Rogue vs. Zest quarter-final—a repeat of their 2019 Code S Ro8 battle.
Quarterfinal Match #1: Dream vs BunnyStart time: Monday, Apr 19 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
In my opinion, Bunny and Dream have been the most impressive players of the tournament so far. Bunny overcame the odds to defeat Stats in Code A, and then shattered expectations once again to take first position in Group A of Code S, defeating top seed TY along the way (as well as Hurricane, a less heralded but still respectable player). In Group B, Dream exhibited some mind-blowing TvT tactics to knock poor ol’ Cure out of the competition, and even took a map off Maru. Overall, the two Terran ‘underdogs’ have displayed some serious skill throughout.
Interestingly, we saw both players choose similar tactics in their Ro16 TvTs. The two Terrans generally opted for early aggressive play—usually involving a quick double gas into either 2-Barracks Reaper rushes, or fast 1-Tank drops with a Medivac. These offensive tactics clearly paid dividends, and a part of me wonders whether these choices were an attempt to prevent longer macro games against the elite Terrans they were going up against.
While both Bunny and Dream clearly showcased strong TvTs in the Ro16, I feel that the latter was more impressive in his overall execution. Bunny did look strong in his one TvT against TY, getting a build order win with a 2-Rax Reaper rush in game one and cinching game three with a textbook feint-into-backdoor-drop maneuver. However, it appears to me at least, that Dream’s precision and execution of tactics seems almost unrivalled at the moment. It is certainly something that I didn’t expect from the Terran; being placed amongst two of the world’s best TvT competitors, Maru and Cure, I could never have predicted Dream to overcome Cure twice in a single day, as well as challenging the illustrious Maru in a tight 1-2 loss. Regardless, I think I can say with somewhat certainty that Dream versus Bunny is going to be an electrifying match-up, full of aggressive plays and harassment that TvT fans won’t want to miss.
That being said, I am certainly expecting some longer macro games to find their way into this Bo5. While Bunny’s battle with TY consisted purely of early-game aggression, we did see some macro play from Dream in his final match-up with Cure, finding some success in developing his units and infrastructure into a deadly late-game brawl. Although Cure’s form in GSL of late has clearly been far from promising, we shouldn’t take anything away from Dream’s victories over the Terran beast. In defeating Cure, Dream has shown us once again that he is a Terran with versatility and strength, capable of causing upsets to the best of SC2 competitors.
I didn’t rate Dream very highly in my Group B preview, but after what we’ve witnessed from him in his Ro16 TvTs against both Maru and Cure, I see him as the favourite in this upcoming match-up with Bunny. Dream just seems to be playing out of his skin at the moment, and I feel like he has what it takes to at least make his way into the semi-finals of 2021 GSL S1. Furthermore, according to Aligulac, Dream is not just ahead of Bunny in terms of career head-to-heads—with the former holding a small 9-7 lead over his Terran counterpart in prior battles—but he also has an advantage in overall TvT results throughout 2021. Dream having won roughly 51% of his matches, compared to Bunny’s measly 36% win-rate. Of course, those overall 2021 stats don’t seem to quite reflect the level of play they’ve shown in this season of Code S, but that kind of significant win-percentage difference is something to keep in mind ahead of this Ro8 fight, nonetheless.
While I believe Dream to be the favorite here, I’m predicting that this will be a close match-up as their head-to-head results suggest. There is one curious, complicating factor, where Bunny has proven himself more capable of beating elite players than Dream. Not only did Bunny beat TY in the RO16, but he also beat Stats in Code A and the Super Tournament, and took down INnoVation and Reynor in DH: Last Chance. Dream, while more consistent than Bunny overall, hasn’t been as good at elevating his game for big matches. Either way, I think that this is going to be a match-up you won’t want to miss, and one that I am personally excited to watch!
Prediction: Bunny 2 – 3 Dream
Quarterfinal Match #2: Zest vs RogueRogue fans should have been pleased to see that the two-time IEM World Champion look like his former self in his Ro16 matches. While it is often hard to predict which Rogue will show up in SC2 events, the Zerg’s performance in Group C was nothing short of brilliant; Rogue made short-work of both Super Tournament semi-finalist Zoun and 2021 IEM Katowice quarter-finalist Dark, all without dropping a single game! While Rogue himself downplayed his abilities in the post-match interview, I think fans will still be excited to see the ‘real Rogue’ take center stage as he faces off against back-to-back IEM Katowice finalist (and 2015 champion), Zest, in their forthcoming Code S fight.
As for Zest, he proved why he was the last player taken in the Ro16 group selection draft, advancing through a tough group filled with two strong Protosses in Trap and sOs (as well as the star of the qualifiers in Armani). However, while Zest displayed some extremely powerful and clever plays against the likes of Armani and sOs, Zest committed some unusual mistakes and errors that, if repeated, could prove fatal in his upcoming battle against a player of Rogue’s caliber.
In Zest’s initial match-up with sOs, game two saw him get forced into taking an all-or-nothing Stalker vs. Stalker fight after Oracles devastated his Probe line. However, Zest botched this fight completely, flying his Warp Prism forward to its death, while demonstrating puzzling focus-fire micro that left Immortals barely alive on red health. We saw another amateur-like error from Zest in his PvZ against Armani. In Game 1, Zest forgot to plug a gap in his wall after going for a risky Carrier rush, letting in a swarm of Roaches and Lings into his natural and main that killed off a whopping 20+ Probes. It was a testament to Zest’s skill that he managed to win the game anyway (despite allowing further Zergling runbys as the game went on). Zest will need to clean up some of his sloppy play before he faces Rogue, or you can bet your boots that the Sexy Boy will punish any such mistake to the fullest possible measure!
In so far as previous career battles go between Rogue and Zest, the two are surprisingly neck and neck, with Rogue ahead by just one match win over the course of nearly seventy battles. However, it must be said that Rogue is the clear favourite at the moment. Rogue, when motivated, has been generally beyond the skill of Zest in LotV. He’s won all three of their previous GSL main event matches (Rogue knocked-out Zest in their 2019 Code S quarter-final, as well as two times in 2020 GSL S2), which in itself speaks volumes as they head into their Ro8 match-up. And, of course, Rogue beat Zest when it mattered most: in the grand finals of IEM Katowice 2020 (though Zest did hand Rogue his only loss of the tournament in the group stage).
The two players have tended to make creative strategic choices against each other in the past, with Zest finding himself on the receiving end of many a Rogue all-in in major tournaments (Zest’s attempts to return the favor have had mixed results). However, their more recent online cup matches have been more macro-focused—perhaps a result of the changed ZvP meta, or perhaps an indicator that players save their sharpest tactics for the GSL. Therefore, I think that while Rogue may take victory against Zest in this quarter-final match-up, we could be in for a ZvP spectacle to be well remembered in years to come!
Prediction: Rogue 3 – 1 Zest