2021 GSL Code S Season 1 - Semifinalsby GhostForGood
Code S enters the semifinal stage, with underdog Dream looking to continue his impressive run in the prestigious event. Meanwhile, Rogue looks to reach his third GSL Code S finals with a commanding victory.
Semifinal Match #1: Dream vs RogueStart time: Monday, Apr 26 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
Following a dominating quarterfinal victory against fellow Terran Bunny, Dream finds himself in his first ever semifinals of GSL Code S. It’s a career landmark for Dream, who peaked as a two-time SSL runner-up before taking a hiatus for military service. Now, he’s the third player after DongRaeGu and Armani to reach the Code S final four in the second act of his career.
When asked in a post-match interview who he would rather compete against in the forthcoming best-of-seven battle, Dream raised a few-eyebrows by stating he wished to compete against Rogue instead of Zest, on account of preferring TvZ at the moment. On first impression, Dream’s statement may seem rather moronic to some, though it’s not like it was an easy choice between Rogue and Zest. Did he really think he could defeat a player of Rogue’s prowess, one who has a perfect 9-0 record in offline best-of-seven matches? Or perhaps Dream saw a contest against one of the world’s best players in a premier tournament as a necessary step in his development as a ‘returnee,’ an obstacle he would eventually have to overcome to become a title contender once more.
After defeating Zest in his Ro8 match-up, Rogue had his own piece to say. Rogue said that he was personally “happy” to be drawn against the Terran, and would “punish” Dream for his seemingly overconfident attitude. Rogue also used his interview to tell the unusual backstory behind his 7-4 victory against Dream in a recent ITaX showmatch. Apparently, the match came to be after Dream supposedly made his fearlessness (or was it cockiness?) known to Rogue at a progamer gathering after the RO16 group selections, leading to an incensed Rogue calling Korean caster IntoTheInu to arrange the showmatch (Maru further corroborated the story after his own RO8 interview. Obviously, Maru predicted an easy victory for Rogue, having consistently backed his former Jin Air teammate as the #1 Zerg in the world for the better part of a year).
Although an impromptu grudge match can only mean so much when predicting a proper GSL match with full preparation, I feel that Dream may have committed a fatal mistake by invoking the wrath of Rogue. While words are generally cheap, Rogue’s eagerness to punish Dream’s insolence suggests, to me at least, that Rogue may just have found that “passion” he claimed to have been lacking in earlier rounds. I feel that deep-down, Dream’s confidence—or overconfidence—could be more of a disadvantage than an advantage against a fired up Rogue on Monday!
On the other hand, one could argue that Dream’s recent results actually give him an excuse to feel confident against Rogue. Sure, the Swarm’s representative is the obvious favourite when going by reputation or professional resume, but Dream’s TvZ has been his strongest match-up this year, boasting an overall match win-rate of about 70% at 19-8. That’s around 20 percentage points higher than Rogue’s ZvT, which has actually been his worst match-up in 2021 so far at 18-17 in matches. Also, even though Rogue defeated Dream in their ITaX showmatch, Dream has had success against Rogue as well, taking him out twice in the finals of AfreecaTV’s BJ Destruction Match (a friendly clan war-style competition). Furthermore, being a serious underdog in this semifinal means the Terran has nothing to lose—Rogue, on the other hand, will have the whole StarCraft II community watching him, seeing if his undefeated streak in offline best-of-sevens continues.
However, it should be noted that while Dream’s TvZ appears really strong at the moment, the vast majority of that success has come from beating less accomplished players than Rogue (such as Armani and Solar). Indeed, we have seen in the past that, when pitted against the very best Zergs, Dream usually gets completely overrun in the late game. We saw this recently in 2021 IEM Katowice, when Dream faced off with eventual champion Reynor in their Group C contest, the Zerg whittling down the Terran piece by piece until the Terran had no option but to resign (Reynor himself said his game 1 against Dream was his best-played match of the tournament). We also saw this almost a year ago in Code S Season 2, in which Dream was schooled 3-0 by the overwhelming strength of Rogue in their quarterfinal match. Rogue dominated Dream with Mutalisks in game one, killing over 30 SCV’s due to poor defensive positioning from Dream. In game two, Dream’s attempt to go for an unorthodox composition of BC-mech didn’t faze Rogue at all, as he confidently swarmed over the Terran units with Mutalisks and Corruptors. It must be said that Dream really stood no chance against Rogue in that best of five struggle. Dream will need to ensure he puts out a much better
performance in Code S, or he might as well not bother unpacking his bags when he enters the studio.
That being said, the Dream of 2021 GSL S1 appears to be a very different Terran than before. Throughout Code S, Dream’s precision, micro, execution of clever strategies has been impressive—we only have to watch Dream’s dominating quarter-final match against Bunny to see his skill as a Terran. While there’s only limited carry-over of skill between match-ups, perhaps this is one of the reasons Dream seems relatively confident in regard to his upcoming stand-off with Rogue. Maybe, he feels that with meticulous preparation and calculated gambles, he can get revenge against Rogue for beating him in 2020 GSL S2. Therefore, while Rogue may be the clear favorite in the eyes of fans, I expect we might be in for a real treat of a TvZ, with the underdog pulling out all the stops to try and steal a victory.
Contrary to his strong display of Zerg mastery in the Ro16, Rogue’s quarterfinal ZvP with Zest was far from easy going. Rogue got off to an abysmal start against his Protoss opponent. A failed all-in led the Zerg to resign in Game 1, logging just over 4 minutes on the clock, while in Game 2, Rogue’s misread of Zest’s Twilight Council tech left him helpless as Zest’s Dark Templars wreaked havoc in his base. It’s perhaps not so surprising then, that, despite mounting a great comeback to eventually defeat the Protoss 3:2, Rogue said he felt embarrassed by his display against Zest, with the latter finding some rather easy, quick victories against the Zerg.
After showing such vulnerability in the quarterfinals, Rogue will need to be on his guard for Dream’s recent preference for proxy openers, which have given an incredible amount of success lately in his TvT matches. While we have mostly only seen macro style ZvTs thus far in Code S (with the occasional exception, such as Solar’s ling rush into Roach/Ravager push against Cure in their Ro24 battle), I would be surprised if we don’t see a fiery best-of-seven full of aggression from both sides.
Furthermore, while the two may have a relatively close record against each other in 2021, one quick look at the all-time head-to-head score on Aligulac.com shows that Rogue has a gigantic advantage of 21-8 in matches. Although it’s true that Rogue’s ZvT has had its ‘weak spots’ this year (like a meek 0-3 defeat to Maru at IEM Katowice), it is not as if Rogue is somehow poor against the Terran faction. Sure, a 50% overall win-rate is not exactly optimal for someone of Rogue’s calibre, but it must be said that Rogue has generally struggled solely against the top Terrans (such as TY and Maru), while only losing the occasional match to less established players like Bunny or Dream. Also, nearly all of Rogue’s ZvTs have been in minor events, with Rogue yet to showcase his first ZvT in 2021’s first Code S. That’s why I’m excited to see Rogue show us once again what he is capable of against the Terran faction when he takes centre stage against the underdog Dream.
Lastly, while I think Rogue will largely dominate in this semifinal of GSL S1, I would be disappointed if the match is a complete whitewash (especially after Dream’s supposed trash talk behind closed doors). That’s why I’m holding some faith in Dream to steal at least a game or two away from Rogue.
Prediction: Rogue 4 – 2 Dream