2021 GSL Super Tournament 2 - Day 1by Wax
The second Super Tournament of 2021 is set to begin, with sixteen players competing for $25,600 in prize money and 1500 EPT points.
Viewers should note that Super Tournament #2 is returning to a normal two-week schedule, back from the accelerated pace of Super Tournament #1.
All match days start at 08:00 GMT (+00:00). All matches are best-of-five, except the grand final which is best-of-seven.
- May 17: Round of 16 - First four matches
- May 20: Round of 16 - Last four matches
- May 24: Round of 8
- May 27: Semifinals and grand final
Day 1 Preview: Round of 16Start time: Monday, May 17 8:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
RO16 Match #1: Rogue vs Solar
Rogue celebrated his third Code S title win with a humorous moment of self awareness, declaring that this time around, he wouldn't crash and burn in the next tournament. Unfortunately for Super Tournament viewers, he quickly clarified that he meant the next Code S tournament, and that he'd be taking it easy in the Super Tournament.
At least that will be music to Solar's ears, who's just about due for his yearly top four finish in a major tournament. Even without Rogue's comments, you could have made the case that Solar is a very tough first round draw for the Code S champ. He's closely matched with Rogue in all-time head-to-head record, narrowly trailing 22-25 in match score. Solar has actually had Rogue's number in 2021, having dominated him with a 4-0 record. The two players are almost in equal in Aligulac.com's ZvZ ratings as well, with Solar leading slightly at 3004 points to Rogue's 2961 at the time of writing—basically a negligible difference. Now, factor in Rogue's comments about taking it easy, and the fact that he didn't have to prepare for a single ZvZ over his month-long Code S playoff run, and it starts looking like a 100% focused Solar will be the favorite against an out-of-practice Rogue.
Of course, given the volatility of ZvZ and Rogue's proclivity for playing so-called 'random' all-ins in the Zerg mirror, he might stumble into a victory even if he's not in tip-top form. But given Rogue's honesty about his effort level, and his history of getting eliminated early when he's not putting in work, I'm going to predict Solar to advance here.
Prediction: Solar 3 - 1 Rogue
RO16 Match #2: Zoun vs Dark
Zoun's rapid ascent has been one of the best stories of the post-Blizzard era. I initially had low expectations for the young Protoss player who had capped out as an SKT trainee during the KeSPA era, and thus all of his successes came as delightful surprises. When Zoun lost to Trap in the finals of Super Tournament #1 earlier this year, I didn't feel a single ounce of disappointment—everything he had achieved was already so far beyond what I could have reasonably hoped for.
Alas, in typical sports fan fashion, I've started to take Zoun for granted, and I've become impatient with his growth curve as Stats' and Zest's mandatory military service nears. I find myself being more critical of his weaknesses, be it his occasionally defensive lapses against harassment, the way he bleeds away random units, or moments when his combat micro just isn't S-tier. Yes, that's ridiculously unfair to a player I had NO expectations of a year ago. But with two championship-tier Protosses set to leave the scene, I can't help but look at Zoun and wonder if he's on schedule to take their place.
This match against Dark will be a good test—if an extremely difficult one—to see where Zoun is at. Dark has been beating the tar out of Zoun since his return to StarCraft II, holding a 7-1-1 match record with a brutal 17-4 map score advantage. That stat isn't surprising, given that for most of that time, Zoun was a fringe Code S player going up against a world champion-class player in Dark (despite his 2020 slump). But even after Zoun obtained 'Code S regular' status and made his finals run in Super Tournament, he's been getting trounced fairly one-sidedly by Dark. Their most recent meeting was in an ESL Cup semifinals, where Dark crushed him 3-0 in a series that displayed many of his strengths. Dark nabbed one map with a Ling-Bane-Queen bust, another with a Nydus-Queen all-in, and yet another by winning a late-game turtle-fest with his superior use of spellcasters.
The most interesting part of that series might have been the in-game chat. Down 0-2, Zoun wondered aloud "when will I ever get to beat Ryungwoo hyung?" To which, Dark replied by reminding Zoun of the crucial 1-1 tie he took off him during the 2020 GTC playoff match between Alpha X and Dragon Phoenix Gaming. When Zoun pointed out that it was technically a tie, Dark responded by saying "that's a loss to me." Oof. Dark would be quite justified in thinking Zoun's not quite on his level yet—it's on Zoun to prove him wrong.
Besides the head-to-head stats, the overall PvZ match-up stats favor Dark heavily as well. Dark is near the top Aligulac's ZvP rating chart at 2980 rating points, while Zoun is far below him with a 2670 rating in PvZ. While I'd love for Zoun to surprise me and show improved macro play, from how he's played so far, it seems next to hopeless for him to challenge Dark in straight-up games. Instead, I think he'll be digging deep into the book of Protoss BS for answers—we could see cannon rushes, proxies, and gateway all-ins galore. However, Dark is also one of the best defensive Zergs in the world—unless you have PartinG-tier execution, it's hard to break him with predictable cheeses. So while I'll be cheering for Zoun to show us how his game has advanced, I don't expect him to prevail in the end.
Prediction: Dark 3 - 1 Zoun
RO16 Match #3: TY vs sOs
Last month, we saw TY's final Code S run come to a disappointing end as he was eliminated in the RO16 by his hand-picked opponents Bunny and DongRaeGu. Fortunately, scheduling has worked out so that TY will have one more chance to ride off into the sunset gracefully, with Super Tournament 2 almost certain to be his last solo competition before his mandatory military service begins.
The fairy tale scenario is easy to envision: TY fights his way to the grand finals, where he faces Maru for the fourth time. TY triumphs in the end, improving to 3-1 against Maru in grand finals, thus conclusively proving that he is the greatest TvT player of the LotV era. Of course, that's a fairy tale for a reason. As far as I can tell, no one in SC2 history has retired on the back of winning a major championship. In realistic terms, I'd just be perfectly satisfied if TY made it to the quarterfinals and showed us some of his signature plays along the way, be it insufferably patient turtling, pulling out surprise mech in TvP, or even just getting a quick win with Hellion-drop variant #1,205.
However, TY is going to have work to earn that kind of sendoff, as he's drawn a tricky opponent in his first match. Three-time world champion sOs has certainly declined since his glory days (he hasn't made the Code S playoffs in three years), but his PvT has held up relatively well. Oddly enough, PvT is the match-up where sOs is the least sOs-ish, preferring to play brute-force macro games based around hordes of Gateway units. While sOs' lack of precision micro and finesse has hamstrung him at times, he's still managed to earn the #6 spot in Aligulac's PvT standings (at the time of writing). That's below players like Zest and Stats, but higher than players like Zoun or Creator—basically right in the middle of the Korean PvT pack.
In terms of head-to-head record, sOs has a strong advantage at 14-6 in matches against TY. sOs has continued to play well against TY even in his post-prime years, and is actually on a three match winning streak at the moment. Still, the 2021 PvT stats seem to favor TY slightly, as he's put up a 19-9 match record against Protoss, compared to sOs's more modest 6-4 record against Terran.
Ultimately, this match might be more about TY's level of focus than anything else. Back at IEM Katowice, sOs made it to the final stages of the RO36 play-in tournament, but was eliminated after losing 1-3 to both Dream and ByuN. The best version of TY is more than capable of imitating that feat. However, if TY has been more concerned with enjoying his last few months as a free man before military service than playing SC2 (which would be completely, 100% understandable), then sOs could present a considerable challenge. In this regard, TY's results paint a mixed picture. TY giving up upsets to Bunny and DRG in Code S was certainly unexpected, but in his defense, the two underdogs played exceptionally well in their matches. TY has been playing fairly well in online competitions, but also recently dropped a 0-8 dud in an Alpha X Brawler's Club showmatch against several Code S-tier opponents. Still, he didn't have much trouble qualifying for the Super Tournament, defeating RyunG and ByuN to qualify as first place in his pool.
For the prediction, I've decided to just go with the sentimental pick, and say that TY will be able to turn the Super Tournament into a worthy farewell tour.
Prediction: TY 3 - 2 sOs
RO16 Match #4: SpeCial vs INnoVation
It's both unfortunate and poetic that as TY heads into his last GSL for the foreseeable future, his former student SpeCial seems to be in a similar situation. Due to South Korea's strict travel policies regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, it's become difficult for SpeCial to continue extending his visa by leaving and reentering the country. Though SpeCial has expressed his desire to remain based in Korea, he may have to relocate back to Mexico for the time being.
The StarCraft gods have shown SpeCial no mercy as he faces this temporary exile, pitting him against the fearsome INnoVation in what could be his final match. INnoVation has clobbered SpeCial throughout the years, and holds a 8-2-1 record against him (curiously, the only time SpeCial has gotten the better of INnoVation has been in team competition, taking him down twice in 2018's Nation Wars match between Mexico and Korea, and earning a tie against him in last week's eXoN vs KaiZi match in the World Team League). A massive chasm of 500+ points separates these two players in Aligulac.com's TvT rankings—unless your name happens to be Hyperion, that's simply not a gap that can be overcome. Furthermore, one also has to consider the fact that INnoVation has been incredibly consistent since 2020, reaching the quarterfinals in fifteen out of seventeen major events. Is he really going to let SpeCial come between him and his inevitable date with the round of eight?
Yet, going purely by the eye test and subjective judgment, I think this match may be closer than it may appear at first glance. Even in defeat, SpeCial always seems to put up a respectable fight against INnoVation. The Machine looks clearly better in early game skirmishes and two base pushes (in particular, he always seems to make the correct decision on how to use his Raven energy), which runs somewhat against SpeCial's reputation as a clever early-game strategist. Oddly enough, however, SpeCial has looked quite competent in his longer macro games against INnoVation, even taking a map off of him with mech at IEM Katowice 2021.
While the stats lean too heavily in INnoVation's favor for me to predict an upset, I do think SpeCial will manage to make things difficult for INnoVation and turn this into an interesting series.
Prediction: INnoVation 3 - 1 SpeCial