2021 GSL Super Tournament 2 - Day 2by Poopi
After a wild day opening day that featured a plethora of upsets, the Super Tournament moves on to day two with four more RO16 matches. Can RagnaroK keep the streak of upsets going against Maru, or will the Team NV ace bring an end to the chaos with a brutal beatdown?
Day 2 Preview: Round of 16Start time: Thursday, May 20 8:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
RO16 Match #4: Dream vs Armani
If you hadn’t noticed, Dream has been exceeding all expectations in the 2021 GSL. He started the year strong, reaching the semifinals of Super Tournament 1 as the sole Terran survivor with wins against DongRaeGu (3-0) and sOs (3-2). This semifinal finish gave him a direct spot in Code S for the first season of the year, where he got out of a tough RO16 group on the virtue of his TvT with two victories over Cure (losing a close 1-2 series to Maru in the winners match). Fans gave him the edge ahead of his RO8 match versus Bunny, yet Dream still managed to surprise us by completely dismantling the team NV terran 3-0 (an even more dominant RO8 performance than Maru versus Hurricane). Many predicted him to get crushed in the subsequent semifinal match against Rogue, but he defied expectations by dragging the series out to seven games. Although Dream ultimately did not manage to prevail with his 3 rax proxy in game seven—a gutsy play that was reminiscent of Mvp vs Squirtle in game seven—he still made Rogue admit that his confidence in ZvT had been momentarily shaken.
On the other hand, Dream’s fellow military-returnee Armani has regressed since enjoying his own breakout year in 2020. After earning a very impressive top four finish in 2020’s Code S Season 3, the Afreeca Freecs Zerg has put in mixed performance in the new year. He went out in the first round of Super Tournament 1, losing 0-3 to strong Stargate play from a red hot Zoun. Armani redeemed himself with an extremely impressive run in the Code S qualifiers, where he defeated Dark (x2) and Maru to bypass Code A and earn a direct spot in Code S. However, ZvP was once again an issue when it came time to play in the AfreecaTV studio, and he couldn’t win a single map in his Protoss heavy Code S group (losing to Trap and Zest).
Aligulac.com’s predictive formula gives Dream a solid advantage in this match with an almost 66% chance to win. Dream has frequently gotten the better of Armani in their head-to-head matches, but it’s worth noting that Armani took a decisive 3-0 victory in their last encounter: a qualifying match in the TSL7 korean qualifiers. Dream also had to show a lot of his best strategies against Rogue, which could give Armani an advantage in preparing for this match.
I expect this match to be entertaining, but I can’t help but agree with Aligulac with the end result. Dream walked the walk and almost beat the most fearsome BO7 player in the history of GSL, and this match against Armani is the perfect test to see if Dream’s experience versus Rogue helped him in his growth as a player, or if it broke his spirits. I also hope that Armani will show us how he took Maru down in their closed-door qualifier match, and prove that his top 4 from last year was not a fluke.
Prediction: Dream 3 - 2 Armani
RO16 Match #5: Bunny vs ByuN
Although Bunny is almost an anagram of ByuN, there’s very little in common about their respective career paths. At least their beginnings were relatively similar, as both players started off as solid mid-tier Terrans. But ByuN went on to go through one of the most remarkable transformations in StarCraft II, mysteriously disappearing from the scene for years before returning as the mighty One Man Army. After becoming the first teamless Code S and BlizzCon champion in 2016, ByuN was heavily affected by the major design changes to the game, with Tankivacs, Banelings, and Reapers all being altered to his detriment. By the time he departed for the military in 2018, he had regressed back to being another solid, mid-Tier Terran. Incredibly, ByuN went on yet another epic comeback run, returning from the military in 2020 and qualifying for Code S right away. He also won ASUS ROG Online in a very impressive fashion, defeating Reynor, Stats, Serral, Solar and Maru on his way to the championship.
As for Bunny, his career has been far less dramatic, as he’s remained a solid, middle-of-the-road Terran for much of it. Still, he’s shown glimpses of real brilliance here and there, and he’s currently enjoying an uptick in form. After a rather forgettable 2020 campaign, he upped his game in 2021, reaching the playoffs of DH: Last Chance and surviving the IEM Katowice play-ins to reach the group stage. It’s notable that Bunny has actually outperformed ByuN in all of his GSL outings this year, finishing top eight in Super Tournament 1 (ByuN lost in round 1), and reaching the top eight again in Code Season 1 (ByuN failed to advance from Code A). This, of course, brings us to the elephant in the room for every ByuN match in the GSL studio: His wrist issues. It is well known by now that ByuN has a lot of trouble playing in AfreecaTV studio, regularly requesting mid-game pauses due to wrist numbness. They haven’t helped—he’s now lost four consecutive matches in the GSL, including the reverse sweep he gave up to Dark in 2020’s Super Tournament 2, and the painstaking 2-3 loss he suffered at Cure’s hands in last season’s Code A. Since then, ByuN has acknowledged the issue publicly and has reassured his fans that he’s been doing his best to get treatment. This will be the first match where we will get to see if his wrist health has truly improved.
Assuming all is right with ByuN, the statistics suggest he should have an advantage in this match. Neither player has been particularly impressive in 2021 TvT’s, with ByuN’s win-rate being barely over 50% while Bunny’s win-rate is even worse at around 40%. Aligulac.com’s formula gives ByuN a two to one advantage. Their head-to-head match record is surprisingly close at 8-6 in favor of ByuN, though Bunny won their most recent encounter 2-0 (in the NeXT Korean qualifiers). On the other hand, ByuN has won all three of their BO5 matches, including a clash in the Cheeseadelphia playoffs earlier this year.
Yet, with the uncertainty around ByuN’s wrist health, it’s hard to predict him to win this match straight up. Bunny has been in good form this year, he’s scored upsets against players like TY and INnoVation despite his overall poor TvT record, and he’s fairly closely matched with ByuN in head-to-head record. Given what we’ve seen from Byun in the GSL studio this year, I think that's enough to pick Bunny as the victor.
Prediction: Bunny 3 - 2 ByuN
RO16 Match #6: Trap vs Cure
Cure enters the Super Tournament on the back of a disappointing Code S run, where he was denied a playoff berth by the darkhorse of the tournament, Dream. While Cure has continued to be a beast in online competition, his reputation as a choker in the GSL is starting to reemerge. It seemed like he had overcome that stigma for good in 2020, when he finished second place in Code S Season 1 (even though he was easily defeated by an imperious TY). However, ever since then, Cure has only managed to earn group stage finishes in GSL Code S, and has been eliminated in the first round of two Super Tournaments. Though Cure’s variety of builds and playstyles help him succeed against all kinds of players in online competition, he can’t seem to bring a focused effort that allows him to defeat a singular opponent in the GSL.
Cure will look to recover his GSL form against the fearsome Trap. Long before Trap was considered one of the best all-around Protoss players in the world, he was already known as a deadly PvT specialist (though that was partially due to his dismal PvZ). However, Trap’s PvT fell apart at IEM Katowice 2021, where his initial loss to HeroMarine set off a chain reaction of collapses that made fans wonder what had happened to the monstrous player from December and January. In Code S Season 1, we got to see glimpses of both Trap the PvT monster and Trap the trainwreck. He managed to beat INnoVation 3-2 in the quarterfinals, but the match was so close that the questions from his shaky IEM weren’t fully answered. He professed an extreme lack of confidence ahead of his semifinal match with Maru, but for the first three games of the series, he looked like the best PvT player in the world once more. Trap seemed to dispel all the doubts about him, smashing Maru with an ease that was reminiscent of Zest’s domination of TY in the first Code S Finals of LotV. However, in a shocking turn of events, Maru managed to pull off a reverse sweep which probably haunts Trap to this day.
Cure and Trap are fairly closely matched in historical head-to-head with Cure having a 58-49 lead in map score. Their match history features long swaths of domination for either player in the past, but the two have become rather evenly matched since 2020. They did not play that much in 2021, but Cure is leading 9-6 in maps and 3-2 in matches, winning the three most recent matches they played against each other. These results should be taken with a grain of salt since they came in online tournaments, where Cure is known to excel. Still, a win-streak in any kind of competition is probably enough to make a progamer feel confident. Aligulac.com projects this match as being dead even at 50:50.
What makes this match worrisome for Trap is that not only did he suffer an utterly demoralizing reverse sweep at the hands of Maru, but he showed much of his PvT hand over the course of seven games. From the Void Ray into Tempest proxy build he used on Blackburn, to the various Dark Templar mind-games he played, Trap used a lot of his aces in the hole. If Trap reverts to just playing safe and standard builds, online results suggest Cure is perfectly capable of beating him in ‘honorable’ combat. Trap will have to have prepared hard if he wants to come with a new set of carefully crafted builds that will work against an opponent of Cure’s caliber.
I expect this match to be close as Aligulac is suggesting, but I do not think enough time passed for Trap to bounce back as the scary PvT player after his 3-4 loss to Maru. On the other hand, Cure is in great form and will have had time to study the various DTs shenanigans that were used by Trap, so I expect the games to go the distance on almost all maps, with the Terran player ultimately winning the series.
Prediction: Cure 3 - 2 Trap
RO16 Match #8: Maru vs RagnaroK
Speaking of broken spirits, Maru's dramatic reverse sweep of Trap was followed by his own destruction at the hands of Rogue a week later in the grand finals. For the first three games, Maru was unable to repel the various Roach-Ravager busts that his former teammate threw at him, and he only avoided suffering a 0-4 sweep by scouting and thwarting a bizarre speed-Roach all-in. Maru seemed quite affected by the previous defeats, losing to Rogue’s Muta-Ling-Bane in game five after taking catastrophic SCV damage from what should have been an easily dodged slow-Baneling crawl-by. Losing two Code S finals in a row is sure to be painful (just ask Trap or soO), but at least Maru can find some solace in the four titles he racked up before that.
Maru faces another player coming off a rough outing in GSL Season 1, with RagnaroK having failed to qualify for Code S at all after giving up an upset to the Hurricane in Code A. He’s had plenty of time to study Maru’s loss to Rogue in the finals, but one wonders what could really be learned from it. Roach-Ravager isn’t anything new, but only Rogue (and previously Dark) can execute such a seemingly trivial strategy and obtain so much success with it. As is often the case, Rogue’s success with Roach-Ravager probably has more to do with the operator than the vehicle.
The match history between Maru and RagnaroK is utterly one-sided in favor of Maru, who has a 14-1 lead in match score and is 26-5 in maps. That one loss came over two years ago in 2019, which was a best-of-one loss in the BJ Destruction Match team league. While RagnaroK has put in some good ZvT performances in past GSL’s, his overall ZvT record in 2021 has been poor at 17-22 in matches (43% win-rate). RagnaroK even caught stray bullets from SpeCial in a winner’s interview, with the Mexican Terran saying RagnaroK hasn’t been practicing diligently lately.
Maru can probably beat RagnaroK in his sleep, so the only reasonable argument that I can make for RagnaroK is that a lot of upsets have occurred so far in this Super Tournament. sOs in his current form was not really favored against TY, but it was reasonable to think he could eke out a victory. Instead, he destroyed TY 3-0. Like RagnaroK, Zoun had a dismal head-to-head record against his opponent, but he managed to beat Dark 3-2. Special was in a similar situation against INnoVation, yet he also earned a hard-fought 3-2 victory.
I don’t think this trend of upsets will be powerful enough for RagnaroK to beat Maru, so I will remain rational about this match, but I hope it will make the games surprising in one way or another.
Prediction: Maru 3 - 0 RagnaroK