2021 GSL Super Tournament 2 - Day 3by Poopi
The Jin Air Green Wings may be no more, but their former players continue to dominate the competition in Korea. That's quite apparent in the Super Tournament 2, where we're looking at the possibility of a full JAG reunion in the semifinal round.
Day 3 Preview: QuarterfinalsStart time: Monday, May 24 8:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
Quarterfinal Match #1:Rogue vs Zoun
Many expected Rogue to underperform right after his Code S victory, due to a spotted history full of post-championship eliminations. Instead, Rogue was the first player to qualify for the quarterfinals of Super Tournament 2, defeating Solar rather easily in the opening match by a 3-1 score. In his post-match interview, he even reassured his fans that he wanted to win this tournament, and hoped to play Zoun instead of Dark because of all the ZvZ builds he had to reveal against Solar.
Luckily for Rogue, he got his wish. Zoun began the parade of upsets on day 1 of the Super Tournament, pulling off a reverse sweep against Dark, the second best Zerg in the tournament. We should note that Rogue also commented that he would have to practice ZvP diligently because he hasn’t played that match-up recently, but he still seemed quite confident.
Zoun is regarded as the next big Protoss hope, especially with Stats leaving for the military, and this Super Tournament might help him fulfill that destiny. Stargate play was key to his comeback against Dark, baiting/forcing his opponent into over-aggressive strategies that he deflected time and time again. As Zoun pointed out pragmatically in his post-victory interview, Rogue is a very strong player and using a lot of his good builds versus Dark has made his life harder strategically. Thankfully for him, he played on the first day and will have had the maximum length of time to prepare and practice new strategies. His practice partners Armani and RagnaroK certainly don’t have the competitive reputation of Rogue, but plenty of players have won championships by practicing with teammates with less-than-illustrious resumes.
Being matched against the most recent GSL winner would make us think that Zoun should be the clear underdog statistically, but Aligulac’s formula surprisingly only views Rogue as a slight favorite to win this match at 62.73%. Rogue’s PvZ stats in 2021 are actually rather underwhelming at 74-54 in maps for a 57% win-rate, and he’s given up losses to the likes of PartinG and Zest in recent online competitions. Zoun will probably study to try those games and find a hole in Rogue’s impeccable armor. On the other hand, their head-to-head match history is much more one-sided in favor of Rogue who leads 7-1 in matches and 13-4 on maps, including an extremely one-sided 2-0 beatdown in the previous season of Code S.
As we saw in the Code S finals, Rogue’s record in smaller online competitions is in no way an accurate measure of his true abilities. I would maybe favor Zoun to score the upset if this was the first round, given Rogue's long history of slumping right after his big wins, but the Code S champion actually delivered against a strong opponent and seems to still be in scary form. The fact that Zoun had to show his PvZ hand does not help him either, so while I hope he will be able to keep his momentum going and give us a close series, I do not see anyone here capable of stopping Rogue except maybe his former Jin Air teammates.
Prediction: Rogue 3 - 1 Zoun
Quarterfinal Match #2: sOs vs Dream
Not many fans would have predicted TY to botch his farewell tour with two very disappointing performances in both GSL Code S as well as Super Tournament 2, especially after his amazing 2020 run. Yet, in typical sOs fashion, the Protoss trickster ruined his opponent’s fairy tale. sOs forbade TY from going to the army on a high note in Super Tournament 2 by winning in a 3-0 sweep, but at least he was a graceful dance partner in a thrilling and fantastic game 3. The first two games were rather short and anti-climatic, but the last one on Romanticide was a work of art, with TY teching to battlecruisers after taking a mid game lead with mech (arguably TY sealed his own fate by not trying to end the game earlier). What ensued was 20 minutes of interplay between Battlecruisers and Zealot-Stalker, in a classic display of might vs mobility dynamics in RTS.
After the match, sOs said he did not mind playing against either Dream or Armani, and he’s ended up matched against one of 2020’s breakout players in Dream. The GGG ace admitted that he had been severely demoralized after blowing game seven against Rogue in the Code S semifinals, but he still had enough resolve to win a grueling match 3-2 versus Armani in the Super Tournament. Dream came back from a 1-2 deficit by sniffing out and deflecting a Nydus all-in, and then won in a late-game TvZ war on 2000 Atmospheres. While Armani’s strength seemed to be in his macro play, Dream now has to face a player who’s a true dual threat with both dastardly cheeses and good macro-game sense. Dream seemed to hedge expectations in his post-match interview, acknowledging that sOs is a strong player and saying that he wouldn’t be able to totally recover his own mojo until next Code S season.
It might have been a long time since sOs has challenged for a championship, but he’s still a strong PvT competitor. Aligulac gives him a 62.87% chance to beat Dream, which, amusingly enough, is 0.14% higher than Rogue’s projected chances against Zoun. sOs is very similar to his former teammate Maru regarding the tournaments he participates in: mostly only offline tournaments, or important / major online tournaments. We barely saw him outside of GSL pre-covid, and we don’t see him much more elsewhere now, although still a bit more than before. sOs has a decent PvT record in 2021, going 7-4 in matches in meaningful competitions. He’s currently on a 10-0 map winning streak in the match-up, taking five of those maps off Percival and Ryung but earning the other five wins against Cure and TY.
On the other hand, Dream’s PvT record in 2021 is less than stellar with sub 60% win-rates in both maps and matches. However, a lot of his losses have come against the power four of Korean PvT in Trap, Zest, Stats, and PartinG. And, most importantly for this match, Dream handed sOs two of his biggest PvT losses this year. First, Dream won a close 3-2 victory in RO8 of Super Tournament 1, and a month later, he took out sOs 3-1 in the play-in stage of IEM Katowice 2021. Whatever trouble Dream may have with the other top Protoss players in Korea, he seems to have sOs’ number.
This is a very hard match to call, but I think Dream has grown a lot as a player and will be able to handle sOs yet again. Even though sOs showed his hand with his Void Rays builds versus TY, knowing is only half the battle in defeating such cheeses. TY semi-expected such a strat from sOs in game two, but still lost to the repeat strategy. This is why I don’t think Dream being ‘prepared’ for such strategies means so much—he could easily lose or win depending on how clean his defensive execution is on the day. This is a rematch of GSL:ST1, and I believe they will play another back and forth series, which will end with Dream reaching the RO4 yet again.
Prediction: Dream 3 - 2 sOs
Quarterfinal Match #3: Bunny vs Trap
Bunny scored a minor upset (if it was an upset at all) by beating ByuN in a back-and-forth series of one-sided games. Both players took turns winning maps rather easily, with Bunny starting it and finishing it with a 1-0 into 3-2 victory. That match was hard to call after Bunny lost so comprehensively to Dream in the Code S quarterfinals, but ByuN’s GSL jinx ended up being the bigger factor as he continued his streak of losses in the AfreecaTV studio (though he didn’t make any wrist issues known this time). Bunny must have known he would be hard pressed to defeat either Trap or Cure, but he expressed his confidence going into the next round. Acknowledging that both his potential opponents were strong players, Bunny said he still had faith in his ability to prepare and beat his next opponent, Protoss or Terran.
Protoss it shall be, as Trap dismantled Cure in a very dominant 3-1 series. Trap expelled my doubts about his ability to play top level PvT, which had hung over the scene after the very unfortunate BO7 reverse-sweep he suffered at the hands of Maru in Code S. Cure managed to avoid a clean-sweep humiliation with a strong 2-base push on Lightshade that heavily punished force-field mistakes from Trap, but Trap was stellar on all other maps. He displayed strong early game play several times, either gaining big enough leads to force Cure to all-in on 2 bases versus 4, or just snowball his way to a win in a lengthier macro game. Trap’s middle and late game play were also impeccable, with Cure managing to get decent army supply leads off 3 bases, but unable to find a way to crack Trap’s defenses before he could assemble a perfect, every-splash-unit composition.
This demonstration of strength makes me very worried for Bunny, and the trusty Aligulac.com predictor tool seems to agree by giving Trap a 70.58% chance to win. However, the head-to-head record for Bunny is not as bad as one might suspect, trailing 11-16 in matches, while being tied 5-5 in matches against Trap in 2020. In fact, Bunny actually went 2-1 against Trap in their multiple Code S group stage clashes that year. The two players haven’t faced each other at all in 2021, but that winning GSL record from last year might explain why Bunny seems less scared of Trap than we think he should be.
Ultimately, I can’t really doubt Trap anymore, especially against any Terran not named Maru. Bunny had impressive performances in the match-up this year, notably beating Stats in two GSL tournaments, but I can’t fathom how he would beat Trap in the form we saw him in last week. Both fan opinion and Aligulac are projecting a victory for Trap, but I’ll go a step further and predict a very one-sided match.
Prediction: Trap 3 - 0 Bunny
Quarterfinal Match #4: SpeCial vs Maru
Many people predicted SpeCial to put up a respectable fight against INnoVation before ultimately losing. Or rather, they predicted INno to qualify for yet another quarterfinal, regardless of his RO16 opponent. Either way, SpeCial did not care for predictions and actually beat INnoVation, earning the third upset on a crazy opening night of games. While the Mexican Terran did his mentor TY proud with such a strong TvT performance, he faces an even more daunting opponent in the next round. There was little to no doubt that he would have to face Maru rather than RagnaroK, so having to play a Terran in the first might have been welcome practice. However, pulling off two massive upsets in a row seems rather unlikely.
To the surprise of few, Maru had the most dominant performance on day 2 of the Super Tournament, beating RagnaroK with a clean 3-0 sweep. Although the games were relatively long, it was largely due to Maru choosing to play mech two times in a row and the map order favoring long macro games and split map situations. RagnaroK fought very well but Maru did not really seem in danger at any point of the games. He traded well again and again in every interaction, and gradually built his lead before forcing his opponent to tap out. He jokingly trash talked SpeCial a bit in the post-match interview, saying in essence that he was already in the RO4 (GSL interviewer Gyuri aptly noted that Maru is rarely SO confident that he'll actually admit to being confident). TY might be one of his primary domestic rivals alongside Rogue, but Maru did not seem very impressed by the apprentice of TY, SpeCial.
The two Terrans have barely played against each other in tournaments, but since SpeCial has played in Korea for virtually all of his career, they probably play against each other occasionally on ladder. Although SpeCial can often punch above his weight in important matches, and he proved it again by beating INnoVation in the RO16, I do not see Maru losing to anyone in this tournament except one of his former Jin Air teammates. Seemingly unfazed by his loss to Rogue in Code S, I predict Maru to have another strong performance in the ro8.
Prediction: Maru 3 - 0 SpeCial
Statistics and records: Liquipedia and Aligulac.com