The second season of GSL 2021 kicked off on Monday night, with ByuN, SpeCial, and DongRaeGu earning spots in Code S by winning their Code A matches.
ByuN took a 3-0 victory against Trust as many expected, but there were more complications than the scoreline suggested. The first two games were easy wins for ByuN, employing fast three-Barracks + Stim builds to do major damage to his opponent early on. While Trust tried to use Stasis Wards for early game defense, ByuN easily saw through that plan and defused the traps easily.
However, Trust successfully countered ByuN's 3-Barracks mass-Marine openers with Blink-Stalkers, using skillful micro to pick off Marines and set himself up to play a proper macro game. Trust did a respectable job of battling ByuN in the mid/late-game, and seemed like he might even steal a map when ByuN's paused the game due to a flare-up in his chronic wrist problems. However, ByuN simply outclassed Trust by too much for it to matter, and he was eventually able to win by outfighting and outmaneuvering his Protoss opponent.
After the matches, ByuN gave fans an update on his health, saying he had been receiving treatment for his wrists. He offered up a rather curious detail, saying that the hospital told him the wrist numbness he was experiencing in live matches may not be a physical issue, but instead mental in nature. ByuN expanded by saying he is now also receiving some form of sports psychology counselling.
The second match of the night saw SpeCial earn his return to Code S after losing to DongRaeGu in the previous season's Code A tournament. Juanito's path was hardly easy, as he barely survived a difficult full-set series against Creator. SpeCial strategic range was on display early on, though it didn't always net him a positive result. The siren song of mech lured SpeCial to his doom on the first map, as he was slowly picked apart by Creator's mobility-based tactics (he later said mech had worked well against the likes of Zest and Zoun in practice). On the other hand, a cheeky Factory-Float Hellion rush in game two gave SpeCial the early edge he needed to close out the game. It was then Creator's turn to get devious in game three, but his poor execution of a Void Ray + Shield Battery all-in only ended up giving SpeCial a relatively easy win.
Ultimately, the series boiled down to more standard macro games in the final two games. SpeCial gave Creator a little too much breathing room in game four, and eventually fell to the "all the splash units" Protoss composition. However, SpeCial was able to up his game for the fifth and deciding map, keeping the heat on Creator with constant infantry attacks to claim the final GG. After the games, SpeCial said he would try to make his old friend and mentor TY proud in Code S.
Speaking of old friends, KeeN and DongRaeGu faced off in the final match of the night, bringing back memories of the powerhouse Team MVP squad from the Wings of Liberty days. While DongRaeGu was able to take out his ex-teammate as expected, KeeN put up a very impressive fight considering the fact that he's only recently returned from military service (KeeN insinuated that DongRaeGu would be picking up the bar tab after, regardless of the result).
DongRaeGu stuck to what he does best, attempting to play Muta-Ling-Bane macro games in every single game. It was on KeeN to throw a wrench in DRG's plans, which proved to be surprisingly adept at. He drew first blood in game one, surprising DRG with an off-beat, delayed Marine-Hellbat attack before enough defensive Banelings could be made. KeeN then rapidly changed tack to mech in game two, though this strategy didn't go so well. DongRaeGu kept KeeN bottled up in his small corner of the map, eventually battering him to death with a superior economy.
However, an undaunted KeeN went for mech again in game three, where his execution proved to be much better. Additionally, DongRaeGu lent him a hand this time around, staying on mass-Mutalisks far after their expiration date had passed against mass Thors (after the matches, DRG said he was genetically disposed to pressing the "S" and "T" keys). KeeN ended up taking a rather Maru-esque victory, waiting until DongRaeGu ran out of resources and denying him from taking the 'neutral' bases left on the map.
Alas, things went downhill rather quickly for KeeN from there on out. His third attempt to go mech—this time after speed-Banshees start—failed miserably when he didn't make sufficient anti-air against DRG's first wave of Mutalisks. KeeN gambled on the classic game five strategy of proxy-Barracks cheese on the final map, but was thwarted by DongRaeGu's good Drone micro. While KeeN played well with his bio to reduce the deficit from his poor start, he was still overrun by Zerglings and Banelings before Mutalisks even appeared on the battlefield.
GSL Code A will continue on Thursday, Jun 17 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00) with sOs vs Hurricane, Dark vs Armani, and Cure vs RagnaroK.