2021 GSL Code A Season 2 - Day 3 Previewby Poopi
Code A closes out with two final matches to finalize the sixteen player Code S roster. The first match guarantees a Code S spot to an unlikely Terran underdog, while the other match will ensure that a Protoss heavyweight sits this season out.
Make sure to stay tuned after the matches for the group selection ceremony, where the players will learn what hope or dread their future holds. Code S Season 2 is set to start on Monday, Jun 28 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00).
Match #1: ForGG vs PercivalStart time: Monday, Jun 21 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
This match is as interesting as it is unusual. We have, on one hand, ForGG, old guard among the old guard, MSL champion in Starcraft: Brood War, DreamHack SC2 champion from an era before region-lock, and military service returnee.
On the other hand, we welcome Percival, a young, up-and-coming Terran player that still has everything to prove. Prior to last season's Code A tournament, where Percival was 3-0'd by sOs, his ID was only known by the most avid fans of the Korean scene, appearing in Olimoleagues and other online cups.
It is truly a match of life, since the seeding and brackets have worked out to give a Code S opportunity to players who would have been considered underdogs against almost every other Code A player.
ForGG has been done with his military service for quite a while, after which he focused on streaming both Brood War and SC2. Ultimately, he started playing and streaming a lot of Starcraft 2 again, notably on the NA server, and tried to qualify for various GSL's without much success. In fact, his competitive history post retirement is only filled by GSL qualifiers games and ESL Pro Cups #NA, in which he did not have much success either.
Him qualifying for Code A and having a chance at returning to Code S for the first time since 2012 is a Cinderella story, especially considering his commitment to streaming and lack of success since his return. Every match from his Code A qualifying run can be considered an upset, yet he managed to pull it off. ForGG consecutively beat Armani, Patience, and Hurricane, which shows that while he might not be consistent, his spot in this specific season of Code A is very much deserved. As the Korean community is fond of saying, "form is temporary, class is permanent."
Percival is training in a more conventional way, playing Korean ladder and online cups on top of GSL qualifiers. While his all time record is under 50%, he broke the 50% line in 2021, indicating that the 19-year-old Terran is definitely improving. Even though his Aligulac rating is slightly superior to ForGG’s, it cannot be ignored that his senior peer is a far more experienced veteran with nearly a decade of big stage experience, so I consider Percival as the challenger in this match.
I tried to look at Percival's recent history and see how often he beat more skilled and experienced players: He managed to beat Cure 2-1 two months ago in Olimoleague #224, and more recently he beat Solar 3-1 in ESL Open Cup Asia #75. It should be noted that he still loses to superior players the majority of time, so interpret those limited results as you will. While Percival has shown he can make some upsets online from time to time, it remains to be seen if he will do the same under pressure in the GSL studio.
Percival seems to have two main advantages over ForGG: he is not teamless, and his Team NV mates could help him prepare for his match (though some might assume that getting beat up by Maru isn't great practice). The second advantage for Percival is that he does not stream so ForGG can’t really study him—Percival appears in online cups but he's not frequently observed by community casters. On the other hand, ForGG streams regularly so he can be studied rather easily, but mostly from ladder play.
While Aligulac rates Percival as a very slight favorite, I don’t think I will pick Percival as the winner here. The elephant in the room is that ForGG is a proven champion with much more experience than Percival, and even though his competitive history post-military service is not that great, he still managed to get at a good enough level to beat a former Code S RO4 player in Armani as well as two good gatekeepers Hurricane and Patience. Furthermore, he will probably be much more at ease playing offline in GSL studio than Percival, and this experience mismatch will allow ForGG to ultimately prevail.
Prediction: ForGG 3 - 1 Percival
Match #2: PartinG vs ZestRight after arguably the weakest match of Code A, we have the match of death awaiting us. Well, it's only deadly given the name value of the players, because Zest has plenty of reason to be happy about being matched against PartinG.
Zest has a 65% to 35% edge on PartinG according to Aligulac, reflection of the significant gap in their PvP ratings (2861 for Zest and 2664 for PartinG at the time of writing). In more plain terms, Zest has been absolutely ridiculous in recent PvP's, going 104-28 (78.79%) in maps over the last two months, while PartinG is merely 62-27 (69.66%) in the same period. Given both players' cross-server activity, there's not too much difference in opponents.
The head-to-head history is the most damning factor for PartinG. Zest has utterly dominated PartinG throughout his career, holding a series record of 28-5 and map record of 73-29. In fact, he won their last eight encounters consecutively, and didn't lose a single series to PartinG in 2021. PvP might be seen as a volatile match-up by many fans and observers, but Zest just knows how to beat PartinG.
Such statistical domination is significant in itself, but it's worth looking back on their close clash at IEM Katowice 2021—probably PartinG's best match against Zest this year—to remind us of how a series between the two might go. PartinG managed to take game one off of good DT harass that gave him a lead to slowly but steadily choke Zest into defeat on Deathaura. PartinG then took a 2-0 lead on Pillars of Gold with his signature Blink Stalkers. He aggressively blinked into Zest’s main as well as dropping an Immortal, while blocking the ramp with forcefield, and traded decently there. However, the real damage came from a parallel harass into Zest’s third base that killed a ton of probes and forced his opponent to allin him, which he held and won the game. Maybe Zest remembered he was supposed to destroy PartinG at that moment, because he switched gears and managed to pull off a reverse sweep. The comeback started on Romanticide with an early 3-gate strike against PartinG's expansion and tech. On Submarine, another close game ensued with PartinG going proxy Gateway while Zest used a proxy Stargate. Zest pulled off a miracle hold with Shield Batteries and Stalkers, his Oracles inflicted enough damage to seal the victory. Then Zest finished PartinG off on Jagannatha in a tense low econ game, using Blink-Stalkers to break his opponent's contain. While Zest ultimately won that encounter, this shows us that PartinG has the potential to beat him under the right circumstances.
Still, this match bodes poorly for PartinG overall, and my main question is not IF he will lose to Zest, but by what score? PartinG seems to thrive on momentum and crowd, but with AfreecaTV only set to readmit audiences starting in Code S, I see Zest dominating him from beginning to end here.
Prediction: PartinG 0 - 3 Zest