2021 GSL Code S Season 2 - RO16 Previewby Wax
The Code S RO16 returns with Group A, where reigning champion Rogue will begin his title defense. Advancing from the RO16 has often been a formality for the champion, due to the extreme advantages conferred upon them during the group selections. However, given Rogue's history of stumbling after big wins, we might be in store for an unpredictable result.
RO16 Group A: Rogue, Percival, ByuN, BunnyStart time: [unparsable timestamp format]
Perhaps we didn't give TY enough credit when he was still around—as Rogue showed us during the recent group selections, it's not 100% automatic that the #1 seed game theories their way to a ridiculously easy RO16 group. Still, the defending champion has to be pretty pleased with his group nonetheless, getting two of the weaker players in Percival and Bunny, while also making practice easy for himself by stacking three Terrans. But honestly, Rogue's opponents won't really decide whether or not he will advance to the RO8—it's all about what kind of condition Rogue is in.
After Rogue's odds-defying win against Maru in the Season 1 finals, it's become more pointless than ever to try and make a conventional prediction about him. It will suffice to say that Rogue is the best player in the world (if not all time)—at least when he wants to be. But will he even care to be the best player in this upcoming RO16 group? Dunno. Does he really want to avoid his traditional post-championship slump as he stated before? Dunno. Remember, Rogue can be a rather unreliable interviewee—before Super Tournament 2, he first said he was going to take it easy, then he said he wanted to win it, then he was eliminated by Zoun. Maybe it felt good to say that he wouldn't follow his championship run with a dud, but history tells us he could very well end up coasting along until October. I dunno, Rogue. You do you.
Typically, all the members of Group A are happy to be there—the #1 seed due to his easy set of opponents, and the other three players due to their enhanced chances of advancing in second place. Percival might be the happiest of all this time around. First off, he's playing in his first Code S tournament—that's definitely something to be glad about. Second, his self-professed best match-up is TvT. Assuming that doesn't have a chance against Rogue in the first place, he's in a position where he can just prepare in his favored match-up to try and steal second place.
Of course it's not likely—he's only in this tournament due to an unlikely combination of GSL qualifier upsets that made Percival vs ForGG a qualification match for Code S. Prior to this season, the most notable thing Percival ever did was get picked up by Team NV—an acknowledgement of his potential, but hardly a marker of present day skill. At the time of writing, Aligulac.com has him ranked as the 66th best player in the world, sandwiched between Nice and Prince. But for a player who has nothing to lose and everything to gain, he's in a relatively good situation—even if it's just the difference between having a 3% or 4% chance of advancing.
If everything goes as it's supposed to with Rogue and Percival, then it will come down to a fierce competition between ByuN and Bunny to claim the second quarterfinal ticket. There's never a predictable moment in ByuN's career, with the Shopify Rebellion Terran recently revealing that his wrist issues in the AfreecaTV studio may be a mental ailment and not a physical one. Of course, this doesn't take anything away from the severity of the problem—until it's fixed, he'll still be unable to play up to his full potential in the GSL. ByuN said that Shopfiy is helping him get some form of counselling/treatment, so it will be interesting to see if it's already improved his condition. Can he get through this group without asking for the dreaded wrist-numbness pause?
However, a RO16 berth is hardly guaranteed to ByuN even if he's firing on all cylinders. As crazy as it may seem, ByuN looked at his best in the first few months after his return from military service. Since his world-beating championship run back at ASUS ROG 2020, ByuN has struggled to deliver a performance of the same caliber.
In stark contrast, the 2021 version of Bunny is a player who constantly punches above his weight class in GSL matches, reaching the top eight of Code S Season 1 and both Super Tournaments. Though Bunny doesn't have the mechanics of some of his more accomplished peers, he has a real knack for preparing build orders that give him an advantage—another hallmark of great Terrans. If Bunny has gone up a level, and ByuN has come down one, you might say they've met each other at a place where they're evenly matched. However, there is a complicating factor: Bunny is owning ByuN in head-to-head matches. Bunny is currently on a four series winning streak against ByuN, with a dominating 9-2 map score in those matches. One of those victories came in the final round of the GSL qualifiers, allowing Bunny to bypass Code A and qualify directly to Code S.
Prediction: This group is easy to predict on paper, but really goads you into second-guessing yourself and overthinking the possibilities. Rogue is obviously the best player in the group, but he's suffered too many post-championship hangovers to be trustworthy in this situation. Percival is a hopelessly outmatched rookie, but he says TvT is his best match-up. ByuN is more mechanically gifted and accomplished than Bunny, but who knows how his wrists will respond to the Afreeca studio spotlight?
Strangely—or maybe it's not so strange at all—Bunny is looking like the safest bet. He beat ByuN and Zest to qualify directly for Code S, he's #17 in the Aligulac world rankings, and he's made it to the top eight of all three GSL tournaments this year. Overall, he's just a very solid player who hasn't given us any reason to doubt him at this stage of the tournament.
Rogue > Percival
ByuN > Bunny
Rogue > ByuN
Bunny > Percival
Bunny > ByuN
Rogue and Bunny to advance.