2021 GSL Code A Season 3 - Day 3by Poopi
Code A Season 3 wraps up with a day of matches that look one-sided on paper, but might yet deliver a few surprises. Make sure to stay tuned after the matches for the Code S group selections, which should be a rambunctious prelude to the main event.
KeeN vs RyungStart time: [unparsable timestamp format]
This match is a blast from the past, featuring two old school players who have returned to StarCraft II after fulfilling their mandatory military service. This prediction would have been very easy back in the Wings of Liberty days, when Ryung was a prominent TvT specialist that could stand toe-to-toe with the best Terrans. This mirror mastery powered Ryung to the top four of GSL Code S in 2012 (defeating fan-favorite MarineKing 3-1 in the RO8), which was his career-best result at the time. However, that run is more well-known for how it ended: after losing 2-3 to infamous zerg Sniper in the semifinals, Ryung vented his frustrations about the Brood Lord-Infestor meta by typing “IMBA” 17 times before finally ceding the final GG.
Five years later in GSL Code S 2017, Ryung showed the world his TvT was still to be feared in LotV when he beat Maru 3-1 in the RO8, earning one more top four finish. Alas, that was the end for Ryung as a GSL playoffs player, and he departed to fulfil his military service in early 2019. Ryug was discharged relatively recently in late 2020, but his recovery curve has been more ‘normal’ compared to some outlier players like ByuN. He wasn’t able to qualify for Code A in the previous two seasons of 2021, but managed to make the cut this time around by taking out fellow returnee herO.
KeeN, while being a solid all-around player during his pre-military career, didn’t have any exceptional strengths like Ryung’s TvT. The Code S group stages were typically the limit for KeeN, though he did make two notable runs to the top eight. Nevertheless, in the present day, the Afreeca Freecs Terran is the favorite against his older opponent.
Despite being discharged some 4-5 months later than Ryung in April of 2021, KeeN seems far less rusty than Ryung. That’s not too surprising considering that KeeN is younger than Ryung, and was in better form at the time of his enlistment. Keen has racked up a number of notable results since his comeback, taking series off the likes of Dark, Solar, Dream, and ByuN. While most of these wins came in smaller online cup competition, it still contrasts with RyunG and how rarely he beats Code S regulars in the same setting. Most importantly, KeeN almost qualified for Code S in Season 2, narrowly losing 2-3 to DongRaeGu in Code A.
RyunG is understandably very dominant in career head-to-head matches against KeeN with a 15-4 match record—indicative of RyunG’s TvT prowess in their pre-military days. But all of those matches are from 2018 or earlier, and KeeN is in much better shape since their comebacks. KeeN’s TvT rating on Aligulac.com stands at a respectable 2434 points (#12) compared to RyunG’s 2209 (#18), and Aligulac.com’s predictor gives KeeN a 67.53% chance of victory.
Still, Ryung is a career TvT specialist and might be confident versus KeeN having beaten him so many times throughout his career. He’s taken maps off of TY as well as Bunny, and beat Percival several times a few months ago, so perhaps the match will not necessarily be utterly one-sided in favor of KeeN. However, I cannot help but agree with the numbers in the end, and will predict a comfortable victory for KeeN.
Prediction: KeeN 3 - 1 Ryung
Cure vs LeenockThe last match of Code A projects to be the most one-sided of this season, and maybe even the most one-sided Code A match since they brought it back. Sure, Solar vs GuMiho on day two was a massacre, but it might end up paling in comparison to Cure vs Leenock. Cure struggles with his dual nature as the fearsome online-Cure and meek offline-Cure, but I doubt even the lesser version could lose a BO5 to Leenock in 2021.
Aligulac is unsurprisingly giving a Cure a 94.94% chance of beating Leenock, with more than a 50% chance of it being a 3-0. The rating difference between the two players is a whopping 802 points, which would make a Leenock victory one of the biggest upsets in StarCraft II history. For comparison, Aligulac.com predicts Solar vs. Gumiho as a mere 84% win chance for Solar—and that’s AFTER Solar won 3-0 to increase the gap. Given how one-sided Solar vs. GuMiho was, with mistakes usually unseen even in code A (such as losing 4 hellions after parking them on the creep of the opponent), you have to look at Cure vs Leenock with a kind of morbid fascination.
However, there are a few things going Leenock's way to give his fans some optimism. The head-to-head record favors Leenock at 9-7 in matches (22-21 in maps), with Leenock even beating Cure recently 2-1 in ESL Open Cup #82. In fact, before he left for the military, Leenock was leading their head-to-head with 8 match wins and 5 losses. And, while Leenock has lost nearly all of his TvZ’s against notable players since his spring 2021 return, in more recent weeks he's picked up some wins against SpeCial, ByuN, and Cure in relatively recent BO3 matches.
The other point of hope for Leenock is a recent ‘slump’ for Cure. While his struggles have been more pronounced in TvP, Cure has also been dropping TvZ matches to some unexpected opponents as well, losing to DongRaeGu, Leenock, and RagnaroK in the last month. Still, even the best players drop series to underdogs now and then, so these results might just be a statistical blip. Since then, he lost 2-3 to Solar and beat Rogue 2-1, which is more in line with what you’d expect.
Cure is known for choking in offline matches, but this time he’ll be a ridiculous favorite. Perhaps that will give Cure the confidence to play at 100%, but paradoxically, it might even put more mental pressure on him to win. Still, since it feels like it’s a given that Cure will prevail, the real question is if Leenock will manage to take a map, and if not, if he is gonna get rolled harder than Gumiho got beaten by Solar. I expect Cure to win convincingly, but also Leenock to bring something clever that will catch Cure off guard and make him sweat.
Prediction: Cure 3 - 0 Leenock