DreamHack Masters: Fall 2021 - Season FinalsBy Wax
We begin with one of the more even RO16 groups we've seen in DHM Season Finals, where you could plausibly predict any combination of two players to advance to the playoffs. With three Protosses involved in equation, the ability to
Group A Preview: Neeb, PartinG, HeroMarine, sOsMatch time: Tuesday, Sep 07 2:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00)
The scheduling of this group hasn't done PartinG any favors, as he will be playing barely 24 hours after competing in GSL Code S. PartinG did look impressive as he advanced from his GSL group in first place (beating Bunny and ByuN), but it was conspicuous that there wasn't a single Protoss player he had to prepare for. PartinG certainly has strong PvP fundamentals—his #5 Aligulac.com PvP rank is the highest among the players in the group, and he defeated both Trap and Zoun in his previous GSL run. However, given the unpredictable nature of PvP, it would hardly be surprising to see him get caught flat-footed by more well-prepared opponents.
Things could get particularly dicey when PartinG faces his first opponent in Neeb. The 3-time consecutive North American champ hasn't played a PvP against a Korean player in over six months, last engaging in such a match back at IEM Katowice 2021. Sure, there are plenty of relevant tournament VOD's for either PartinG or Neeb to peruse, but it's hard to tell exactly what level someone else is at without actually facing them in a match. While Neeb's overall resume forces us to respect him as a savvy international tournament player, he's actually fared rather poorly in 2021, failing to advance a round in three such events. Yet, it would be foolish for anyone to let their guard down against him, lest Neeb use this tournament as a springboard for an international comeback.
Our third Protoss participant is sOs, who enters Group A as its wild card. The Protoss legend has been stuck with that designation for several years after falling out of serious title contention, and sometimes it can feel like we're just saying it out of respect—not because he's an actual threat to upset anyone. However, every now and then he'll do something like reach the IEM Katowice playoffs or help eliminate Maru from the GSL, showing us that he's far from being dead and done. Alas, sOs' recent GSL group performance probably had his haters rushing to get their shovels, as he lost two series to Dream where his micro looked terribly off. While form doesn't necessarily translate 100% across match-ups, one has to question if sOs can show up in good enough shape to escape this group.
HeroMarine is the odd man out in Group A; the lone Terran in a sea of Protosses. While Terran doomers would say that he's walking into a certain deathtrap, the statistics make it hard to tell exactly who is locked in with who. Consider this: HeroMarine is currently on a ludicrous 19-match winning streak in PvT (44W–6L in maps), and is second place in the Aligulac.com TvP rankings. On the other hand, Big Gabe is exactly the kind of player that messes with Aligulac's formula—he plays almost exclusively in one region, and plays the majority of his games in lower-stakes competitions. The fact that he's rated higher than Maru indicates that something is definitely out of whack. But exactly HOW out of whack? Even if we reject the notion that HeroMarine is the 2nd best TvP player in the world, he's clearly still some measure of excellent. At the very least, I'd surmise that he stands a strong, fighting chance to get out of this group and reach his second straight DHM playoffs.
Predictions: Despite PartinG's tight slate of games, I still think he'll find his way out of the group. His PvP is what took him to the Code S semifinals last season, and I think he has a high enough base level to win these matches on short notice. I'm going to pick HeroMarine to advance alongside PartinG, even though I think his TvP record is somewhat inflated. PartinG is the only player who strikes me as a strong favorite against HeroMarine, and the match-ups have worked out so that they can only face each other once. In a tight race between HeroMarine, sOs, and Neeb for second place, I think Big Gabe should be able to carry the day.
PartinG > Neeb
HeroMarine > sOs
Parting > HeroMarine
Neeb > sOs
HeroMarine > Neeb
PartinG and HeroMarine to advance