2021 GSL Code S Season 3by Wax
The Code S playoffs bracket is nearly complete, with just two players left to be drawn from Group C. Will Rogue and DongRaeGu supplement the Zerg ranks, or will Cure and Zoun force Dark to go it alone?
RO16 Group C: Rogue, Zoun, DongRaeGu, CureThursday, Sep 09 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
Season 1 champion Rogue comes in looking a bit dishevelled despite being the group's top seeded player. After getting ousted from the quarterfinals by Dark last season, Rogue has put up a rather bland stretch of results in online play, and comes into the group at merely #12 in the Aligulac.com rankings.
We know better than to question whether or not Rogue is championship-quality—#12 in the world is in no way an accurate reflection of his peak ability. However, going by his history, we definitely can question his motivation at a given moment. Ever since he secured an IEM Katowice spot by winning Code S Season 1, it doesn't seem like Rogue has been driven to maintain that form, settling for being 'very good' instead. Of course, Rogue is still the favorite to make it out of this group, but he's certainly no lock.
Interestingly enough, Rogue has selected Zoun as his initial opponent. Given that Rogue has lost two fairly impactful BO5's to Zoun this year—once in the Super Tournament 2, and once in the 5th/6th place play-in matches to qualify for the DHM Season Finals—it might be a bit surprising that Rogue considers him a desirable opponent. However, Rogue has also completely outclassed Zoun in terms of micro and multitasking in some of their GSL games, so I can understand the pick.
At least from my perspective, I think Rogue is being a bit overconfident here.
The group's third player DongRaeGu enters as the clear underdog, despite reaching the quarterfinals in the previous season. That's because the Wings of Liberty great has become a distorted, mirror image of his old self: He's incredibly strong when playing Muta-Ling-Bane TvZ, but is far weaker in all other scenarios. Last season, he found his way into a group with INnoVation and Dream, both of whom he defeated to clinch a quarterfinal spot. This time, however, there's just one Terran opponent in DRG's group, which means he'll either have to steal an upset against Rogue or Zoun, or hope that the bracket works out so that he plays Cure twice.
Theoretically, Cure is an awful draw even for a ZvT specialist like DongRaeGu, as he's the 3rd ranked TvZ player behind only Clem and Maru. Realistically, we all know what the deal is: everything depends on whether or not online-Cure shows up. Repetitive as this narrative is, it's by far the most relevant topic regarding any GSL match with Cure. After all, he didn't even qualify for Code S last season after he was smashed 0-3 by RagnaroK in Code A. Though Cure took out Leenock 3-0 in this season's Code A, a victory against a far weaker opponent did little to convince me that he can show his monstrous online form in the AfreecaTV studio.
There's also a new twist in Cure's story for this tournament: a semi-crisis of his TvP. Over the past few weeks, online-Cure has stopped dominating the ESL Weekly Cups, largely because he's been getting his butt kicked in PvT. His overall win-rate is still high, but players like MaxPax, Zest, and even Has have prevented him from winning the Cup. This bodes rather poorly for Cure, as he may end up facing Zoun for the final ticket to the quarterfinals.
Predictions: While Rogue hasn't given me much to get excited about lately, I'm still predicting him to advance in first place. Zoun and Cure have high upside, but neither is consistent enough to pick over Rogue.
As for the second place battle, I do think the best version of Cure would dominate Zoun. However, we haven't seen the best version of Cure in the GSL since early 2020, and now he's struggling in TvP on top of that. Zoun has to be the pick here.
Finally, while I'm not predicting DongRaeGu to advance, I just want to point out that the "beat Cure twice" pathway to the playoffs is open for him, and it's not entirely unrealistic.
Rogue > Zoun
Cure > DongRaeGu
Rogue > Cure
Zoun > DongRaeGu
Rogue and Zoun advance.