DreamHack Masters Winter: Season FinalsThe DHM Season Finals have often been a hotbed for upsets, and DHM Winter was no exception as Code S champion Cure suffered a shocking first round elimination from the group stage. The next group features Rogue and Dark as virtual locks to get through—surely they won't suffer the same fate?
The DHM Winter Season Finals will be held from November 9th to November 11th, with all match days beginning at 13:00 GMT (+00:00).
RO16 - Group C Preview: Rogue, Dark, SpeCial, MarineLorDby Poopi
Start time: Thursday, Nov 11 1:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00)
Looking at this group a few weeks ago when it was announced, I would have predicted MarineLorD pulling off the upset and advancing instead of Rogue. It may seem crazy now, but Rogue was underperforming in online tournaments at the time, and MarineLorD had just managed to beat Reynor in a BO5 the DHM EU regional (part of the reason Reynor didn't make it to the Season Finals).
However, a lot can change in a few weeks. While Rogue still isn't playing great in online tournaments, it's mainly Protoss opponents who are giving him trouble. Looking at his recent matches, his only bad loss in ZvT came against Percival a month ago, and he's beat Dream, Gumiho, Cure and TIME since then (although he's given up more 'understandable' losses to ByuN, Clem and Maru). On the other hand, MarineLorD followed his upset victory against Reynor with a mixed bag of TvZ results, losing to Reynor in their next two meetings, going back and forth with Lambo, beating Armani, and losing to Elazer.
Those mixed results alone didn't worry me too much about MarineLorD's ability to upset Rogue in a DHM Season Finals, because the French terran is particularly good at preparing for an opponent. He also often practices with Serral, which paid off big time as we saw in DHM Europe against Reynor. However, MarineLorD is also juggling two games at the moment. Indeed, as a fan of Age of Empires 2, he started playing the recently released Age of Empires 4 (like many other SC2 pros), and even played enough to reach #1 in the rankings. If MarineLorD isn't in 100% good shape, then I will have to admit that things are looking grim for Terran in this group.
Dark isn't showing any particular weaknesses lately, while SpeCial is not the Terran I would choose to pull off a TvZ upset of this magnitude. Granted, Dark has recently lost ZvT's to stronger players like Maru, Cure, and ByuN, but he's taken care of business against the likes of TIME, Dream, and Ryung. Also, Dark is just extremely solid and has a much higher floor for his play than the mercurial Rogue. Aligulac is obviously favoring him with a near 90% chance to defeat SpeCial in a BO3—similar size upsets happen occasionally in EPT Weekly Cups, but top players take the DHM Season Finals much more seriously and can even prepare specifically for their opponents to further assert their dominance.
What's even worse for SpeCial is that it's been a while since he worked his strategic magic and scored a big upset in TvZ. The last time was three months ago in Code A when he defeated Armani 3-2, if you want to count Armani as a stronger player. If you think that's debatable, then you have to go all the way back to ESL Open Cup #64 in March, when he took a 3-1 over Solar. SpeCial did happen to upset Rogue 2-1 in a GSL Super Tournament qualifier in January, a result that improved him to 1-10 in all-time matches against Rogue (combined map score of 5 wins and 23 losses). The glass-half-full view on that win might not be wise to take here.
Despite MarineLorD's divided attention, he did cancel his participation in an AOE4 event in order to participate in DH:Season Finals. I trust him to still practice a bit and make some magic happen—he might very well beat Rogue in their initial encounter.
However, even if AOE4 was scheduled to come out much later and MarineLorD was practicing StarCraft 2 full time, I would still have predicted him to lose versus Dark. I'm going to say Dark advancing in first place is a no-brainer, and I'd even take him in a more conventionally predicted bout against Rogue in the winner’s match.
As mentioned above, SpeCial would be very hard pressed to beat Rogue in the losers match, which would leave us with MarineLorD vs Rogue in a rematch for the second-place spot.
Even though I am usually a proponent of the rematch curse in decider’s match, I do not think that will be the reason behind MarineLorD loss. Rogue will have the momentum going for him, while MarineLorD just hit a wall with Dark, and I do not think he can have enough range in his builds or play at the moment to beat Rogue in another BO3 (this would have been my prediction for a decider match, even if I did not predict a MarineLorD upset in the initial match, as MarineLorD is a very good TvT player capable of beating SpeCial in loser’s match).
Seeing Rogue go out in groups would hardly be the craziest thing we've seen in the history of DHM (it may not even be the craziest thing in this tournament), but it would probably require a more stacked group than this. I do not think I can avoid predicting the obvious "Dark and Rogue to advance."
Rogue < MarineLorD
Dark > SpeCial
MarineLord < Dark
Rogue > SpeCial
Rogue > MarineLorD
Dark and Rogue to advance.