2021 GSL Super Tournament 3 - Day 1by Wax
The 2021 Global StarCraft II League is set to bring us their last event of the year in Super Tournament #3. With 1500 EPT points on the line, there are a handful of contestants who desperately need a good result to secure qualification for IEM Katowice 2022. Even some of the already qualified players will be eyeing the points, so that they can bypass the dangerous play-in stage and be seeded directly into the group stage.
Day 1 Preview: Round of 16Start time: Monday, Nov 22 8:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
RO16 Match #1: Cure vs ByuN
The prediction for this match doesn't hinge on who I feel the best about—no, it's about who I feel the least bad about. That's an unfortunate thing to say about reigning Code S champion Cure and a former champion in ByuN, but both players have invited much doubt upon themselves.
Cure's tournament results have been rather lackluster since he won Code S in October, getting eliminated in the group stages of both the DHM Winter Finals and the recent King of Battles 2 tournament. He hasn't even been the online-cup/qualifiers terror he was once renowned to be, and he's shed around 100 Aligulac.com ratings points over a month. A post-championship hangover is hardly unexpected—it's actually very understandable when you hear Cure talk about how StarCraft II consumed the entirety of his life during his Code S run. It doesn't seem like Cure is firing on all cylinders right now, so that bodes poorly for him as he heads into this match.
Conversely, ByuN is enjoying a run of good form as of late. Albeit, he hasn't been able to show us much in major competitions (not even qualifying for events like ASUS ROG of NeXT), but he's done well to recover from a brutal summer slump and start killing it in smaller cup competitions as well as the World Team League. The main problem for ByuN, as it has been since his return, is that he's been terrible in the GSL. Unless he's playing semi-amateurs like Percival or Trust, he simply hasn't been able to win games in the AfreecaTV studio.
It's been several months since ByuN revealed that his wrist issues were not physical at all, but instead mental, and that he had started receiving treatment. While we all hope that ByuN's situation has improved in this regard, we'll never know for sure until he actually brings his A-game in a high-stakes GSL match.
Since the new map pool was introduced, ByuN is 33-10 in TvT matches (69-28 map score), while Cure is 12-6 (33-21) in the Terran mirror. Aligulac.com's rating system sees Cure as a moderate favorite with a 61.48% chance to win. The IEM Katowice stakes aren't especially dire for either player: Cure is already locked into the group stage, whereas ByuN is largely assured a play-in spot without much chance of jumping up to the group stages.
While I think that Cure's baseline TvT level is higher than ByuN's, I just haven't been impressed with how he's playing lately. I'm sure he'll ramp back up into 100% form before Katowice, but he seems rather vulnerable now. Even though it's dangerous to predict in favor of ByuN given his past results in the GSL, I'm optimistic that he'll show up in better mental shape than before.
Prediction: ByuN 3 - 2 Cure
RO16 Match #2: Trap vs RagnaroK
Much like the previous match, there aren't any significant IEM Katowice stakes to play for here. Trap is safely ensconced in the group stage, while RagnaroK seems destined to compete in the play-in matches no matter what happens before February. Thus, it's mostly present-day pride and money that's on the line in this match.
On the face of it, this seems like an inevitable first-round mismatch that's been drawn due to seeding. Trap, even in his current slump, is still the #13 ranked player in the world according to Aligulac.com, and would probably be many people's pick as the #1 Protoss player in the world (it's really just him or Zest). On the other hand, RagnaroK is merely #29th in the Aligulac.com rankings, and has only qualified for one Code S tournament this entire year.
But, interestingly enough, these two players have a rather unusual relationship: RagnaroK actually has a slight head-to-head record lead on Trap at 19-18 in matches (44-43) map score. The really interesting thing is that RagnaroK didn't rack up those wins prior to Trap's breakout 2019—in fact, many of RagnaroK's wins came during the late 2020-early 2021 period when Trap might have been the best player in the world.
All-ins have been a big part of RagnaroK's success against Trap. The Alpha X Zerg may have a terrible addiction to playing top Terrans in straight-up macro games (which he's actually pretty good at, to his credit), but he's very willing to go for Queen-walks and other cheesy tactics when playing against Protoss players. Even when not going for an early-game all-in, RagnaroK just seems to have a great sense of timing for when an F2-A with his army will just straight-up kill Trap. On the other hand, Trap himself seems to be a bit of a cheese-magnet in PvZ—the Shopify Zergs of Lambo and Scarlett seem to particularly relish punishing him for daring to try to go 2-Stargate Voids against them.
Aligulac.com sees Trap as a favorite with a 62% chance to win—the fact that it's that low really highlights the kind of PvZ slide he's been on lately. However, given the unusual counter-relationship these two seem to have, I see this as being closer to 50:50. In the end, I'll still pick Trap to come out on top, but only barely.
Prediction: Trap 3 - 2 RagnaroK
RO16 Match #3: Rogue vs KeeN
This the first match of the day with potentially big IEM Katowice stakes for one of the players. At the time of writing, KeeN is #21 in the EPT Korea standings with 305 points, which is two places out of an IEM Katowice berth (it's more like one place, because #20 Hurricane is currently inactive). The cutoff is currently being guarded by #19 Creator who has 375 points (and is also playing in the very next match).
Realistically speaking, 75 points are fairly hard to come by for players at this segment of the rankings, and it would be difficult for KeeN to overtake Creator. But, at least compared to Creator (see below), KeeN has drawn the 'easier' initial opponent, and can still hope to make a miracle qualifying run into Katowice.
Of course, 'easy' is a relative term in this case, as KeeN faces a very daunting opponent in Rogue. The two-time IEM Katowice champ has been brimming with confidence as of late, perhaps a sign that he's gearing up to return to what must be his favorite venue of Spodek. He's put some solid results on the table lately, coming in second at DHM Winter (2-4 to Maru in the finals), and finishing in the top eight at King of Battles 2 (2-3 to Dark).
It's true that Rogue has been one of the easier top-tier players to score an upset against as he can become notoriously lax after periods of success. However, both his recent interviews and gameplay suggest that he's engaged and focused on StarCraft II (although I should check his MapleStory account activity if I really wanted to know...), so it seems unlikely that KeeN is going to catch Rogue with his foot off the gas. Indeed, Rogue recently took a comfortable 2-0 victory off KeeN in the WTL, even winning a game where he gave up several early Drone kills due to sloppy defense. Aligulac predicts Rogue to have a 90%+ win chance in this match, and I have to agree. I don't think Rogue—or Creator—have much to sweat here.
Prediction: Rogue 3 - 1 KeeN
RO16 Match #4: Dark vs Creator
As mentioned above, Creator would probably like to put a bit of a points buffer between himself and KeeN, even though KeeN is a longshot to catch up. However, he's unlikely to take anything away from his upcoming clash against Dark.
While Creator usually doesn't get much spotlight, fans of the ESL Open Cups will have noticed that he had an impressive hot-Protoss summer, winning a number of cups while even taking out the likes of Zest, Cure, and ByuN. But whether due to the new maps or just poor personal form, his results have slid back down to earth over the last couple of months.
Meanwhile, Dark has kept himself in the playoff picture of almost every major event in 2021, though Code S Season 2 was the only time he actually went all the way to the championship. Maru eliminated Dark from his most recent events of DHM Winter and King of Battles, but given Maru's form as of late, that's hardly a demerit against Dark. Simply put, Dark is the same elite player as always, and is a threat to win the championship in any tournament he enters. It's worth noting that he's gone out in the first round of the two prior Super Tournaments this year (losing to Trap and Zoun), but I don't think that's going to matter considering how he has Creators' number.
The stats are indeed, very grim for Creator, with Dark having a 15-2 career head-to-head record (37-12 map score) against his opponent. Dark is currently in the midst of a thirteen match winning streak that started in 2017, and given the circumstances, I don't see that streak being snapped here.
Prediction: Dark 3 - 1 Creator