2022 GSL Super Tournament 1 - RO16 Day Twoby Poopi
Start time: Thursday, Jan 20 8:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
Are players hiding their hands ahead of IEM Katowice? Day one of the Super Tournament featured a handful of unexpected results, opening the way for more chaos later down the line. The day two matches might seem straightforward on paper, but we may have some more surprises in store.
Round of 16 - Match #5: Dream vs ByuNAfter playing just two matches prior to their respective military service breaks, ByuN and Dream have become frequent foes in their post-military careers. ByuN has largely gotten the better of Dream with 12 matches won and just 4 lost, putting up a combined 37-19 map record as well. Aligulac hugely favors ByuN to win this encounter with a 78.61% chance to win, which is no surprise given the two players' divergent trajectories since the second half of 2021. However, all those previous matches came in an online setting, and this Super Tournament bout will be their first meeting in a major offline match. Of course, with that change of setting, all the questions about ByuN's wrists and his general mentality on the GSL stage come immediately to the forefront.
The last time ByuN needed to actually pause the game mid-match in the GSL studio was in Code S Season 1 in 2021—since then we've learned some crucial details about what's been ailing his wrists. From what we've gleaned, his wrist issues were diagnosed as more of a psychological issue than physical one, and the Shopify Rebellion has helped him receive treatment and/or medication to help his condition. It seems to have worked, as he hasn't had to pause any of his AfreecaTV studio matches since. Going by my judgment, his subsequent GSL Code S and Super Tournament results were in line with his 'real' skill level at the time: he beat the likes of Percival and Trust, but lost to strong players like Rogue, Dark, or Cure.
Since ByuN has been performing well while Dream's worst match-up appears to be TvT at the moment, I will favor ByuN even though the match takes place at the AfreecaTV studio. Dream did perform well in the qualifiers for this event, notably beating Rogue 2-1, but this is another match-up entirely (also Rogue did not exactly meet expectations in the actual tournament anyway). ByuN seems to be able to play up to his level in the GSL now, and that level suggests he should win and move on to the next round.
Prediction: ByuN 3 - 1 Dream
Round of 16 - Match #6: Dark vs GuMihoFunny enough, this match feels like the reverse of day one's Maru vs Armani match in terms of the odds. In that match, the Terran player was heavily favored over the Zerg with a 96%+ chance to win. This time, Dark is the overwhelming favorite while Gumiho is the clear underdog. Dark is in tremendous ZvT form, with his Aligulac.com rating being #2 just behind Serral. As such, the stats website gives him around a 95% chance to win against an opponent who's still in the midst of his post-military comeback. Dark has mostly dominated Terran opponents in recent months (Clem has been a frequent victim), only dropping a handful of series to the likes of Maru, ByuN, and Cure. On the other hand, Gumiho has had poor results in TvZ, and lost his last six series against Solar (thrice), DRG, RagnaroK, and Rogue without winning a single map. Still, one must note that he won his sole post-military meeting against Dark, taking a 2-1 victory in an ESL Open Cup.
While GuMiho did pick up some wins against Armani and RagnaroK alongside his single upset of Dark, his overall TvZ poor results makes an upset seem very unlikely. Dark looks almost impossible to beat unless you have Maru's late-game skills, leaving GuMiho to wrack his brains for some creative strategies that might catch Dark off guard. While GuMiho has done that to Dark in the pre-military days, even eliminating Dark from a Super Tournament in 2019, it seems unlikely that he'll do it again in his current capacity. Even worse, he might not even be able to throw Dark off balance with his signature mech style, with mech becoming more common in recent weeks.
While Gumiho has gradually improved over the past few months, participating in a lot of online cups to speed along his recovery, I think the best he'll do is take a map off Dark with good preparation—and even that seems optimistic. Still, DHM: Last Chance and day 1 of the Super Tournament were packed with upsets, so perhaps GuMiho can keep things going?
Prediction: Dark 3 - 0 Gumiho
Round of 16 - Match #7: Solar vs CreatorThis match-up is pretty interesting and harder to predict than it looks at first glance. Sure, Solar is the favorite when you go by recent results—especially his DHM: Last Chance run where he reached the semifinals. However, Creator has quietly been performing well in the PvZ match-up, so we have a realistic shot of seeing another underdog advance into the next round.
Creator was eliminated by Dark in his most recent major tournaments (2-3 in GSL ST3 and 1-2 in TSL8), but he was impressive in defeat as he went up against one of the best Zergs in the world. The Super Tournament match notably featured a 35 minute long macro game that Creator barely lost on the Zerg-favored Pride of Altaris. Creator beat Dark on Glittering Ashes using the Golden Armada supported by AOE units on the ground, and also took a map on Berlingrad with a strong mid-game timing.
The ability of Creator to have such close games against Dark—using a variety of styles and winning even macro games—gives me a lot of confidence in him. He was eliminated from TSL8 with two 1-2 losses against Dark and Scarlett, but Scarlett was in very good form around that time. She was performing insanely well in WTL, she won DH: Winter NA beating two Protosses, and also beat Zest and Trap in the DHM Season Finals. Other than those losses to Dark and Scarlett these last two months, Creator has performed quite well in PvZ. While he mostly dominated lesser Zergs, he defeated Lambo, DongRaeGu, and even Solar in an ESL Open Cup match.
Solar is also playing well in the ZvP match-up, especially in the ESL Open Cups where he regularly beats the likes of herO, Classic, and sometimes Zest. Aligulac.com favors Solar by a decent margin, giving him a 68% chance to win, and he also has a dominating 56-18 head-to-head match record.
With both players prone to underperforming in big moments, it feels like anything could happen. Still, Solar did seem steadier and stronger than usual in DHM: Last Chance, which could be a bad sign for Creator. We've seen bigger upsets happen already this tournament, and Creator really impressed me in the latest Super Tournament against Dark, so I will go against the mighty Aligulac algorithm and predict Creator to prevail, although in a fierce and close series.
Prediction: Solar 2 - 3 Creator
Round of 16 - Match #8: Cure vs ZounZoun is probably not very happy with this draw, since Cure won the last GSL Code S on the back of his TvP, destroying all the top Protosses in BO5+ series to win it all. Whether it was superbly prepared builds or rock-solid fundamentals, Cure showed he had it all in the TvP match-up. Still, Zoun is also very competent against Terran, and he might hope to catch Cure off-guard as he eyes a bigger prize at IEM Katowice.
Interestingly, these two have only ever played a single offline series in the past, with Cure winning in a 2015 SSL qualifier (this was when Zoun was a bench-warmer on SKT). However, they've fought each other quite a bit in the online era after Zoun made his return to SC2, and the record suggests that things might not be that grim for Zoun. While Cure leads in overall head-to-head stats with a 19-12 match record (56-38 in maps), he racked up most of his wins when Zoun was still working his way back into the SC2 scene after a long hiatus. Ever since Zoun became a player who can reach Super Tournament finals (which he did twice), the story has been different. In fact, Zoun won 7 of their last 10 encounters, with even a five-match win-streak mixed in (three of those being in BO5's). It is pretty clear to me that Zoun is a strong player who could very well advance here, especially considering how clutch he was in his prior Super Tournaments runs with reverse sweeps and narrow 3-2 wins.
Yet, the task at hand is immense since his opponent has been absurdly strong versus Protoss in the very recent past. Framing is everything: even though Zoun has played well against Cure in 2021, he hasn't played him much since Cure's TvP surge in the latter part of the year. Since the start of his Code S playoffs run in mid-September, Cure has put up a terrific record of 39-6 in matches (86.67% win-rate) and 98-38 in maps. Aligulac.com gives Cure around 72:28 odds of beating Zoun in a BO5, which I feel might actually be undervaluing his ability. He's currently at the #2 spot in TvP rankings, far behind Maru and just a tiny bit ahead of Clem and HeroMarine… but he is frankly looking scarier than his EU Terran peers against Protoss.
It’s not like Zoun is having a particularly hard time in the match-up, as in the same period from the middle of September, he has a nice record of 40-18 (68.97% win-rate) in PvT matches. However, Cure's displays of TvP mastery in the various tournaments I've seen make me think his impressive streak will continue. I really hope that Zoun will give Cure a run for his money, but I cannot bet against the DPG Terran here as he is still looking utterly dominant versus Protoss.
Prediction: Cure 3 - 1 Zoun