2022 GSL Code S Season 1 - Round of 10by Poopi
The first day of Group B was full of unexpected results, the most notable being Maru coming out of it with a 0-2 record. Losing versus Dark wasn't that unlikely, but dropping a series to Creator was a shock. Overall, it was a great night to be Creator, as his ongoing late-career revival saw him top the group at the halfway mark with a 2-0 record. herO, who seemed like a much more likely Protoss savior than Creator prior to the group, achieved some mixed results, taking a huge upset win against Dark but somehow losing to DongRaeGu as well.
It seems like Group B is headed to a tense and entertaining finale on Day 2: Three players are tied at 1-1, Creator still has to survive two very difficult matches against herO and Dark, and Maru might 'just play like Maru' to climb out of his 0-2 hole.
Group B - Day 2 Preview: Dark, Maru, herO, DongRaeGu, CreatorStart time: Thursday, Apr 21 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
Both players are in a very difficult spot in the group: Maru must win every match if he wants to advance to the playoffs, and DongRaeGu is playing against a Maru who must win every match if he wants to advance to the playoffs. Technically, DRG can 'afford' to lose this match and still advance, but the only thing that awaits him after would be an equally difficult match against Dark.
Aligulac sees Maru as the strong favorite with a 77.4% chance to win—not surprising considering his #1 position in the Aligulac.com TvZ rankings. Funny enough, though both players are reputed to have great TvZ, they've both been mired at around a 50% win-rate in recent weeks. Through IEM Katowice and Code S so far, Maru only managed to beat Armani and Scarlett (both 2-0), while losing to Dark (1-2), Reynor (1-2), and Serral (1-3). Granted, the Zergs he lost to are the top three ZvT players in the world, but one has to wonder if his TvZ has slightly declined and his Aligulac.com rating just hasn't quite caught up yet. On the other hand, DongRaeGu has played a lot more ZvT series but still has a medicare win-rate at around 53% win rate in the last two months. He's been trading games pretty evenly with Terrans just below Clem and Maru—the likes of TIME, ByuN, Cure, GuMiho, and Spirit.
DRG's Group B record might be better right now, but I can’t really predict him to win when Maru still looked strong in defeat versus Dark. If so many other Terrans are going 50/50 against DongRaeGu in smaller online events, surely Maru can win in a do or die situation?
Prediction: Maru 2 - 0 DongRaeGu
the joy of victory be the cause as he seized the top spot in Group B with a 2-0 record. But even though Creator was elated to defeat DRG, he suppressed his celebration after defeating Maru with a poker face reminiscent of the not-impressed Flash memes—probably a professional courtesy to his long-time former teammate. As for herO, he arrived at a predictable 1-1 record through an unpredictable path: he managed to beat Dark who is considered one of the top ZvP players in the world, but could not beat DRG who has admitted to having a ZvP problem in many GSL interviews.
While Creator is on a roll in the GSL, this does seem like an uphill battle. herO has recently climbed to #1 in the Aligulac.com Protoss standings due to some incredible online performances, and his #2 ranked PvP is only a few dozen points behind #1 ranked MaxPax. On the other hand, Aligulac judges Creator to be a Protoss with very unbalanced strengths: he's the #7 ranked Protoss, but his PvP trails behind at #10 compared to his #5 ranked PvZ and #6 ranked PvT. Overall, the 400 point rating difference projects herO to have a major advantage with a 76.92% chance of winning.
The overall head-to-head record should also be taken into account, and herO is pretty dominant here as well with a 45W–18L (71.43% win rate) map record and 23W-4L (85% win rate!!) match record. herO actually won 15 matches in a row versus Creator at one point in the past, though this was prior to herO's military service and during the period where Creator was a fringe Code S player at best. Things got a little bit better for Creator since herO's return from the military and his own major improvement: he's only 3L-7L in matches and 12L-16L in maps since 2021.
One could argue this should be an easy prediction with something like 2-0 or 2-1 for herO, but is it really so easy to pick the favorite after the events of Day 1? After all, Maru had similar 73:37 odds against Creator and ended up losing, so it is not that far-fetched to imagine a similar upset happening in a volatile PvP match. Also, Creator seems to be getting a lot better at handling pressure and dealing with his self-admitted tendency to throw in big moments.
I would not be shocked to see the Team NV Protoss keep his momentum going and win this match, but I still think herO is the clear favorite. Depending on Maru vs DRG, his only hope for qualifying would be to beat either Creator or Maru. He will definitely come prepared and he is looking scaringly good in online cups without much stake nor preparation, so this bodes very well for him. As much as I would gladly board the hype train of Creator, I have to respect herO’s scary form and predict him as the winner.
Prediction: herO 2 - 0 Creator
76.90% (compared to herO's 76.92%). Historic head-to-head favors Dark heavily as well, as he's beaten DRG 12 times and only lost 3 matches (the last loss coming in in 2020) for a combined map record of 27W–8L (77.14% win-rate).
But if you doubt DongRaeGu's chances of pulling off such a massive ZvZ upset in a major tournament, you should keep this in mind: he's already done it. Against an even BETTER opponent. TWICE. At DHM: Last Chance, he defeated Serral in two straight group stage matches to eliminate the arguable best ZvZ player in the world to advance to the playoffs. None of DRG's subsequent ZvZ results suggest that this is a 'normal' outcome for him—he lost twice to both Rogue and Dark in the following months—but it was proof that he can beat any Zerg if he gets the jump on them in the build order wars.
The match-up is not as volatile as it once was. but we have seen upsets of this magnitude happen many times, especially in BO3. Will DRG be able to summon the same magic that allowed him to beat Serral just a few months ago? Given my prediction of Maru beating DRG, how will it affect his performance versus Dark if that’s the case? I don’t see DRG as particularly fragile mentally, but even if he keeps his cool, Dark is still the heavy favorite and the only credible threat to him among Korean Zerg players would be Rogue or Solar (or perhaps the returned soO). With that in mind, I will go with the 70%+ favorite for the third straight match.
Prediction: Dark 2 - 0 DongRaeGu
51:49 odds in favor of Maru , which should make for a pretty close and exciting match, right? RIGHT? Given how the Starcraft gods like to mess with us, I would not be surprised at all to see some upsets where we expect them the least, and an incredibly one-sided match in Maru vs herO when we're all excited for a close and entertaining battle.
In any case, it is hard to predict who should come out ahead. Depending on how the earlier matches go, Maru might already be eliminated and be preserving his strategies for a meaningful match in the future. Or, both players could come in with victories as expected, and still have all the pressure on them to win and secure the highest seeding possible (AfreecaTV has structured it so #1, #2, and #3 all have meaningful differences in playoff seeding).
Maru is currently the #1 TvP player in the world on Aligulac, but it is quite close between him, Clem, HeroMarine and Cure, who all sit around a 3100 rating in that match-up. On the other side of the ring, we have herO as the clear #1 PvT player, around 100 points ahead of #2 Zest. He plays in a lot of online cups and recently won two KR cups in a row, which explains the particularly high sample size of his recent PvT form. Indeed, herO has a 60W–31L (65.93% win rate) map record the last two months, and he dominates the likes of Cure and ByuN who are also strong TvP players participating in a lot of online tournaments.
Maru is the opposite of herO in that he barely plays online cups, which makes his sample size for recent matches very small. When herO played nearly 100 PvT maps in the last two months Maru played less than 10—his record is also quite poor at 3W-6L. He played so few TvP series in 2022 that it is quite easy to summarize his results: he notably beat Classic thrice as well as herO once, but lost to Zoun twice (albeit one loss was at Katowice pretty late in the evening and was very close) and Creator, ShoWTimE and Zest once.
As much as Maru is strong in the match-up on paper, the head-to-head record is pretty close with Maru ahead by 5 maps (31W-26L). Also, momentum is completely on herO’s side as one of the fastest rising players in the scene with a special knack for PvT, whereas Maru is dropping TvP series left and right. Maru is usually the last Terran hope, but I fear this ray of light will fade away after this match.
Prediction: herO 2 - 1 Maru
68% chance to beat Creator in a BO3—it's not the most lop-sided prediction of the night, but it's definitely a healthy advantage being given to Dark. However, I think the real story of the match-up is in another statistic: the head-to-head record. Creator is 2W-18L (10% win rate) in matches against Dark, and has lost their last 16 encounters dating back to 2017. In the preview for Creator vs herO I was tempted to make the joke that 'nobody wins against Creator 15 times in a row and gets away with it,' but clearly Dark has skated after committing even greater anti-Creator crimes. Their map record is slightly less brutal at 15W-44L for Creator (25.42% win rate), but it is still looking terribly bad for the Protoss. It makes me think that Creator would pop off through the roof if he were to beat Dark and bring him to justice.
Maybe this match will feature a legendary upset since that would be the most unexpected among spectators, but I don’t see any reason to predict Creator to win. The only scenario I can see is if my predictions for the other matches are correct, and Creator is already qualified for the playoffs no matter what (DRG and Maru would be eliminated in this case). Then, Creator might be able to play with less pressure, and that peace of mind might help him pull off another huge upset.
The PvZ match-up is still being figured out after the patch, but it seems like Protoss are having more success than the initial few weeks where they were preaching doom and gloom. At least the goal of increasing build variety seems to have been achieved, and Creator might be able to end his long losing streak with a couple of well-prepared strategies. I will not bet on it though, and will go with the safe prediction of Dark winning their encounter.
Prediction: Dark 2 - 1 Creator
Final standings if all predictions hold
- herO: 3 - 1 (7-4) and head-to-head advantage over Dark
- Dark: 3 - 1 (7-4)
- Creator: 2 - 2 (5-6)
- Maru: 1 - 3 (5-6)
- DRG: 1 - 3 (3-7)