The first three groups of GSL Code S were packed with upsets as former champions were eliminated left and right.
Group A: herO and DongRaeGu advance - VOD
Rogue was the most glaring among the fallen, as his title defense ended early with losses to herO and DongRaeGu in Group A.
Against herO, Rogue essentially got out-Zerged by his opponent's mass Gateway style, unable to overcome waves of Zealot-Stalker forces. As for his match against DRG, Rogue's first loss came due to some uncharacteristic errors as he allowed Baneling runbys to kill far too many of his Drones. However, the second win was more to DRG's credit, as he simply played a great all-around game and beat Rogue in the Muta wars. This is now the third time Rogue has been eliminated from the first round of Code S shortly after winning a major championship (the first time came after BlizzCon 2017 and the second time was after IEM Katowice 2020).
In the end, it was herO who advanced in first place, alongside DongRaeGu who earned his just reward of second place by upsetting the reigning champion. GuMiho, despite taking maps off both DRG and Rogue with strong macro play, was eliminated in last place from the group.
Group B: Bunny and soO advance - VOD
Group B saw a former champion fall out as well in the form of Zest, though given his inconsistent form as of late, it may not have been the biggest upset. ByuN was another favorite to advance on paper, but he was also unable to advance despite his wrist condition seeming to be stable on the day.
Instead, it was Bunny who advanced in first place, beating ByuN and soO in convincing fashion. The Team NV Terran has been on a roll in 2022 (notably placing top eight at IEM Katowice), and it was unfortunate to see him get eliminated in the RO20 of the last Code S after suffering an untimely wrist break/fracture a few weeks before his group. Bunny has been excellent in WTL's team competition in recent weeks, and with this Code S victory, he seems to be officially picking up where he left off in individual tournaments as well.
There was also a pleasant surprise in the form of soO, who managed to advance to the RO10 in his first Code S appearance since returning from the military. In his wins against Zest and ByuN, soO was able to demonstrate some of the overwhelming, swarming Lair-stage macro that made him such a dangerous player in his prime. There was also a reminder of his one major weakness, as he dropped a map to Zest when he was forced into a high-tech, late-game standoff.
Group C: Zoun and Dark advance - VOD
Group C was the one that went relatively as expected, with Zoun and Dark advancing over Armani and Ryung. However, even here there was a minor surprise in the rankings: Zoun managed to beat Dark in the winners match, advancing in first place from the group.
Dark took game one on Hardwire with one of his signature Nydus all-ins, but Zoun rallied to tie things on 2000 Atmospheres with a masterful late-game performance. Dark might be known as one of the best late-game players amongst Zergs, but he couldn't outtrade an exceedingly patient and efficient Zoun in the end. Zoun then closed out the 2-1 victory on Berlingrad, holding off an early game Ling-Ravager strike from Dark and counterattacking to force the GG.
While there's no real seeding advantage as players advance to the RO10, it will be a nice confidence boost for Zoun who once again showed his knack for beating Dark in important matches.
Unfortunately for Ryung, having to play his weak match-up of TvZ proved to be too big of a hurdle to overcome, and he went out in last place with losses to Dark and Armani. As for Armani, he put up a very respectable 4-5 map record despite being eliminated in third place, even managing to take a map off Dark in a straight-up macro game.