2022 GSL Code S Season 3 - Round of 20by Poopi
This season's Group B is one of the most anticipated first round groups in GSL history, with Reynor returning to Code S after a four year gap. Back in 2018, he was a teenage prodigy who showed serious potential during his brief trip to Korea. Now he is a World Championship winner and among the favorites to take the Code S title. However, Code S is one of the most cutthroat competitions in all of StarCraft II, and even greats such as Rogue or Maru have sometimes failed to get past the first round. Will Reynor survive this initial test?
Group B Preview: Bunny, Reynor, Dream, DongRaeGuStart time: Thursday, Aug 25 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
Finally, Reynor has returned to Korea to compete in GSL Code S. While he did compete once before back in Season 3 of 2018, this is his first time competing since he became one of the best players in the world. The sixteen-year-old version of Reynor was able to make it past the first round of Code S, and actually gave Maru a run for his money in the RO16 as well. Considering what Reynor has achieved since then, you have to expect an even better result from him this time around.
Alongside Reynor, the other favorite of the group has to be Bunny. Not only did he reach the top 4 in the previous GSL season, he was also one of the key contributors to Team NV's epic run to second place in the World Team League playoffs. There, he put up a combined 13W-5L map record, scoring big wins against the likes of MaxPax, RagnaroK, Astrea, and SpeCial. Even herO complimented Bunny lately, saying he came into his Code S group after getting beat up by Bunny in practice. While there may not be a Protoss in this group, such comments still indirectly reveal Bunny's great form at the moment.
DongRaeGu is in the awkward position of somehow being an underdog, despite having finished in the top six of consecutive Code S seasons. While his Aligulac rating and results in other tournaments have been mediocre, he's been an undeniably clutch player in Code S. Last season, he beat both GuMiho and Rogue in the RO20, and then beat Maru and RagnaroK in the RO10. With that kind of track record, you have to respect his potential to cause yet more upsets.
Finally, Dream returns to Code S after failing to qualify for Season 2. That's not necessarily an indictment of his skill, as he allegedly had wrist issues that forced him to forfeit his final qualifier match. While he hasn't participated in many smaller online tournaments, he's been humming along nicely in the WTL. In the recently concluded Summer season, he recorded a solid 14W-8L record with some notable 1-1 draws against the likes of Dark and Clem, and straight up 2-0 wins against Creator and RagnaroK.
Match-ups and predictions
Even though Reynor and Bunny are the strongest players on paper, DongRaeGu and Dream are both wild cards in the best-of-three format. The overall Aligulac.com projection for the group sees Reynor as a very heavy favorite with an 87% chance of advancing, while Bunny (50%) and DRG (44%) are tied up closely in the middle. Finally, Dream lags far behind with a predicted 18% chance of advancing.
The initial match seems to favor Reynor to beat Bunny (70% chance on Aligulac), in a repeat of his 3-1 over him at DreamHack Valencia. Historically, top-tier Zergs have been Bunny's biggest weakness, but he's made some huge strides in 2022—namely his combined 3-0 against Rogue and Dark in the WTL regular season. However, in this setting, I don't see Reynor losing unless he's been playing too much Protoss or Bunny has prepared some very nasty strategies on the new-ish maps.
DRG vs Dream is less straightforward to predict, with the gap being closer between the two players (DRG with a 64% chance of winning according to Aligulac). Dream is fairly inactive in online tournaments compared to other players, but he's beaten some strong Zergs in 2022 on the way to accruing a 16W-10L match record, including Armani, soO, RagnaroK, Rogue, Solar, and even a BO1 against Reynor in the Casters' Civil War. Of course, he's lost plenty of matches to similar caliber players as well, and he currently stands at 10th place in the Aligulac.com TvZ rankings.
DRG is an impressive 6th place in the ZvT rankings (though there's a huge ratings dropoff after the top three of Serral-Dark-Reynor), and has a solid 21W-13L match record in 2022. Compared to Dream, I find DRG's ZvT record to be more convincing, with most of his losses coming against top Terrans like ByuN, Maru, and Cure, and it makes sense that his Aligulac rating is 200 points higher. Even though Dream has a shot to upset—never underestimate his ability to coin flip with proxy Barracks—my bet is on DRG to face Reynor in the winner’s match.
That ZvZ could be very interesting. Reynor has been avoiding ZvZ for a few weeks if not months already now, playing Protoss—particularly in the PvZ match-up—in several tournaments. Unfortunately for fans that enjoyed the saga of Reynor beating strong Zergs with his off-race, GSL/AfreecaTV do not allow race-switching during Code S (an old rule that's existed since the beginning), forcing Reynor to play ZvZ.
DongRaeGu's weakest match-up on paper (Aligulac) is ZvZ, but he has a weird knack for beating superior ZvZ players like Rogue and Serral in big events. Add to that the fact that Reynor has been diluting his vs Zerg practice by mixing in PvZ with ZvZ, and you have to wonder how this match will go. Even though Reynor has had a decent amount of time to prepare knowing that he will only be able to play Zerg, being anything less than 100% is always a liability in the GSL.
Another likely match-up that could be interesting is Bunny vs DRG, which I think is going to be the decider match. Bunny is the slight favorite according to Aligulac with 55:45 odds, which means this match is perfectly in reach for any player to win. Since Bunny has been very impressive in both the GSL and WTL, my bet is on him to win this bout.
Overall, though Reynor might be in a new environment, I think he's had enough time to adjust. Also, his baseline level is the highest among all the players, so he should be able to top the group with relative ease. Dream might cause some trouble for the other players, especially given his willingness to cheese, but I still see DRG and Bunny fighting for the last spot. While DRG has made some great GSL Runs this year, I'm ultimately picking Bunny to advance given his impressive rise in skill.
Bunny < Reynor
Dream < DRG
Reynor > DRG
Bunny > Dream
Bunny > DRG
Reynor and Bunny to advance.