2022 GSL Code S Season 3 - Round of 20by Ziggy
Writing tournament previews for TL.net comes with the exclusive perk of being asked to predict the unpredictable, and the Group D lineup certainly doesn't make the job any easier. With season 1 runner-up Creator and not-so-recent army returnee soO in the mix, join me on this grand adventure of figuring out what the hell might just happen this coming Thursday.
Group D Preview: Creator, soO, Ryung, RagnaroKStart time: Wednesday, Aug 31 11:30pm GMT (GMT+00:00)
It's only fitting that we kick things off with Creator. The guy has been around for ages, playing in his first GSL tournament back in May of 2011. That career had not borne any significant GSL results until the first Code S of 2022, when he went on an out-of-the-blue, miracle run to the finals. That run could have very well ended with a championship trophy had Creator's opponent been anybody but Rogue, but, alas—a 2-4 loss yielded a still more than commendable second place finish.
Creator followed that up with a RO4 finish at DreamHack: Valencia, where he was eliminated by his former teammate (PRIME, Jin Air, NV) Maru by a 1-3 score. While some expected this late-career run to continue, Creator flopped out in the RO10 of Code S Season 2. Of course, a RO10 run is nothing to be ashamed of—it would have been a huge success for the old Creator. However, he's managed to completely recalibrate expectations in a matter of months, to such an extent that many fans were left feeling robbed of another great run. A fantastic, playoffs MVP-worthy performance in the WTL suggests that Creator is getting back on track, and now we'll have to wait and see if this season proves to be yet another one he can look back on with pride.
Second in line for review is perennial GSL second-place finisher soO who's recently come back from his military service. Now playing for the Kwangdong Freecs, soO made it clear he means business once again as he not only qualified for Season 2 of Code S, but also got as far as the RO10 (finished 4th with a 1-3 record). However, that's feeling like a one-off run, as he wasn't able to replicate that success at either HomeStory Cup 21 or TSL 9.
He's clearly still not the 2019 IEM Katowice champion soO, but, who knows—maybe we're getting there. It's barely been half a year since his return, after all. He seems to be struggling to find purchase in the current metagame, but he's still racking up a decent record in online tournaments. It's a good sign that he has managed to retain his pre-military rating on Aligulac (albeit in a somewhat small data set), and we might be in for a spectacular second half 2022 campaign from him.
Third up is RagnaroK, who's actually the #2 seed in the group. If not for Creator, he might be the player we'd point to as the biggest GSL success story of 2022, reaching the Code S playoffs in both Seasons 1 & 2. For a player that got knocked out of the RO24 twice and RO16 in 2021, that's a result that speaks for itself.
Marrying tricky openers—especially proxy-Hatcheries—with solid macro play has been the key to RagnaroK's success so far. One might think that the shtick would wear thin after a while, but he's managed to wrong-foot his opponents for two seasons running. If he continues to win the mind-games with his opponents, he could very well go three-for-three in playoff appearances on the year.
Finally, there's Ryung, who is another member of Group D who has had quite a nice surge in 2022. While his individual results have fallen off since his incredible IEM Katowice playoffs run, he's still become a Code S regular and very strong player in the WTL.
Ryung is just damn solid in all areas of technical play with solid mechanics for a 31-year-old. However, he suffers from having lop-sided match-up strengths, with his TvZ lagging behind his other two match-ups. I feel Ryung's play is somewhat predictable, and he's stuck working with the same tools without the flexibility needed to succeed in the current meta. With two strong ZvT players in the group, it's hard to substantiate a prediction where Ryung reaches the RO10.
Predictions: Based on recent results, Creator seems to be the favorite while soO is the dark horse in this group. Under those assumptions, that would leave Ryung and RagnaroK battling for second place. Given their contrasting ability in TvZ, it's no surprise that Aligulac sees RagnaroK is a hefty favorite in such a match with almost an 80% projected chance of winning. What could really throw a wrench in the works is RagnaroK taking down Creator in the winners' match. But that surely won't happen, will it?
Creator > soO
Ryung < RagnaroK
Creator > RagnaroK
Ryung > soO
Ryung < RagnaroK
Creator and RagnaroK to advance to the RO10!