2022 GSL Super Tournament 2 - Final Dayby Wax
Start time: Thursday, Dec 08 8:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
The 2022 GSL season comes to a close with four players vying for the Super Tournament II title.
After Maru suffered shock elimination in the quarterfinals, Dark now appears to be the favorite to take the championship. However, Solar, ByuN, and Bunny have shown themselves to be very dangerous in the previous rounds, and they'll be looking to take advantage of this rare chance to win a major offline trophy.
Over the last couple of years, both ByuN and Solar have lingered in that awkward tier just below the
'real' title contenders, getting plenty of lip service from fans and pros (and TL.net writers) but rarely threatening to actually win a championship. Part of that was directly Maru's fault, as he handed both players plenty of losses in major events (some in elimination rounds). But it's also been due to both ByuN and Solar being chronic underperformers in big tournaments, unable to play at the same level as they do in lower-stakes events. If there was ever a chance for one of these players to wash away all the doubt surrounding them, this would be it.
It does seem like ByuN is better poised to seize that opportunity. Aligulac favors him slightly, giving him a 55.40% chance of winning. The two players are almost dead even in career head-to-head matches with Solar leading 60-58, but ByuN has had the upper hand in recent months. The two players have historically taken turns going on long winning streaks against each other, and ByuN recently went on a 10-match winning streak in October and November. While Solar hit back last weekend with two wins of his own, his interview comments suggest he still feels like he's at a disadvantage.
Indeed, the two players traded friendly barbs during their post-match interviews in the Super Tournament, jokingly putting each other down. However, when push came to shove, Solar was the one who took a humble stance, saying ByuN's TvZ was second only to Maru. On the other hand, ByuN stuck with his taunting tone all the way, saying he'd put Solar in his place.
Both players look their best in TvZ when playing standard macro games, but I wonder how many times they'll actually play things straight-up. ByuN is at his best when he's attacking from multiple directions with bio in the mid-game, but he's also fond of mixing in all-ins to keep his opponents on their toes. Meanwhile, Solar falls into the typical defensive Zerg category, looking to react, defend, and win with superior macro. However, he's admitted that he needs to be more unpredictable, and this could be a series where he veers from his usual course.
Ultimately, I'm going to take ByuN to win for reasons outside of actual gameplay. As mentioned above, both players have a history of underperforming in major events, seeming to run into a mental wall in the later rounds. In the case of Solar, he hasn't shown us anything new yet—beating Creator and GuMiho were expected results for him. But for ByuN, I have reason to hope that by finally beating Maru in an important match, he's unlocked a higher level of play for himself in major events.
Prediction: ByuN 3 - 1 Solar
Bunny is coming into the match in the best form of his career, taking down Serral 3-1 in the DreamHack semis, barely losing 3-4 to herO in the DreamHack finals, and getting revenge on herO with a brutal 3-0 in the Super Tournament RO16. Dark is entering on the tail of a hugely impressive championship run in the AfreecaTV Champions Cup, where he defeated ShoWTimE, ByuN, Bunny(!), Clem, and Maru along the way.
Compared to the other semifinal, the post-match interviews from both players were fairly tame. Dark joked about Bunny being a proxy-Barracks abuser in the past, but still gave him his due respect for his recent play. As for Bunny, he didn't divulge much, except for showing an (understandable) preference for playing against Cure.
Dark is unquestionably the better player when you think about career success, but this is close to a 50/50 match if you only consider recent form. Bunny actually played very well against Dark in the recent AfreecaTV Champions Cup, barely losing 2-3 in the quarterfinals (VOD). They split the macro games, split the games where Dark went for a Dark-y early attack, and the series ended up being decided by Dark scouting and defending a proxy-Barracks attempt from Bunny. If Dark was the better player, it was only by a very small margin.
It's no surprise that Dark leads in historical head-to-head record by a hefty 20-5 match score, as he was a championship-caliber player for much longer. However, Aligulac's prediction formula only gives Dark a modest 58:42 advantage, which reflects Bunny's immense improvement lately. Still, I'm a bit wary about what Aligulac has to say about either player, since Bunny and Dark both have that 'big match player' quality that isn't adequately captured by the stats website.
In the end, overall career success swings my prediction in Dark's favor. Bunny has only begun to win high-stakes matches against elite players, while Dark has been doing it for years.
Prediction: Dark 3 - 2 Bunny