2023 GSL Code S Season 1
RO16 Group C Preview: Dark, SpeCial, Creator, GuMihoStart time: Tuesday, Jul 11 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
The underdogs have shown out so far in the GSL, with military returnee TY making it out of Group A while NightMare gave herO a serious scare in Group B. That's why even Dark, who typically dispatches weaker players with ease, might be wary against this collection of foes who come wielding a deep bag of tricks.
Dark’s offline results are especially disappointing considering he's continued to be a strong online player with a 76% match win-rate in 2023. For players who have the nerves-factor figured out, online form is often a good proxy for offline form (just recently we've Classic's improvement predicted by his strong online cup showings). So, you have to wonder if there's actually something wrong with Dark, or if he's about due for a big performance.
Despite Dark’s recent struggles and GuMiho looking much more dangerous after ESL Summer, Dark still has to be the group favorite on paper. His career achievements dwarf those of his group mates, and he has a history of pulling championships from out of nowhere after mediocre stretches. He won’t need to play at his best to reach the Round of 8, but he will need to turn things around in the later portion of Code S if he’s going to make up for his poor Season 1.
Ultimately, Aligulac is even crueler to SpeCial than I could ever be. The site gives him a 8.8% chance of beating Dark in the opening match and a 8.1% chance of escaping the group. If the upset bug carries over to Group C, then perhaps SpeCial could send someone to a surprise 4th place finish like NightMare did to RagnaroK in Group B. But, it’s far more likely he’ll struggle to win a game—let alone a match.
To temper the GuMiho optimism just a little, it's hardly a given that he'll play to 100% of his abilities. Tournament-to-tournament consistency has never been GuMiho's strong suit (even in his Code S-winning prime), and he followed his fantastic ESL Summer with a group stage elimination dud at HomeStory Cup 23 (losses to Clem and Elazer). For the sake of seeing more classic GuMiho chaos, fans should hope it's the ESL version of GuMiho that shows up.
Code S Season 1 of 2022, it feels like he's been everywhere on the skill spectrum in StarCraft II. We've seen him have stinkers like getting eliminated in the supposedly easy group stages of HomeStory Cup, and we've also seen him give Dark a run for his money in the playoffs of the IEM World Championship.
Through all of Creator's swings in form, it does seem like he's steadily been regressing to some kind of 'middle.' After that incredible summer of '22—where he took two maps off of Rogue in the Code S finals and made top four at DH: Valencia—he hasn't reached the semifinals in a single major tournament.
As Creator looks to get back on track, he should thank his lucky stars that he probably won't need to beat Dark to reach the RO8 (Dark is 8-1 against Creator in offline matches). Fending off GuMiho and SpeCial's weird builds won't be easy either, but Dark just seems to have Creator's number in these important matches. Having to pick between Creator and GuMiho to advance, it will ultimately come down to whoever is in better form on the day. Neither player is particularly consistent, but GuMiho gets the nod as he's had the best major tournament result in the last few months.
PredictionsDark 2 - 0 SpeCial
GuMiho 2 - 1 Creator
GuMiho 2 - 1 Dark
Creator 2 - 0 Special
Dark 2 - 1 Creator
Dark and GuMiho to advance