Code S: Ro32 Group G Recap
Results from Live Report Thread by TheBB.
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Leenock vs. BoguS
Leenock <Cloud Kingdom> BoguS
Leenock <Entombed Valley> BoguS
Leenock wins 2-0!
Keen vs. Squirtle
KeeN <Abyssal City> Squirtle
KeeN <Daybreak> Squirtle
Keen wins 2-0!
Leenock <Daybreak> KeeN
Leenock <Whirlwind> KeeN
Leenock <Entombed Valley> KeeN
Leenock wins 2-1!
BoguS <Daybreak> Squirtle
BoguS <Cloud Kingdom> Squirtle
Bogus wins 2-1!
KeeN <Entombed Valley> BoguS
Bogus wins 2-0!
Leenock and Bogus advance to Code S RO16!
The Zerg Also Rises
- FXOLeenock advances in first place, putting seven Zergs in the Ro16.
Another group played, another Zerg advances. In terms of narratives, one has to feel that RorO let down more than just himself in forgetting about ultralisks in his final game against Hack in last week's games. As it stands, four out of seven groups have been won by Zerg and seven out of eight Zerg have advanced to the round of sixteen. On the opposite of the spectrum, Protoss is making the Sad Zealot Fan Club have a resurgence, with ST_Squirtle going out in another disappointing performance on behalf of the chosen of Aiur. In the middle of it all, the two Terran fought it out for the remaining spot.
‘Round of sixteen is a good place’, Leenock said. ‘There is a lot of Zerg’, his brethren replied.
FXOLeenock came into the group as a solid favorite to advance. His ZvT in general would have to be rated as a solid tier above the ones of Innovation and Keen, while Squirtle suffered from the large power shift between Zerg and Protoss. Gone are the days where you expect to see Leenock sometimes simply lose to Terran cheese and PvZ all-ins. He might have suffered a tough loss to Taeja last season, but his general consistency as evidenced by team league performances and hectic MLG tournaments is a real strength. Group play in Code S occupies a strange middle ground between careful preparation and rewarding consistency; Leenock has proven adept at both formats and the group play gave another indication of his prowess on both fronts.
His play against both Innovation and Keen was a tour de force of showing Zerg diversity and creativity. Against Innovation he was utterly dominant; it scarcely looked like the STX Soul player had any real chance of winning. The Cloud Kingdom game was a rare treat even from Leenock, a player known for his unorthodox builds. With early investment in lings, banelings and roaches, he attacked bringing queens with him to break the banshee defense of the Terran. It functioned as a delayed attack usually performed as an all-in, but with a third base he could saturate and with the time to bring queens, it ended up almost completely breaking the opponent. From an advantageous position, Leenock was able to finally get his drone count up and win with standard play.
In the games against Keen, Leenock relied on spire play throughout. While he lost the first game on Daybreak opting for the road less travelled in the midgame with mutalisk play, the two following games showcased once more his aggressive nature. With a two base heavy mutalisk opening on Whirlwind, he was able to cripple Keen utterly, punishing the game one victor’s lack of mobility and the lack of defense for a muta cloud that Leenock cleverly obfuscated through the early midgame. The last game was again decided early on, as Keen was helpless to repel a flood of roaches and banes.
Fascinatingly, Leenock used five very different builds in his five games against Terran this group. He was victorious in four, all of them featuring heavy deviations from the standard TvZ metagame. Meanwhile, he lost the only game where he looked to be playing standard, though one wonders just how standard midgame spire play really can be called at this point. However, we know that he is no slouch in a standard game either, so simply being able to execute such a wide variety of tactics must be a headache for any opponent coming up. Leenock has yet to taste ultimate victory in GSL, but between his excellent ZvZ and what is becoming a formidable list of strategies at his disposal, he must remain a heavy favorite to make it to the playoffs once again.
The road to Code A is paved with untried cheese.
- Losing his first match, STX_Innovation rallies to be the second KeSPA player to make round of sixteen.
I think almost every preview and recap done of STX_Innovation (aka Bogus) may have included phrases such as ‘it is still difficult to tell how good he is’ or ‘he knows how to all-in at the exact right time’. As much as we strive to learn, to figure out players and to map out tendencies and strengths through watching, the STX player still remains a bit of a mystery. In Group G, he did what could be reasonably expected of him. He lost convincingly to Leenock first, but the games did not give us much indication of his standard play and holding the unorthodox attacks of the Zerg player was a lot to ask. However, he dispatched of both Squirtle and Keen without being pressed too hard.
Against Squirtle, he did exactly what should have been obvious to anyone really following Innovation. On Daybreak, he proxied two barracks between the natural and third of his opponent and executed the all-in with brutal efficiency. The following game was a more standard two base push, with medivacs and stim that caught Squirtle in the difficult two base transition up to charge and storm. With the Protoss player’s defense looking subpar, Innovation had no problems securing a match with KeeN to decide who would move on.
Against the MVP Terran, he again looked like simply the better player. Game one on Entombed Valley was quite messy, with Innovation’s first tank push into Keen’s natural initially looking promising, but failed to do significant damage. In the midgame, the two seemed to fall into a pattern of trading who exactly had the advantage until Keen half heartedly went for a counterattack upon seeing his opponent move out. With only marines, he was not able to do much damage; Innovation sniped the tanks in the middle of the map before cleaning up the bio in his natural and gained a significant army advantage. In the final game of the day, Bel’Shir Vestige proved to be Keen’s undoing, as Innovation simply pushed in with far superior numbers in the early midgame. Once again, the KeSPA Terran failed to look great, but he did once more confirm his aptitude for knowing exactly when to push and punish unwary opponents.
All in all, Innovation strengthened the beliefs we already held about him; willing to cheese, good timings and a fairly solid player overall. But the questions we have remain unanswered; perhaps it is his play style that makes one wonder exactly how good he truly is. One way or another, he remains an underdog to advance past the round of sixteen, and it would be surprising to not see a Zerg snap him up greedily during group selections.
'You are not a bad player. You are only a case of arrested development.'
I had expected MVP.KeeN to either look good and not advance, or look horrible and somehow make it through. What I had not expected was what we saw, a player clearly outclassing Squirtle in all areas of TvP then taking the first game off Leenock in the winner’s final with defiant macro play. What we expected to see was cheese, hellions and general aggressive play. Keen looked through his first three games a much stronger, solid all-rounder than what we have previously seen. However in Keen’esque fashion, it all came crashing down in the end and he finished the day going 0-4, losing to a variety of early pressure plays and losing his composure completely in the first game against his fellow Terran in the group. Ultimately, there is much to build on for Keen, if he is able to progress and grow into the player he showed us a glimpse of today, then succeeding in a Nada-less Code S environment might be on the cards.
‘You are all a lost generation’
In terms of pure results, Protoss is heading back to the dark ages. After a few seasons of sustained Code S success, the current one has looked like a bit of a disaster. However, no Protoss has exemplified this as evocatively as ST_Squirtle. While a player such as Seed put up a hard fight but was not quite good enough and HerO looked very unlucky to lose out, Squirtle was nowhere near where he could be expected to be. He should have been to his group was Creator was to Group E, losing to the favorite Zerg but dismantling his two Terran opponents. Instead, he never got to play against Leenock and was most disappointing in his usually solid PvT endeavors. Better players than Squirtle have fallen down to Code A before, but the way he did it looked curiously ominous for the Startale player.
Code S Ro32 Group H Preview
Group H: ST_Life, 8th_BaBy, AX.Ryung, MVP.Vampire
Past Meets Present
We have a consensus best-player-in-the-world again, and he's only fifteen years old. ST_Life tore through the Code S Season Four, leaving no stone unturned as he hunted down the best players in the world and ended their tournament lives. And as if he was discontent with just beating NesTea, Symbol, Seed, TaeJa, MKP, and Mvp, he went off to Dallas to add Leenock and Flash to his list of famous victims.
At this point, I'd like to say I 100% support running the engines on the hype train at max-speed and liberally giving out tickets on the bandwagon. Looking back on the early days of Flash, too much time was wasted calling him a cheesy kid, saying he still needed to pass X test, and generally just asking questions instead of being excited for a player who was undoubtedly a prodigy. Life definitely has the potential to become one of the best ever, and we should be excited about it.
In that context, it's an amusing coincidence that Life's first opponent is one of Brood War's cautionary tales against overhyping. 8th_BaBy debuted in the Brood War scene at the incredibly young age of thirteen (he was picked up by a pro-team when he was twelve), and showed an immense amount of raw potential. At that time, Flash was already showing that age meant very little in the world of pro-gaming, and many looked towards Baby to become the next big thing.
Alas, the hype was never fully justified. Baby became an excellent player as many had expected, but just not a championship player. He was a mainstay on the WeMade FOX (and later Team Eight) roster, and was unquestionably their ace at some points. But in the individual leagues, where glory is truly won, he would inevitably fall short.
You have to wonder what Baby was thinking when Life picked him as his first opponent. It being Life, there probably wasn't any deep meaning behind it – he wanted to play ZvT, and Baby seemed like the easiest opponent. But if you were Baby, how could you not feel just the slightest tinge of bitterness, to be picked by a player who has realized all of YOUR dreams?
The two other players in the group aren't connected by a fanciful, historical narrative, but they share a link in being players on the fringe. AX.Ryung and MVP.Vampire are in Code S, but are expected by few to challenge for the title.
Ryung at least has a relatively high profile – his part on SlayerS, MSPaint rivalry with MMA, and the fan-penned second son storylines between him, MMA, and BoxeR made him something of a cult favorite. He's sure to gain more popularity now that he's joined the international team Axiom, who have the support of incorrigible hype-machine TotalBiscuit. Gameplay wise, Ryung's been an attractive player for hipster StarCraft II fans as well, showing some truly brilliant games every now and then. He's a prime candidate for "if only he could be a little bit more consistent" fandom.
Vampire, on the other hand, still suffers from the lack of an identity, despite over a year of activity. He's been in Code A few seasons, made occasional GSTL appearances, and even went to a DreamHack once (if you remember this, kudos to you). Yet, there's been precious little to note about his play – this writer's most memorable moment of Vampire is how he thwarted the world's worst 1/1/1 in last season's Code A. What does Vampire see when he looks himself in the mirror?
Ryung will want to do well in this group and make a good debut for Axiom, but he doesn't exactly need it. He's on a foreign team, getting a salary, and has the opportunity to travel to foreign events and market himself in ways that are non-skill related. For Vampire, this is literally all he has in his career, and this is the make or break moment he has lived for for over a year.
Breakdown and Prediction
Obviously, Life is a ridiculous favorite to make it through. If we had to throw an obligatory bone to Baby, word on the street says he wasn't actually a good pick for Life in Starcrafting terms, as he is being called one of the better KeSPA players, proving it with the best regular season record in the recent MvP tournament. Even GomTV seemed impressed enough with his performance behind closed doors to give him a Code S seed this time around.
That said, all the KeSPA players have struggled so far. They were either knocked out quickly, or just barely slipped by with games that made you question their ability to succeed in the later stages. With a tough first opponent in Life, and a TvT specialist in Ryung in the group, third place or lower seems like the most realistic bet for Baby.
The non-descript Vampire is the wild card in this group, having made it to Code S without showing any games of distinction. Luckily for him, Ryung is not known for his TvP at all, while Baby has thus far, been all hype and no substance. With Life starting off in the opposite bracket, the door is wide open for Vampire to sneak into Ro16. Beating Ryung and Baby to make it to the Ro16 won't really do much for his renown, but it would be a start.
Life > Baby
Vampire > Ryung
Life > Vampire
Ryung > Baby
Vampire > Ryung
Life and Vampire advance.
Writers: Porcelina and Waxangel.
Graphics and Art: Meko and shiroiusagi.