Code S: Ro32 Group H Recap
Results from Live Report Thread by NuclearJudas.
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The summer months were chaotic. While there are tournaments all around the world, we usually have a good handle on a consensus best in the world player. After the learning stages players went through in the open seasons of 2010, Mvp took his place as the best player in early 2011, stomping through GSL January and then taking the World Championship. MC, during GSL March, when Protoss was at its absolute peak, destroyed everyone and was the undisputed best. Nestea took two titles in May and July of 2011, going undefeated in the latter and making no doubt he was king of the world. Heading into the end of the year, MMA, after already helping his team to two GSTL titles, finally broke through with a GSL October championship and then followed it up with a big title win at Blizzard Cup, ending the year as the best.
At the beginning of 2012, the GSL has become a lot more about parity, and less about domination by a handful of untouchables. DRG did have his time in the sun briefly during the first half of the year, winning a GSL, a MLG, but was consistently challenged by MarineKing for that title. Beginning in the summer, both MKP and DRG fell off, looking too inconsistent to call the very best. During the past few months, it's almost been like we've been trying to hurriedly force the crown onto someone's head.
Mvp won GSL and an IEM, but we credited that more to his experience than his dominating play style of the past. In the season he won the title, he was expected to lose at every road block, but got through with all-ins, cheeses and tricky strategies that gave him his fourth title. Taeja was seemingly ready to take the title with his big foreign tournament victories, but stumbled again and again when it came to the GSL. Rain looked like he could be the next big thing, but couldn't achieve the OSL/GSL double crown.
Finally, we found the next successor in the line. At fifteen-years-old, Life has beaten the best GSL player of all-time in Mvp, stopping him from his G5L trophy, and was able to hold his nerve down 3-2 in the finals to come back and win in a seventh game. He followed that up with his an encore performance at MLG, beating the best MLG player of all-time in Leenock, stopping him from winning his third MLG trophy, and was able to hold his nerves, down 3-1 in the finals to come back and win in a seventh game. He did this in style, only dropping a single series in both tournaments, but rectified that by coming back against the guy who beat him, Flash, and smacking him down for four straight games to move on.
Coming into this season as the champion, being put into a group he was expected to dominate, there were three ways he could go:
A) Not advance, get called the next jjakji, and thrown into the overrated pile with other players who came, saw, and then disappointed.
B) Advance, but not in style. Good enough to get to the Ro16, but not good enough that would stop people from wondering if he is the real deal.
C) He destroys everyone.
Looking at the four other champions who came in to defend their titles through the four seasons this year, let's look how they fared.
Season 1: jjakji advanced in the ugliest way possible. In one of the easier groups with Sen, Ganzi, and Boxer, jjakji got through with two victories over the foreigner Sen and soon to be retiree Boxer. jjakji didn't even destroy Boxer, but had to have the legend throw away a huge lead in the deciding game to let the champion advance. He would go on to lose in the Ro16, getting beaten by Parting twice. Title Defense Rating: 1/5
Season 2: DRG won the first season, but had a terrible defense in the second. He picked TheStC as his opponent in the first round, but dropped the series in a big upset. He lost to Taeja in the next match, sending him out with an 0-2 record and officially losing his title as the best in the world. A sad day indeed. Title Defense Rating: 0/5
Season 3: Mvp came in as the broken champion and it showed in this season. He scraped by in second place in his Code S group, beating the part-time player Line and his teammate Happy to get by after a 0-2 loss to Genius. In the Ro16, he got rolled, losing to Taeja and then to Violet, getting eliminated from the tournament. Title Defense Rating: 1/5
Season 4: Seed had by far the best defense of his GSL title this year. He topped his tough Ro32 group, beating Line and Parting. Going into the Ro16, he didn't advance onto the quarter-finals, but it was in the closest way possible. Losing 2-1 to eventual champion Life and arch rival Symbol, Seed got eliminated, but looked like a star in comparison to the rest of his champion's defenses. Title Defense Rating: 3/5
None of them got out of the first round with the feeling that no one could stop them. Even Seed, the only champion to advance first in his Ro32 group, went 4-2. Life started the night by being given an actual real-life sword for his royal road accomplishment, setting him up for a gigantic fail if he couldn't come through in the first round. In a group that he was expected to dominate, being given a special trophy for his GSL title victory, it was a trap group that could have taken him off his game.
Life entered the booth, killed Baby, went on to win the next match against Ryung, winning two straight games that a lot of Zergs would have lost. Going for 10 pool in both games against Ryung, he fended off a double proxy rax in the first game, and then make a come back on the second map when he fell behind economically when his early ling attack did absolutely nothing. All in all, all four victories were done in a style that makes you think, 'Who the hell can beat this kid?'
Together his all-time GSL and MLG records, he is now 55-21, a 72% win rate against the best players in the world. The only real question remaining is how he would deal with a top Protoss. He did have his 2-1 victory against champion Seed last season, but that was the only time we've seen the current Life against a S-level Protoss. He lost to Creator (another Ro16 contestant) in the finals of TSL4, but that was online and right before Life broke out into a unstoppable force. With Parting and Creator as the only Protoss in the Ro16, his ZvP might not be tested at all this tournament.
Putting this all into prospective, Life cannot attend the group nominations tonight because he has to go to school. The best player in the world, champion of the biggest tournament in Korea and North America, winner of $75,000 in a month, and the proud owner of a sword, can't come to nominations because he's in middle school.
Just another day in the life of the sword swinging, bane busting, ling dancing middle schooler who no one wants to be picked against while he's busy doing trigonometry problems (the cosine of infestors is brood lords is infestors).
Don't You Forget About Me
No, I won't forget about your advancement, Ryung. Not even being able to use his top end TvT, Ryung was able to advance from the group with two TvP victories over Vampire. While Vampire might go down as the worst Code S player of the season along with group mate Baby, this is still a big victory for the new Axiom player. His TvP has always been his weak point, and he was able to help that notion a bit by taking two wins over the MVP Protoss.
He lost to Life in the winner's match, in a position to win both games, but not being able to take down the GSL champion. He didn't get embarrassed like Baby did, but the word 'outclassed' could come up in a conversation if you talk about the games. Ryung is a Terran player who can give the best Zergs in the world a run for their money, but he won't be a favorite if he's thrown into a group with players like Life, DRG, Leenock and the rest of the eight Zerg in the final Ro16. After the match, Ryung admitted he didn't even bother to practice to beat Life, assuming he would lose.
Ryung's way to the Ro8 must come through getting a group with at least one other Terran. His TvP, while decent against Vampire, will more than likely not be able to match up against Creator and Parting, two of the scariest PvT'ers in the world. Ryung needs to get into a group with one of the five other Terran in the Ro16 since even while all four are very good, Ryung can beat all five of them 2-0 in TvT if he's on his game. After that, he needs to hope he can steal a series win versus a Protoss/Zerg and get out of the group if he doesn't get blessed by the gods with another TvT match-up.
With his move to Slayers, he is now the top dog on the team. Crank is very good, but he does not have success or consistency that Ryung has shown over the past two years. Now on a foreign team, Ryung will get more chances to go to foreign tournaments and even grab his first title in SC2. Ryung has a fun, engaging personality, and his TvT is beautiful to watch, so expect him to become one of the more popular Korean players abroad in 2013.
That is if MMA doesn't join Axiom. If that happens, then he becomes the Forgotten Son of Biscuit and Genna, instead of Boxer and Jessica.
So Now What?
Vampire: He didn't get last place, so he wins! Really, he came in as the 32nd ranked player in the minds of many in this Code S season, and he didn't even come last in his group! Vampire is slowly improving through the seasons. He failed at the Up/Down last seasons, showing some potential. Then he got 3rd in his Code S group this season, slowly moving closer to the Ro16. He might go down as the 31st best player of the season, but he's not last! He's not last!
Baby: That was really bad. The player with the best record in the MvP online tournament, he played terribly in his first season of Code S. He might have picked up a victory against Vampire, but going 1-4 in the easiest group doesn't bring a lot of hope to the elephants who only got two of their seven players into the Ro16. Hopefully he can show better play in this season's Code A, or he could be right out of the GSL like teammate Jaedong last season.