WCS Korea Season 1 - GSL
Code S Ro16: Group A
Preview: RorO, Flying, YoDa, Soulkey
Brackets and standings on Liquipedia
Ro16 Group A Preview
Caught up in last week's madness, it was easy to forget that the reigning champion, RorO, hadn't even played yet. Here's food for thought: the reigning GSL champion hasn't reached the Ro8 in the following season since November of 2011, where MMA reached the Ro8. Since then, the winners have all been cursed to be eliminated before the knock-out rounds. Can RorO buck the trend tonight, or will he suffer the same fate as his predecessors?
art by: petad
Flying is backed by the strongest KeSPA team in the world currently, the juggernaut known as Woongjin Stars. His teammate sOs has already punched his ticket to the round of eight, not dropping a single game in the second group stage and showing why he is the Ace Protoss of the best team in Proleague.
Flying was humble in the group ceremonies, admitting he was a rung below his more famous teammates sOs and Soulkey, but he's a formidable player as well. He began the transition to SC2 as Stars' star Protoss, getting far in the first OSL season and even making the quarterfinals before losing to MC. He slumped for a period after, even finding it hard to find regular playing time for Woongjin, but he has found his resolve and has been doing much better as of late. He climbed back as the #2 Protoss on Woongjin, and a staple of their main line-up.
Still, looking at the group, it's hard to really place him anywhere but last. 6-6 so far in HotS, his best match-up has been against Zerg, but that might not mean much at all when you realize he's facing two of the best Zergs in the world in teammate Soulkey and reigning GSL champion Roro. An advancement out of the group for Flying would solidify the Stars' Protoss duo as the strongest in the world, even bypassing SKT's Parting/Rain and LG-IM's Squirtle/MC combos, but it's a long shot with how inconsistent Flying has been so far in his SC2 career.
Ever since becoming the 2013 IEM World Champion, Yoda's stock has been on a rapid rise. With Mvp and Nestea saying "peace out" to the GSL and moving to the two easier regions to make even more stacks of cash, Yoda has become the de-facto ace of LG-IM, and their best chance at winning a GSL title alongside Squirtle in the foreseeable future. As if Mvp had been having visions of the future, the King of Wings had already been hyping up Yoda in the later stages of Wings of Liberty, telling interviewers that Yoda was the true best player of LG-IM, beating everyone in the team house. Yoda didn't necessarily live up to the immense hype in WoL, getting far a few times in Code S, but never breaking the group stages.
Now, with a foreign title under his belt and the title of ace hanging above him, Yoda can live up to the words of Mvp if he can advance to his first Code S quarterfinals. To get out of the group he'll need to keep up his strong performances against Zerg, a match-up where he holds a 5 - 1 record in HotS, only dropping a map to Sniper in a recent GSTL match against MVP. Soulkey and Roro aren't just any Zergs, so it's hard to take past records into account when Yoda has never faced either player before, but Yoda shouldn't be a pushover for even the two top KeSPA Zergs.
One of the two aces on the strongest team in Proleague, Soulkey hopes to join his other half sOs in the quarterfinals. Heralded as the best player in KeSPA when the transition first began, with rumors of him hitting Grandmaster before any of his peers, Soulkey has been talked about as a future GSL champion for almost a year now. He's been able to get to the quarterfinals twice, but due to lackluster play in Bo5 and playing up not to his full potential, Soulkey hasn't been able to make a semifinal or beyond yet.
He's acclimated well to HotS, having a 14-6 record and continuing to lead Woongjin atop of the Proleague standings. His play in the Ro32 was solid, dropping a series to Flash, but being able to take down Prime's prodigy, Maru, in two straight series to get into the second group stage for the third straight season. His play against mech was inspiring, stopping Maru in his double armory boots and eliminating Prime from Code S for good. Yoda should be a step up from Maru, and Soulkey also has to play against his teammate Flying, but the real test could come if he has to face defending champion Roro. 18-8 overall in ZvZ so far in SC2, a match against Roro's 32-16 record in ZvZ would be a clash of the current two best muta vs. muta fighters in the world.
For being a GSL champion, Roro doesn't get a lot of respect. He had a dominating championship season in the final WoL Code S, not having the luck of jjakji or the rushed schedule Sniper had to make the community call them flukes. There might have been talk of him simply being good because Zerg was overpowered by the end of WoL, but Roro has continued being a beast in HotS, going 11-3 so far in the new game and being the sole reason why Samsung Khan is still in the playoff chase in Proleague.
While everyone talked about how Group B was the gathering place of the greatest Starcraft players in the world, Roro continues to just roll along in his games, beating everyone he faces and feeling secure in actually having a GSL championship while Parting, Flash and Innovation are still vying for their first. It's hard to call a GSL champion underrated, but Roro surely is. He might have been an extremely inconsistent player in Brood War, only popping up once and a while to piss people off by taking down more popular players than him, but times have changed and SC2 is an entirely new game. Roro is one of the best players in the world and his championship in the final Wings season was no more of a fluke than Mvp winning any of his four championships. The hype of Group B might have clouded the minds of some, but Roro will go out tonight and try to make people remember why he's the champion and will continue to be until someone can take the crown from him.