The first week of GSL Code S offered a return to the status quo, with former GSL champs advancing with ease while foreigner heroes fell despite their valiant efforts. How will things pan out in week two, as champions and challengers collide once more?
Group C could have been one of the deadliest groups in the RO32—IF all four players were playing at their peak level. Every player in Group C has had tournament success in the past, but they have been found slightly wanting in their 2018 performances so far.
2018 has been equal parts hope and despair for sOs . He made deep runs in Code S Season 1, IEM PyeongChang, and IEM Katowice, offering glimpses of his former world champion form. However, he failed to live up to his reputation as StarCraft II's most clutch player in all his key matches. He crumbled against Scarlett in the IEM PyeongChang finals, and lost 2-3 to teammate Maru in both GSL and IEM Katowice. It was almost a relief when he lost to Classic in the first round of the GSL Super Tournament—at least that way, he couldn't further sully his reputation as a big-match player. While it's disheartening to see the mythos around sOs fade, there's no reason to believe his overall form has declined significantly. Even in defeat, he has given strong performances in close series (his finals against Scarlett being the exception). He may not be the sOs of 2013 or 2015, but he is certainly a favorite to advance from this group.
TRUE had a rocky start to 2018, looking absolutely lifeless as he lost to ShoWTimE in the WCS Leipzig quarterfinals. However, he has subsequently shown the kind of resourcefulness that allowed him to reach BlizzCon two years in a row. First, he broke through the open bracket at IEM Katowice (notably defeating Scarlett) to ultimately place in the top 24. Then, in a surprising-but-not-really-surprisingly feat, TRUE made it through the qualifiers of both GSL Code S and the GSL Super Tournament. TRUE's brief Super Tournament run neatly encapsulated the typical TRUE experience: he barely scrounged out a 3-2 victory against Trust, but then gave Dark a scare in a tight 2-3 loss.
Despite having been absent from the GSL for quite a long time, TRUE still manages to take games off strong players, having bested aLive, ByuN, Zest, Hurricane, TY and even sOs in various online events and qualifiers. However, he has trouble taking that deciding map against top players in offline tournaments, and the combination of Solar and sOs may be too much for him to overcome in this group. TRUE's chances depend on him avoiding Solar in particular, as his ZvZ win rate has been abysmal at just 34.09% over the past few months.
Keen, unfortunately, finds himself in a similar position to that of last season, stuck between a rock and a hard place. Back then it was herO and Maru—this time it's sOs and Solar. Funny enough, Keen actually won his initial series against Maru, only to be cheesed out in the decider match. That's generally how it's been for Keen in LOTV: he's a regular in Code S and can take BO3's off top players, but he seems glued to the RO32 regardless. Other than that RO32 appearance in the last Code S, Keen doesn't have any other notable results this year, having tried but ultimately failing to qualify for any other tournament. Even though he has a decent 55% win rate in TvP it isn’t against enough notable Protoss players, and with only a 40% win rate in TvZ, he’ll most likely fall at the hands of the two strong Zergs present.
Solar also had a slow start to 2018. He was eliminated in the RO32 of the previous GSL Code S, losing to INnoVation and Leenock. However, he wasted little time in finding his groove, making the RO8 of IEM Katowice after a going 5-0 in his group with wins over INnoVation and Dark. He went on to get another solid result in the GSL Super Tournament, eliminating GuMiho before losing in a close 2-3 series to eventual champion Stats. Solar has defeated plenty of top players in the past few months, and his tournament runs have mostly been ended by championship contenders. With such a good showings, it seems inevitable that Solar will correct his mistakes from Season 1 and advance to the RO16.
I believe sOs, despite some rocky results, is still in top notch shape and will probably advance. Solar has also been riding a wave of momentum and will probably also advance. Given their form its even a bit hard to determine who could make it in first place, but I’ll give it to sOs due Solar’s lack of significant wins against top caliber Protoss players.
Group C - Wednesday, Apr 25 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
sOs 2 – 0 TRUE
KeeN 0 – 2 Solar
sOs 2 – 1 Solar
TRUE 2 – 0 KeeN
Solar 2 – 1 TRUE
sOs and Solar to advance.
Much like the previous group, the players of Group D have seen better days. Still, they can't be slept on—after all, who could have predicted Maru's revival in the previous season of GSL? If someone is to catch fire, this group may be the spark.
After having secured a win at HomeStory Cup XVI, fans were eager to see a resurgent Zest take 2018 by storm... ...It hasn't totally worked out. Zest has achieved some solid results (RO8 in Code S and IEM PyeongChang), but they can't mask the lackluster in-game play that make him seem far away from the Zest of old. Of course, he had that disastrous outing at IEM Katowice, where he went 1-4 in his group. Most recently, he lost to herO in the first round of the GSL Super Tournament. The manner in which he lost to herO was rather telling, as Zest tried and failed with multiple cheeses. For a player once known for being invincible in the late game, it pointed to a worrying lack of confidence. While Zest might be relieved to draw the foreigner SortOf as his first opponent, there's no guarantee that he'll make it out of this group.
While he did manage to qualify his way back to the GSL SortOffinds himself in another tough group. Despite Zest’s PvZ being his weakest match-up at the moment, SortOf's ZvP seems even worse at a 38.89% win rate over the last few months. On top of all that, SortOf also has to worry about a second Protoss in the group. His only saving grace is his ZvT, which sits at a respectable 58.82% win rate, although the sample size is extremely small. SortOf has also defeated aLive 3-1 in the SC2Online OSC Master Cup, albeit this was over a month ago. Whatever happens, SortOf will need to defeat at least 1 Protoss to advance, and I don’t see him managing this feat.
Trap has lived up to his past reputation in 2018, being consistent and pretty solid overall. He made the RO16 of the GSL, soundly defeating ByuN and nearly defeating Dark. He followed up with a very good showing at IEM Katowice, making it through the group stage and defeating Dark in a close 3-2 series. Had Trap been a bit more composed, he may have even taken out Serral to earn his first semifinal spot in over a year. Still, RO8 was a great result in such a tightly contested tournament, especially given Trap's lapse into mediocrity in 2017. I dare say Trap has a very good chance to advance from this group as well, his PvZ is his best match-up at a 61.76% win rate and with wins over the likes of Rogue, Solar and Dark.
While he has had some good showings in 2018, aLive overall hasn’t had many opportunities to prove himself. He started off with strong results in GSL, defeating Scarlett and Rogue to advance first to the RO16. While he did ultimately fall in the RO16 he did so after defeating TY soundly. Unfortunately aLive’s efforts to qualify for IEM Katowice were ultimately fruitless and he briefly disappeared until the GSL Season 2 and ST qualifiers. Overall aLive is the most difficult player to predict. His win rate is hovering at just above 50% over the last few months, and he's gone back and forth with respectable opponents.
I think this group could see two Protoss advance. Of them all I actually like Trap’s odds the best but I think he’ll come second due to Zest’s tendency to perform well initially, only to setup a bigger disappointment later.
Group D - Saturday, Apr 28 4:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
Zest 2 – 0 SortOf
Trap 2 – 0 aLive
Zest 2 – 1 Trap
SortOf 0 – 2 aLive
Trap 2 – 1 aLive
Zest and Trap to advance.