Code S Ro16: soO's Vengeance Fiestaby Destructicon
The opening group of the GSL RO16 was lopsided, with reigning champion. The next group promises to be much, much closer, with three out of the four players considered to be the true heavyweights of the scene. While some of the specific 1v1 match-ups might seem predictable on paper, in reality this is a group where anything could happen.
Oh, and soO is facing three players who handed him finals losses.
Group B - soO, Dear, INnoVation, RogueStart time: Saturday, May 26 4:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
Once again, soO just can’t seem to catch a break in the group nominations. Last season, INnoVation spoiled soO's balanced, perfectly-okay group by swapping in aLive at the last moment (soO struggled against Terran then, as he continues to do so now). Somehow, INnoVation managed to ruin soO's day again, although this time by no fault of his own—Maru thrust INnoVation into soO's group as his final move. Despite Maru’s interference, soO still has very solid chance to make it to the quarterfinals, and exact some sweet, sweet revenge along the way.
soO's first target is an old rival in Dear, the player who handed soO his first runner-up finish in 2013. While he's far from his old championship form, Dear has done well to remain a stalwart of the Korean scene. He's made the RO16 in both Code S seasons so far, and went on a not-so-surprising quarterfinal run at IEM Katowice. He regularly faces—though doesn't quite break even against—the likes of Maru, INnoVation, and Stats. In many ways Dear is shaping up to take the place of Curious as gatekeeper of the GSL—good but not great, separating the RO16 wheat from the RO32 chaff. He has the potential to beat any of this group's opponents on his best day, but those days seem long and far in between. Regarding soO's revenge: back in 2013, soO's ZvP lagged behind his overwhelming ZvT. However, things have reversed in 2018. Over the past three months, ZvP has been soO's strongest match-up at a 72.73% win-rate, and it's no surprise that soO hand-picked Dear as his first opponent.
Next on the hit-list is INnoVation. The former teammates won Proleague together on SKT, but it was INnoVation who prevailed over soO in their two individual league finals clashes at IEM and GSL. INnoVation forced his way into the best-of-all-time discussion by posting consistently great result over the course of his career, but 2018 has been a setback year. Patch 4.0.0 was clearly not kind to the Machine, and despite recalibration and firmware updates, he's still struggling to re-enter the championship picture. Nothing short of a finals run will allow us to get over the beating he took in March's IEM Katowice, where he went 1-4 in the group stage (losses to Solar, Dark, Hurricane, and uThermal). His GSL Super Tournament run was decent, thrashing Rogue and losing a close series to herO, but he's still not the unstoppable force we're used to seeing.
However, what might be more telling than anything is other players' attitude towards INnoVation. No one was willing to pick him during the RO16 group nominations, a 'honor' typically reserved for the most feared player. It’s clear that INnoVation commands a great deal of respect despite his lack of results. His overall 66.41% win rate over the last three months indicates that he's still a machine at churning out wins, and he just needs to bring out his best play in important matches. soO was right to despair when INnoVation landed in his group, as he might seem like an insurmountable obstacle given soO's weak ZvT. However, considering INnoVation's weakness to cheese (who knows, maybe it gunks up the cogs and gears?), soO might find a way yet. The larger question looms: has INnoVation managed to patch out all his weaknesses, or will the other players find holes in his armor to exploit?
Finally, we have Rogue, who dealt soO his most expensive finals loss ever at BlizzCon 2017. One most wonder if soO has been simmering with rage ever since—not because he lost to Rogue, but because Rogue has swung between gross complacency and ruthless domination ever since. He flopped out in the RO32 of the first GSL of 2018, but bounced right back to make a monster run at IEM Katowice. There, Rogue proved that his star had not gone nova, and that his brilliance would continue to burn on, as he slew Impact, Hurricane, TY, Maru and Classic to win $200,000. Soon after earning such a huge payday and proving all his doubters wrong, Rogue proceeded to flop out of the first round of the GSL Super Tournament.
Rogue is perhaps the most interesting Zerg player right now. We know he has the potential to be the best player in the world, but only when he wants to be. He's defeated the elite opponents that other Zerg players have struggled against. Maru, the best TvZ player in the world right now, fell 2-3 to Rogue at IEM. Stats, Super Tournament champion and Code S runner-up, fell 0-2 to Rogue in the previous GSL round. On the other hand. Rogue also has the weird habit of losing to other players he should have no business losing to, like Zest in the GSL Super Tournament qualifier, aLive and ByuL in the GSL qualifier or herO in various online cups. Rogue’s brilliance is tainted, his world-champion class marred by a weakness to opponents a tier bellow him.
soO’s ZvZ, while not as impeccable as it has been in previous years, is still a force to be reckoned with. soO still beats the likes of Impact, Leenock, and ByuL regularly, and it takes stronger Zergs such as Dark and Rogue to present a challenge. No one should relish a match with Rogue, but if one were to catch him on the right day... soO might emerge with a modicum of revenge.
While I don’t consider this to be the official 'group of death' of this season, it is still incredibly close and subject to volatility. All the players have a real chance here and many of the results could come down to split second decision making, brilliant gambits, or just plain luck. I, however, am going to go with soO and Rogue to advance. soO should be able to defeat Dear and Rogue has the slyness and wits to beat INnoVation. Rogue might have beat soO at BlizzCon, but that's when he was fully engaged and at maximum strength. Historically, soO has always been the better bet in ZvZ. Dear’s PvT is actually extremely good and is strong enough to beat INnoVation, who has never looked comfortable in post 4.0 TvP. And Rogue, while prone to weird implosions, should be strong enough to beat Dear.
soO 2 – 1 Dear
INnoVation 1 – 2 Rogue
soO 2 – 0 Rogue
Dear 2 – 0 INnoVation
Rogue 2 – 0 Dear
soO and Rogue to advance.