Code S, RO16 Group A Preview
Due to the MBCGame memorial occupying most of our time last night, the recaps and match ratings from the January 31st Code A games will be released at a later date.
Welcome to the GSL, also known as MVP's Playground. Coming into the Code S Group Selections, MVP had a plan, a scheme perhaps, to get the perfect round of 16 group. With the coveted first pick, he had the right cards to make it happen. With his first pick, he selected Gumiho from FXO, already having beaten the Towel Terran last GSL in dominating fashion. He remarked that he chose the young Terran due to his resemblance to Leenock, the player who eliminated MVP from GSL November. However, everyone knows that what Mvp had really been looking at was his opponent's sub .500 TvT record, and pounced on the opportunity to flex his muscles in his strongest match-up against a weak opponent.
From there, MVP could count on Gumiho to pick a Zerg opponent, as Gumiho's TvZ was by far his best match-up. With only two Zergs available to choose from (Nestea being one of the four seeded players in the selection process), and Mvp already knowing that his teammate was going to take DongRaeGu in the first round, he could almost guarantee that Gumiho would be choosing Curious as the third player in his group. As it so happens, Mvp's second best match-up is TvZ, and is only a hair worse than his TvT, while Curious' worst match-up is ZvT by far.
So far, so good. But wait, wasn't counting on getting Curious an oversight? Curious' best match-up was ZvP, and surely he would be tempted to pick Genius, a player with much stronger PvT than PvZ. However, Curious selected a Terran player in Alive, a player who can range from incredible to awful at the drop of a dime. Could MVP have seen this move coming? Curious had been eliminated by Alive in the previous season, by letting an all but won match slip away, and a revenge pick was definitely in play. If he had predicted, or somehow known before hand of Curious' intentions, then it was a truly Machiavellian move by Mvp.
What's more likely is that MVP did plan through the first few picks: Him picking Gumiho and Nestea picking DRG did each other some massive favors. From there, he knew it was extremely likely that Gumiho would want to pick the remaining zerg in Curious, which would sit perfectly well with MVP. The Alive pick was probably something he just gambled on. He knew that Curious would like to pick a Protoss, but at the same time didn't discount the possibility of the revenge pick. If Curious picked Genius, then so be it, the group was already pretty good. If he picked Alive, then Mvp would bust out the champagne.
When it was all said and done, MVP got the closest thing to a perfect group. It was the easiest group for him, and probably the easiest group of all four.
Coming into this group, all you need to know is that MVP should make it through. If he doesn't make it through, it'll be the biggest upset since SanZenith got through the Round of 32 all the way back in the March Code S. He is by far the best player in this group, and due to his truly brilliant plan, he will be ready for everyone in his group. He's already played Alive and Gumiho in GSL very recently, and both times, he destroyed his opponents, looking like he was on a completely different level. Curious might be a new test for the three time champion, but MVP's TvZ is still one of the best in the world. With only Leenock and Nestea beating MVP recently, Curious will have to bring his S-Class game to take down the Game Genie Terran. The puppets will dance on their strings, while Mvp laughs his way into the RO8.
The word that describes Gumiho is solid. He's not very flashy, and he might be one of the weakest of the players left in the round of sixteen, but he usually can play a decent game against anyone he faces. His TvT is his weakest match-up, so it will be a tough road to make it out, especially when facing the TvT King, MVP, in the first round. I wouldn't put much hope in an upset occurring, seeing that Gumiho does have nerve problems in the booth, and facing the best player in the world probably isn't the best medicine to cure them.
For the Towel Terran to get out of this pool, he's more than likely going to have to use his splendid TvZ to his advantage. If he can get Curious once or maybe even twice after falling to MVP, he has a very decent shot to make it out of the group. Don't be mistaken, MVP might outclass Gumiho when it comes to a match-up between the two of them, Gumiho has the talent to take down the Alive and Curious. Alive has been going through the drama ringer with his former team TSL and new team Fnatic, while Curious is still a relative newcomer to Code S. For the FXO Terran to get through, he'll need to prepare wisely for Alive or maybe, just maybe, pull off one of the biggest upsets in recent history by taking down MVP.
People seem to forget that back in November, Curious was an absolute monster. He thrashed Code A, not dropping a single game in the tournament and made last season's Code S semifinalist, FXOz, look like nothing in the finals, destroying him 4-0. Since then though, he hasn't looked as strong, falling out of Code S quickly in his first try and having to fight up through Code A once more to get back. Now having returned to Code S, he had to go through some more turmoil, losing the rematch to Oz in the first round of the 2012 season and having to take down his friend and teammate Bomber to advance out of the group.
Now in the round of sixteen, Curious is the wild card of this group. I still don't know where I would rank him when looking at the players remaining. You hear a lot of Koreans say that Curious is definitely one of the best four Zergs in the world alongside Nestea, DongRaeGu, and Leenock, but he hasn't been able to show his same dominating play since making it to Code S. It could be due to the competition being weaker in Code A, but just in terms of his multitasking and decision making, all of it looked better when it was down in Code A where the lights weren't on as bright.
It could be nerves, like a lot of players, but Curious has a shot to make a name for himself this tournament. There are only two Zergs remaining, Nestea and DongRaeGu, and if he can make it to the quarterfinals, he will cement himself as a top four player at his race.
Finally, after weeks of drama, Alive is gone from TSL and is now on his new team of Fnatic. Now that he has a team and can put the noise behind him, the Ladder Monster will have to put his best foot forward in his debut for his new team in the round of sixteen. I've said it before and I'll say it again: when Alive is at his absolute peak play, his Terran play is some of the best in the world. But when it's not at his best, and he gets tilted due to a bad mistake or a close game not going his way, he can crumble harder than anyone and look like a Code B player who lucked into getting his Code S status.
Alive made it out of his Ro32 group by beating Happy in impressive fashion, using nuke play in the final game of the series to choke his opponent to death. Landing nuke after nuke for what seemed like forever, waiting until his opponent couldn't hang on to his base any longer, Alive forced a terrible fight out of his normally patient opponent to take the game. Now in the round of sixteen, Alive doesn't have a bad group. It is the easiest of the four in the second round and if he plays his best, he should be considered a favorite against Curious and Gumiho.
Both he and Curious have large potential to be stars in the GSL, but both players continually play like a roller coaster, having gigantic highs and then dipping lows. If either could start playing consistently, they both would become top players in their race and stop becoming background players when it came to group selections. If there is a series to watch in this group, it would have to be Curious vs. Alive.
MVP > Gumiho
Curious > Alive
Alive > Gumiho
MVP > Curious
Curious > Alive
MVP and Curious advance