Code S RO32: Group A Recap
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TheStC Makes History
Throughout the history of Code S, the champion from the previous season has been given the opportunity to look at the lowly nerds below him, make a few jokes at their expense, and pick one to slaughter as a sacrifice to the Starcraft gods so that he might have another bountiful season. Last season, to the surprise of absolutely no one, Jjakji, the November champion, chose the seeded foreigner Sen to be his prey for his first round opponent. Sen tried to put up a fight, but like past champion picked players, he got crushed and made people go, 'Wow, does this guy even deserve to be in Code S?'
We've seen Nestea crush Kyrix's spirit at group nominations, implying that his first round challenger didn't even deserve to be in the same room with him. Kyrix, to that insult, replied, 'Yeah...maybe so' and set the tone for their match where Nestea beat up on another one of the poor, lowly rated Code S players who had no hope against the bully known as the champion.
All seven were chosen by a champion and all were unable to defeat their tormentor. Going into the group, TheStC hadn't looked very impressive in TvZ. His past results showed that he had the capability to be a player who could do well against DRG, but his recent showings gave the impression that he would end up beaten like the rest. He was just another lowly nerd, picked due to his inexperience or weakness in a certain match-up, going up against the defending champion who was called by many to be the best player in the entire world.
Then, like a cliche from a bad movie, the scrawny kid fought back and knocked the bully off his feet. TheStC was able to destroy the streak of champions winning against the player they chose in the first round. DRG didn't play as well as you would have hoped, obviously not in the right mindset after a silver medal against MarineKing at Columbus, but StC played the best I've seen him play TvZ in his career. He dropped the second map, but he completely overran DRG in the first game and with a little help from DRG's sloppiness, was able to take the series in a gigantic win (in my cinematic adaptation of this story, TheStC yells "THIS IS FOR KYRIX AND ENSNAAAARRRRRREE" before landing the final blow).
In the winners' match, TheStC didn't disappoint, showing his top level TvT play. Jjakji, who was barely able to squeak past Taeja in their first series, looked completely outmatched in his worst match-up against StC's best. With a clear 2-0 victory and win over DRG, TheStC took a gigantic step towards SuperNoVa to make the claim he's actually the best Terran and ace of oGs.
Yesterday, when I prematurely talked about how this would be Taeja's most important night in his career with every foreign team wanting to see if he was really that damn good, I said that if he could beat Jjakji and DRG, every foreign team would be throwing bundles of cash at him. Well, after his signing with Liquid was announced and he debuted in his new uniform, you could say that TaeJa was out to make aLive's reign as 'best Korean signing of 2012' very short lived. Not only was he able to advance, but he 2-0'ed DongRaeGu and played two amazing series against Jjakji.
Usually when you lose a series, it's a downer. With Taeja, you could very well it was a good thing. He was defeated by Jjakji narrowly in their first encounter, but Taeja didn't look bad. Jjakji did a powerful two base mech timing in the second set and due to a perfectly placed turret in game three that killed Taeja's doom drop, Taeja had to go down to the loser's round against DongRaeGu. Even after looking stellar in his first series, it was a tall order to take on the defending champion in a do-or-die series where if he lost, a lot of questions would have arisen if he truly was worth all the hype.
Well, Taeja answered that with a straight knock out punch to DRG. Again, DRG didn't play well at all, even building two ultralisk caverns in game two when he felt his Code S spot slipping well, but it doesn't take away from the fact that Taeja absolutely mauled him. There's really nothing to say about that series than DRG played badly and Taeja stomped him. Going into his final series of the night in another series against Jjakji, Taeja wasn't going to let this golden opportunity to defeat another champion fall by the wayside.
Taeja's marine-tank play was world class, taking out Jjakji in another long TvT in the first map of their second series even after forgetting stim early in the game. With his back against the wall, Jjakji went for a timing attack that he's quite known for off one base. Taeja, on two bases, tried to defend with bunkers, vikings, marines and tanks of his own, but the armies traded evenly and the new Liquid player was forced back into his main. At this time, Jjakji was in an amazing position, having his player stuck in his main while he could get his own economy going.
Even when Jjakji was up 20+ supply in the middle of the game and looking in almost perfect situation to win, Taeja wouldn't quit. His macro was insane, being able to keep up production and stick around with Jjakji's supply even when it looked like he was coming out on the losing side in some battles. Eventually, due to his persistence, macro and ability to position himself better than his opponent, TaeJa was able to overtake Jjakji's lead. With an overall score of 3-2 over Jjakji, the November champion, and a 2-0 victory over DRG, the GSL 2012 Season One champion, Taeja cemented his place besides his new teammate Hero in the round of sixteen.
In short, the champions got beat badly.
Jjakji, not much of a surprise. He's an absolutely incredible TvZ player and a very good TvP player, but his TvT has always been his weakest match-up. His one and two base timing attacks are deadly, but in the late game, as Taeja and TheStC showed us, he's quite weak. If he had gotten a better draw and didn't have to play all three matches against Terran, he could have advanced, but luck just wasn't on his side this time around.
DongRaeGu falling in 4th, of course, was the bigger surprise of the evening. After losing to MKP at Columbus, he traveled back to Korea and had to play even more ZvT's. MKP said that the way to beat DRG as a Terran was to beat him early before he could get into the late game, but DRG got into the later parts of the game on almost every map and played sloppily. With better control and the good decision making that we're used to seeing from DRG, he would have won the first series against TheStC and been on his way to probably qualifying out of the group. But tonight, when everyone was waiting to see him bounce back after getting second at MLG, he looked more like the player who got knocked out in the round of sixteen in Code A rather than the champion that we've come to know in the past two months.
His road to Code S isn't the toughest, having to play Revival and then either Jookto or Ace, but if he plays like he did last night, all bets are off.