Code S RO32: Group H Preview
After a week off and a wild weekend in sin city with a memorable GSTL final, the Code S and Tastosis will finally be back on our computer screens. The weekend in Vegas might be over, but the discussion about the final between Prime and Startale will continue to wage on, and at the heart of all the drama is the top seeded player in this group, the rookie superstar from last season's Code S, ST_PartinG. Making it to the quarterfinals was an outstanding feat and the potential royal roader might have made it even further if he hadn't been paired up with, at the time, a player who didn't look like he could beat by anyone in the world – MvP's DongRaeGu.
PartinG might have been an unknown player fueled largely by hype last season, but much has changed in the last few months. He now looks like a player who could not only go a step further to the semi-finals, but be the first Protoss to raise the GSL trophy since SK_MC over a year ago.
PartinG has quickly become one of the most recognizable Protoss players in the world. With his recent travels to the Red Bull LAN in Orlando, MLG Winter Arena in New York, MLG Winter Championship in Columbus, and then this weekend's trip to Las Vegas for the GSTL and IPL4, Parting has gained a ton of experience while impressing spectators with his great play. His PvT has been absolutely spectacular, and at the moment, he is probably that match-up’s top player. Now it's time for him to level up from rookie to veteran, and if he wants to prove that he really is an elite player, advancement from this mostly Terran group is a must.
His first opponent might be the only player in the world currently who could complain to Parting about international travel. TSLPolt – after getting sick and dropping out of Code A to Creator in a close 2-1 series – took matters into his own hands, and spent the remainder of the GSL season flying around the world, seeking the next best competition in international tournaments. At ASUS ROG Assembly in Helsinki, Finland, Polt bested Taeja, Hero, Lucky and Stephano all in one day to not only take home a check of $10,000, but impressed the GSL enough to earn himself a seed in this Code S Season. Just like fellow GSL champions DRG, MC, and MMA, Polt had found a way back.
Together with PartinG, Polt could be heavily affected by the mere day and a half's break between IPL4 and Code S. If you look at his travel record in the past month and a half, Polt has gone to Finland, back to Korea, to Texas and Columbus, back to Korea once again, and then to Las Vegas before finally returning to Korea only two days before Code S. While it hasn't fazed Polt much during his travels, as he managed to take first place at Assembly, 2nd at Lone Star, 12th at MLG, and 8th at a very tough IPL4, Code S is still another story. If Polt didn't start planning way beforehand for this group, he might find himself getting crushed in terms of preparation. PartinG, too, will not have had the time to focus properly on Code S due to the all-important GSTL finals, and might not have readied more of the carefully prepared builds that saw him go far in Season One. At least, they will have a 'fair' initial match in that regard, as the two most ill-prepared players face each other in their first match.
Speaking about players who have traveled a lot, there's also FXOz to consider. Though he hasn't been quite as busy, Oz has put in an overtime shift as well, going to both MLG Winter Events and IPL4 as well. At least for Oz, his day one elimination from the IPL4 open bracket, and the ready availability of practice facilities at IPL4 will mean he had at least two days to get some intensive Code S training done in Las Vegas (if he chose not to be tempted by the sights and sounds, of course).
While Parting and Polt have been getting positive reviews from their foreign exposure, the opposite could be said about Oz. Every tournament that Oz has entered recently, there has always been chatter about how he would place high. TeamLiquid has indulged in such speculation as well, as we've placed him high up in both the MLG and IPL Power Ranks. He did well at MLG Winter Arena, getting fourth while taking out Leenock, but wasn't able to follow up with more victories over elite players at Winter Championship or IPL4.
At MLG Winter Championship, he only finished with a 6-7 set record in the pools and only secured wins over Rain and Grubby, and was eliminated from the final bracket by Polt. IPL4 was an even bigger disappointment, where he lived up to his reputation as a feeble PvT player. After dropping two straight games to coL.GanZi, Oz confirmed his exit from the tournament by losing to the American vileIllusion by a 2- 1 score. Before that, he struggled against yet another foreigner in IPL4's breakout star Scarlett, where he narrowly escaped with a 2 – 1 victory. What could have been a breakthrough tournament for Oz turned into one where people will remember him as "that Code S player who almost lost to a woman."
Finally, on the topic of exhausting international travel, we have to talk about...wait, what? oGsFin hasn't been out of Korea for a foreign tournament.. ever? While Polt, Parting and Oz were all at MLG Winter Championship, back to Korea and then to Las Vegas, The Pretender was back at the oGs house streaming and gobbling up ad revenue while everyone else struggled to finish inside the money.
Either Fin is the schedule maker for this tournament, or he's the one who actually hit the jackpot while his opponents were away in Las Vegas. His three competitors will have to take a long flight from Las Vegas to Korea and then have, at best, a day of rest before heading to face off against Fin.
Fin did well in his Up and Down group. He didn't absolutely crush it like Squirtle or Leenock did, but it was good enough to advance to his second straight Code S season. Coming into his first Code S, he talked big – saying he would walk in with his Brood War experience and MSL badge, destroy everyone and win his first GSL title as a royal roader. However, he couldn't walk the walk, and he was eliminated by a combination of Leenock and MC, who showed him the foolishness of taking the GSL lightly. A player who everyone thought would have it easy in SC2 has actually had a hard time of it, but this group could be the first step towards making good on his boasts.
With teammates TheStC and SuperNova already in the round of sixteen as first place in their groups, and the scheduling working out ridiculously well in his favor, failure here isn't an option for the Elephant in the Room.
Overall outlook and predictions:
Polt has one of the best TvP's in the world alongside Jjakji and MarineKing. Parting has the best PvT in the world, proved by his victory over Jjakji in an amazing series last Code S, and his epic wars with MKP at MLG Winter Championship and IPL4. Oz, while having a major weakness at the moment with his PvT, still has a claim to being one of the best PvP'ers in the world and Parting hasn't looked particularly strong in that match-up. Fin, well, he's still an anomaly several months after his debut, and could either pick apart everyone in this group or have a major stumble, getting 4th again.
Due to their foreign results, I would have to say Parting and Polt are currently the strongest players, but due to jet lag and Fin having two weeks to do nothing but prepare for these three, it could go anyone's way. For Oz to advance, he will need to step up his PvT big time. When his team's life was on the line and Choya had the decision to either send himself against GhostKing, Maru and MarineKing or send Oz, one of the better Protosses in the world, he picked himself. If that doesn't say everything about Oz's current state in the match-up, I don't know what will. He would be favored to beat Parting in a PvP, but he'll need to at least win one PvT to make it out of the group.
Parting > Polt
Fin > Oz
Parting > Fin
Polt > Oz
Polt > Fin
PartinG and Polt advance.