Code A RO48: Day One Preview
Liquid`HerO vs JookTo
oGs-TL has been cursed with team-kills since the very beginning, and it looks like nothing has changed even after oGs went under. Round one will feature an unfortunate elimination match between former oGs buddies HerO and Jookto.
Jookto seems to suffer from the GSL nerves that afflicted HerO heavily last year, and while he's had the skill to fight through the Code B preliminaries and make it into Code A several times now, he's almost never impressed in Code A or in the GSTL. Even though HerO is still on the inconsistent side, he's shown far, far better games than JookTo in the GSL. At the end of the day, HerO will be the one having to say sorry to an old teammate as he sends him back to Code B.
Prediction: HerO 2 – 0 JookTo
TheBest is back! Most famous for showing us some of the best 'so bad it's good' games during the 2011 Super Tournament, the FXO Terran finally makes his GSL return after almost ten months. Despite his long absence from the GSL, TheBest has been a regular on the Korean online circuit the entire time. He's always popping up in the ESV and EWM cups, and also participating in various international tournament preliminaries. We might have laughed at him before, but he's been competing fairly evenly with strong Code B regulars such as Seal, HyuN and Inori. While that class of players isn't favored against Code S regulars, they still have a good fighting chance.
Even so, fOrGG is probably a little out of TheBest's reach at this point in time. Having come into Code S with high
This isn't to say that fOrGG should be a mid-tier Code S player, but he's definitely one that is a constant threat to be in the RO32. Considering how much more difficult the GSL has become, that's going to be too much for TheBest.
Prediction: fOrGG 2 – 1 TheBest
Quantic.TheStC vs TSL_Punisher
With team league opportunities, weekly cups, and a variety of preliminaries online, it's rare that we see players who are almost complete unknowns debut in the GSL. But that's basically what Punisher is, a player we've seen on the TSL bench but never in a game of substance. The limited TLPD online stats we have for him are fairly disappointing, at 4 – 10 in all competitions. Punisher's Code B preliminary path wasn't exactly the most difficult either, with his most notable opponents being AriA and DeathAngel – neither of them notable because of their exploits in Korean tournaments.
On the other hand, TheStC has been a Code S regular in 2012, an impressive feat even though he hasn't been able to reach the top eight. On top of that, TheStC has been something of a TvT specialist in recent months, which makes things all the more gloomy for Punisher.
Prediction: TheStC 2 – 0 Punisher
FXOGuMiho vs LG-IMReady
TheBest isn't the only player returning to the GSL after a long hiatus. Ready last appeared on June 27th of 2011, making this his first appearance in barely under a year. Back then, he was knocked out of Code A by MvP's Dream, and he will face another Terran player in his return match. There have been earth changing upheavals in the course of a year, and this time around, Ready will have the benefit of knowing that Terran isn't completely overpowering.
But Gumiho is still the Code S player in this match-up, and nearly all Code B players are the underdogs going up against even the lowest ranked Code S players. Gumiho's elimination in Code S was due to TvT, but his TvP record has been good in recent months with wins over Vines, Oz, Choya, Tassadar, and even Ready himself. It's no murderer's row, but Ready is not exactly a deadly player either.
Prediction: Gumiho 2 – 0 Ready
SlayerS_MMA vs HongUn
MMA is one the nicest guys in the business and treats everyone with a ton of respect, making you actually feel bad about criticizing his poor play (as opposed to, say, guys who tell people to kill themselves). But there's something seriously wrong with how MMA has been playing for the last two months, ever since he was eliminated from MLG Spring Arena by GoOdy. GoOdy has been known for his ability to make his opponents play poorly for most of his career, but I didn't know he had the power to hex his opponents even after he stopped playing them. Since MLG, MMA lost to Keen in Code A, went 0 - 3 in his Up/Down group, and lost a critical game to Life in the GSTL. He also dropped a series to Sen at the StarsWar tournament in China, shattering his aura of TvZ invincibility.
What exactly IS wrong? It's hard to tell. Some suspiciously semi-serious joke-tweets make you think perhaps it's a motivational issue. Or, maybe he's just another Terran struggling with the queen buff.
Whatever the reason, MMA must get his rear in gear for this match against HongUn. HongUn disappeared for months after joining team Al, only to re-appear teamless and back in Code A. He managed to beat Revival on his way through the Code B prelims, so at least know he wasn't slacking on SC2 during his brief international stint. MMA has struggled against Korean Protosses in 2012, and he could very well be sent back to Code B by a well-prepared HongUn.
Prediction: MMA 2 – 1 HongUn
SlayerS_Puzzle vs NSH_Seal
It's almost shocking to find such a solid - if boring - player like Puzzle down in the first round of Code S. He grinds out wins for SlayerS in the GSTL like it's nobody's business, one macro game at a time. He's 9 - 2 for SlayerS-EG, usurping MMA as their ace while averaging three wins per series.
Luckily for Puzzle, his first Code A match should remind him more of GSTL than Code S (where he has struggled), as he goes up against Seal. Seal's the kind of talented, inconsistent player that every team fields in the GSTL to get them valuable playing time. They're players who can get hot and cut a swathe through the opposing team on a good day, but they're also the kind of players Puzzle has been fed one at a time during his GSTL rampage. In fact, Seal was NSH's final sacrifice to Puzzle as he achieved a 4-kill victory for SlayerS-EG in the GSTL. Fans of NS HoSeo and Seal are always hoping that Seal will finally have his individual league breakthrough one day, but Puzzle should be too formidable a gatekeeper.
Prediction: Puzzle 2 – 1 Seal
NSH_Jjakji vs MvPMonster
Jjakji is one of the more vocal progamers on twitter, which is to say he is one of the most vocal complainers on twitter. 95% of progamers are complainers, that's just an immutable rule of esports. At least there's some substance to his TvZ balance whining (opposed to when MKP complains about anything), as he's been hard done by Zerg opponents in several of his recent tournaments. Annyung dropped him from TSL4 prelim #2, Shine ousted him from MLG prelims, and his Code A opponent Monster eliminated him from IPL preliminaries.
Against a lesser Zerg player Jjakji might still feel like his GSL championship chops would make him the favorite, but against Monster I wouldn't be surprised if he thinks he's the underdog. The Monster was always looming on the horizon ever since he excelled as DRG's understudy for MvP in team leagues, and the team even had the confidence to send him out to Stockholm to try and conquer a DreamHack. The destruction he caused there was overshadowed by his choke-job against ThorZaIN in the semis, but Monster came back even stronger by going on a 23-5 run at MLG Anaheim and winning the recent GESL. Monster's one of the hottest Zergs out there, and even a former champion shouldn't intimidate him as he looks to make an impact in the GSL.
Prediction: Monster 2 – 1 Jjakji
ST_Bomber vs NSH_Freaky
Freaky has provided us with plenty of first-class entertainment in the GSTL, where his irrational love of infestors have led to some, well, freaky games. Even in defeat he has been a gracious facilitator, allowing Crank to actually succeed with his mass-carrier build on Entombed Valley.
Will the show go on? Bomber is one of the best players in the world when he's on his game, the problem being that his game has no semblance of consistency. In truth, before Red Bull Battlegrounds, he was on a terrible downward spiral that suggested he might not ever regain the consistency to string together the 20 or so games needed to win a championship. However, through his second second place at Red Bull, we at least re-affirmed that his ceiling is very high, and that he should linger in Code A at worst. There's never a safe bet when Bomber is playing, but I cautious pick him to win against Freaky.
Prediction: Bomber 2 – 1 Freaky