Up Down Matches: Group A Recap
Results from Live report thread by opterown.
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First Time's the Charm
- MaNa goes 2 - 1 in Up/Down matches, earning a spot in Code S.
The only predictable thing about the Up/Down matches is that they will be unpredictable. Throw in three inconsistent Terrans, a Zerg who has never gotten this far before, and a foreigner that most of the players in the group had never seen play before, and you get a group that could have ended up with a hundred different conclusions. The least likely of all those scenarios might have been Mana, the powerhouse Protoss from Poland, actually getting out of the group and qualifying for Code S.
Strong start against Keen
While Bomber might have played more like the player that was expected to win a Code S in 2011, the other two Terrans in the group, Keen and jjakji, continued to be inconsistent and weren't able to match Mana in the group. MaNa started the night with a statement game, defeating Keen and showing that he wasn't going to be a free win for anyone. Keen was able to get off a nicely timed doom drop that took out most of Mana's main in the middle of the game, but mouz's star player wasn't shaken at all. He out positioned Keen throughout the entire game, harassed like crazy, and even while losing most of his tech, made sure to keep Keen's economy in check. Finally, after killing Keen's third over and over again, Mana was able to stabilize and mow through the rest of Keen's minuscule army with perfectly placed storms. Starting off with a strong win and placing himself at the top of the group with a 1-0 record, Mana still had a lot of work to do to get into Code S.
Halfway to Code S with a win against Hyun
Up next was his toughest challenge coming into the Up/Down group, the former MBC Game A-teamer, Hyun. Known for his strong ZvP, the TSL Zerg seemed to be a heavy favorite going into the match. Beating Squirtle and other top Protoss in ZvP's recently, how hard could it be to take down a foreigner in his worst match-up? Mana, for the second straight game, played like a veteran in the booth, knowing exactly what he could afford to lose, and what he had to defend in a game where there was much base trading. By the time both sides had run out mining bases, MaNa had an overwhelming army and received the GG in the final battle.
Mana's winning streak was snapped eventually snapped by Bomber in his next game, not being able to match-up with one of the best TvP players in the world, especially when he got away with a hidden orbital at another main. However, it all worked out in the end, as MaNa became possibly the only foreigner to receive a truly lucky roll of the GSL dice. With Jjakji playing poorly, and Bomber playing very well, the wins over Keen and Hyun gave MaNa the head to head advantage he needed to advance as 2nd place no matter what.
MaNa was undeniably lucky to get drawn into a group of five instead of six, and have all the other players' matches work out so that he advanced with the least amount of games possible, but he proved in his games against Hyun and Keen that he could cause some noise in Code S. He owes Bomber a drink at a bar sometime for being able to defeat Keen in his final game of the night (which confirmed MaNa's 2nd place group finish), but Mana deserves his chance to take on the very best in next week's Code S.
Now the only question is if either Seed or MC will choose to play him in their groups, given that a foreigner has always been picked by one of the two finalists as their first opponent. Seed might be less likely, as he might be holding out for an inexperienced Zerg to make it through to choose. MC, on the other hand, is very possible. At Dreamhack, MC joked with Mana that he would never lose to him. Well, MC, this is your chance to prove it. Though considering what happens every time someone boasts about PvP, it might be a bad choice.
Bombing Up and Down
- Bomber returns to Code S with an impressive 3-1 record, and jjakji falls 0-3 in the group to become the only active GSL champion not in Code S Season 4.
Are we sure Bomber isn't the one that won GSL in November, and jjakji isn't the guy who has been a fringe Code S player most of his career? Bomber, who I compared to Sea yesterday, apparently decided to stop losing and played like you would expect from someone with his quality of player. No one will ever say Bomber is a bad player, but actually betting on him is like putting money on a PvP. Some nights he will bring his A-game and crush everyone in sight, and some nights he will manner mule while he's winning and proceed to lose the game.
He dropped his first game against Hyun, but that's understandable when he had to face a strong Zerg opponent on Atlantis Spaceship, a map that most expect not to be in the pool for the upcoming fourth season. Not tilting after a single loss, Bomber roared back with three straight forward victories over Keen, Mana, and jjakji. Bomber might have faulted against Hyun, but he didn't let this opportunity pass him by and crushed the next three players he was put up against. Keen and jjakji were no match for Bomber's TvT that mirrored more of his mid 2011 dominating period than his recent struggles in 2012. Mana, the only unbeaten player in the group at the time, gave it his best shot against Bomber, but came up short against Startale's former(?) ace.
Paving his way back into Code S, he gets his 13,452th shot at making us believe in him again. Not making it past the quarterfinals in his career and not getting deep in a Code S since summer of 2011, Bomber will need to play like how he did tonight if we want to start putting him anywhere near talks of best Terran in the world again. Like always with Bomber, we know he's damn good when he wants to be, but can he sustain it through a two month period? Guess we'll find out starting next week.
Jjakji misses the champions' party in Code S Season 4
Where there is good news, there is always bad news that follows it. Bomber might get another shot at a Code S championship, but jjakji's stock has hit it's lowest standing since he made it into Code S all the way back in October of 2011. He is now an abysmal 1-6 in his last two Up/Down groups, and he has only a single victory over Empire's Vines, who I forgot even existed before I went through Jjakji's tlpd. This was his big chance to qualify for Code S and make all eight active champions play in a single season against each other.
He not only failed to do this, but he got absolutely slaughtered by his opponents. While his peers in the championship pantheon will be playing in the biggest Code S season of all-time, jjakji will have to try again, for the third straight season, to get through Code A and get back into main tournament. The worst thing about all of this is what else does jjakji have except for GSL and WCG? HoSeo doesn't have the cash to send him to foreign tournaments if he doesn't do well in GSL. If he fails to make it into Code S, he has no chance of keeping himself relevant by doing well in foreign tournaments.
When Polt and MMA weren't doing well at the beginning of the year, what did they do? Both went to European events, Assembly and Iron Squid respectively, and won to keep their names out there, get cash, and continue to grow as players. jjakji doesn't get that luxury on HoSeo. Sage, their captain, has already left and is now living in Europe. Freaky, possibly HoSeo's most intriguing player, and someone who was getting tons of fans in the foreign community, quit playing Starcraft. Seal, who was supposed to be one of the next Zerg bonjwas, continuously qualifies for Code A and then loses in the first round. Even San, the most noticeable player alongside jjakji on HoSeo, is more known for his old clan Zenith than he is for being on HoSeo.
You have to feel bad for our former champion. He will be the only champion left out of the Code S party, and he is on a team that has no funds to let him impress on an international scale. With core players of HoSeo leaving left and right, we will have to look at what the future holds for jjakji. He is still an amazing player at the young age of seventeen, and if he would ever decide to leave HoSeo, there is no question that a slew of Korean teams and possibly foreign teams would be interested in having him on their squad.