Code A Ro24: Day One Preview
It's the final round of Code A, and it's life or death for 24 pro-gamers. The winners will advance directly into Code S, and have a chance to prove their worth in the prestigious competition in the world (not to mention pick up a cool $1,300). The losers? Well, maybe it's not quite death, but they will have to fight through the much tougher Up/Down matches to hope to get into Code S.
MVP.Vampire vs. TSL_HyuN
What do we know about Vampire? That's the wrong question. The real question is: what is it we don’t know? The answers would include how good Vampire actually is, his status as a legitimate contender for a Code S spot, and the reason he keeps doing slightly better than we would predict. At least know that Vampire has been on a fairly large upswing. He barely missed out on making it to Code S through the Up and Downs last season, losing out after tiebreaker games against Creator and SuperNova. This season has started brightly, with a victory over Ssak and a narrow win over WCS Asia finalist PartinG. It should however be noted that his weakest matchup by far seems to be versus Zerg. While he was able to defeat Yugioh in his attempt to get into Code S last season, he lacks both sound statistics and any notable victories over a highly rated Zerg player.
What do know about Hyun? Hyun is destined to play in Code S. While there is a question about when he will get there, the only reason for him not already being there by now is some mysterious and rather monumental failure to convert the skill he shows online to aptitude in the Gom studios. Put simply, Hyun is one of the most impressive Zerg players on paper. In his IPL Fight Club escapades, he has broken every record and has soundly defeated an impressive string of Code S caliber players. When he plays to his level, he looks like he will destroy whatever opponent he is facing. However, he would not be the first to fail to translate raw skill and online play to offline tournament results, though this season has certainly started brightly with 2-0’s against both Sleep and YoDa.
Hyun’s ZvP looks to be his most volatile matchup. If anything, it is where he loses because he cannot transition out of his standard builds the most. While he can play reactively against the other races, he has shown a tendency to trying to force his aggressive lair-attack style versus Protoss in ways not conducive to anything than losing.
Prediction: It feels like this is another prime opportunity for Hyun to make it to Code S while it is another pitfall for a player of Vampire’s current skill. While neither looks at their best in the matchup, Hyun has shown a lot more in terms of beating skilled opponents on a consistent, albeit mostly online, basis.
HyuN: 2 - 1 Vampire
ST_Hack vs. ST_Squirtle
What we know about Hack: Hack is starting to look like a perennial Code A player. He's beaten some good Code S players, but his current league seems somehow natural. However, with the influx of recent talent, being a solid Code A player has become more of a sincere compliment than lip service, especially considering the fact that Hack has even improved his performances as KeSPA players entered Code A.
Hack’s TvP seems rather flawed most of the time. He has had mixed success in the matchup overall, with some good cheeses and a rather impressive midgame MMM play. He was simply the superior player against finale and many will remember the way he destroyed MaNa back in TSL4.
What we know about Squirtle: Squirtle belongs in Code S. Ever since his breakout performance in IPL4; he has basically looked like the most consistent Protoss in Korea. While he must be disappointed with both his play and results in WCS Asia and the Code S round of sixteen, those issues were all related to Protoss and Zerg.
Squirtle’s PvT is perhaps the definition of standard. He likes to either pressure or all-in off two base, and has a powerful late game. In GSL, he is on an eight game win streak against Terran; a testament to consistency and prowess.
Prediction: It is very difficult to see how Squirtle will lose this. While this is his final match of Code A, it is in fact not something that gives a gold medal. Hack is a capable opponent, but a lot of Squirtle’s success can be attributed to dispatching of Terran’s of similar stature. As much as the old ‘this is a team kill’ might apply, it would be criminal not to predict Squirtle making a quick comeback to Code S.
Squirtle 2 - 0 Hack
CJ_Bbyong vs. coL.Heart
What we know about Bbyong: Younger brother of BBoongBBoong. Older brother of Byun. KeSPA player. Just about completely untested in TvT.
Barring the first two facts, which are not entirely pertinent to the matchup at hand, Bbyong is almost a blank slate. A KeSPA blank slate that made it through Code A preliminaries and that has beaten both First and Genius on his way to the round of 24. Both victories were quite impressive, as the IM Protoss had been on a tear against Terran, while Genius' veteran savvy had seen him into more than ten Code S tournaments.
Heart: It is really too bad that we do not get to see Heart play a non-mirror. It is always a delight seeing Protoss fall to another iteration of an all-in or left bewildered by finding themselves in a long macro game with no clue as to how they ended up in one.
While his TvT is not patently standard, it looks a lot more similar to his peers in comparison to his TvP. It is unclear whether it is his reputation as a brutal cheeser or him being on a non-Korean team and having found success against the odds at MLGs. It could simply be that people do not know what to make of him, but his strength is unfairly downplayed. Most people would consider Bomber, Keen and Ryung to be fundamentally better players, but Heart has broken even against them in his most recent TvTs.
When you have a KeSPA player come into a mirror match without any data on which to judge his competence, one should be careful to bet against said player. Heart’s TvT is good, but it is not consistently Code S level. If anything, this season of Code A has been a rather bright spotlight on the fact that KeSPA players will take out middle of the road eSF players. Between Heart’s inherent unpredictability and Bbyong’s lack of televised games, it is nigh impossible to say just how this will play out, but it seems reasonable to expect the KeSPA player most likely to switch to Prime to become the first representative of the KeSPA Terrans in Code S.
Bbyong 2 - 1 Heart
FnaticRC aLive vs. CreatorPrime
What we know about aLive: aLive is starting to look like the proto-Terran, undistinguishable from his GomTvT brethren yet ever-present as the numbers dwindle. It may not have been a shock to see him miss out on this season’s Code S, but he is still an expected face. Like Squirtle, he had an upswing in and around IPL4, but has not quite kept the momentum like his adversary from the finals.
During the heyday of the grey Terran, the days of endless 1/1/1’s against Protoss and Dual Sight games against Zerg, aLive was a shining exponent of both. Now, with Protoss having adapted and with different maps, he has however refined his play. He is still dangerous early game, but he packs a considerable punch late game as well. His series against PartinG was an entertaining example of high level PvT, where skilled Terran players can keep up with Protoss' damage potential with good ghost use and carefully selected engagements. His 2-0 victory over MC in the previous round should have given some confidence and was indicative of a player whose time in the sun has not come and gone.
Creator: Creator was supposed to be the Protoss representative of the three musketeers, featuring Taeja and Life. All known as online monsters, all young and all blazing a trail for the new generation in StarCraft II. However, while the two others have seen success in Code S, it has eluded Creator with unfailing consistency. Though continually being tipped to have his season, he has only made it there once and met his demise in NaNiwa. Not all was lost however, for while Code S success has been elusive, Creator looked like he was realizing his full potential in winning WCS Korea and TSL4.
Just like aLive had his peak in the matchup in an age since gone, Creator has had a similar trajectory. Looking unbeatable when he first unveiled the colossus plus two forge style, it has become a standard Protoss play that Terrans have learned to live with for the most part. However, Creator never lost his touch and still looks to be one of the best PvT players around. He arrives in this round through having beaten both Noblesse and Byun without dropping a map.
Prediction: As much as aLive’s late game has blossomed in the matchup, that particular part of the game would still favor Creator. Once you reach a certain mass, most of Creator’s flaws diminish while some of aLive’s strong points will likewise fade. Furthermore, with Creator insistence on colossus openings, aLive is also unlikely to get into the more micro heavy ghost vs. templar style that might have given him an advantage. His real chance is in making good use of either very unorthodox openings or to exploit the usual colossus style weakness to double Starport timings before a transition to storm is available.
It is not about whether aLive can beat Creator, he most certainly can. It just feels that the Terran’s window of opportunity is considerably shorter than that of his opponent. More things have to fall into place for it to happen twice in the course of three games. And while Creator by no means look like the dominant figure he was and his PvT star is no longer the brightest object in the skies, it is fundamentally solid.
Creator: 2 - 1 aLive