Code S RO32: Group G Recap
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Puzzle <ESV Ohana RE> NaNiwa
Puzzle <GSL Cloud Kingdom> NaNiwa
Puzzle <Daybreak> NaNiwa
Ryung <Dual Sight 1.1> Mvp
Ryung <ESV Ohana RE> Mvp
NaNiwa <Entombed Valley> Ryung
NaNiwa <GSL Cloud Kingdom> Ryung
Puzzle <Entombed Valley> Mvp
Puzzle <Daybreak> Mvp
Ryung <Antiga Shipyard 1.2> Mvp
Ryung <GSL Cloud Kingdom> Mvp
NaNiwa advances to Code S Ro16
Mvp advances to Code S Ro16
Ryung falls to Code A Ro32
Puzzle falls to Code A Ro48
Don't lose hope, fans of players who aren't Korean. What looked like might be a second foreigner-less GSL Code S Ro16 in a row now includes one of the biggest stars in the international scene. Quantic.NaNiwa made the best of his seeded Code S debut and advanced out of his group with aplomb, taking out both SlayerS_Puzzle and SlayerS_Ryung to finish first place in a tight group. Far from being outmatched, NaNiwa looked on par, or even better than two of the best pro-gamers SlayerS had to offer. It may not be much of a surprise to some, as NaNiwa has been able to defeat numerous Code S Koreans in international tournaments. With his victories, NaNiwa becomes the fourth non-Korean player to make it past the RO32 in Code S, and he will now look to tie EG's HuK and IdrA by making it through the RO16 to the quarter-finals.
Slightly overshadowed by NaNiwa's rallying cry for foreign hope was the revival of three time GSL champion IMMvp, who had fallen on a patch of poor results in 2012. His RO16 elimination in the previous Code S came as a shock to many, and Mvp had been forced to work his way back up from Code A. Mvp was halfway to another early exit when he lost his first series to Ryung in two lackluster games, but he made up for the disappointment by rallying back to defeat both Puzzle and Ryung while looking very strong in the process.
Earning the seed
Quantic.NaNiwa experienced an early hiccup, losing his very first Code S game to SlayerS_Puzzle's two-immortal drop into colossus push, falling to an unseemly 0 – 11 in the GSL. However, he rebounded strongly on the next two maps. In the second game on ESV Cloud Kingdom, NaNiwa was able to take a fast expansion and defend it successfully, despite Puzzle's aggressive 4-gate, blink stalker (with observers) attack. Though he had to sacrifice some probes on defense, NaNiwa still emerged with a superior economy and was able to roll over Puzzle with that advantage.
The rubber match on Daybreak saw both players take their expansions fairly early, but their diverging decisions gave NaNiwa the eventual victory. While NaNiwa decided to play defensively while going for colossus tech, Puzzle opted to make a large number of stalkers and immortals to try and break NaNiwa's defenses before the colossus count got too high. However, Puzzle couldn't find the correct timing, and his attack simply came too late to hurt the snowballing colossus army. After his attack failed, Puzzle had no choice but to GG out to a far superior colossus based army.
With a Code S spot on the line, NaNiwa went up against SlayerS_Ryung, who had come into the winners' match after further embellishing his reputation as a TvT expert by smashing Mvp 2 – 0. However, Ryung is a player whose TvP is as derided as much as his TvT is praised, and he did nothing to improve his poor TvP reputation in the series.
The first game saw NaNiwa handily defeat Ryung, despite the fact that Ryung managed to hide away a secret expansion which remained undetected for a considerable amount of time, collecting a very significant amount of resources. NaNiwa opened with some early pressure that did moderate damage, but more importantly allowed him to contain Ryung inside his base with force-fields for an extended period. Though Ryung was mining away at his secret base, all of his army was still being produced in his sealed-off main. Ryung had a chance to break out and take control once he had medivacs, but NaNiwa was ready for drop tactics and knocked medivacs from the sky without taking any meaningful damage. The game quickly ended after NaNiwa finally discovered the hidden base, and rolled through both Ryung's main and hidden coffers to collect the GG.
Ryung went for a different sort of risk in game two, rushing up to cloaked banshees after fast expanding. NaNiwa also took a risk of sorts, going up to four-gates after his fast expansion, instead of going for the safe and standard three-gate robotics. When Ryung's SCV scout slipped into NaNiwa's base and revealed all of NaNiwa's plans, it looked all but certain that the series would go to a third set. Ryung had SCVs surrounding the bunkers at his front to take repair against the 4-gate attack, while NaNiwa showed no sign of going for detection. However, somehow things ended up working out for NaNiwa. Instead of going directly at Ryung with his 4-gate, NaNiwa decided to wait a moment, long enough for Ryung to think the rush had been abandoned and send his SCVs back to mining. NaNiwa then hit with an off-tempo attack that went exactly as planned, barreling through Ryung's defenses and wreaking havoc on his base. Ryung was forced to GG out, his banshee being rendered pointless by his lack of any other unit.
Stopping the bleeding
IMMvp earned himself a valuable reprieve by making it out of his group, temporarily holding off the doubts about his status as an elite player. Two feeble games against Ryung, where the TvT specialist defeated both Mvp's bio and mech with alarming ease in macro games, made it seem like Mvp already had one foot in the grave. However, things turned around completely when Mvp played Puzzle in the losers' match.
One thing was for certain - Puzzle is no PartinG. Game one looked like it was torn from the pages of 2011's GSL July, as Mvp's MMM went right at Puzzle's templar supported ground troops, stood their ground against storms, and survived to mangle Puzzle's army. The second game saw Mvp cleverly kill sentries and bait out forcefields with just a handful of hellions, which he followed up with a deadly stimmed infantry attack at a period where Puzzle was relying solely on force-fields to survive.
With the second Code S spot of the night on the line, Mvp went into a re-match with Ryung, who had dropped down to the final series of the night after losing to NaNiwa. The first game looked like it would be a continuation of the first series that Mvp lost very badly, with Ryung's mech absolutely dominating Mvp's bio army on Antiga Shipyard. Unfortunately for Ryung, he ended up playing his lead far too slowly, and allowed Mvp to mask a slow, but steady switch to an enormous viking and battlecruiser based army. It was a perplexing to see a player caught completely off guard by over 60 supply worth of air units at the pro-gamer level, but Mvp managed to pull off that trick for a miracle win.
The second game was a mech duel, but with the two players differing in that Mvp was tank based, while Ryung focused on thors. After a predictably long stand-off period with maxed out armies, the two players used the multiple paths on ESV Cloud Kingdom initiate a gigantic base trade. It turned out that Mvp had far greater firepower than Ryung, and also had far better prioritization. He was able to destroy essentially all of Ryung's important structures, while managing to float several orbitals from his original base to his new home from which Ryung had recently been evicted. Seeing that Mvp could sit on his orbitals and rebuild his infrastructure, Ryung GG'd out.
With Puzzle and Ryung joining MMA in Code A, SlayerS is left with no remaining players in Code S. It is sharply disappointing contrast for a team that boasted a GSTL winning line-up around this time last year.
The ground work seems to be set for minor rebound at least, with Alica, Ven (aka Soccer), Brown, and Boxer joining the recently eliminated trio to make it a full seven players in Code A, vying for a chance to get into Code S. However, one cannot help but also notice the names that once carried the SlayerS tag but have left for both greener pastures, and greener money: Golden and Ganzi who are in Code A, and TaeJa who still remains in Code S.
MMA's placement into the same Code A bracket as Boxer is an insult to injury, for the still proud, but much recently beleaguered team. With MMA as their only top class player, SlayerS is in desperate need of new prospects, or large improvements from their existing roster to regain their former glory.
Game of the Night: Mvp vs Ryung - Final Match - Game One
Because, people like comebacks, and people like battlecruisers. Surely you can't go wrong with a combination of the two?
Code S RO32: Group E Preview
In every GSL season, there is a Group of Death, such as the Parting/Polt/Oz/Fin or the MMA/Squirtle/Leenock/Nada group from this season, or a Group of Life, where you have Genius and Supernova, two of the most experienced Code S players, going up against Seed and B4, two players who really didn't even have that much success in Code A. This group, the finale of this season's first round, might be the most peculiar group that we've ever been witness to. On one side, we have two GSL champions with five titles between them. At the other end of the spectrum, we have two players who, while not having any titles or any consideration as top of the line, S-class players, have successfully defied everyone's expectations to survive in Code S for season after season.
Starting out, we have the only GSL Protoss champion, SK_MC. He went over to Germany and took some more foreign cash to put into his already loaded bank account, but didn't have the same amount of success in Las Vegas where he got fourth in a five man group. The only person he placed higher than was the person he beat in the IEM World Championship finals, Puma, and fell from his loaded group that included Squirtle, Polt, and Creator. Even with that disappointment at IPL4, you can't take that as an indicator of how MC is going to perform in this tournament.
For the past year, people have gone on record as saying that MC would fall off. That his two-base timing attacks and overall play style wouldn't be able to keep up with the new age Protosses. At a certain point in time, the pessimists seemed to be right, with MC falling all the way out of the GSL. Not even a month went by before MC made his doubters shut up, going off to Orlando to get second place, some extra money for his pockets, and a shiny new Code S seed that he hasn't let go to waste. If you were to look at his most recent results at IPL4 and MLG Winter, his PvT looks to be a major weakness that his first set opponent could capitalize on, but MC is no normal player. He can play twelve straight bad games in a row, make you think that he's finally been figured out, and then reel off a championship with the same style you thought was dead twenty minutes earlier.
MC's opponent to begin things will be Startale_Virus, the Startale Terran who I'm pretty sure half of you didn't even know was still in the GSL. If you didn't know Virus was still in Code S, let alone Code A or even still playing Starcraft, pat yourself on the back. While he might not be the most popular...or the strongest...or the most consistent...Virus is who he is. Losira? Polt? Bomber? Yeah, they might, on the surface, look like a better players and have more fans, gone farther in tournaments, etc., but while they've all fallen out of the GSL entirely recently, Virus has stayed alive. Amazingly, with not a single match-up with over a 50% winning percentage, Virus has somehow clawed his way all the way back to Code S after being stuck in Code A.
The GSL is... infected.
Virus had to go to the final game of his Up and Down groups to even make it. With a 2-2 set score and using some trickery to get one of his victories against Huk, he had to hope to beat a player who had already advanced to Code S, Fin, to make it in. The odds were against him, but Virus played one of the most exciting TvT games in a long time on Cloud Kingdom, and even when it seemed like his opponent would overtake him, the crafty Virus hung on long enough to flip the game to his advantage. After watching his games against Fin and Sting on Cloud Kingdom recently and seeing that he beat the prodigy Maru 2-1 at IPL4, I would say that Virus' strongest match-up at the moment is TvT. Sadly, in a tournament once filled to the brim with GOMTvT, he is the only Terran in the group. He will be a heavy underdog against both Nestea or MC, but if we've learned anything, it's to never count out Virus.
Speaking of counting people out, we have IMNesTea. Just when you thought it was safe to give DongRaeGu the title of best Zerg and maybe even best player in the world, he goes off and loses to MarineKing twice in two big finals and then follows it up with an extremely disappointing display in the first round of Code S. Nestea, who people thought was finally going to falter due to his age and the young players catching up to his skill, has pretty much shut everyone up by going to Las Vegas, kicking ass, and coming home with a third place finish. After crushing everyone in the first two days, Nestea did show some fatigue on Championship Sunday and wasn't able to overcome Alive and Squirtle after beating the two earlier in the tournament.
Going into this group, Nestea has to be considered the favorite. MC has also done well at foreign tournaments, but his PvT hasn't looked as strong recently, and if we were to see the two GSL champions battle it out after being teased and disappointed countless times in the past, you would have to give the advantage currently to Nestea who showed strong ZvP at IPL4.
A big factor in Nestea's performance will be how he is feeling after his long travels. It's well known that Nestea doesn't deal well with travel and has never been one of the best Koreans when it came to doing well at foreign tournaments. However, with a few extra days rest compared to the other players who went to Las Vegas, Nestea should be ready to go. Adding even more fuel to the fire, MVP advanced from his group last night, and we all know that Nestea won't quit until he wins his fourth championship before his friend and teammate from Incredible Miracle.
Finally, we have oGsInCa. If you've followed GSL for a while, then there should be one thing that immediate sticks out when you look at this group: Inca vs Nestea, first round match. I like to think that thousands of GSL fans saw that match-up, immediately cleared their scheduled on that day, and descended into their wine cellar to pick an appropriate vintage for the occasion. There's a tantalizing promise of fantastic entertainment, but not because the matches project to be good. No, between the two culprits in the worst GSL final ever, there is the perversely enjoyable expectation of a match that's so bad, it's good.
Will Inca go for a DT expand in the first game?
Will Inca try to trick Nestea into thinking he'll go DT's...before going DT's anyway?
Will Inca try and play a straight up game in his worst match-up against one of the better ZvP'ers in the world?
"Do I look like a noob?"
"Then why'd you try to cheese me like a noob?"
Thing is, you can't count out Inca in this group. After falling out of Code S last time and entirely out of the GSL, people thought he was done. He looked awful while falling out of Code A and not a lot of people expected him to even make it out of Code A qualifiers. Inca not only got through the qualifiers, but got into the Up and Downs where he was able to use his DT's to knock Polt and Losira – two mainstays of Code S – out into Code A before both of them fell into Code B the next season. A lot like Virus, Inca will not be a favorite to make it out of his group, but if he can roll a PvP against MC and get a win there, that means he only needs to go 1-1 against the rest to get out of the group.
It's been a year since the worst finals to ever take in e-sports history went down. This is Inca's chance not only to redeem himself against Nestea and prove he can beat him, but to get sweet redemption and validation of his spot in Code S by getting out of this group.
Predictions and overall outlook
Everyone and their parents who don't even watch the GSL are picking Nestea and MC to get out of this group. In a perfect world, they should. We've had countless times in GSL history where MC and Nestea were supposed to meet again after facing off in GSL Open Season 2 (Nestea won 2-0), but it's just never happened for one reason or another. All the way back in the third Open Season, we were all prepared to see MC against Nestea in a rematch of their series from a season before. MC was the new bad boy on the block, seemingly doubling in power from the second to third season while Nestea was the God of Zerg and defending champion. Everyone wanted the final between the two, but Nestea got cheesed out by Rain and we got to see a Rain vs. MC finals instead. All statistics are pointing towards a winner's match between MC versus Nestea, but Starcraft II history does seem to enjoy playing cruel jokes on the fans.
Also, watch out for Virus versus MC. MC's PvT hasn't been at its strongest lately and Virus is a player who has shown that he can pull an upset or a dozen. I still think that Nestea and MC are getting out of this group, but NO ONE should be surprised if they somehow get out of the group without having their rematch that's been a year plus in the making.
Virus > MC
Nestea > Inca
MC > Inca
Nestea > Virus
MC > Virus
Nestea and MC advance.
Bañe-ata by shiroiusagi.
Writers: Fionn and Waxangel.
Graphics and Art: Meko and shiroiusagi.