Code S RO16: Group A Recap
Earning the Seed: Part 2
Last week, Quantic.NaNiwa proved to GomTV that he was worth taking a chance on. Last night, NaNiwa showed he wouldn't need any more charity. With 2 – 0 victories over MvPGenius and ST_Virus, NaNiwa advanced to the quarter-finals as first place in his group, earning a seed in the next season of Code S in the process.
"This is the happiest moment in my life" said NaNiwa, in a post match interview.
oGs.SuperNoVa finished second place in his group, showing once more that his best performances come in the GSL. The recently buoyant Virus ended his surprise run in the RO16, finishing third place in the group. Surprisingly, last season's runner-up and consensus favorite to advance from the group Genius fell in last place, following teammate DongRaeGu to an early exit. With Genius' elimination, the entire top 4 of Code S Season One has been eliminated.
NaNiwa's advancement from the RO16 group was surprisingly similar to his experience in the RO32. Instead of Puzzle, he beat another formidable PvP player in Genius to make it to the winners' match. NaNiwa showed good micro on both offense and defense, winning the first set by fending off Genius' blink all-in, while taking the second set with his own colossus all-in against Genius' quick expansion.
Another Terran awaited NaNiwa in the winners' match in Virus, who proved to be a tougher opponent than Ryung. The first match on ESV Ohana saw both players play for a longer macro game by taking quick double expansions. In the mid-game, Virus seemed to be getting ahead after he used cloaked ghost play to cut into NaNiwa's psionic storm capabilities, and took advantage of NaNiwa's positioning to take down an under-defended nexuses. However, he was unable to deal critical damage, and NaNiwa recovered to put together a deadly maxed out army. In the end, Virus was unable to deal with the concentrated firepower of the 200/200 Protoss army, and was forced to GG out.
Game two looked to be a much easier affair for NaNiwa after his early warpgate pressure hurt Virus' fast expansion and forced a lift. However, Virus hit with a four-medivac drop after getting his stim-upgrade, catching NaNiwa out of position and dealing enough damage to give himself the upper hand. NaNiwa did not dally, and decided to counter attack almost immediately after fending off the drop. He ended up hitting a crucial timing, as Virus would have been safely on three bases given an extra minute or two. Instead, NaNiwa used his single colossus and mixed warpgate to finish off Virus before he could realize his economic advantage, and earned a quarter-final ticket.
Old Generation Success
SuperNoVa got off to a rough start on the night, losing a close TvT series against the darkhorse Virus. However, he got his groove back in his games against Genius, a player known as a Terran Killer.
After taking advantage of Genius' poor engagements to win the first set, SuperNoVa put in the best performance of the night in the second set on Daybreak. Though it's often a map that becomes a showcase for the passive, patient deathball style of PvT, SuperNoVa was able to show off his own flashy style of relentlessly harassing TvP instead. At first it looked like it would be an ideal situation for Genius, with both players allowing each other four bases without much protest. However, once SuperNoVa began his medivac and nuke tactics, it started to look like he was playing on an entirely different speed setting from Genius. Genius simply couldn't keep up at all, and found himself slowly worn to death by endless harassment.
Put in a rematch against Virus for the final Code S spot in the group, SuperNoVa played decidedly better the second time around. Cloaked banshees and medivac drops snatched SuperNoVa a fast win in the first set, and he finished off Virus with an all-around strong performane in the second set.
Back Where They Belong?
It seemed like typical Korean pro-gamer modesty when Genius passed off last season's finals run as a lucky aberration during Saturday's group selections, but it looked more like an honest assessment after his performances in last night's games. Always a Code S regular, but never a player who threatened to make deep tournament runs, Genius has returned to his usual place for now.
Virus had to return to earth as well. After spending most of his career hanging out on the fringes of Code S, his clutch performance for StartaleQ in the GSTL and individual GSL run suggested something had changed inside the scrappy but unremarkable Terran player. In terms of game quality, Virus was better than ever as he went through the Up/Down matches and the RO32 of Code S. But in the end, he was stopped where he had always been stopped, tying his personal best RO16 finish for the fourth time. His victory over MC in the RO32 finally brought one of his match-ups over the 50% win rate mark, but his 0 – 2 loss to NaNiwa brings him back down to his old, familiar position.
Though the results table says this is a return to normalcy, there's reason to believe that things have changed where they really matter: in the way Virus and Genius play the game. Last season, Genius showed that when he's tuned in, he can be a very scary, streaky player capable of taking out the very best players in the world. This season, Virus made it to the RO16 without being cheesy, playing strong macro games, and playing well against the best opponents he ever had to face. Those are things that don't just go away overnight.
Game of the Night: SuperNoVa vs Genius – Game Two
True, Genius didn't play great. But it was still a very entertaining departure from the ordinary to see a Terran player intentionally play super-late TvP, and then dismantle his five-base Protoss opponent with dizzying use of nukes and drops.
Code S RO16: Group B Preview
Match One: Mvp vs July
"July knows that he might not be one of the very top players in the world, but he will do anything in his power to get the victory. You can talk about how his creep spread isn't the best or how he's a little too aggressive at times, but July knows who he is. He is the God of War and he won't change his way of playing just because people don't think it's the best way to play. Does July have any shot against MVP? Well, he won't be favored by any means, but it is his best match-up. July knows that these chances don't come by too often, so I expect to see the best of July when he goes against MVP. "
If you're a long time TeamLiquid GSL coverage reader, you'll notice all of the previous was ripped straight from the pages of the July vs Mvp Semi-final preview from Code S August. So, I guess this means July is stuck in some sort of temporal stasis field, as almost nothing has changed for him since August. It was quite the surprise that he made it into RO16 with his "I guess I'll lair and attack" game plan, and it seemed that it worked largely due to the fact that other players had very foolishly forgotten his play style (let's call it the "Inca Principle"). His thrashing of aLive and near victory over MKP will have served as a nice reminder, so Mvp will probably come amply prepared.
On the other hand, Mvp has fallen far from where he was in August, but he did play quite well in the RO32 to quiet some of the doubts. Now, he also got through the RO32 last season before falling apart to Gumiho in the RO16 – in what was supposedly his best match-up at the time. So, at the very least, the TvT fortress gates have been battered down. But in TvZ, he still looks fairly strong, despite being weakened. It should be enough to prevail against a one dimensional opponent like July.
Match Two: HerO vs Leenock
What an interesting situation. Leenock's been battered by Protoss players left and right for the last few months, but his single best ZvP win in those months came against HerO in the GSTL, where he defeated him in a high-stakes ace match. How much does that match count? Arguably, HerO didn't play to his best in that game, crushed by the pressure of the moment. He made some uncharacteristic army positioning errors after taking a fast third base, got his Nexus focused down, and that was the end of the story.
Looking at who HerO has beat lately (Curious, Monster, Line, etc) and who Leenock has beat (Hero, and... no one), in recent PvZs, it seems like HerO really should beat Leenock here. Leenock just can't deal with early-mid game pressure at all, and while that's not HerO's normal style, he showed against Curious that he can adjust based on his opponent.
Of course, there's HerO's propensity to choke working against him... But honestly, I'm starting to think that's just a lazy cliché at this point. His generally shy demeanor and emotional responses to victory and defeat makes it easy to pin that kind of reputation on him, but it's not like his composure is below average among pro-gamers. There were a few micro slip-ups against Maru's cheese, but he handled Curious' backstabs and harassment pretty well in the RO32. Instead of taking away from HerO, I'd rather give Leenock some extra credit for being such a bloodthirsty, weak wall-in sensing shark at such a precocious age. Still, on the whole, this one looks better for HerO.
Overall Outlook and Prediction
By crushing Ryung and Puzzle in the RO32, Mvp reminded us that he's still a force to be reckoned with. We know he's at least a mid-tier Code S player, but the difficulty in predicting lies in the fact that it's hard to tell what his ceiling is, and how consistent he can be. Maybe you can argue away his losses to players like IdrA and Seal by saying that Mvp doesn't give it 100% until the GSL, but you also have to remember that he went 1 – 4 against GuMiho in Code S last season. Mvp's probably going to beat July, so his matches against HerO or Leenock will give us a better idea about where he's really at.
Overall, the table is best set for HerO. The X-factor in Mvp aside, HerO should be pretty pleased with having July and Leenock – two players who aren't particularly great at ZvP – in his group.
For Leenock, the match-ups are surprisingly iffy. Strangely enough, Mvp is probably the easiest opponent for him in this group, as Leenock's ZvT has gotten even better while Mvp's seems to have regressed since their last meeting (where Leenock won 3 – 2). After his savage beatdown of MMA last week, a weakened Mvp doesn't look all that dangerous to Leenock. July's a bit trickier. He could have been a cakewalk a few months ago, but against Zenio, and even against Leenock himself in Code A, he showed that his ZvZ had improved enough to be a serious threat. And as for HerO, we've already said that ZvP isn't Leenock's strong suit.
Lastly, there's poor July. I cheered for the legend as he scored his shock victory over aLive, and came close to defeating MKP, but all those wins looked strangely flukey. Maybe if he had Virus, SuperNoVa, or TheStC in his group, I would entertain the possibility of a quarter-final appearance, but it seems unlikely when he's playing all three match-ups, and his good match-up is against Mvp.
Mvp > July
HerO > Leenock
HerO > Mvp
Leenock > July
Leenock > Mvp
HerO and Leenock advance.
Bañe-ata by shiroiusagi.
Graphics and Art: Meko and shiroiusagi.