After a break for the Super Tournament, GSL Code S returns with its second season of 2018. For great players, it's another opportunity to further cement their legacies. For everyone else, it's another chance to prove their worth in the toughest StarCraft II competition in the world.
The players of Group A are those looking to reverse their fortunes in 2018, as they have all in their own way, fallen short of expectations.
Despite coming into 2018 boasting monster 70% win rates in all match-ups and victories over many great players in qualifiers and online events, Classic was simply unable to translate his form into a major tournament victory. So far, his 2018 journey has taken him to the RO8 of GSL Code S, RO4 of WESG, RO4 of the GSL Super Tournament, and the grand finals of IEM Katowice. Those hardly seem like results to be disappointed by, until you take into account that some considered Classic to be THE best player of patch 4.0.
We can’t say that Classic has fallen off—far from it. He has maintained a 70% win record in PvP, and has even elevated his PvT to a frightening 82% over the past few months. On the other hand, his PvZ win rate has fallen to 54%, but when you consider most of his losses have come against top Zergs such as Dark or Rogue, you can’t really fault him. As such, Classic still has every chance to find success in this GSL. His true test is likely to come in the later rounds.
Elazer also had a good start to 2018, making it through the qualifiers for WCS Leipzig, IEM PyeongChang, and IEM Katowice with victories over players such as ShoWTimE, Serral, Nerchio, and even Stats. Elazer did well once he got to the live events at Leipzig and PyeongChang, reaching the RO8 and RO4 respectively. However, his fortunes took a downward turn at IEM Katowice, where he failed to win a single series in his RO24 group. After enjoying a meteoric rise into the elite tier of the foreign scene, Elazer's momentum had finally been halted.
It was a positive sign to see Elazer qualify for this season’s GSL Code S, but he did so against a returned retiree PartinG and an ever-inconsistent Hurricane. Good wins, but far from conclusive. What's more telling about Elazer might be his overall win rate across all match-ups over the past months: a few ticks below 50%. If Elazer is to advance, he may need to turn to the aggressive builds that have served him well throughout his career. It should be noted that Elazer took a map off Classic at IEM Katowice with a Nydus all-in (a build Rogue said he was inspired by)—maybe builds of that nature are in store?
Leenock, finds himself in roughly in the same place when we last saw him in the GSL, still chasing long past glories. While he did surprise everybody by eliminating Solar twice to make it to the RO16 of last season’s Code S, losses to Zest and INnoVation denied him a RO8 spot. The loss to Zest was particularly painful, as a victory seemed well within Leenock's grasp. Leenock tweeted his disappointment afterward, mentioning that "I worked hard this time." Perhaps that means a Leenock who consistently works hard still has a chance of making the GSL playoffs.
Unfortunately, his qualifier results haven't been good as of late, as he failed to make it to the GSL Super Tournament and he just barely made it into Code S on the second day of qualifiers. It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as the former IPL champion has solid win rates over the past two months: 67% in ZvP and 61% ZvT. He even managed to defeat Super Tournament champion Stats in a BO5 in the the BaseTradeTV Star League, though we must note that it was against the infamous "online-Stats." Overall, Leenock has his work cut out for him, but he has proven that he can upset stronger opponents.
ByuN is perhaps the player who has the most to prove in the group. After an incredible run at the end of 2016 that saw him crowned Code S and BlizzCon champion, ByuN has fallen off hard. He's still trying to recover, and 2018 has not been kind. So far, he's suffered a Code S RO32 elimination (at the hands of Trap), and he's failed to qualify for most non-GSL events. His recent qualification for the GSL Super Tournament was an encouraging achievement, even though he was quickly ousted by eventual champion Stats.
It’s hard to judge ByuN’s actual form as he hasn’t participated in a lot of online tournaments to compensate for his offline losses, but one thing is certain: ByuN needs to re-invent himself. He has been on a downward spiral for all of 2017 and 2018 so far, and it’s clear that his ultra-aggressive style in the early and mid-game simply doesn't work in the current meta. ByuN needs to learn to trust his macro and take it to the late game, lest he fall behind even further.
Even with his high profile losses in the later rounds of tournaments, Classic is still favored to make out of his group. His overall form is just too good right now compared to his other opponents. Who will make it out with Classic is the real question, and a bit hard to determine given the ailing forms of all players. I think Leenock has shown us just enough consistency in the GSL to be favored to make it through in second place.
Group A -Wednesday, Apr 18 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
Classic 2 – 0 Elazer
Leenock 1 – 2 ByuN
Classic 2 – 0 ByuN
Elazer 0 – 2 Leenock
ByuN 0 – 2 Leenock
Classic and Leenock to advance.
Unlike the previous group of four players, Group B doesn't have quite a strong favorite to advance. It looks to be a free-for-all brawl with RO16 spots on the line.
Scarlett had an incredible start to 2018, reaching the Code S quarterfinals and winning IEM PyeongChang against sOs. However, Scarlett's results have fallen off since. Most glaring was her failure to make it through the open bracket of IEM Katowice, where she lost to Guru and TRUE. Scarlett was better at WESG, brushing through fellow foreigners in the group stages, but she suffered a 0-3 defeat to Dark in the RO8. While Scarlett didn'y manage to qualify for the recent GSL Super Tournament, she did make it through the Code S qualifiers on her first attempt (including victories against TY and Bunny). Scarlett’s win rates are also still pretty good at 61.54% in ZvP, 65% in ZvP and 50.88% in ZvZ. Overall, despite having to prepare for all 3 match-ups, Scarlett's chances are looking quite good. However, Losira could present a threat, as ZvZ's against Korean Zergs have been a thorn in her side.
Patience as a player seems to have fallen into a great dark abyss in terms of results and tournament showings. He was nowhere to be seen in the GSL, GSL ST, IEM PyeongChang. He made only a brief blip on the radar showing up at the offline qualifiers for IEM Katowice, only to be bounced back by the combined efforts of Hurricane and Neeb. While it’s hard to make an exact estimate of his form due to the lack of games he has played, it is safe to say from the little we do have that his form isn’t too good. His PvZ sits at 58.33% which should seem respectable, but a lot of it is inflated by wins against players of a lower caliber and he actually loses pretty often to Korean Zergs such as TRUE, ByuL, Solar and Impact. His PvT is at an abysmal 20%, although only across 10 games or so over the past 2 months, and his PvP is at 50%. Overall it feels extremely unlikely Patience will be able to survive the group at all, much less upset any of the players. But then again, it's Patience, and he's made a career out of being perennially underrated.
Despite also struggling, Losira been a lot more active and slightly more impressive overall than Patience has been in 2018. While his offline results have been limited to only the Ro32 of the GSL S1 and an appearance in the IEM Katowice open bracket (where, amusingly enough, Losira was eliminated by Patience) we can see that Losira has been a lot more active online. His overall results across the IEM Katowice qualifiers, GSL S1, S2 and ST qualifiers and various tournaments have been better than you’d expect, with wins over TRUE, Solar, soO, Hurricane, herO, GuMiho, SuperNova and KeeN and jjakji. That's about the respectable level of skill we've come to expect from Losira—he's a solid group stage player in the GSL.
GuMiho might be the embodiment of chaos in his style of play, but his tournament results are actually incredibly consistent. He's strong in qualifiers, and he always seems to make it to at least the top-half of any tournaments he enters. His consistency hasn’t waned in 2018 either, as he has managed to make it to the RO16 of the GSL S1, IEM Katowice and GSL ST. While he is usually defeated by some of the stronger opponents at this stage he still manages to take out big names in the qualifier runs and online events themselves, even having defeated Maru, INnoVation, aLive, Solar, herO and Trap. As per Aligulac his overall win rate sits at 58.71% over the past few months with no win rate in any MU bellow 50%. Overall GuMiho is the complete early tournament package, and barring some weird upset I can see him making the RO16 this season as well.
I’m actually going to go with GuMiho to make it out here in first place due to his good preparation and difficulty to prepare for him specifically. I think Scarlett will make it out second, but it could be rough for her if she has to face off against Losira in a ZvZ.
Group B -Saturday, Apr 21 4:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
Scarlett 2 – 0 Patience
Losira 0 – 2 GuMiho
Scarlett 1 – 2 GuMiho
Patience 0 – 2 Losira
Scarlett 2 – 1 Losira