Code S Ro16 - Group Group A Previewby Mizenhauer
New Frontiers: Maru, Neeb, Impact, ReynorStart time: Wednesday, Aug 15 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
There’s nothing as exhilarating as new frontiers. Once upon a time bards wove tales of adventures in unexplored lands where the sky was bluer and the grass greener. Where the horizon silently beckoned and the wind sung sweet melodies through the trees. While times have changed and you won’t find any sun dappled meadows by Samseong Station, the luster of novelty is something that never fades.
Neeb and Reynor are already frolicking through their own personal fairy tale. Reaching Code S was a triumph in and of itself. Reynor played the part of conquering neophyte, too brash to comprehend the consequence of his actions. Neeb’s long awaited qualification was catharsis after being humbled on the stage on more than one occasion despite entering as WCS’ most decorated warrior.
While Reynor and Neeb entered the event high on hopes, many held more modest expectations. The Round of 32 has been unkind to foreigners in LotV. Elazer, SpeCial, SortOf and more have been found wanting at the first checkpoint just this year. Had Reynor and Neeb joined the ranks of discarded chaff, no one would have been surprised. After all, the Round of 32 has been reduced to a tri-annual culling where the unfit give way to the familiar faces.
They still could have looked back one day, wistfully reminiscing on their stay in the world’s most prestigious tournament. They made it, that’s more than most could say. Such a forlorn fate was not for them, however. Neeb outclassed a pair of grizzled veterans. Reynor shocked the world. They found ways to persevere. They found ways to surprise us.
And so, Reynor and Neeb find themselves treading on rarefied ground. Where foreigner after foreigner had failed, Scarlett finally broke into the Round of 16 two seasons ago. Her mere presence was anathema, but her temerity knew no bounds. She should have fallen victim to INnoVation’s machination, but she managed to upset his perfect group. The thought of a foreigner replicating that feat seemed impossible after a disappointing Season 2, but here we are, with Reynor and Neeb planning their own coup.
It’s rather remarkable that Neeb and Reynor have found so much purchase in their very first Code S campaign. Walking the Royal Road is one of the most venerated achievements in Korea and for good reason. Now compare the glory which potentially awaits them to group mate Impact’s suffering. Impact has toiled in relative anonymity for years. It took him four attempts and four years to escape the Round of 32. Impact’s tenacity should be praised, but his long delayed accomplishment is overshadowed by his foreign rivals. Reynor and Neeb play the role of beloved darlings to many. Impact is quickly resigned to his accustomed role of afterthought.
Impact may not be as celebrated as the foreigner duo, but he is far better equipped to succeed on this stage. A veteran of the Korean scene, he’s beaten the best of the best in online cups, owned the top spot on ladder and even won a title in VSL. Impact may not be a GSL champion, but he’s sharpened his teeth against the best Korea has to offer for years. Neeb and Reynor are still teething. They come to Korea and practice best they can, but they can never compare to Impact’s experience and familiarity with their potential foes. And yet, it is the first time in the Round of 16 for all three.
And while Neeb, Reynor and Impact have already surpassed expectations, the grim reality is that they’ll have to fight harder than ever before if they want their journey to continue. A group of three would have been a stern enough test for the newcomers, but an apex predator stalks in their midst. Wreathed in thunder and carried by wrathful pinions, Maru has gone from flippant prodigy to an undeniably elemental force over the past eight months. Many have tried to end his oppressive reign, but Maru has emerged victorious on every occasion. It feels so strange to say given the familiar ebb and flow of the Korean scene, but the road to a Code S title unquestionably goes through Maru.
When they finally broke into the Round of 16 Impact, Neeb and Reynor surely envisioned a paradise of endless possibilities. Instead they find this starved, choked land. Relegated to the role of impetuous aspirants hoping to usurp Maru’s throne, they remain wary while Maru plots how best to dash their hopes and tighten his stranglehold over his dominion. That’s the thing about new frontiers. You’re always an intruder to some.
Maru 2 - 0 Neeb
Impact 2 - 0 Reynor
Maru 2 - 1 Impact
Reynor 2 - 1 Neeb
Impact 2 - 1 Reynor
Maru and Impact to advance.