"Hope is a bitch" – Group E, described in 4 words or less.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead, Obviously.
The King of Code S has returned and looks better than ever – Maru not only decimated his group but made it look scarily easy, yet again. I genuinely feel sorry for the other three players here, who seemingly were always going to have to settle for second place in the best case scenario. Speaking of which, herO needed to perform so many heroic acts to survive the onslaught today it was ridiculous, but all that matters in the end is that he dealt with the adversity and pressure marvelously to secure his spot in the Ro16 (along with a fair amount of PTSD, surely).
- Maru is going to do it again, isn't he? How do you stop this man when Jin Air is fully behind him and combined they give you their undivided attention? As I was initially watching RagnaroK's perfect defense, Tasteless & Artosis reminded us that when you're ahead of Maru that just means you're even. Just a little bit later, as if to prove their point, Maru caught back up in the game after his failed harass – made things actually even – at which point (because it's Maru) he was then technically ahead, and as soon as he's ever ahead – you're dead. Like Maru's made it look so many times before, by the end of the game it seemed as if he was always going to win it and anyone who'd thought otherwise was a fool. On the second map RagnaroK looked broken – like he had no idea what he was even supposed to do – and I don't blame him. You'd think herO would offer a bit more of a challenge to Maru in the winner's match, but you'd be wrong. Without proxying – or as some people like to call it "saving builds" – the Terran King absolutely shitstomped the Protoss player to end the day with a quick and perfect 4-0 record & then went on to declare the proxy playstyle was "out of fashion", to Masters Terran players around the world's utter shock and dismay.
- herO probably doesn't feel like a winner after today, but it's not really his fault this group draw was insane. The Protoss player started off the day by getting hard countered in lieu of Scarlett's preparation, only to still secure the match by holding off two very weird all ins. Unfortunately, there was no time to celebrate because he had to go up against Maru as his reward for that comeback and suffer the uncontested 0-2 before having to rematch the Zerg player. In what was unquestionably the Match of the Night, herO once again lost the first map to Scarlett – to give foreigner fans false hope – before coming through and clutching two extremely close wins. The Protoss player ended up losing 4 maps today and I don't even think he played badly in them, that just goes to show the level that was on display in this group.
Once again, the Zergs were both eliminated (it seems like Dark might end up having to solo the show in the Ro16 for the Zs at this rate):
RagnaroK I'm sure surprised a lot of people with his initial performance against Maru, only to have a complete collapse in the following three games and go out with a major whimper & deserved 0-4 score. I guess you can't really blame him for losing – fair's fair, the competition was fierce – but you can certainly critique his consistent lack of rising to the occasion. This is a great example of why you should take online performances and ladder ranks with a major grain of salt – more often than not, they don't translate to the more high pressure and as a result competitive offline environment. At this point I think it's fair to place RagnaroK right next to the likes of Impact and TRUE in terms of players who we know "should" be better but can't deliver when the chips are down for one reason or another.
On the flip side, Scarlett had the unfortunate task of going up against a player that doesn't wilt under pressure – herO refused to go down (twice) in spite of her creativity and persistence in trying to take him out. I know it's going to be extremely easy for people to say she had a bad performance because of going out in the Ro32, however I suggest you watch the games first before casting that shade, Scarlett without a doubt gave herself many opportunities and played to win. I think part of the problem is who she is (notorious for having lots of talent, but not the best work ethic) although it's one of those double edged sword scenarios, where you have to take the good with the bad – when things work out it's amazing, but when they don't you have to accept that result as well. We can debate endlessly whether a different approach could have helped her seal the deal vs herO, but I think there are much better things we can do with our time. The only disappointment I can express in terms of Scarlett is that we didn't get to see her play vs Maru – a match that was likely only ever going to go one way, but I still think she could've put up a great fight and even made it interesting. In any case I'm looking forward to seeing her back in S2, hopefully in a group that doesn't have all three races and two players who could win the entire thing.
Here's a link to the VODs from today, I really enjoyed Maru's glorious return and the ZvP struggle.
- Match of the Night – No contest, the
between herO and Scarlett was the one you had to hold your breath in. I'll likely end up rewatching it to see what all the little things were that allowed the Protoss player to crush every foreigner and Zerg fan's hopes and dreams one more time this Season, but the performance from both players was on point, they kept it interesting all the way till the end.
Lastly, some takeaways for the advancing players:
- I remember a time when people said no one would be in as many finals in a row as soO and now Maru might not only be in just as many finals but win them all. He already crushed Nestea's back to back GSL wins record, might as well go for this one as well, while also getting a record amount of gold medals, why not? Maru's biggest challenge in Code S resides in Finland and has shown little interest in changing that. Aside from the best player in the world (also known as the elephant in the room), the only players who've recently shown a capacity to present a problem to Maru were Stats and sOs – one of whom is already out of the tournament, shockingly, and the other is always playing on borrowed time before the mothership comes to take him back home. What I'm trying to say with all this gibberish – provided Maru keeps showing up for work like he did today, the path to the 4x GSL championships in a row is free and clear for the King.
- After a quick visit to the doctor, I think herO will be all set for the Ro16 because he showed us that snatching victories away from the jaws of defeat comes naturally to him, which bodes very well for his chances moving forward. I don't think he's in peak form right now, but I certainly feel like he has a fighting chance to make it deeper in this Code S season, especially considering there are quite a few players who don't deal with pressure as easily as seemingly he can inside the game – and to be honest, he could win series off this quality alone, forget about how good he is at the actual videogame.
Keep in mind these are just my observations. If you caught something I missed / think differently, feel free to express yourself as well in the comments below.
Thanks as always for reading & catch you tomorrow after the mess of a group gives us our next two players in the Ro16, whoever they might be!
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