The first GSL Champion for 2019 has already been crowned so now it's time to mix things up with a good old fashioned Bo5 single elimination bracket.
There's no question which format makes for more competitive games but I still love this tournament regardless because it rewards a slightly different skill set, gives us some more offline matches we likely wouldn't get to see otherwise & last but not least we get to bang this entire thing out in under a week.
The qualifiers for this tournament were as brutal as always, with quite a few fan favorites getting sent back to the ladder, however I'm still pretty happy with the lineup we've got here. Considering this is just the Ro16, I can't believe how many matches I'm excited to watch, it's looking to be a great week for Starcraft II.
Warning: if you care about spoilers and haven't watched all the games you want to from the last Code S, feel free to get out now.
M1 | Maru vs Stats | Many down, One more left?
Most of the best PvT players in the world – Dear, Trap, Classic – have already tried and failed to stop Maru's latest exploits, which is why on paper at least it makes perfect sense to give Stats the "final shot" at the King in this matchup, but as we've learned when given this opportunity you'd best not miss a single beat or else your name will just be added on to the pyre.
While the Protoss hasn't looked so hot as of late – aside from a stellar performance at IEM Katowice, of course – the last time these two clashed offline Stats did pull off a pretty convincing win at GSL vs The World, which is why this match might initially feel far from hopeless for him.
However – if you ignore the obvious "Weekend Maru Incoming" memes – it would take a significant amount of mental gymnastics to convince yourself the Terran is not the clear favorite here, since it's become abundantly clear this man has virtually solved TvP (if not for anyone else, certainly for himself) with his latest Code S Playoffs run being a testament to that fact.
While I do hope Stats has a crazy idea or two cooked up that might work for the sake of having a competitive series, when you take into account the recent form of both these players Maru's victory in this match seems almost inevitable.
Aligulac: Refined | Prediction: Maru 3-1
Stats | Confidence: 70%
M2 | Dark vs GuMiho | Enter the Chaos realm
On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, calling this series unpredictable would be putting it lightly, these two warriors have gone blow for blow pretty much forever and even when one of them gets the upper hand the other almost always finds a way to bring new life back to this fantastic rivalry.
That said, it would certainly be quite disingenuous of me to pretend Dark hasn't been looking in much better form as of late, with his ZvT specifically being incredibly on point, the Zerg has really only seemed mortal against Maru in the matchup over the past couple of months.
GuMiho, on the other hand, has been dropping maps left and right – granted, most of the time it's been against very good opponents – so the Terran is the one who certainly looks more beatable at the moment, which definitely feels like it might be the deciding factor right now.
Regardless, their clash has the potential to be one of the best matches in this Round and I'm looking forward to the crazy shenanigans both players are going to throw at each other. Purely for the sake of not pussying out, I'd have to edge this one over to Dark, but again it could certainly go either way.
Aligulac: Refined | Prediction: Dark 3-2
GuMiho | Confidence: 60%
M3 | Rogue vs Hurricane | Utterly horrendous mismatch
This is going to be like watching a tornado try to put out a forest fire.
Rogue has fought against better competition, played more often, beaten the majority of his opponents in ZvP and is currently sitting on a flawless 5-0 head to head map score specifically vs Hurricane when talking about their relevant history.
This match unfortunately feels like an absolute waste of time, I fully expect us to witness the most emphatic and merciless series sweep here in the entire Ro16.
Aligulac: Refined | Prediction: Rogue 3-0
Hurricane | Confidence: 97%
M4 | RagnaroK vs PartinG | The chase to reclaim former glory
Steven Tyler said it best: "The past is gone, it went by like dusk to dawn".
After all this time it seems PartinG can remember where the power was but the power he can now touch is only a memory, try as he might he's been unable to deliver the glorious performances of old and I'm afraid without that kind of strength he'll be in for a very rough night against the underrated monster towering over him.
RagnaroK may not have the same name value, might not be as clutch as him or even as mechanically gifted – but he's always been one of the most dangerous Zergs in Korea, is particularly good at weeding out the truly elite players from the rest of the pack and crucially currently holds a flawless 4-0 map score over this Protoss player's head in their relatively recent history.
They say you've got to lose to know how to win, so here's hoping PartinG can use those losses to bring something new and exciting to the table or alternatively draw on some of that past power in order to cause the upset because otherwise it's going to be a very underwhelming and soul crushing stomp from the Zerg to stop our nostalgia dead in its tracks.
Aligulac: Refined | Prediction: RagnaroK 3-1
PartinG | Confidence: 70%
M5 | Solar vs sOs | A magician's greatest secret
There's no rational way to explain how one of the most consistent and scary Zergs in Korea can lose a series when they're already up 2-0, yet it happened regardless – this type of phenomenon best describes the career of sOs in a nutshell, as things tend to always go wrong for his opponents inexcplicably.
Still there surely must come a time where there's no more magic left, every magician eventually runs out of tricks and I think Solar has been knocking on Jin Air's door for a while now, eager to get his revenge. Although the Zerg was unable to get it done the last three times they met, I find myself once again thinking this time things will be different.
Yet predicting things to go wrong for sOs hasn't turned out so well for the people doing so throughout his storied runs because the Protoss has seemingly always found a way to pull off miracles left and right. Maybe ironically at the end of this story we'll learn there was no magic at all & sOs was just a genius way ahead of his time.
I consider myself a realist so I feel compelled to go with my head on this one, Solar without a doubt is in prime position to get his revenge and dispell the aura behind sOs before he can even get going in this tournament. I'd love to be wrong, though, because that would likely mean sOs has somehow found a way to pull off the win one more time and that's something I'm sure all of us are dying to see happen.
Aligulac: Refined | Prediction: Solar 3-1
sOs | Confidence: 60%
M6 | Zest vs Dear | Going up against a stacked deck
The generally least liked matchup has been producing very interesting games as of late and I have a sneaking suspicion this series might be one more great addition to that list, considering we have two former GSL Champions here, each looking to play out their own redemption story in this tournament.
Zest has something to prove in PvP specifically after getting knocked out in the Ro32 of the last Code S, losing against Patience of all people (twice). While on paper he's supposed to be very good in this matchup, there have been far too many chinks in his armor to call the losses he's accumulated over time flukes, for whatever reason his level looks to have gone down a peg or two.
For other players those openings have been the way in, but Dear himself doesn't seem too fond of this matchup, it certainly has been nowhere near as good as his PvT. In fact this is almost the exact opposite scenario for him now, where he has to prove when the draw doesn't go his way at all he can still pull through, which is what real Champions do.
I think over the past couple of months we've had quite a few reminders it doesn't matter how good of a player you are, if you haven't figured out what to do in a specific matchup you can't really push through off raw skill alone most of the time, which coupled with their history leads me to believe we'll be sticking to the "script" here and Zest will take it home convincingly.
Aligulac: Refined | Prediction: Zest 3-1
Dear | Confidence: 70%
M7 | herO vs Patience | Don't forget the Joker
I have to admit herO's made an admirer out of me with his crazy performances over the past couple of months, in a very sOs-esque fashion he's been able to show up and deliver unbelievable results one after the other. I think unlike the Jin Air Protoss, though, herO is much more mechanically gifted, so it feels like he needs a little less magic to get the job done which only makes him scarier.
In that regard, I don't know how Patience is supposed to overcome the obstacle in front of him, this feels like a "Hurricane" situation i.e. no chance for the upset. To elaborate slightly, I think his opponent looks better in every single area of the game, I genuinely can't see the way in for him aside from the obvious feather in his cap that he did take out Zest in the last Code S (twice) which can't count for nothing.
In spite of that, when you take all the factors into consideration including their relevant head to head record (9-1 in maps, 4-0 in series), it feels very hard to come up with a reason why herO would lose this match, I think Patience will have some tricky stuff prepared but at the end of the day I still see this going only one way.
Aligulac: Refined | Prediction: herO 3-1
Patience | Confidence: 80%
M8 | soO vs Classic | One more time before we go
Talk about a dream match, especially considering where both these players are career-wise and their recent spikes back up in form. This series could genuinely decide who makes it all the way to the Final on this side of the bracket, which is both amazing and at the same time more than a little tragic considering this is just the first Round.
Classic earned his only GSL Code S Championship at soO's expense what feels like a lifetime ago and considering the Protoss player's latest performances against Rogue and Dark it would be hard to argue he isn't capable of adding just one more Zerg victim to that elite pile, provided he's prepared even remotely as well.
soO's prowess in ZvP right now, however, seems to be on another level – just ask Zest, herO and Stats if you have any doubts about that – the reigning IEM Katowice Champion might be looking to add one more trophy to his criminally underfilled cabinet here and now & in doing so get a little collateral revenge as a bonus.
This is by far the toughest match to predict and most exciting one to watch in the entire Ro16. I hope both these players arrive at the peak of their abilities and we get another – no pun intended – classic series we won't be forgetting anytime soon. Once again, just for the sake of not pussying out, I'm going to go with the Kong of Kongs to win this one in an extremely close match.
Aligulac: Refined | Prediction: soO 3-2
Classic | Confidence: 50%
The gauntlet kicks off on April 18th with Maru vs Stats, you can view the countdown to each individual series here.
Which matches are you looking forward to the most & which series am I the most wrong about? Feel free to let me know in the comments below! (:
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