This is it, the very last stop before we head into the Global Finals.
The qualifiers alone were as brutal as usual, with a number of people getting their BlizzCon hopes and dreams immediately crushed, and in the aftermath we've ended up with three distinctive categories of players in terms of what the Super Tournament actually means to them – the players here for a glorified warm-up ahead of the Global Final, those still fighting to earn a spot at the table and finally the guys with nothing to lose looking to carve out a piece of the WCS pie for themselves.
Going to BlizzCon: Dark, Trap, Maru, Rogue, soO, herO, Stats
Fighting to make it to the Global Final: TY, RagnaroK, GuMiho, Solar, PartinG
Wildcards with nothing to lose: Classic*, Impact, Cure, Dream
As of right now, I'm still working under the assumption Classic isn't going to BlizzCon. I know the Ro16 was moved to Seoul, however unless we're explicitly told otherwise I don't think being eligible for 1/4th of the tournament means much in the grand scheme of things. In that regard, I'm still looking at #9 in the WCS rankings as enough to make it to the Global Finals.
Also, if you'd like a more thorough breakdown when it comes to the requirements for the people fighting over Dear's spot, feel free to check out this comment chain.
Thanks to rolling the dice as we usually do instead of using anything resembling actual seeding the Ro16 bracket has turned out looking almost completely ridiculous, however we've still ended up with a lot of incredibly compelling matches regardless, so without further ado lets get into the thick of things before I derail myself by going into an all too predictable rant on the topic of playing around with people's careers while hiding behind the "fairness" of random draws.
M1 | Rogue vs Stats | Luck of the Draw
As has become tradition at the Super Tournament, Stats will once again be playing against the reigning GSL Champion in the opening round as if to prove my point about the supposed "fairness", no rant required. Regardless, while name value might suggest otherwise and Rogue did thank the Protoss Champion after lifting his latest trophy, that gratitude might feel more than a little bittersweet as the Zerg will now be knocking his opponent out cold here.
Unlike the last time he was put in this sort of completely ridiculous scenario, Stats isn't even remotely favored against this Jin Air Juggernaut and to make matters worse his supposedly solid PvZ has actually grown to be surprisingly overrated off the fact he took down both Solar and Serral at the recent ASUS ROG tournament, while in reality the Protoss has been a lot more up and down in the matchup than taking down those two suggests.
Things only escalate when I remind you this Jin Air Champion is not allergic to weekenders – in fact the majority of Rogue's success has come from winning this type of events – and in addition it hasn't even been a full week since he won the Code S Final thanks to impeccable ZvP. Lets put it this way, if the Jin Air Zerg comes in at even 80% of the level he already showed to become the GSL Champion, I only see this going one way.
There is something to be said about Rogue's often flaky attitude so there's definitely a universe in which the he somehow loses this series while being overconfident to the point where it allows Stats a way in or even better the Protoss may have found holes in his temporary practice partner's builds – however lets be real, we all know what "should" happen if we're going off tangibles and those dictate this series is going to the Code S Champion.
Aligulac: Refined | Prediction: Rogue 3-1
Stats | Confidence: 80%
M2 | Maru vs Dark | Ro16 = Nonsense
Assuming the first match hasn't convinced you random draws are utter garbage, surely this one will – literally the two people who would have had to play the 3rd place decider match in Code S will now be facing each other in the opening round of the Super Tournament instead, get me out.
And the worst part? This could easily end up as one of the best matches of the event, since Maru is renowned for his TvZ prowess and Dark is notorious for bending ZvT to his will – in theory, this should be an absolute banger that goes the distance with hard fought maps all the way to the finish. Unfortunately, there are two problems standing in the way of that silver lining playing out.
The first is quite obvious – like it or not, there's no escaping the fact Maru has lost a step over the course of 2019 and repeatedly underperformed specifically at weekender tournaments. Fortunately for him, this is where the second factor will once again force me to still pick him as the favorite – Dark has lost 12 out of the last 17 maps they've played in addition to getting smashed 0-4 in matches so while we can shadowbox using their current selves until our eyes bleed, I tend to find history doesn't lie.
Ultimately, the outcome of this series comes down to the following: will Maru underperform once again, is Dark going to allow the lopsided record between them to affect him, will neither of these things happen or will we be forced to watch as both do? Personally, I'm once again coming down on the side of common sense i.e. surely Maru finds it within himself to defend his TvZ crown against a comfortable opponent – but at this point don't be surprised if through a combination of intangibles and Dark's own stellar play in the matchup we get to see the upset unfold regardless.
Aligulac: Refined | Prediction: Maru 3-2
Dark | Confidence: 70%
M3 | soO v Impact | Passing of the Torch?
We've finally reached a match that makes sense for the opening round and although on the surface it might seem like there isn't much to see here don't let the names fool you – soO's form has been questionable at best as of late while Impact has been steadily ramping up to climb the Zerg ladder.
History goes against the idea we're going to see anything interesting in this series – despite the relatively close 16-13 in games and 6-3 in matches record – considering the IEM Katowice Champion has only lost to Solar and Rogue in ZvZ series this year while it wouldn't be unfair to say Impact isn't even particularly good in the mirror, so if you're going off tangibles alone it should be all soO here.
This is one of the rare times, however, I'll be going with the intangibles instead to predict the upset – the Kong of Kongs has looked completely out of shape for a while now, soO is currently also riding a solid offline losing streak and has been dipping his toe in the casting life. On the opposite side of the fence I think his opponent is as hungry as ever and looking to have an impact on the last WCS event he's taking part in for 2019 and what better way to do it than taking down the legend in your way.
Aligulac: Refined | Prediction:
soO 1-3 Impact | Confidence: 60%
M4 | GuMiho vs Cure | True Mirror
Now this is a clash where you'll be able to weed out the casuals from the hardcores, since both these guys are absolutely deadly in TvT and have traded series and maps alike virtually indefinitely, however just one of them has the famous name that leaps off the page – and deservedly so.
GuMiho has earned his place in history through grit and determination which culminated in a Code S title a long time ago, however since then it's been quite up and down for the Towel Terran – sometimes he delivers a performance that convinces you it's time for another miracle run while at other times he starts making you question whether that unique playstyle of his is what actually holds him back from taking the often easier path.
On the other end of the spectrum we find Cure, a player that's constantly being talked up thanks to online results and practice leaks, however ultimately a Terran that's yet to deliver – especially when you consider he's part of the Jin Air team, at some point you have to ask the only slightly unfair question i.e. where are his trophies if he's really this good? Still, you never know when someone might deliver on all that potential, just ask any number of his teammates.
When we put it all together I think this is an impossible series to call, there's virtually no edge to speak of going either way so it's all going to come down to who shows up 5% better on the day of the clash and seeing as GuMiho is still clinging on to hope of making it to BlizzCon it's reasonable to expect he comes in ready to edge this one out considering this is merely the first step on that path.
Aligulac: Refined | Prediction: GuMiho 3-2
Cure | Confidence: 55%
M5 | Solar vs PartinG | Date With Fate
Speaking of people still trying to get a spot for themselves at the Global Finals, what better way to decide that sort of thing than to have two of these players battle it out from the very start and in doing so eliminate the competition – even if they've been heading on opposing trajectories for a while now.
While it's true PartinG literally took down Solar in the qualifier to get here, the Protoss player has certainly had much more success during the course of the tournaments themselves earlier in the year – admittedly, partially thanks to lucky draws and fluky circumstances, however the once upon a time Champion still made it happen regardless.
That said, Solar's basically had a revival at the end of 2019 essentially starting from his phenomenal performance at ASUS ROG, where he basically smashed everyone except Stats to put his name back out there. In addition, the Zerg has a historical advantage in this particular series thanks to being 10-5 in games and 4-2 in matches, certainly not a tiny sample size.
Ignoring the fact PartinG likely already showed his best builds to Solar in order to guarantee he makes it here, seeing as both these players have an extremely long road ahead of them if they want to make it to the Global Final it's hard to bank on either having a miracle run, so I'll stick with the guy on the rise who's been killing it lately & only fell in the literal Group of Death to the eventual Champion and his teammate the 4x Code S King.
Aligulac: Refined | Prediction: Solar 3-1
PartinG | Confidence: 70%
M6 | TY vs RagnaroK | Judgement Day
While at first it might feel like this is just a discount version of an earlier match we already talked about, don't be too quick to judge this book by its cover, especially not after the absolute bangers both these guys put on in the Ro8 of Code S & unlike Maru vs Dark history hasn't picked a side in this one yet.
TY dug deep to take the former GSL Champion to his limit and honestly would have put him away if it hadn't been for the Zerg's ridiculous tenacity, if anyone had doubts about him in TvZ – including he himself – that match should have erased them permanently from his mind. On the other hand, RagnaroK did take the 4x Code S Champion to town, basically telling him "if you want this series you'd better ramp it up to 11" and that was against an opponent who had significant mental and historical edges over him.
Still, you can only give so much credit to people for losing in a series – ultimately, both TY and RagnaroK failed to deliver so while they did put up quite a show neither are going into this feeling over the moon exactly, especially with the Global Final still at stake for whoever smashes through this match. The easy answer here is obvious, TY puts up another stellar performance and cleans up "noname" RagnaroK to waltz into the next round, right?
After seeing what the Zerg did against the best TvZ player in the world, though, I have my doubts about that happening. Frankly, I think RagnaroK has provably gotten better over the course of 2019 so I'll be going with another upset here accordingly since it could definitely go either way and in any case get ready for a monstrous series by both of them.
Aligulac: Refined | Prediction:
TY 2-3 RagnaroK | Confidence: 60%
M7 | herO vs Dream | Blast from the Past
I'll save you some time by skipping ahead – there is no relevant history between these two & how often do we get to say that in this day and age? That fact alone makes this match more exciting than it would be otherwise, however the juicy little details from their past are also quite compelling.
Dream has only recently come back from the military and has been grinding to get back to where he once was – speaking of which, regardless of the fact these two have barely played each other ever, the one truly significant time they met that left a lasting impression was the time Dream beat his opponent 4-0 in the SSL Ro4. While that was admittedly all the way back in 2015, it's certainly telling of the heights this guy is capable of when he's in form.
Lets not ignore the other side of the argument either, though – before that fateful encounter herO had beaten him all three times for an overall flawless map score of 6-0 and while the Smiling Assassin has certainly looked better he's still basically cruised his way to BlizzCon over the course of 2019 regardless as herO tends to deliver respectable results for fun nowadays and while it's truly been a long time since we've gotten to call the Protoss player Champion, that sort of thing tends to run in your veins.
herO is facing the lowest ranked player in the tournament, who isn't even particularly good in TvP and the Protoss has an ax to grind with him as the cherry on top (even if it's basically from a lifetime ago, that sort of thing doesn't tend to leave you either). I see no real reason as to why the Smiling Assassin is going to lose here, however the lack of contact between these two does make you wonder if the upset is a lot more possible than it seems.
Aligulac: Refined | Prediction: herO 3-1
Dream | Confidence: 70%
M8 | Trap vs Classic | Last Chance?
The GSL S2 Code S Semifinal, ladies and gentlemen, in the opening round of the weekender – WCS Ranks 2 & 3, just FYI. Honestly, if you still don't understand why random seeding is utter bullshit at this point, I can't help you. Nevertheless, it's certainly a rematch I was looking forward to – while it was still possible.
Make no mistake, Classic made 2019 his own with some truly inspired performances as he once again became one of the best players in the world. Part of that dominance was his unprecedented PvP record, something that would be challenged and overcome by Trap himself in the series I already mentioned, featuring an equally unprecedented collapse from the Protoss Champion.
Since then, Trap has only gotten better while his opponent here has been running out of steam rapidly, an unfortunate reality of his days being numbered and the elusive second Code S title now seemingly infinitely out of reach – frankly, I have no idea what Classic's even really doing here but thanks to the random draw he won't be around for much longer to tell us. Purely based on form, I see no reason as to why the back to back GSL Finalist is falling here to his severely diminished opponent
The historical record between these two is ridiculously favored towards Classic, however that was even more true when the two faced each other earlier this year and the clear favorite had a 3-1 lead, so I feel completely comfortable banking on Trap to put the Champion away in the opening round here seeing as by any metric he's simply better at this point and if Classic wants to prove otherwise he'll need to dig a lot deeper than he has as of late.
Aligulac: Refined | Prediction: Trap 3-1
Classic | Confidence: 60%
The gauntlet kicks off on Oct 3rd with Rogue vs Stats, you can view the countdown to each individual series here.
As always, if you think differently feel free to let everyone know why in the comments below.
Thanks as always for reading & see you when I see you! (:
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