GSL Code S 2020 S2 | Ro24 | Group A | Rundown

It's been a minute; thankfully the GSL is now back with four new maps, a few unfamiliar faces and a fresh looking magenta palette.

Group A:

  • Living Legends with 9 Code S Finals between them: soO, Zest

  • Dark Horse, the foreign Terran turned Korean Terran, looking to make an impact: SpeCial

  • Enemy Unknown i.e. one of the newcomers to the GSL: Zoun

Normally, it would be pretty easy to call how this Group should go – the two Legends take turns beating up on the underdogs and then decide between themselves who has to settle for second place. Unfortunately, an impending doom in the form of mandatory military service for soO and an atrocious qualification from Zest were strong factors in casting doubt over that standard prediction, couple those intangibles with SpeCial's skill ceiling being incredibly high and a virtually complete unknown in the form of Zoun – who had already upset Zest to even be here – saying this Group was incredibly spicy would be the understatement of the year.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead, Obviously

It wasn't pretty to say the least, however ultimately Zest lives to fight another day after getting two over his opponents, winning by the minimal margin to secure 1st place none the less.

In the aftermath we got to watch SpeCial put on another clinic in what turned into a glorified TvZ showcase for him tonight, earning himself 2nd after going undefeated in that particular matchup.

| Zest < 2 : 1 > Zoun | ★★☆☆☆ | Shaky Road To Revenge

  • Ever Dream | The opening game of the Season was over before it could even get started when Zest decided to proxy a Stargate and Zoun sent his only defense across the map, resulting in 16 Probe deaths and an unrecoverable amount of lost mining time, basically meaning it was time to move on.

  • Deathaura | What followed was Zoun agreeing the proxy Oracle and two Adepts build was a great idea while Zest went for the remote Robo instead, which kicked off a mini base race based on harassment, that probably should have gone in the veteran's favor but couldn't when he lost his only Immortal and any real pressure with it. While the game wasn't immediately over after that, it certainly didn't help that Zest was down on workers or the fact he lost control of the ramp despite warping in Sentries specifically to contain the underdog inside his base, so when Zoun built a Phoenix and ended the Warp Prism shenanigans it was time to head into the final game accordingly.

  • Submarine | The openings for both players were a lot more conservative and even though they traded some blows at the start it felt like a wash, where Zest admittedly edged out minor leads here and there, which snowballed when his Warp Prism Adept harass got some work done. Zoun tried to answer with some pretty good Oracle harassment which turned into tagging his opponent's entire bases and at that point the underdog decided he liked what he was seeing, making the game ending decision to commit to an assault. Just as his Glaives were finishing, Zoun set up a brief siege and then dove into his opponent's defenses & while it felt exciting in the moment he was all too quickly dismissed as his blows were completely absorbed by Zest, earning the veteran an insurmountable lead that meant it was all over.

| soO < 0 : 2 > SpeCial | ★★★☆☆ | Thank You, Next

  • Ice And Chrome | The rock solid initial defense by the Zerg helped him establish an incredible macro position, only for soO to completely misread what his opponent was going for, namely the Terran's signature Mech. The second wave of harassment by SpeCial did a lot better and it definitely helped the Zerg was still going for Lings and their respective upgrades, however there was still a small chance for soO to take this one away when a great counter attack ravaged the Terran defenses despite almost everything being at home from his opponent and the followup Muta harass picked off Tanks and SCVs galore to give the Zerg a way back into the game. SpeCial then simply turtled up, burrowed Mines everywhere and despite having a significantly smaller bank managed to win the war of attrition by being incredibly cost efficient against the flawed Zerg comp that was always going to get outscaled if the game went on long enough. soO did eventually get his Hive up and got a respectable portion of the map covered in creep, but when his initial Broods A-moved across the map unprotected and were surprised by a fleet of Vikings the tempo advantage completely swung the other way, allowing SpeCial to max out and then push out to do devastating damage, even winning in ridiculous engagements at that point, basically making it obvious the writing was on the wall for this one and saying to soO "you should have killed me when you had the chance".

  • Submarine | As we were focusing on the production tab where a Fusion Core had popped up, SpeCial was showing off his micro as he simply bounced through the Zerg defenses and scored 8 Drone kills like it was nothing. When the first Battlecruiser showed up and picked off another 9 workers it felt like the game was already over, but SpeCial made sure there would be no coming back for soO by powering up on just two bases and then simply coming out with a huge army, which the Zerg was never going to be able to stop, so when the majority of the Swarm was sacrificed to pick off a pair of Tanks and then Bane speed got denied with a stupid amount of Marines still left over, all SpeCial had to do was 1-A for the win earned off his relentless pressure from start to finish.

| Zest < 2 : 1 > SpeCial | ★★★☆☆ | Snatching Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory

  • Golden Wall | What felt like the weirdest proxy Factory Starport location ever didn't get scouted by the minimal margin, allowing the Hellion drop play to sneak inside the Protoss main and kill off 12 Probes as a direct result. The fact a BC followup was coming, none of the Hellions had even died and SpeCial deciding to stay on his one CC while Zest was blind taking a third Nexus all meant this one was completely done as soon as the Terran army left its base.

  • Eternal Empire | The story of how Tasteless would drown in the river was more interesting than either player's opening here and pretty much nothing other than that was worth mentioning as both players established their expansions at the start. The game was going slow and steady up to the point SpeCial got a really greedy third CC along with the fact he was focusing on harassment while going Mech, so as he tried to land it and establish a defensive posture it turned out Zest's choice to forego any real tech and simply try to smash his way into a win was going to work out just fine for the Protoss against this sort of nonchalant play.

  • Deathaura | The blocked Nexus and presumably forced proxy Stargate made it so there would be no downtime in terms of the final map's openers. Somehow even though an Oracle spawned virtually inside the Terran base, SpeCial only lost 3 SCVs to the harassment and even found the Pylon, so as Zest was going for the "fuck, time to take a third base and go Blink" followup it was clear the Terran had no plans to go into a longer game. The delay, however, partially thanks to Zest's vigilant Stalker play at the front made it so SpeCial's push arrived way too late – you know things are bad when Storm's ready – and even after a slightly botched flank by the Protoss there was just too much left over for Zest so he held the attack pretty comfortably, securing his spot in the Ro16.

| soO < 2 : 0 > Zoun | ★☆☆☆☆ | Winning Ugly

  • Ice And Chrome | We all knew it was Glaives o'clock before it had even happened, unfortunately for the underdog that included soO who had a ridiculous number of units ready to absorb and completely deflect the harass. Just as the Zerg went back into droning, Zoun finally pulled the trigger when he was basically forced to do so after his third Nexus got cancelled, however even though he got 9 worker kills it still wasn't really enough to give him a significant enough edge. Firmly having the game under control, soO put down a fourth Hatch before poking with his army and despite the fact the Protoss held off the initial assault to the point of chasing him out Zoun didn't really have enough to immediately counter attack comfortably and to make matters worse his inexplicable choice to go for two Colossi at a time would end up biting him as soO queued up a bunch of Corruptors to support his ground army while starting up a Hive behind that as his plan B, culminating in a game ending fight where the large majority of the Protoss forces would be completely wiped out, giving the Zerg more than enough room to tech up and close things out with ease.

  • Ever Dream | The sharpness of Zoun's Glaives attack this time around was commendable and it earned him 25 Drone kills even though soO was seemingly ready to deflect the assault. The slow counter punch by the Zerg should have been the nail in the coffin, the fact the Protoss player then killed even more Drones would have been the icing on the cake but then Zoun went mental boom and lost all his Immortals in the middle of nowhere, basically leaving himself dead in the water as soO simply massed up his low tier units and sent them across the map to secure the admittedly ugly win.

| SpeCial < 2 : 0 > soO | ★★☆☆☆ | Oblivion

  • Ice And Chrome | The two proxy Barracks play should have given the Terran a huge lead considering his opponent had gone for Hatch Gas first, only for some botched Bunker play to make it a wash more or less. Thankfully for the winrate of this strategy, SpeCial then simply put down two CCs and crossed his fingers, which worked out when soO spotted that "followup" along with the Fusion Core just a little late to really have the option of punishing it hard, even though he did try with some Roaches that fell completely flat thanks to a Banshee. Although equal on bases, the Zerg had the correct unit composition this time at least so when the initial harass from Hellions and a BC came in it got shut down cold and soO used his own suicide squad to get significantly more damage done across the map, only to once again fall in love with the idea of Mutas being a composition. The flock did get some crucial harassment in – picking off Gas and SCVs alike – however mass Muta is not an endgame and seeing as this had already happened tonight SpeCial pretty calmly turtled up again and queued up the Mines/Thors as you would expect. soO had the huge bank lead, had the map control, had the opportunity to commit to guerrilla tactics in order to avoid his Meching opponent's deadly max – and he still didn't manage to shut him down in time, resulting in the inevitable as soon as SpeCial reached critical mass and could stroll across the map to take an extremely favorable fight. Ultras may have looked like they'd saved the day for a while and the Zerg did do his best FanTaSy impression, however the Terran just kept being as cost efficient as possible, even utilized a Hellion Cyclone squad to run circles around his opponent in the later stages of the game picking off bases left and right along with key units and ultimately starving out the Zerg in another brutal demoralizing display of "you're not winning the war of attrition against Mech".

  • Eternal Empire | I thought the two Barracks Reaper opening did fuck all for the Terran, but then soO marched an army of Roaches and Ravagers across the map to suicide them into a Bunker so I guess that makes him the metaphorical winner of that unspoken contest. The icing on the cake was SpeCial's BC – telegraphing another Mech build – only to then go with Bio instead as the Zerg was queuing up Roach speed and Corruptors. A disgusting upgrade lead, coupled with the fact soO's army was simply abysmal to begin with, made the Terran's first real push the game ending move, after which regardless of his resilience there was simply nothing left for soO to do but tap out and move on.

Quite the exciting day of Code S matches, it's great we're back in the thick of things, even if the kickoff today will be more than a little bittersweet.

  • Match of the Night – There were a lot of great Maps more so than Series, but if I had to pick one I would go with M3 where I really enjoyed the back and forth massacres and high octane action.

Finally, here are some of my closing thoughts on each player:

  • Zest looked like a mob boss collecting favors tonight with people tripping over to give him lifelines back into each series, you can tell his form is just not there at the moment, really explains why it was so hard for him to even qualify. That said, it felt like a breath of fresh air to hear his recent struggles both acknowledged on the broadcast itself and admitted by the man himself in the preview and winner's interview, you can't get better until you accept your current position so I'm looking forward to seeing Zest get back in tournament winning shape, hopefully in time for the Ro16 this Season.

  • SpeCial straight up bullied his opponent in the TvZ tonight and honestly should have secured the winners' match too after that phenomenal start. It's still good to see his mental held up for the final series, where he was even more impressive than his initial match, however I do believe he still has a next gear we haven't seen yet. Looking forward to his builds and performance in the upcoming rounds, I think a Ro8 for him has been a long time coming and this feels like the Season it might finally happen.

  • soO did not have a great day, his play felt slower than usual or at times straight up flawed. It's always hard to watch a legend of the game fall like this, I really wanted him to have one last deep run in Starcaft II's premier tournament, however it simply wasn't meant to be. I'm still hoping he gets one last chance before he has to give it up to go to the military, but even if he doesn't get that opportunity we can take solace in the fact he won TSL 5 and IEM Katowice last year, so he did finally get a few meaningful Gold medals on his way out – and the way things are going, who knows, maybe in a few years he returns rejuvenated and scarier than ever.

  • Zoun started pretty strong all things considered and even had multiple opportunities to get some damage done in the PvZ too, however the collapse was real and it's unquestionable playing in the GSL studio is a lot more different than smashing nerds online. Still, I really liked the composure he showed throughout the majority of his games and must say he definitely looks like someone to watch out for moving forward if he sticks with it, not to name any particular names but I'm a lot more interested in seeing Zoun try again than certain players who've hit the Ro32/Ro24 and bombed seemingly forever with next to no signs of improvement.

As always, if you think differently let everyone know why in the comments below.

Catch you on Wednesday for Group B, where we'll get to find out if Dark is ready to get back on top, whether Stats is going to play up to his expected level or fall like soO with impending doom on the horizon for him as well and finally if either Astrea or Impact will be able to topple one of these giants to carve out a little piece of the pie for themselves.

Thanks as always for reading & see you when I see you! (:



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