The Players: MVP, July, HeRo, Leenock
After the excitement of having a foreigner in Group A, this group looks a bit more familiar. At the head of the pack is MVP, perhaps the most iconic star of the GSL. He has won the championship three times and is no doubt hungry for his next victory. What is most amazing about his play is he can’t be described in any simple terms. He has consistent macro and impressive micro, but neither of these adequately encapsulate his unique ability. Tastosis often describe him as having the best builds for all situations, a statement I can’t disagree with. Above all others, he is the player that must be watched to be understood. He always seems prepared beyond his opponents and I don’t expect this group to be any exception.
Next is July (formerly JulyZerg), one of the most unpredictable players in the GSL. DoA, a former GSL caster, once described July as having a specific second in any given game where he decides it is time to attack. From that moment on, he doesn’t stop until either he or his opponent has GG’d. Now, there’s more to this methodology than typical aggressive all ins, which is where the nuance of July’s play comes in. He is capable of playing any style, including some incredibly beautiful long games. It is this versatility and his well established talent (he was a Golden Mouse winner in Starcraft: Brood War) that makes the “July Second” as powerful (and effective) as it is. Of all the information one can discover within a Starcraft 2 game, it is still nearly impossible to read exactly what is going on in the mind of the opponent. July may decide at any moment, even one his opponent least suspects, that it is time to bring down the hammer.
HeRo is an all around solid Protoss player. What impresses me most is the steady rate of his rise in GSL. He earned his way into Code A, and battled over several seasons to make his way into Code S. He achieved this on the back of respectable PvT and strong PvZ. His weakest match-up appears to be PvP, which fortunately won’t affect his performance in this group. While he is well known for his success in foreign tournaments (including a 1st place finish at Dreamhack Winter 2011) and position on Team Liquid, he doesn’t seem to be the standout talent next to his three opponents. However, given his strengths against T and Z, he has a chance to advance.
The second Zerg in this group, not to mention the final remaining Zerg in Code S Season 2, is the ever dangerous Leenock. While he has been a quality player for some time, he really made a name for himself last year by winning MLG Providence and placing 2nd in GSL November (losing to Jjakji in 6 games). I consider him to be one of the scariest ZvT players in the game, as he regularly hits hive before 15 in-game minutes and executes brood lord/infestor/queen pushes like no one else. While his ZvP isn’t quite as strong, he has had great success in ZvZ throughout his time in the GSL. Though he is among the youngest active players in the league, he plays like he’s seen it all before. That confidence gives him a great deal of strength.
*note, all sets after 2 are based on predictions.
Set 1: MVP vs. July
For all of the mystery surrounding July’s play, MVP’s game sense will be enough to carry him through easily. Whether it’s an early bust, a mid game timing, or a drawn out macro game, I think he is a stronger player than July and will turn almost any situation into a win.
MVP 2-0 over July
Set 2: HeRo vs. Leenock
While HeRo’s numbers in the GSL aren’t particularly strong, he is considered a quality PvZ player. Even if he is above average, ZvP has been Leenock’s weakness since he broke into the GSL. This should be a fun match-up, but in the end I believe HeRo will take it.
HeRo 2-1 over Leenock
Set 3: MVP vs. HeRo
Based on MVP’s performance in his 2nd and 3rd best of 3 in the round of 32, he is playing up to his old ability. That being the case, it will take something special from HeRo to prevent him from walking into the round of 8. Barring that, MVP will take this series.
MVP 2-1 over HeRo
Set 4: July vs. Leenock
One of the simplest predictions a person can come across in the GSL. Leenock has dominant ZvZ and July’s is absolutely atrocious. This is a cut and dry situation. Of course, anything is possible, but any prediction but a straightforward win from Leenock is wishful thinking.
Leenock 2-0 over July
Set 5: HeRo vs. Leenock
I consider Leenock the better long-term player, and given that this would be the second set between them, it is conceivable that he would get it together to take the series. However, I find myself strangely compelled to go with the straightforward numbers and predict another win for HeRo. It will be very very close, though. I don’t expect Leenock will leave anything on the table in trying to reach the round of 8.
HeRo 2-1 over Leenock
MVP and HeRo advance to the round of 8, dropping Leenock, July, and all Zerg hope down to Code A.