The Code A matches this season have arguably been as competitive and unpredictable as Code S. To the disappointment of many foreign players, HuK fell to Code B for the second time. This allowed NaniWa to take the lead in foreign GSL success. Stories behind players like GuineaPig have been just as compelling as the reigning GSL champion, Dong Rae Gu. Code A is ultimately the proving ground. The environment is relentless for players trying to break through to the elite Code S.
The matches begin on Tuesday with DRG (Z) against the Virus (T). Since falling into Code A, DRG has been nearly unstoppable. The only weakness he’s shown in past matches is against Terran, where his win-rate is only 62.38% (TLPD). Of course, this percentage would be impressive on any other player. Virus has proven to be a Code S level player when at his best. Unfortunately, his best isn’t what we always see, and his worst match-up is against Zerg.
Prediction: DongRaeGue 2-0 Virus
The next match-up is between former Code S players BBoongBBoong and last season’s runner-up, Genius. Neither of these players are major competitors at foreign tournaments (at least not since Genius won at Blizzcon two years ago), but both have had a measure of success in the Korean scene. It’s notable that BBoongBBoong and Genius have already played this season in the group stage and Genius took the match two games to one, making the series difficult to predict. Genius, however, has proven to be a far more consistent player throughout the GSL competitions.
Prediction: Genius 2-0 BBoongBBoong
Jjakji is another former GSL Champion fighting through Code A and Symbol is another incredible Korean player prepared to steal Code S from him. The story has been told many times throughout this season. There is a Code S level player fighting to retain that position and a hungry Code B or Code A player is salivating for the opportunity to move through the bracket to secure their own. Symbol will be a tough opponent for this reason. He hasn’t had much experience in GSL, having only participated in GSTL and making a name for himself in online tournaments. He thinks he’s ready to take a Code S position, but Jjakji will prove him wrong.
Prediction: Jjakji 2-1 Symbol
The aLive v. Leenock match will be one of the more competitive in this group. In the international scene, aLive has proven he is a player to be feared by winning the IPL 4. Leenock is an impressive Zerg player and has been a contender for GSL Champion on a few occasions. Both of these players are extremely young and didn’t play Brood War professionally. Their TvZ and ZvT statistics are comparable so I expect these games to be fairly close even if a player cheeses or goes for early timing attacks.
Prediction: aLive 2-1 Leenock
The next four matches are all ZvT (except for one TvT). GuMiho and July will be a fun match to watch. Both of these players have been at Code S level at some point in their careers. That said, July has a better chance to secure a Code S spot. One may say he has not been playing well, but the match with Leenock was not a good indication of his full potential. GuMiho just hasn’t played as many matches against Zerg players in a tournament setting lately. Most of his GSL matches have been against Terran and Protoss. ZvT is historically July’s best matchup.
Prediciton: July 2-1 GuMiho
Bomber versus Sniper is an easier match to predict. Bomber simply has too much tournament experience to allow Sniper to continue. Sniper has been in Code A since last year sitting their comfortably but has never shown an ability to rise to the occasion and defeat a player on the level of Bomber. Everyone expects MarineKing to roll over YugiOh and I can’t disagree. MarineKing would arguably still be in Code S if he hadn’t been playing on almost zero sleep in his last match. He’s been too good lately to not make Code S again for next season.
Prediction: Bomber 2-0 Sniper
TheStC is another player that participates in many online tournaments (his TLPD record is longer than one might think). His reputation as a strong Terran extends all the way back to the beta. GhostKing, formerly known as Byun, is a reasonably strong Terran player with a strong history in Code A. He’s got very strong macro and I would love to see him succeed, but I think TheStC is going to take it with some tactical trickery.
Prediction: TheStC 2-0 GhostKing
Thursday’s headliner may be MC v. GanZI, but the first is Keen v. MMA may be even more entertaining. That said, after MMA’s win over aLive at Iron Squid, I don’t believe there’s any way for Keen to win. MMA showed that if it comes to a marine-tank composition battle, he will win. Keen has to be creative and innovative in the match-up in order to take it. He will get outplayed if he attempts to win by conventional means.
Prediction: MMA 2-0 Keen
Creator has become a formidable player on the Korean scene in the last five months. His macro is devastatingly efficient and Maru’s worst matchup is his TvP. Creator could take this quite easily if Maru comes into the match unprepared. Maru will have to find some way to interrupt his opponent’s macro, but I don’t see that happening.
Prediction: Creator 2-0 Maru
In the next match-up, it’s not a stretch to say out-right that MC will defeat GanZi. Granted, they are both Code S level players, but MC’s play style dominates the more conservative GanZi’s. If MC continues his trend of solid play, it’s going to be academic.
Prediction: MC 2-0 GanZi
FOrGG and Happy is another tight match. Happy has a decent GSL win ratio at 57.8%, but his TvT is not up to par with fOrGG. That skill discrepancy will be a setback that will be very difficult for him to overcome.
Prediction: fOrGG 2-1 Happy
Everyone we expect to be in Code S next season will be. MMA, MarineKing, and DongRaeGue should no doubt be able to secure their spot. Others such as ForGG, GuMiho, and Symbol will be fighting for it. There are no guarantees for most of these matches. They are all incredibly competitive players and many have already had a Code S career before, but only the winners will advance.