Any kind of result seems to be on the table in Group B, as Maru faces four players who can play championship-quality StarCraft II when they’re at their best. However, they’re also prone to random slumps and dips in form, which might make this a walk in the park for last season’s runner-up.
Start time: Thursday, Sep 22 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
As we’re fond of repeating here at TL.net, it speaks to the ridiculously high standard that Maru has set for himself that taking three runner-up finishes in a row (DH: Valencia, Code S Season 2, TSL9) is viewed as a disappointment. Maru is the prohibitive favorite to take first place in Group B, and many would consider him the favorite to win Code S entirely.
Cure is the player I’m most intrigued by in Group B. His severe drop-off after winning Code S Season 3 in 2021 is one of SC2’s great unsolved mysteries, but fortunately, it seems like his slump is coming to a close. Not only has he returned to being an extremely strong online player, but he also dominated his GSL RO20 group with 2-0 wins over Solar and Dark. While one has to be wary about getting overhyped for Cure—he has a tendency of underperforming in big events—he has a ton of upside if he’s playing well.
Continuing the theme of ‘upside,’ I’m still conflicted about where to rate Creator. Ever since placing runner-up in Code S Season 1, he’s been alternating between good and bad results. He placed top 4 at DH: Valencia, was eliminated early at HSC 21 and TSL9, and recently put in a playoff MVP-winning performance in the WTL for Team NV. Unless he’s been given another vehicular incentive, I’m not comfortable saying he’s a top 3 lock in this group.
Among the many ‘high-ceiling, low-floor’ players in this group, DongRaeGu is the most confounding one. Measures like win-rate and Aligulac rating paint him as an excruciatingly mediocre player—he’s currently #20 in the Aligulac rankings and has a 52% win-rate in 2022. However, he has an uncanny knack of pulling off upsets in big tournaments, like his ‘4-1’ of Serral in DH Last Chance (two BO3 wins), wins over herO and Maru in Code S Season 1, wins over Rogue and Maru in Code S Season 2, and recent win over Reynor in Code S Season 3. “HE CAN’T KEEP GETTING AWAY WITH IT!” you might scream. But somehow, I get the feeling that he will.
Rounding out this group of Maru + 4 curiosities is ByuN. The Shopify Terran has been an online powerhouse for several months now, but hasn’t been able to convert that Battle.net bounty into major tournament moolah. We’ve said in the past that strong ESL Open Cup performances usually lead to a deep major tournament run at some point—Zest, Cure, and herO being the big examples—and it feels like it should be the case for ByuN as well. In fact, things were actually going pretty well for him in TSL9, but he had the misfortune of running into TvT god Maru in the top eight. Can he go even deeper this time around?
Match #1: Cure vs Creator
Code S might be known as a preparation-oriented tournament in general, but these two players really exemplify that aspect of the competition. Both of them have a deep playbook of strategies, and both made their deepest GSL runs on the back of winning build order battles.
Aligulac.com sees Cure as a heavy favorite here, giving him a 73.55% chance of winning. But, as is often the case with Cure, there’s a minor-tournament premium put on his statistics, as he tends to mash through weaker players in smaller events. I think in a short BO3 series, this match is actually closer to 50/50 depending on who wins the semi-random build order wars.
I’m still giving Cure a slight edge and predicting him to win. I think he has an advantage in mechanics, and also in standard macro play if the opening gambits end up being a wash.
Prediction: Cure > Creator
Match #2: Maru vs ByuN
Inside the Korean scene, Maru’s 3-0 of ByuN from TSL9 was a comedy classic. The in-booth mics picked up their constant post-game chatter, with ByuN lamenting his mistakes while Maru playfully needled his friend of 10+ years.
When Maru said “I wasn’t in any danger” after what seemed to be an epic comeback game to the viewers back at home, you had to wonder what was going on in his mind. Was he just taunting his friend by shrugging off such an impressive win? Or did he really believe he wasn’t in any trouble, because he’s so supremely confident in the late-game? If I had to guess, it was a bit of both. Besides Maru’s shocking 1-3 upset at the hands of Bunny last season—which was notable for Maru’s experimentation with unconventional strategies—he has been an unstoppable TvT wrecking ball in 2022. Unless ByuN can finish Maru inside the first 14 minutes of a game, I don’t think he has a chance.
Prediction: Maru > ByuN
Match #3: Cure vs DongRaeGu
Cure looked like a total TvZ monster in the RO20, taking out both Dark and Solar by 2-0 scorelines. He showed us a little bit of everything in a comprehensive performance, including Bunker rushes, Hellbat timings, Banshee openers, 2-base all-ins, and strong late-game Ghost play.
Meanwhile, ZvT is the match-up that DRG is ‘actually’ great at—the one where we don’t consider it to be DRG-magic when he takes down a championship-caliber player. That said, he’s not a very well-rounded player—much of his strength is in being able to play dominant mid-game macro. When players can cheese him out with 2-base all-ins (like Maru expertly did in last season’s playoffs) or force him into slow-paced late game play, he tends to fall apart.
I think Cure is too clever to get embroiled in a mid-game, brawn vs brawn fight against DongRaeGu, and will try to win in more advantageous stages of the game. The Aligulac stats favor Cure as well, seeing him as a moderate favorite with a 64.53% chance of winning.
Prediction: Cure > DongRaeGu
Match #4: Maru vs Creator
If you want yet more statistical proof that Maru is far and away the best Terran in the world, just look at his TvP. It’s his weakest Aligulac.com match-up at some 200 rating points below his TvT and TvZ, but he’s still the #1 ranked TvP player in the world. This bodes very poorly for Creator, who’s being given around a 20% chance of winning this match.
Overall, I see this as a more punishing version of Creator vs Cure. The Terran player has big advantages in terms of mechanics and macro play, but the BO3 nature of the series and Creator’s penchant for preparing builds gives him a puncher’s chance of winning.
Prediction: Maru > Creator
Match #5: ByuN vs DongRaeGu
Regardless of the outcome, this match-up has the potential to be the most entertaining of the night. As mentioned before, DongRaeGu thrives when he’s able to fight it out against Terran in the mid-game, with swarms of low-cost units ramming into each other. Traditionally, that’s been where ByuN likes to operate in TvZ as well, fighting Zerg head-on with Marines and Medivacs. However, with recent TvZ trending toward 2-base all-ins, these games might be decided before we get into back and forth fighting.
Aligulac sees ByuN as a slight favorite with a 63.55% chance of winning, which I agree with in a general sense. However, considering how these two players are diametric opposites in their GSL clutchness, and because I feel that DongRaeGu is going to claw out a 2-2 overall score somehow, I’m going to predict him to win here. Whether it’s unexpected Roach-Ravager aggression or just inspired all-around play, I think DRG will put ByuN down.
Prediction: DongRaeGu > ByuN