Code S resumes with Soulkey, PartinG advancing
Posted by Radoslav "Nydra" Kolev 15 weeks, 2 days ago
There were clear underdogs in the opening group of Code S. Placed in a position of kings of their respective races, Soulkey and PartinG shouldn't have had doubts about their triumph in Group A over JinAir newcomer Pigbaby and the old-school, fallen out of favor MVP Protoss Swagger (a.k.a SangHo, Killer). The only reasonable question that could be asked was who would finish first and who will place second.
Soulkey reigns over the Protoss lot
Like six out of all nine Zerg players in this season's Code S, Soulkey was the lone Zerg in his group. Where his brethren would only feel the pressure of representing their race well, though, for Soulkey it also meant defending his title of GSL champion.
To his luck, Soulkey wasn't in the hardest of groups. The audience knew that the only real threat to his first place would be PartinG but seeing how the 2012 world champion hadn't won a BoX in a ZvP since May this year, fans of the Woongjin's Zerg weren't particularly worried.
The only real surprise to Soulkey was how it was Pigbaby the player that managed to take a game off of him and not PartinG. After losing game one by seeing his DT opening into quick third defeated by Soulkey's nydus unload, Pigbaby managed to pull off a cannon rush to cancel Soulkey's natural, deny the hydra range counter push, shut the Zerg down and kill him with an immortal attack of his own.
That would be the last time a Protoss would triumph over Soulkey in this round. The GSL champion was quick on the recovery and sandwiched Pigbaby's void ray opener between his main hydra army and his mutalisk switch. Shattering the newcomer in seconds, Soulkey prepared for his next game.
Soulkey's next opponent turned out to be PartinG, much to popular expectations. The 2012 world champion had just bested Swagger 2-1, now looking to bleed a worthier opponent than the MVP Protoss.
Both games turned out extremely similar to each other in terms of dynamics. PartinG opened the Whirlwind set by molesting Soulkey throughout the majority of the game, using a mobile force of blink stalkers and sentries to snipe free hatcheries, control Zerg's movements and set up the tables for warp prism harrassment.
It was with Soulkey's rush to hive that the favorable conditions for PartinG evaporated. The GSL champion barraged the Protoss with all the energy of his vipers, abduct-sniping his colossi and covering the rest of his army in blinding clouds, leaving his hydras to clean the rest for 1-0.
On Akilon Wastes, once again PartinG was the early aggressor, dictating the tempo of the game and dealing early damage by forcing multiple cancels on Soulkey's third and delaying his economy severely. Similarly to game three between the Zerg and Pigbaby, however, PartinG found his stargate army in the middle of Soulkey's forces and would be dealt a 0-2 loss, despite playing almost a perfect series in terms of BO execution.
PartinG joins Soulkey in the winners' lounge
After Soulkey's advancement as first, PartinG was the logical choice for second place and triumphing in two PvPs indeed earned him the right to play in the next group stage.
Neither of the Swagger and the Pigbaby match-ups were particularly hard for the SKT Protoss, though it would take him all six games to eliminate them from the competition.
PartinG's first loss came from his team-mate from the BroodWar days Swagger. The now-MVP Protoss went for a phoenix opening into an immortal-centric defense to negate PartinG's blink stalkers. Although his main force was denied, PartinG continued to be persistent and through a series of zealot warp-ins managed to cripple Swagger's economy. As it turned out, however, that had been a too little, too late kind of a move and Swagger trampled through by the power of having "too much shit".
It wasn't long before PartinG recovered and on Akilon Wastes he lured Swagger into attacking his quick nexus while at the same time going for a dark shrine. Enjoying his "free" gift, Swagger commenced his offense but felt good for no more than ten seconds before a single DT ravaged his cannonless base. Spawning for game three, PartinG only needed to set up an unbreakable zealot/void ray defense to deflect Swagger's stalkers and the match was his.
Swagger breaking down PartinG for one of his only two victories this day
Winning against Swagger and losing against Soulkey sent Parting down to the decider where he would play the fourth contender in Group A Pigbaby in a match composed exclusively of throws and one shorter than half an hour.
The series started with Pigbaby attempting a proxy cannon rush in PartinG's main but for the player known for diligently scouting every inch of the map it wasn't any problem of spotting and negating it. To return the "free win" favor, PartinG spawned on Whirlwind to foolishly throw stalkers at Pigbaby's immorta/overcharge based defense, which naturally resulted in a series tie.
To complete the bizarreness of the match, Pigbaby threw another proxy rush into PartinG's main, this time in the form of gateways and not cannons. The end result was the same: Parting pulled probes to defend and traded a slight income decline for a match point.
Swagger and Pigbaby down to challenger
As mentioned before in this article, seeing Swagger and Pigbaby go comes as no shocker and it's hardly their fault. Being placed next to the defending GSL champion and one of the most accomplished KeSPA Protosses is not something you wish even to your biggest enemy.
If we're to spare a few lines and write a dirge for the fallen, Pigbaby's fighting spirit must be complimented. In all the matches he played, he forced his opponents - all of whom more renowned and accomplished than him - to play all three maps and was always on the verge of delivering an upset. His micro was a bit lackluster against Soulkey but his play saw improvement against Swagger and if hadn't attempted a doomed-to-fail strategies against PartinG he might've even won the series. As is, however, he will be trying to requalify for next season through challenger.
Finally, no words of praise can honestly be directed at Swagger and it might be safe to say that his days of consecutive Code S appearances will not be coming back. This will be the ninth time since the end of his 2011 Code S streak that Swagger will spend in challenger league. As fond as one might be of him, remembering him as one of the pillars of old-school StarCraft, it is obvious that Swagger isn't on the level of the new blood.