Code S RO16 Preview – GuMiho, soO, herO, Classic

RO16 Group D Preview: GuMiho, soO, herO, Classic

Start time: Thursday, Oct 19 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)

by Mizenhauer

With six of the eight slots in the second round of Code S already set in stone, GuMiho, soO, herO, and Classic face off for the chance to compete in a Maru-less RO8. With the massive favorite out of the way, the championship picture is wide open—something the two surviving members of Group D will get a chance to take advantage of.

ForherO, the autumn edition of Code S is his final chance to transform an exceedingly fallow year into one worth remembering.

The most curious thing about herO’s current predicament is that he finds himself desperately in need of ‘recapturing his championship form’ for a second time. Before herO’s return from the military, ByuN was the gold standard when it came to success by a “returnee.” Even though BYuN had never reached the finals of a Liquipedia premier-tier event, he had played at a very high level online and had won the major-tier ASUS ROG Online 2020 tournament against world class players.

herO made his (re)debut in August of 2021, and within 12 months, he blew past ByuN’s mark by winning the Code S championship in Season 2 of 2022. Even now, we might underrate just how incredible an accomplishment that was for a post-military player. The latter half of 2022 suggested it was no flash in the pan, as herO recorded a top four finish in Code S Season 3 and went on to win a major international championship at DreamHack: Atlanta.

However, things took an abrupt turn for the worst in 2023. Things began fairly well, as he finished in the top four of IEM Katowice. With the world championship within sight, herO became an unfortunate victim of Oliveira as he went on literally the greatest underdog run in StarCraft II history. It looked like a freak loss at the time, but herO didn’t bounce back like the other players who got caught in Oliveira’s warpath.

Quite brutally put, herO has become a second tier player since being eliminated in Poland. He still ranks among the best performing players in online cups and team tournaments, and he has a top 5 placement in the rankings to show for it. However, none of that matters in the face of his dismal showings in big tournaments. Since IEM Katowice, herO has only made it to the RO8 or higher in two out of five premier-tier events he competed in. The low point was ESL Masters Summer/Jonkoping, where he failed to make it out of the open bracket as a massive favorite.

Headed into the final Code S Season of the year, his 4-5 match record in the first two seasons doesn’t reflect kindly on his chances. He may survive this group yet, but there are serious doubts on whether he could go any further. Since Katowice, he’s 0-4 in offline matches against Solar, Dark, and Cure—the three top contenders remaining. The biggest hope for herO is that a year ago, he defied what people thought were insurmountable odds by winning Code S as a military returnee. Compared to that, shouldn’t recovering from a slump be easy?

Due to his fantastic online play, Aligulac still gives herO great odds of advancing from the group at nearly 90%. However, Aligulac doesn’t have a metric for “chance to cause pure, unbridled chaos,” because if they did, GuMiho’s score would be off the charts.

The Towel Teran looks a lot like the version of himself that beat soO in the finals of Code S Season 2 in the summer of 2017. The first two years of his post-military career were largely mediocre, save a singular top four Code S run in 2022, and a few memorable games here and there. But, just as it was in 2017, this summer has been kind to GuMiho. First he traveled to Jönköping, where he finished second at ESL Masters Summer and even gave the seemingly invincible Serral a run for his money. While he couldn’t take down the Finnish Phenom, GuMiho thoroughly impressed by logging victories over Maru, Cure and Solar. He followed that up with a top four run in Code S, getting quality wins against Creator, Maru and Solar along the way. There’s a reverse-herO quality to all this—GuMiho is not a stellar day-to-day player in smaller competitions, but he shows up to play in big matches.

Despite this growing momentum, the specific match-ups in Group D threaten to hit the brakes on GuMiho. He’s a peculiar Terran in this day and age whose TvP is actually his weakest match-up, with most of his wins against top players coming in TvZ and TvT. Indeed, his TvP Aligulac rating is some 200 points behind his other match-ups (translation for the non-stats nerds: a lot, but not A LOT), and he’s a combined 19-32 in matches against Korean Protosses since that great run at ESL Masters Summer. If one only tallies GuMiho’s record against groupmates Classic and herO, he’s 3-14 in that period—not great, Bob.

This is pretty bad news for GuMiho, who will very likely need to take out at least one Protoss to advance to the next stage. Even though GuMiho is far and away the best player in the group when it comes to recent results, this bad match-up draw could spell his doom.

Following the theme for the group, Group D’s third player Classic also finds himself in an interesting career situation. While he’s been overshadowed by GuMiho as of late, Classic has also achieved a major breakthrough in 2023 After spending most of his post-military career mired as low/mid-tier player, he became much more relevant in 2023 with top eight finishes at ESL Masters Summer and Gamers8. Of course, success is a relative metric—he still looks quite outmatched when he runs into the true championship contenders. Thus, he’s an embodiment of the present day Protoss paradox, where he’s somehow simultaneously a top three Protoss player in Korea and a little disappointing at the same time.

Amusingly enough, Aligulac and Afreeca agree when it comes to his place in the Korean hierarchy: Aligulac ranks him as the eighth best player in the country, while his GSL points put him somewhere between ninth and 12th. That puts him right on the cutoff to make the RO8, which feels just about right. Aligulac gives him about a 45% chance of advancing, which would have been higher if he hadn’t drawn a tough first match against herO. As the favorite against soO and GuMiho, he could still advance if he doesn’t drop the ball.

Finally, there’s soO, who must be pleased to simply return to Code S after missing out on Seasons 1 & 2 and earn the minimum $1,000-ish payout (assuming the crowdfunding spread is reasonably even). While that assessment might sound harsh, soO just doesn’t spend enough time playing StarCraft II at this stage of his career to be anything more than an occasional Code S participant. His Aligulac Korea rank of 18th feels right on the money for a player who qualified for one out of three Code S tournaments this year, and unsurprisingly, the stats website only gives him around a 14% chance of advancing from this group.

soO will surely welcome the chance to play a few more offline matches for a live audience. For foreign fans (or maybe only speaking for myself), it’s always a good time. One of my favorite things about soO is how he played the same way for his entire career, and, after returning from military service, how immediately began to play the exact same way.

He continues to take poor fights and overextend. He still doesn’t know how to play the late game or spread creep at the highest level. He’s also more susceptible to harassment than ever. He loses to players he crushed in the past and he is only now playing in Code S for the first time all year. For me, none of that matters. soO has already lived out one of the most impressive careers in the history of StarCraft II. These days he gets to play the game he loves on his own terms rather than being constrained by the rigors of a progaming career. I imagine he likes that quite a lot.


soO won’t be all that good, but the whole soO experience will be very soO

There will be some weird TvP at some point.

herO still won’t look as good as he should.

GuMiho will make some inexplicable mistakes because that’s the kind of player he is. Classic, soO and herO are notorious for having the exact same issue. Buckle up, it’s gonna be a wild ride.

GuMiho > soO
herO > Classic
herO > GuMiho
Classic > soO
GuMiho > Classic

herO and GuMiho to advance.



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