The gauntlet known as the Global StarCraft II League (GSL) Code A has come and gone, and we now have a set field of 32 players for the GSL Code S event. Some got here by skill, others by strength, and some by luck. The only thing that matters: They have made it through to Code S and have a shot at the lucrative top prize.
And now that the groups have been drawn, it is time to speculate on who will emerge victorious, and who will come up short. Here is an overview of who I think are the favorites to move on, and the ones who look likely to bomb out.
The Favorite: Joo "Zest" Sung Wook
For Zest, 2015 was a failure. For a player who once dominated the scene, a mere one victory at Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) World Championship was an anathema to him. But now that Legacy of the Void has started, Zest has looked better than he has in a long time with incredibly smart and refined builds, mostly revolving around DT and Warp Prism harass. He's the favorite for this group, and a possible favorite to win the whole thing.
The Un-Favorite: Yun "Taeja" Young Seo
In my estimation, Taeja is the third-greatest player to have ever touched the game. The problem with him is that since 2014, it feels as if he already has one foot out the door. He'd have already retired if the military had accepted his application earlier. Though he won his Code A match, he said he was already fine with his round of 32 result. Perhaps the biggest warning sign of all is that he didn't complain about how weak Terran was pre-patch.
The Favorite: Kim "herO" Joon Ho
herO was my pick to win the entire thing at IEM Taipei, and despite losing in the semifinals to sOs, he still showed a high level of play. Perhaps more importantly, the only other Protoss in this group is Seed, so he should be favored against everyone in this group, though Lee "Leenock" Dong Nyoung is always a dangerous player.
The Un-Favorite: Ahn "Seed" Sang Won
Once upon a time, Seed was the best player in the world for a brief period in 2012. He won a GSL and killed Team Taeja 1-7 at IGN ProLeague Team Arena Challenge 3. But then he got lazy and could never quite get back into it. The one time he almost made it through, he got killed by one of the most imbalanced maps of all time in Daedalus Point. While a best of five is little to judge on, nothing he showed in his series makes me confident that he should beat any of the other players in this group.
The Favorite: Kim "Soulkey" Min Chul
Soulkey is still one of the most respected Zerg players in Legacy of the Void, and he nearly beat ByuN in his best-of-five series at IEM Taipei. No one else in this group looks to have any of the skills needed to beat him.
The Un-Favorite: Kang "Symbol" Dong Hyun
Symbol hasn't looked great for a long time, and though he was credited by his teammates in Jin Air for his strategic skill, he never had any results to back it up. Perhaps more damning is that he is currently teamless, which will put on extra pressure as this group may literally be do-or-die for his career.
The Favorite: Lee "Curious" Won Pyo
In GSL Season 2 Code A, Curious decided that it was time to retire. His time was done, and he could never get the results he wanted. He decided to judge the Code S players one last time, to see if they were truly worthy of their status. As it turned out, the only player worthy of Code S that season was Rain, as Curious beat everyone else on the way to the round of four. The success whet his appetite and Curious decided to extend his career.
The Un-Favorite: Kim "Forte" Ki Yong
Forte is an old player having played SC2 since 2012, when he was known as Salvation. Since then, he hasn't really done much except defeat Jun "TY" Tae Yang in one of the great Terran-versus-Terran matches in Heart of the Swarm ProLeague. While there are some murmurs of his skill online, he just hasn't proved anything offline to indicate why he should be the favorite against the rest of this group.
The Favorite: Jun "TY" Tae Yang
Now that both Lee "INnoVation" Shin Hyung and "ByuN" Hyun Woo have fallen, all the eyes of Terran are now fixated on TY. The problem with TY is that he plays an extremely aggressive, exciting and oft-times intelligent style. This always makes fans forget that for the vast majority of his career in both Brood War and SC2, he has been unable to close the deal in individual tournaments and secure a victory.
The Un-Favorite: Seo "Super" Sung Min
This group's un-favorite was chosen based on unlucky circumstance. Super isn't worse than the others in this group, it's just that Hyun "Departure" Sung Min and Cho "Trap" Sung Ho have good versus Protoss matchups, and no one is beating TY.
The Favorite: Kang "Solar" Min Soo
Solar is considered one of the top two best Zergs at the moment, and possibly the best Legacy of the Void player. He switched early on to LotV like ByuN, and has shown great adaptability. The problem with him is that he has never been able to go deep (round of four or higher) in a Korean tournament. Still, he is one of the favorites for the entire thing and the favorite for this group.
The Un-Favorite: Jang "Creator" Hyun Woo
I once predicted that Creator would be the future in competitive StarCraft II. At the end of Wings of Liberty, he was one of the top three Protoss in the world and had proven his mettle in skill and composure. But it was a false prophecy, and Creator could never adapt no matter how much he practiced or tried. Now that he is out of Prime prison, there is some hope for him, but not in this group. He played sloppy games, and unless he shows up at a completely different level, I can't favor him over anyone else here.
The Favorite: Park "Dark" Ryung Woo
Dark was one of the better Zergs in 2015, and his skill seems to have stayed the same in his transition to Legacy of the Void. He made a mockery of Kim "Classic" Doh Woo in his Code A match, and the only player here I feel could threaten him head to head is Han "aLive" Lee Seok. Still, Dark is the favorite to move on.
The Un-Favorite: Jung "Bbyong" Woo Yong
Even though I picked Bbyong as the un-favorite, the reality is I wouldn't be surprised if he made it through anyway. This group is pretty close, but I gave the edge to aLive, who has been playing pretty well recently, and Hwang "Losira" Kang Ho, who has had a better record so far in Legacy of the Void. This is one of the more open groups this season.
The Favorite: Eo "soO" Yoon Su
This was a bit complicated to choose the favorite soO and Baek "Dear" Dong Jun have both been doing well so far in Legacy of the Void. I ended up going with soO; Protoss are having a bit of trouble with Zerg now, and Choi "iloveoov" Yun Sung swore that he would get soO to a title this year.
The Un-Favorite: Park "DongRaeGu" Soo Ho
I chose DRG as the unfavorite -- his series against Byun "Hush" Young Bong was the worst among the four players here. I think he can play at a higher level, but he has yet to prove it in Legacy of the Void. In addition, he is teamless like Symbol, and the added pressure of this being a do-or-die situation makes this even harder than it would normally.