Group A is perhaps going to be one of the most one-sided groups we have seen so far in the SC2Improve Winter League this year. Or two-sided, I suppose we should say. Going into this group everyone is looking at Arthur and Tefel wondering which will come out of the group in first and which will come out in second. Many aren't even considering SC2Improve Summer League Champion Noname and German Protoss player Levi as having a chance to come out of this group.
Who is Levi? Out of our 16 players in the Winter League RO16 Levi is the player I personally know the least about. This is going to be a mutual feeling as Levi has no real noticeable results in tournaments. Even online he sometimes makes it deep into the cups, but nothing majorly significant. He has taken some games off of good players, such as Solar and Ryung in the past - but single maps aren't that important especially when latency is involved. What can we expect from him? Nobody really knows. He showed us a fairly cheesy set of games in what we saw against Frozz in the Qualifiers. He also got knocked out 0-2 by Arthur in the RO4 of Qualifier #4 - which isn't going to fill him with confidence going into the first game.
Arthur recently got picked up by ESC and has so far done great since. He is consistently qualifying for online cup monthly finals, he even got through his WCS America Group to make it into the RO16 - which is an achievement for any player (especially when you consider he beat Bomber to come first in the Group.) He has a solid fan-base and he will be looking for no less than second place in this group. Recent losses to Tefel might make taking first a little difficult, especially with latency involved, but this cheeky Protoss player will always have something up his sleeve to pull out when we are all least expecting it.
Tefel however is a solid player, playing his macro-orientated Roach-Hydralisk style in the majority of his games. He has to feel confident going into this group - he placed third in the Summer League and will be looking to better his performance here by going all the way to the finals. Recently he was surrounded by some community drama involving playing in multiple cups at the same time, but hopefully this doesn't bring down his spirits as he heads into the Group. He should feel confident against everybody in this group, but he can't let his guard down, especially against Russian Terran player Noname, who he plays in the first match.
Noname is a player who made it to WCS, cracked under pressure and faded once again into the obscurity that is the borderline between Amateur and Pro in Europe. He is the reigning SC2Improve Summer League champion notably defeating Winter League 2012 Champion Adonminus, Lucky and JonnyREcco to take the victory. Can he go all the way again? I think a lot of it is going to rely on how well he can do against Tefel. If he can take the first series he can have a shot in the winner's match, but more importantly look for a rematch against Tefel in the final match of the day should he lose in the Winner's. If he drops down to the losers match however things are going to be a little more difficult in case he comes up against Arthur in the final match, despite TvP being his better match-up statistically.
I don't think this group is going to be as close as the other groups have been so far, as I definitely feel there are two clear favorites - but there is definitely room for surprises - especially from Noname and potentially from the underdog Levi. Here are my own predictions for the groups along side the Aligulac (http://www.aligulac.com) predictions of how the day is going to pan out.
Arthur 2 - 0 Levi
Tefel 2 - 1 Noname
Arthur 1 - 2 Tefel
Levi 1 - 2 Noname
Arthur 2 - 0 Noname