Having attempted to watch the Chinese/Ukrainian shitshow last week, I have to say damn it feels so good to have the most competitive tournament in Starcraft history back & what a way to return with an incredibly entertaining Group C where no one was guaranteed to go through to the next round by any stretch of the imagination.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead, Obviously.
Classic may very well be locked away behind closed borders in Korea until further notice, however today he showed himself more than capable of going for "one last ride" on his way out of the scene by locking down another 1st place after two relatively close – yet still convincing – series. The person who closed the show tonight in order to get out in 2nd – despite having to push through the latest Terran WESG Champion, his own Protoss teammate the Human-Alien-Hybrid and the very personal streak of consecutive failures he's had in GSL's Ro16 – was Trap, just like everyone had predicted (/s).
Beware the once Protoss King, fighting with his back against the wall and nothing to lose
Like I've already hinted at, Classic is now on his metaphorical "final lap", with impending and unavoidable military service looming on the horizon, which is the reason we didn't get to see him compete at IEM this year and why – no matter what – we won't be seeing him at the Global Finals. You'd think as a direct result he would already be "packing his bags" and inevitably losing motivation & perform accordingly, right? Wrong, that's now how a multiple time Champion goes about his business. Classic showed up today with purpose – to win & add even more to his legacy while there's still time.
The rematch from the Ro32 against Jin Air's Trap was already a dangerous scenario, since even in very recent memory we've had the unfortunate experience of watching Classic lose to someone he "could" or "should" have beaten again but then the rematch didn't go his way for whatever reason and suddenly he was out of the GSL. This "version" of Classic, though – like we've seen in last year's Super Tournament and also this Season's previous stage – seems unconcerned when being down on match point. One could argue that although he lost at the Global Final against a very beatable opponent, Classic still didn't play particularly bad there either when the chips were down. Staying true to this seemingly newfound clutch factor, after Trap got the series to the third map we managed to see Classic put him back "in his place" once again in order to reach the winner's match.
Interestingly, instead of having to face the WESG Champion there, Classic got "gifted" sOs, the man he already had to beat while being down 0-3 last year in order to lift yet one more trophy in his storied career. Using every trick in the book, the Jin Air madman still couldn't put Classic away even after going up a map and getting two more chances to do so – there was no inch of the map left unseen in those final two games by Classic, who simply refused to go down to the final match of the day and risk losing this precious chance to add an additional GSL trophy to his cabinet before going off into the sunset.
Perseverance incarnate, this is Jin Air's Trap
If you think Rogue has had it bad with not being able to reach a Semifinal in the GSL, Trap's burden since 2013 has been even making it into the Quarters. There are certain moments in your life, though, where it seems like history doesn't matter, the intangibles are irrelevant, even your level isn't necessarily required to be higher than it has ever been – "all" you have to do is keep it together and perform to the best of your abilities, which is exactly what Trap ended up doing today to take down two of the most successful players to touch this game.
Due to being dismissed by Classic for the second time this Season, Trap had the unenviable task of having to go up against INnoVation in the losers' match, which certainly must have felt disheartening considering the guy had completely styled on two Protoss players to even get into the GSL's Ro16. Fortunately for Trap, PvT is something he excels at in no small part due to having his teammates Maru and Cure to practice against and prepare with for the reasonably predictable and ironically named INnoVation. After beating the WESG Champion in the lategame – just casually glossing over that fact of course, Trap had the first map completely under control from start to finish – it seemed like a cocktail of desperation and urgency prompted the Terran to go for a shorter game and also had him making uncharacteristic mistakes left and right, which the Jin Air Protoss took full advantage of in order to secure the only 2-0 of the day and unceremoniously eliminate INnoVation from the GSL.
In the final match of the day, Trap didn't only have to face sOs – whose playstyle was labeled "legally insane" on the broadcast – but also his own demons i.e. the dreaded last match of the Ro16, the hurdle that had kept him down for 6 years. During the first game of the series, it looked like Trap was playing Chess while sOs seemed to be playing 5 Dimensional Tic Tac Toe. After an absolutely bizarre game, the lesser known Jin Air Protoss found himself staring down the barrel of the gun – on match point and having to take two maps in a row vs one of the most winning-est players in Starcraft history. Instead of crumbling under that incredible pressure, Trap decided to "pull a Classic" – kept it simple – and managed to deflect every effort sOs made to seal the deal & refused to get fooled by any of his sneaky tricks. For the first time in an excruciatingly long time, Trap came out the victor & he himself couldn't believe it.
The return of the King fallacy, explained through the power of context
One more recent Champion of a different event has gone out in the Ro16 of the premier clash in Seoul with a whimper – though to be fair INnoVation ended up looking even worse, at least soO still managed to take care of GuMiho on his way out. It's kind of funny how people are so eager to jump the gun when saying things like "he's back" or "he's playing so great again", while conveniently ignoring any and all evidence to the contrary. It really goes to show the importance of giving an honest context when looking at results, as opposed to just judging them at face value. INnoVation and soO aren't in their primes anymore, that's why it's so impressive what they've been able to accomplish this year regardless of that fact.
Since everyone likes to point to statistics so much when bitching about things like balance – something which had fuck all to do with the results today, considering the terrible performance we saw from the Terran – here's a little known stat to consider: INnoVation has a ridiculous winrate vs Protoss in the GSL, close to 70% over the course of 6+ years. It feels fair to say this particular player is "imbalanced" in the matchup, or was the "meta" always favoring him for over half a decade before, but only not right now? When taking all of that context into consideration, I'd absolutely love to hear someone simultaneously claim INnoVation's "just as good as ever" while also managing to rationalize and explain away how the people who eliminated him today weren't the likes of Stats/Zest/Classic, instead it was a vulnerable sOs and "2nd Tier Protoss" Trap.
In any case, INnoVation's list of accomplishments speaks for itself – one bad day cannot and does not define who we consider him to be as a player. I have no doubt in my mind he'll have quite a few more deep runs before he's done and dusted & will "erase" today's defeats from our collective memory sooner rather than later.
The other side of the "coin" i.e. having to accept when the risks don't work out
Throughout the day we watched in awe as sOs kept pulling Aces out of every metaphorical sleeve imaginable. Without a doubt there are very few players this intoxicating to watch win, lose or draw. At one point during the broadcast, a joke was made that if you were to drop this Jin Air Protoss into Diamond he couldn't fight his way out (playing with these sorts of strategies). While that was obviously a hyperbolic statement, it does hold a grain of truth – the reason sOs has been so successful is the exact same double-edged sword that ended up costing him today.
Like I already mentioned when sOs won his Group in the Ro32, it's impossible to analyze him, his play feels like "magic". A lot of the time the things he does don't make any sense to us mere mortals, which is why it's so unbelievable & such a rush to watch him play so marvelously at times and win but we also have to always remember that there's a reason people who "just play standard" are the ones who consistently make top finishes year in and year out in most tournaments they participate in.
There's a great
on this topic I highly recommend, the gist of it being that "the ball bounces evenly" in the end – sOs has gotten "his" Championships, so when he has to go through some "bad luck" like today i.e. when the risks don't work out, you have to accept that result as well just like you did when the risks did work out & we gave him his deserved trophy and big fat check to go with it. There's no point in saying things like "but if he didn't do X" or "if he only did Y", this is who he is – provably throughout history – so you can either accept him as he is or alternatively embrace a delusional mindset that won't lead you anywhere productive.
Here's a link to the VODs from today, once again I want to emphasize how awesome it feels to have the GSL back.
- Match of the Night – It feels like a slight cop-out to go with the
series of the day, however I couldn't help but appreciate sOs's insanity and Trap's perseverance in those games. Aside from that one, there were great games throughout the broadcast, it was a good day to follow the GSL.
Finally, here are my takeaways for the two players advancing to the Ro8:
- Due to the insanity that we saw transpire in Group D during the Ro16 player selection, it feels like Classic has gotten very unlucky draw-wise in spite of winning both his matches today, because waiting for him in the Ro8 is the man who beat him 4-0 to win IEM Katowice in 2018. While on paper you have to heavily favor Rogue – Classic has lost 10 of the last 11 maps in offline bo3+ matches against him – keep in mind where this match is going to be taking place. The studio may look the same, the player sitting across you might be someone you've dominated, but we all know what happens to Rogue when he hits that invisible wall in GSL's Ro8. Unfortunately, this is Classic's only realistic hope – for Rogue's demons to show up and aid the Protoss in his struggle – because otherwise things are looking very grim for the currently very durable yet almost equally beatable Classic.
- In what feels like the complete opposite scenario, Trap has managed to end up across an opponent only he and Dear might be capable of taking out in this GSL Season. TY has won in devastating fashion during both the Ro32 and Ro16 alike, but if we have to assign a chink in his armor, it feels like that would be his TvP – which is the metaphorical "way in" for Trap to accomplish something he's never done before, get to a GSL Semifinal. Now, obviously all of this is going to get a lot less sexy when I repeat that TY has basically never looked better, but things still feel far from impossible for the Jin Air Protoss, provided he can repeat what he did today – keep it simple & play to the best of his ability – and not let the pressure of the moment get to him. In other words, easier said than done.
Keep in mind these are just my observations. If you caught something I missed / think differently, feel free to express yourself as well in the comments below.
In any case, thanks as always for reading & catch you again this Saturday for the last Group in the Ro16 featuring Dark, Dear, Cure and herO!
P.S. Here are the links to every other Quick Recap I've done so far for 2019's S1 of GSL Code S
Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H
Group A | Group D
Source: Original link
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