You can't really spell "Affordable" without the letters "A" or in this case "C".
Warning: Spoilers Ahead, Obviously.
There was no upset for a change when we kicked things off with Trap comfortably securing 1st place as he should have based on the fact he created a Group virtually just as easy as if he had the resources of the top seed during the Nominations. Similarly to what was designed in Group A, the 2nd spot here was up for grabs by default which meant it could have genuinely been anyone taking it, but in the end it was herO holding it together throughout the day to Smile his way into another Ro8 in Code S.
| Trap < 2 : 0 >
SpeCial | Clinical execution
There was surprisingly little shenanigans on Thunderbird to start the day off with both players going for a macro game while SpeCial dialed things back even further by choosing to go with mech. Trap's non-committed Blink Stalker play certainly over-delivered by helping the Protoss player keep the Tank count low while doing a soft contain relatively early into the game but considering the response from the Terran was to run in with a couple of Hellions and kill around 20 workers or so – I'd say this map was going pretty evenly all things considered. Both players essentially got to play the game they wanted, however the fact Trap never really allowed SpeCial to comfortably transition away from Battle Mech into a more solid late game composition – as well as handily outgrowing the Terran throughout the game while continuously doing minor outplays all over the place – really ended up securing this win for the Protoss.
Lets be real, you may as well bring out a bingo book & use it to predict what cheesy strategy people are thinking of doing when picking GSL Cobalt, everyone's favorite four player map. In that regard, SpeCial thought he could get away with hiding a CC – which to be fair, didn't get scouted as far as I'm aware – but he kind of forgot the best counter to that build is to just walk across the map and kill your opponent. Trap, embracing said counter play, utilized a few Gateway units and a Warp Prism to inflict pretty much critical damage to his opponent's tiny army and never gave him the room to recover via his proxy CC, meaning the Protoss player's spot in the winner's match was safe and sound.
| herO < 2 : 0 >
Impact | This month's rent on Red
Coming into this series, it looked like the Zerg player had tried his best to incorporate soO's new playstyle of "fuck this game" into his own playbook of old and unfortunately for him herO was having none of it. The early Pool + Gas on New Repugnancy got scouted pretty much as soon as possible by the Protoss – which meant it wouldn't do anything – and the follow-up Roach Warren didn't really accomplish much either after some pretty basic Warp Prism play was utilized to hold the attack (though to be fair, it was either this or going into a later game after sabotaging your own economy in the worst way, Impact left himself no good choices).
I don't know what compelled herO to pick Turbo Cruise '84, but it looked like Impact didn't want to find out as he decided to roll the dice once again. We had to watch as the Zerg walked his painfully slow Queens and Roaches across possibly the worst map in the pool for this type of strategy only to have them all wiped out in what felt like record time when the Protoss revealed he had gone for double Stargate and so managed to utilize them along with a hero Immortal to clean up the attack & style on his opponent with an unreasonable amount of Phoenixes and a fist full of Immortals later on to essentially force him out of the server.
| Trap < 2 : 1 >
herO | Remember kids, PvP is boring
No chill was had on New Repugnancy when Trap decided to proxy a Robo and herO thought it would be a cool idea to put a Stargate next to it, with the catch being neither player initially found out what their opponent had done. For the life of me I can't explain how Trap didn't win this game after his Immortal shut down herO's initial tech completely – the Jin Air Protoss even did a marvelous contain on his opponent after that – but once again the Smiling Assassin's tenacity really showed. Despite playing from behind pretty much the entire game, herO managed to use Disruptors, Force Fields and Immortals to turn the tide after a couple of favorable engagements and as a result stole away the first map from his salty opponent.
Trap seemed done with shenanigans on Cyber Forest, seeing as even when things worked out for him he'd still lost the previous map, but herO decided to try a proxy Stargate again – which basically kicked off his downfall in this series. Trap defended pretty much perfectly, then managed to sneak some Adepts into the enemy base and even some Stalkers later on, which in hindsight was the beginning of the end with the Jin Air Protoss then bringing the rest of his army into a perfect position and taking out the proverbial Artosis pylon to seal the deal & drag us into the last map. How the turn tables…
When a Nexus got put down early on Kairos Junction by Trap it looked like herO took it as an insult, marching his small army across the map to cancel it & kill a pair of Gateways for good measure before taking his own expansion. In spite of seemingly being in a pretty bad position after that, Trap calmly went into Disruptor tech and Warp Prism speed & proceeded to give herO some of his own medicine by staying in the game and refusing to go down without a fight. The Jin Air Protoss also built a Stargate relatively quickly after that in order to continue one-upping his opponent, who had followed him down the tech tree to make it Disruptors vs Disruptors, but was now getting outplayed while seeming unwilling or unable to take his lead into a later game & insisted on attacking from start to finish, trying desperately to close the deal on Trap's slightly outgunned forces. After some stellar micro and one admittedly money Disruptor shot, the Jin Air Protoss viciously pulled ahead in supply for what felt like the first time in the game & left herO wondering where it had all gone wrong as he was forced to reluctantly tap out.
Impact < 0 : 2 > SpeCial | Having no impact
It seemed like we would be in for a cool series on New Repugnancy with Impact having recovered mentally after the humiliating defeat earlier on in the day. The now pretty common BC rush was comfortably dealt with by the Zerg and as a result both players looked to be transitioning into an "anyone's game" macro scenario. But then it turned out Impact had put his Evolution Chambers in the worst spot imaginable on the map & as soon as he saw that SpeCial pounced on the opportunity to end things early with a relatively low supply push but perfect positioning with his pair of Siege Tanks while not even opting to put together a "plan B" by staying on two bases. After losing his Attack Upgrade and fourth base, the Zerg finally managed to kind of clean up the push for a bit but it honestly felt like too little too late. SpeCial regrouped his forces, didn't miss a beat with his macro and soon enough came back to finish off his crippled opponent after what felt like a complete collapse of judgement from Impact.
I have to hand it to him, the Barracks positioning for the proxy on Thunderbird was pretty nifty from SpeCial (it was his pick after all, so great prep). Aside from that, there isn't much more to say about this game, when you don't scout your opponent going all in you're pretty much supposed to die to their push, which is why Impact unceremoniously did to end his nightmare of a day early.
SpeCial < 1 : 2 > herO | Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory
Both the macro and decisiveness from SpeCial on Thunderbird were completely out of control. I have to say it almost felt like Maru was behind the controls here and this time the Terran had decided to give bio a shot instead of going mech & it paid off impressively as his supply leads got more and more ridiculous throughout the game. It genuinely looked like these two players weren't on the same level, utterly ridiculous dominance by the last foreign hope. So what happened?
For starters, SpeCial thought it was time to get fancy on Turbo Cruise '84 when he decided to proxy Reaper as well as do an Engineering Bay block to his opponent. Don't get me wrong, those moves on their own did pretty well, but you have to wonder whether the Terran's own defense ended up suffering because of this glorified distraction. In response herO built a few Phoenixes, saved some energy and crashed into SpeCial's bases, making short work of the basically anti-air-less and as a result soon to be defenseless Terran, killing both crucial tech units and SCVs alike at will. Having put himself in a terrible position, SpeCial decided it was all or nothing time and tried going for a desperation TY push which unfortunately didn't end up working as you would expect based on its predictability, taking us into the last map of the day.
There was understandably less fanciness on Kairos Junction from the Terran, but he still seemed interested in leaning on some lies and deception for whatever reason. After what felt like a very short back and forth, seemingly out of nowhere for no reason – shoutout to TY – the conga line of Special's units rushed across the map early into the game, despite the fact his opponent was still sitting pretty on just two bases. herO almost immediately cleaned up the Liberator harassing his mineral line and then pooled his forces together to basically A-move into the pointless push to take his opponent's spot in the Ro8, laughing all the way to the bank.
Definitely not the worst GSL Group we've had the pleasure of sitting through, today's 2nd place spot was definitely up in the air pretty much until the last critically flawed decision of the night so you can't ask for much more out of a Group where three players were essentially fighting for just one seed.
- Match of the Night – If this was the later rounds where I use the "Map of the Night" instead, it would undoubtedly go to SpeCial for his Maru-esque performance on Thunderbird against herO, the problem was his TY impersonation on the following two maps certainly had its effect on the overall quality of the series. In that regard, the Match of the Night is going to be Trap vs herO for me, definitely enjoyed the back and forth at the start and end of the series, it really felt like it could have gone either way but by the end Trap really showed himself to be the better player right now – which always feels cooler to watch when it has to be proven while behind, anyone can front-run when they're the better player, it takes a lot more effort to come back.
Finally, here are some of my Takeaways from Group C for each player:
Trap did his best to mirror the way Classic took care of business in his own respective Group of Meh, essentially going through the motions with minimal effort after facing a minuscule amount of resistance despite what it looked like at times in his PvP scare. Unfortunately for the last Jin Air survivor he's ended up on the wrong side of the bracket and while he should be able to avoid Stats thanks to coming out 1st, if this Season has taught us anything it's to expect the unexpected so Trap might not even get a break in that regard either. If we're going off what "should" happen, though, the Protoss has a great chance to make it back to back Ro4s which is quite an achievement for him & on a side note I'm glad he's been able to join the small group of players who haven't allowed themselves to get upset for no reason this Season.
herO has basically limped into another Ro8 appearance in his storied career and while he's likely getting completely smashed by the monster coming out in 1st place from Group D there, I do have to say it feels impossible to dislike this guy or not want to watch him pull off even more magic. I've recently made comparisons between him and sOs, while giving herO the benefit of being a better mechanical player but to be honest this Season he's had to lean a lot more on his "jazz" side than usual. Frankly, herO barely made it out of the Ro32 and it also looked like he wouldn't necessarily survive the Ro16 either for a while tonight. On the bright side, he's ended up on the easy side of the bracket so maybe the Smiling Assassin will find a way to make me eat my words if he can bring the fight to his opponent in the next round whoever that may be, here's hoping the herO that walks into the studio on that day will be much better than the one we've seen so far.
Impact had been on a pretty decent streak of good performances, but tonight we got to see the Impact of old it seems. I wouldn't say his play was straight up terrible, but when viewed in its totality he did go out 0-4 in the second most affordable Group of the Ro16. Compared to the way he fought before being knocked out last Season – by the soon to be one and only 4x consecutive Code S Champion – and even his performance in the Ro32 this Season, it was night and day watching him do a what looked like a bad impersonation of himself tonight. As I'm sure a lot of players who are also already out can attest to, sometimes you just have one of those days and unfortunately the Zerg definitely had one today.
SpeCial kind of blew it, didn't he? I don't know when you're going to come up against a more affordable opponent to make the Ro8 in Code S, aside from getting gifted the opportunity to join the top seed's clown fiesta of a Group. This was definitely one of the most beatable versions of herO I've seen in recent memory and I'm sure the Terran will be kicking himself for giving up his lead in that last series, especially when this could have been an amazing result to back up his recent showing in the foreign WCS circuit. I know it's often appropriately considered an incredibly bullshit excuse to bring up, but regardless you do have to take into account all this international travel can be a bitch to deal with, really makes me wonder if things could have been different had it been possible for SpeCial to stay in Korea for the duration of the tournament. In any case, I can't ignore the fact his decision making on those last two maps was TY-levels of TvP, which you're just not going to get away with when going up against a former multiple time Champion whose main strength right now is not giving up in games.
Keep in mind these are just my observations. As always, if you feel differently let everyone know why in the comments below.
Catch you on Saturday for a Group of Death that'll hopefully deliver!
Thanks as always for reading & see you when I see you! (:
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