Life is a desperate race against time and in the end we all lose.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead, Obviously.
Classic < 3 : 4 > Trap | ★★★☆☆ | Only Human After All
Immaculate, daunting, infallible – Classic was the definition of an overdog heading into this clash, sitting pretty at the unprecedented 100% offline match winrate vs Protoss in 2019 and undefeated in head to head series against Trap specifically (out of the 10 games they'd played, the Jin Air Protoss had only taken 2 maps). What's worse, Classic had already beaten Trap – twice – as recently as GSL S1, in both the Ro32 and Ro16 quite comfortably while looking like the best version of himself we'd ever seen.
Frankly, taking all these factors into account, the outcome of this Bo7 was all but a foregone conclusion, there was literally nothing going for the underdog, it honestly felt even worse than having to go up against Maru the Season before, where you could at least do some mental gymnastics to come up with a reason as to why he might have stood a chance.
Having accurately established both the context and gravity of the situation, I feel comfortable saying it's likely the case that not even Trap can explain how he managed to pull off this shocking upset while down 1-3 against the best PvP player in the world.
- M1 | King's Cove | Welcome back to the Semifinals, Trap
The Protoss King established himself early on his Cove, crippling Trap from the very start with a nasty proxy Stargate which allowed his first Oracle to get 6 worker kills. A valiant
Adept attempt from the Jin Air survivor kept him in the game after that, harassing Classic's mineral lines for some payback, however thanks to some tag team action from a Warp Prism and an Oracle the more significant economic damage was still the result of the favorite's efforts. Trap grew more and more desperate as time went on and while he did get to cancel Classic's third Nexus once, he never got to establish his own second expansion, meaning with his brief upgrade lead the Jin Air Protoss found himself forced to attack into Classic's superior army and position, sealing his fate having played completely to his opponent's tune throughout the game.
- M2 | GSL Cobalt | Game of Throws that would end up changing the outcome of the entire match
Trap was the first to flinch in the Stargate vs Stargate clash on the next map, although it certainly didn't feel like it as he established himself on the map with the faster third Nexus thanks to his Blink and the fact he got the upgrade lead. Classic's choice to take things nice and slow by switching into a Robo and purposefully delaying his own expansion, though, basically won him the game when the Jin Air Protoss got overeager and attacked into his opponent after suffering some light harassment and deciding it was time to go across the map as a result, despite his economic lead. Seeing as the game was virtually over after that poor decision, Classic attack-moved his superior army across the map, in hindsight returning the favor by making a massive error of his own. Like two ships passing in the night, Trap's forces avoided detection just outside Classic's vision so by the time both players knew what had happened it felt too late to go back. Critical damage was sustained all over the place shortly after that in this impromptu base race, however due to a clutch recall from the Jin Air survivor in addition to a vicious sandwich with some Blink Stalkers, the gamble ended up paying off for Trap – stealing what would end up being the most important map of the night.
- M3 | Thunderbird | Dictating the game from start to finish
The momentary lapse of judgement which had cost him the previous game seemed to have been the perfect wake up call Classic needed, as he made this following map look like child's play. The Protoss King put down an early Nexus – daring his opponent to do something about it – and defended his base successfully to put himself in a fantastic position economically. The decision to go for Phoenixes, which ended up stomping his opponent's Oracles, was only second to the choice to stop producing them in time to get enough Immortals to hold the inevitable and desperate push from Trap. Almost entirely based on Blink Stalkers while trying to leverage having a Warp Prism into a successful bust, the Jin Air survivor's forces were basically completely wiped out by the superior tech of his opponent, leaving him infinitely far behind and making Classic's game ending counter attack all but a formality.
- M4 | Turbo Cruise '84 | Getting clowned on at this point
The utterly botched Cannon Rush attempt from Trap here – or Classic's perfect reaction, you be the judge – honestly felt like throwing in the towel strategy-wise. Interestingly enough both players remained in their seats after the brutal hold, since this wasn't actually the final map of the series, a frustrating reminder Classic had thrown the game away on Cobalt to not make this a 4-0. That wouldn't end up mattering, though, since surely he could easily get just one more set out of the next three maps against an opponent already so beaten they were grasping at straws, right?
- M5 | New Repugnancy | Wrong
A build order win is definitely one way to start your comeback. Classic once again went for an early Nexus, but this time around Trap decided losing in another Stargate vs Stargate battle wasn't how he would go out this Season, so he built a few Gates along with a Robo instead and went across the map to punish his opponent. Classic tried to finesse his way back into the game off some cheeky Oracle play, but the Jin Air survivor's defense held it off and his contain made it so his own second Nexus would be considerably faster than his opponent's. After eventually getting out of his base, Classic made the best of a bad situation and tried leaning on a quick counter attack with a large number of Adepts to possibly catch his opponent being greedy, but Trap's choices to switch up into some Phoenixes, building up his Immortal count and not getting virtually any additional workers really helped him secure this set after the game deciding fight went almost completely his way while Classic still had no expansion of his own to fall back on.
- M6 | Kairos Junction | Get me out
Trap decided if it ain't broke don't fix it, built some early Gates along with a Robo again and sprinted across the map. Classic's build was slightly better here despite still attempting the early expansion, his building placement was certainly superior and his hold felt adequate early into the game – he'd even set up a cool counter with two Oracles and a pair of Adepts – but in one fell swoop everything went as wrong as it possibly could. Classic got his Warp Prism killed while his attention was on the other side of the map, followed by his first and only Immortal randomly walking down the ramp to get cut off from his army and as a result killed & to top it all off he even lost his second Prism before Trap retreated, laughing all the way to the bank thanks to another free win from his supposedly infallible opponent. No amount of throws by Trap or clutch play from Classic after that felt like it really mattered, with the favorite eventually getting suffocated and forced onto the second most important map of the day.
- M7 | Cyber Forest | No king rules forever
With everything now on the line, both players decided to proxy because of course they did, however the shenanigans were cut short when Classic scouted his opponent's Pylon and put a stop to it. From there each player went into their comfort area – Robo for Trap and Stargate for Classic – with both of them taking an expansion almost for the hell of it. No one looked too eager to throw this game, which devolved into an almost endless harassment battle while each of them did their best to keep taking bases and building their way towards maxing out. The game of footsies went on for a while until finally Classic's decided he'd had enough around 13 minutes into this tense clash, charging into his opponent's undefended second base and going for broke. It seemed, however, the Protoss King had misread the situation as he quickly found himself down almost double in army supply after taking a questionable fight and getting completely surrounded by Trap's forces. By the time his own recall came in it felt too little too late, the Jin Air survivor then really put his foot on the gas and sped across the map to inflict some damage of his own. Outgunned, outmaneuvered, outmatched – Classic made one mistake too many against Trap who simply refused to collapse.
Sooner or later we all run out of time and it feels like tonight was a morbid reminder of that reality, if you take one inch for granted you open yourself up to the risk of losing everything you'd worked so hard for.
- Map of the Night – I really liked the play on King's Cove and Thunderbird from Classic, although it's really telling I do think his best map of the night was the first one he played, really should have killed Trap while he had the chance on those first four maps.
Finally, here are some of my Takeaways for each player:
- Trap has somehow done the impossible, he literally found himself on the wrong side of the bracket going up against an unstoppable opponent and came out on top regardless. It's very easy to point out the throws and overall collapse on Classic's part, but you also have to hand it to Trap for keeping it together too, you don't just trip over and win three straight games against the best PvP player in the world. Lets put it another way, tonight the Jin Air Protoss won more maps against Classic than he had in his entire career, that should say it all. All he has to do now is keep it together against an incredibly beatable opponent – for much different reasons, depending on who Trap ends up across – and Jin Air should have themselves a brand new GSL Champion (imagine that, Trap getting a Code S title before both sOs and Rogue).
- Classic has had such an incredible resurgence and been so dominant it was easy to forget he's still only human (the degree to which he showed that tonight was definitely something else, but he was bound to run out of steam sooner or later). Unfortunately, the fact this particular trophy has had his name on it for the better part of a month is unavoidable, he was the clear favorite and taking into account this was one of his last chances to double up on his Code S titles it feels even worse. I'm heartbroken for him, since everything went right this Season for Classic to walk the royal path at least one last time, but in the end – for whatever reason – it looked like he didn't have it in him.
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 the second Semi, here's hoping we get some high quality games – on the other hand, fuck it, we might as well get Hurricane into the final now and have the clown fiesta, the Classic vs Dark dream is dead. 🙁
Thanks as always for reading & see you when I see you! (:
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