During what has been the most chaotic and upset-prone Season of Code S in recent memory, finally a little bit of order got restored tonight with the favorites winning for a change, although at times it certainly got more than a little too close for comfort during the better match of the day.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead, Obviously.
The would-be-dream-match between Classic and soO was sadly once again the definition of a one-man-show, the Protoss King unquestionably established himself as the better player with convincing games and unshakable resolve to add yet another name to his list of victims with no sign of stopping anytime soon, certainly not before bringing at least one more trophy to his cabinet.
The last survivors – one representing Jin Air the de facto best team in the World and the other carrying the entire Terran race's hopes and dreams on his back this Season – were locked in an absolute war until the bitter end, with Trap eventually managing to put INnoVation away after a tremendous effort and will to win was put on display by both players.
soO | ★★★☆☆ | Nightmare Match
- King's Cove | The Protoss King set the tone early in the series with a build that's become a classic part of his PvZ arsenal, namely Stargate into "look at all these Glaives Adepts". There were three Oracles tagging along with a Phoenix that eventually crashed into the Zerg's third Hatch, trading only one Oracle for 12 Drones, already incredible damage. Perhaps one of the most important parts to this build, though, was the early wall Classic set up to deny vision around his third Nexus – which he never built – that masked how committed he really was to his vintage harass game. By the end of the inevitable Adept assault more than 30 more Drones had been murdered, meaning the game was effectively over and the deal was sealed not long after with the perfectly textbook and simple follow-up Immortal push from Classic.
- Kairos Junction | The shoe seemed to be on the other foot here, as soO immediately scouted the gas-light Robo Twilight build from his opponent which basically made the incoming all in unbelievably transparent. There was absolutely no doubt in the Zerg's mind what was coming despite the Protoss' best efforts to sell him a story he wasn't buying, soO held down the R button on his keyboard & as a result very easily stomped the low tech largely Zealot based push to even up the series.
- Turbo Cruise '84 | I love going with the age old "when macro player, sometimes cheese" however it doesn't feel applicable to the 2019 version of Classic, since he's basically become the most complete Protoss player there is. In any case – seeing as this map has been more than a little sketchy – the plan to go for a Cannon/Robo Rush here was understandable and the execution was flawless. In addition the clutch adjustments to deal with soO's radical amount of Spines were also pretty cool, in essence Classic once again found a way to make it look easy (instantly reminded me of how he got one over on Rogue too last Season on New Repugnancy).
- New Repugnancy | Speaking of which, the Build Order King didn't go for the same strategy here, instead opted for a fake Robo play into double Stargate. Unfortunately for the Zerg he actually bought what Classic was selling this time (while his Overseer did get into the Protoss base eventually, it already felt too little too late) so a large amount of panic Spores went down yet he took critical damage from the hidden Phoenix fleet combined with a cheeky Adept squad all the same. The predictable Immortal Sentry Stalker push after that from Classic – in tandem with his still healthy air army – devastated soO's forces at his third base (supply block is a bitch when all your Overlords are getting shot down) and the game immediately snowballed irreversibly out of control, comfortably securing the Protoss King's spot in the Ro4.
M2 | Trap
INnoVation | ★★★★☆ | Trying to ice skate uphill
- Kairos Junction | Both players got a bit weird to kick things off on this map, deciding to go for a two base build which would ideally handle a committed push from their opponent. As is the case in these scenarios, the game went on with each player having to come up with scrappy adjustments along the way. Trap was the one who essentially struck first, sneaking in a Warp Prism & unleashing the wrath of the Zealot on INnoVation's mineral line in his main and while the attack was taken care of relatively quickly, 9 SCV kills is still nothing to scoff at. Almost entirely focused on not taking anymore damage, the Terran kind of just sat back and did his best to set up an air tight defense while the Protoss took the opportunity to put down a Nexus anywhere he could & grow his tech as greedily as possible to get the upper hand. While it's true INnoVation got a very respectable army together near the end, Trap's ridiculous amount of greed resulted in having more Templar, Colossi and Immortals than made sense & the Jin Air survivor didn't hesitate using them to their fullest. Trap kept finessing his way to a better and better position throughout an extremely long fight – splitting off chunks of his army strategically and hitting Storms from seemingly all angles – to eventually put himself in the middle of his opponent's territory, cutting off reinforcement paths and essentially securing the first game.
- Thunderbird | The overly defensive play early on from the Protoss came back to bite him here, as his conservative two base Stargate opener put him pretty far behind against a Terran who already had three CCs done before the third Nexus was even put down & to make matters worse INnoVation was going for Mech. There were some cute moves by Trap that made it look as if he was still in it – such as sniping the Raven with his Phoenixes after perfectly dealing with a Cloaked Banshee – however not even 10 minutes into the game the Terran was almost maxed out while still building five Siege Tanks at a time near the end. INnoVation decided this game would be the perfect opportunity to remind everyone just how scary his mechanics are in terms of macro, so when the first real fight ended and he was up almost 100 supply it was a foregone conclusion this contest was just over, the primarily Hellbat & Tank army looked unscathed and so easily strolled across the map to seal the deal.
- GSL Cobalt | Trap got a really fortunate scout off early into the game and used the information he gained to set himself up as greedily as possible by throwing down an early third Nexus & double Forge, even more so facilitated by the fact this was cross spawns i.e. the rush distance was the longest possible. INnoVation decided to go with a relatively early push regardless – since his third CC hadn't even been started by the time the Protoss was already mining on three bases with 60 workers – however it really felt like the mobility-based decision to go with Widow Mines instead of Siege Tanks ended up biting him during the initial fight, in essence allowing Trap to play "footsies" i.e. never fully engage until it was absolutely unavoidable, buying himself more than enough time to build up his forces using the stronger economy. While an overeager overextension from the Protoss gave his opponent a slight lifeline back into the game, Trap was still large and in charge (INnoVation had essentially put himself in a lose-lose scenario by going for an early push without accomplishing anything and simultaneously trying to do a half-hearted transition into a later game which felt too little too late) so he decided to take things slow and steady by taking a fourth Nexus and showing us some of his own out of control macro capabilities while using Warp Prism play to keep the Terran contained. INnoVation somehow maxed out with a huge army regardless to make it look closer than it actually was for a while, but Trap's monstrous economy and significant upgrade lead were certainly enough to help him stabilize (the hidden fifth base helped too, shoutout to sOs) & put himself just one map away from the Ro4.
- King's Cove | In what felt like a bit of an instant replay, Trap got a great scout at the start of the game again here and did pretty much the same response – immediate third Nexus into double Forge. Not that I blame him, but INnoVation went for a pretty similar push again to try and punish the greedy build & really only got away with not doing critical damage because Trap chose to go for a slightly overeager engagement because the Terran army was a bit disjointed. In what felt like a Protoss favored "wash" – both players going back home was definitely in Trap's favor – history looked set to repeat itself shortly. Instead, what happened was INnoVation turtled as best he could and got one small win after another against the increasingly overly aggressive Jin Air Protoss. After one overextension too many from Trap, the Terran's forces absolutely stomped the unnecessarily committed push from the Protoss and INnoVation certainly immediately seized the momentary lapse of judgement from his opponent, pushing all the way across the map to take us into the final map of the day.
- Turbo Cruise '84 | No one felt like dying early into the last game of the day, which is why once again we got to watch two base vs two base for a bit. INnoVation's initial Cloaked Banshee scouted a proxy Templar Archives after that (shutting down the possibility of early Storm) and unfortunately that's likely what gave him the idea to push into the Protoss as soon as he could, despite being in a prefect position to go into later game. While the third Nexus was indeed sniped by the deadly push, the counter attack from Trap's Warp Prism got more than 20 SCV kills in addition to cutting off reinforcements and he had already rebuilt the proxied tech in his main, giving him access to the Storms he desperately needed to hold on back at home. At that point INnoVation simply refused to take one step back, it was all or nothing for the Terran as his army supply was the only thing he had left. Both players absolutely microed their hearts out in the following couple of engagements, however with every second that went by victory was slipping further and further away from INnoVation. By the end of what essentially was the battle that decided the outcome of the game, Trap had double the amount of Probes and while Mules are pretty good they're not miracle workers. Somehow someway, INnoVation still fought his way back up in supply, but by that point Trap had an unreal amount of Templar on the map and after the final critical decision to go for the desperation Doom Drop from the Terran backfired as the Protoss forces caught it ahead of schedule and shot down one airship too many (losing a bunch of his Liberators after stacking them up on top of each other didn't help either) it felt like the writing was already on the wall. Without any Ghosts to his name and with his forces dwindling, there was basically nothing left for INnoVation to do other than type in "ww" as Trap's Templar ravaged the Terran forces with a seemingly infinite amount of Storms, ending the 7x back to back Terran Code S Championships dream before it could ever really fully get going.
Once again, I'm well aware "Protoss bad" is what the vocal minority would like to spew out whenever they can right about now, however I'm not really interested in glorified excuses when talking about top tier play (which if the GSL isn't, I don't know what is).
The first match of the day unquestionably featured the better player winning – seeing as Classic is the favorite to win the whole tournament and a respected veteran, that one is less likely to catch flak, though admittedly some people do love soO enough to pretend otherwise – while the second one literally came down to who would make one or two fewer mistakes & anyone trying to sell you a story of how they "knew" X was always going to win is likely just being a disingenuous cunt, that last map was absolutely down to the wire.
- Map of the Night – Feel free to vote in the poll, for me without a doubt it has to be the absolute nail-biter on Turbo Cruise '84 between Trap and INnoVation, unbelievably close game that could have been won/lost at any moment with just one more great play or critical mistake, incredible fighting spirit on display by both players (throughout the series, honestly, was a great one).
Finally, here are some of my Takeaways from Day 1 in the Ro8 for each player:
- Classic simply manhandling soO again so recently after taking him down on the way to his Super Tournament Championship really solidifies the fact his PvZ has reached another level, you'd never think this is supposed to be his weakness now after he's literally beaten all the top Korean Zergs in just the span of a few months at most. Funnily enough it only gets better for him moving forward, Classic's PvP is where he looks the scariest & even in the worst case scenario possible at the end of the tournament he would only have to play his long time rival Dark, who has never made it to a Code S final before and is a notorious choker. Frankly, it's just Classic's second Code S crown to lose at this point, no one left represents a tangible threat to Final Form Classic, especially not after the result from today's second Ro8 match.
- soO let his opponent dictate every single game and you just can't afford to do that when running into the best player left in the tournament (also remember he has no one but himself to blame for ending up on this side of the bracket). Unfortunately, what we all thought he'd learned when he finally took down Dear – which is that playing like you usually do will get you nowhere against a tough adversary, so you might as well try doing something different – was nowhere to be seen tonight, instead soO played to Classic's tune and as a result payed the price. I'm once again underwhelmed with the quality of the games in what should genuinely be considered a dream match (this was almost as bad of a beating as the one he took during the Super Tournament) yet in another sense if your opponent comfortably wins both times (strictly talking about this year, when both of them have undoubtedly had a resurgence) to paraphrase an infamous line slightly: there is no rivalry, Classic is just better.
- Trap deserves to be treated to a five course meal by Classic for the tremendous favor he did him today, seeing as the alternate scenario in the Semis would have been far from a foregone conclusion as to who would come out on top. Absolutely no shade intended, Trap just doesn't have anyone on Jin Air playing at a high enough level to get his PvP where it needs to be in order to take down Classic, while he had Cure/Maru surely doing their best robot impersonation to get him into fighting shape for today & man did he end up needing it despite this being arguably his best matchup right now and likely INnoVation's worst. I honestly thought it was going to be a much easier day for Trap, since I expected INnoVation to regress slightly from what he showed against Stats but that wasn't at all what actually happened. Hard fought & absolutely earned back to back Code S Ro4 finish for the last Jin Air survivor without a doubt, I hope for entertainment's sake he brings the same level when he goes up against Classic next, unfortunately though I only see that going one way regardless.
- INnoVation did a commendable job today, as he certainly didn't pull a TY i.e. go quietly into the night, despite having dealt with very similar struggles recently in TvP. On a side note I genuinely think there was real potential for the 7x back to back Terran Code S Championships – he certainly would have presented a bigger threat to Classic's run than anyone in PvP will – but he made one mistake too many tonight & you're just not going to get away with that against someone as solid as Trap. Still, I was very pleasantly surprised how much more robust INnoVation's builds ended up being compared to his games vs Stats – watching him finally pull off Mech successfully was quite a treat, unfortunate he didn't really go for it more than the one time – and you also have to take into account that to win this Code S he would have had to beat basically all the best players left in the tournament (Trap, Classic, Dark), so you could say INnoVation unfortunately found himself on the wrong side of the bracket (this run could have been done the way of the samurai, though, which would have been a sick storyline, alas it wasn't meant to be this time).
Keep in mind these are just my observations. As always, if you feel differently let everyone know why in the comments below.
Catch you this Saturday when we'll find out whether Dark will be making it all the way to the final or alternatively if we'll be drawing on the recent KSL bracket for inspiration!
Thanks as always for reading & see you when I see you! (:
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