Code S Semifinals Preview: Classic vs Trapby Wax
If the spring of Protoss has plunged the community into a pit of rancor and discontent, at least we can say it was in service of this semifinal match: The two best Protoss players in the world will face off in a best-of-seven series with a Code S finals spot on the line.
In one corner we have Classic, the de facto best player in the world following Maru's shocking RO32 elimination. Classic's run to the finals in Code S Season 1 wasn't just a one-off performance—his victory in the subsequent Super Tournament #1 showed this battle-worn soldier wasn't going to fade away meekly into the night. BlizzCon or not (visa pending), Classic seems determined to win a Code S championship in the final year of his career.
Facing Classic is Trap, a long-suffering veteran who could finally realize his full potential as the next great macro-Protoss in the tradition of Rain, Zest, and Stats. Perseverance has rewarded many other players before Trap—notably Stats, GuMiho, and TY who won their first major championships in Legacy of the Void. Now, it might be time for Trap to follow in their footsteps and win his first championship since MLG Anaheim in 2014.
Will this blockbuster match live up to it's billing? Errr... probably not.
Classic has a dominant head-to-head record against Trap, with a 4-0 lead in BO3+ matches and a 9-2 overall map score advantage. Two of Classic's series wins came not long ago in Code S Season 1, where Classic defeated Trap in both the RO32 (2-0) and RO16 (2-1). The latter match was actually set up directly by Classic, who was so confident against Trap that he hand-picked him as his initial RO16 opponent during the group selections. While the content of the games wasn't terribly one-sided in Classic's favor, it's worrisome for Trap that he lost all three maps where they got into the 'standard' Chargelot-Immortal-Archon vs Chargelot-Immortal-Archon mid-game battles.
The overall PvP statistics paint a slightly rosier picture for Trap, whose WCS 2019 win-rate of 60.91% (67-42 map score) only trails slightly behind Classic's 62.22% (28-17 map score). However, when we isolate the records to just live, GSL matches, Classic once again comes ahead with an absurd 7-0 record in series compared to Trap's mere 3-2 (both losses against Classic).
Going outside the realm of PvP, Classic has cultivated an all-around aura of being a brilliant planner in Code S. Obviously he's not infallible—he did get crushed 4-2 by Maru after all. But the breadth of build orders he used against soO, Rogue, Dark, and even Maru in defeat make you believe that he can out-strategize anyone who's not a god-tier opponent. While Trap made an important career breakthrough by defeating TY and INnoVation in consecutive quarterfinals (he said he finally feels like he can play in broadcast games as he does in practice), he still hasn't proved he can win at the level above that.
'...until proven otherwise' is a rather boring mentality to have when doing predictions, but in Trap's case, it seems well deserved. Trap was hard-stuck in the Code S RO16 for years before making a breakthrough in 2019. Why should anyone trust him to immediately succeed in higher rounds?
TL.net users seem to agree, with Classic leading Liquibet predictions by over 6:1 at the time of writing. Trap might finally be figuring things out on the GSL playoff stage for the first time in his career, but Classic figured those things out a long time ago when he won his first Code S title in 2014.
Prediction: Classic 4 - 1 Trap
Credits and acknowledgements