Code S Season 3 - RO32 - Group H Previewby Destructicon
An eventful Ro32 comes to a close with Group H. Returning finalist Trap looks to reaffirm his position as a great Protoss of LotV, Solar and Patience fight to keep their far-off dream of reaching the WCS Global Finals alive, and TaeJa will try to answer the question "is there such a thing as StarCraft II life after military service?"
Matches start at Saturday, Jul 20 4:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
When Jin Air had an unexpected, collective meltdown in Code S Season 2 that saw nearly all of its players eliminated in the Ro32, only Trap was left to protect the honor of the last remaining KeSPA team. And surprisingly, the player we had long mocked for being hard-stuck in the Ro16 was up for the challenge, performing admirably to reach the finals before losing to Dark.
One might argue Trap's career-first Code S finals appearance was built on easy groups, as he reached the playoffs by defeating herO (twice), Scarlett, and SpeCial. But to be honest, the group stage path of a finalist isn't always the hardest—just go back on Liquipedia and look up how easy some of Maru's group stages were during his title runs.
However, Trap really proved himself in the playoffs. He out-macroed INnoVation in a tight 3-2 quarterfinal series, and then kept his composure to come back from a 1-3 deficit to defeat Classic in a clutch semifinal series. Though he lost 2-4 to Dark in the finals, he put up a respectable fight—even forcing Dark to change his game plan midway through the series by shutting down his aggressive attacks. Trap said he has learned to reign in his nerves, and if he can maintain that relaxed confidence, there's no reason he can't extend this belated golden age of his career. His strong performances throughout the year suggest he's more than ready for anything his group opponents have to throw at him.
Trap’s first opponent is a returning fan favorite. Old school fans will be eager to see TaeJa light up the summer once more, reliving his glory days from Heart of Swarm.
Before his two-year retirement due to military service, TaeJa was one of the best and also most puzzling players in competitive StarCraft II history. In terms of performance, he would almost hibernate during the winter months, only to then switch on the afterburners and torch the competition in the summer. Another quirk (and criticism) of TaeJa was that he could dominate top-tier players at 'weekender' events outside of Korea (he won all eleven of his major titles outside Korea), but he struggled in long-term events such as GSL Code S and WCS America, where the best results he achieved was top four.
At his peak, TaeJa was one of the strongest and frightening players to face. But all of the past greats have struggled after coming back from military service, and TaeJa has been no exception. The Crown Prince officially returned in mid-2018, but has only now managed to qualify for his first two premiere events: ASUS ROG 2019 and Code S Season 3. His online and qualifier results since his return don't paint a pretty picture either: he's struggled against most players we'd consider Code S regulars, and even more fringe Code S players like Creator and DRG gave him trouble.
While its possible that TaeJa will regain his old form in time, he's already behind schedule compared to other returners. In this particular tournament, it's looking like TaeJa could make an early exit.
Like much of the Code S population, Solar is a former champion. However, it's hard to think of Solar as a champion nowadays. His last championship came long ago in 2016, in SpoTV's StarCraft Starleague Season 2. Not only that, but the dissolution of SSL has made that tournament fade in our collective memories, while the GSL has continued to build upon its legacy with two more years of stories.
Solar used to be able to give us the occasional reminder of what made him a champion, but he's been going through a dry spell this year. He failed to advance to the Ro16 of Code S in both seasons and was stopped in the quarterfinals of both China's GPC and IEM Katowice. His single best performance may have been in leading Triumphant Song Gaming to the title in the China Team Championship, but the level of competition wasn't exactly Code S playoff level.
All that taken into consideration, the group is hard but doable for Solar. While he has somewhat struggled against Korean Protosses, Patience isn’t the most consistent of their race. In addition, Trap, while a very good player, is not so dominant that he can't be duped by some crafty mind games or cheese. And if it comes to ZvT, Solar’s should be more than a match for the returning TaeJa.
Throughout the year Patience has always felt like the wild card in any group. He's frequently picked on in group selections, and fans are uncomfortable picking him to win against any of the more established players. And yet, we can't keep acting like we're surprised when he upsets the players he's not 'supposed' to beat. Patience eliminated PvP expert Zest from the Ro32 of Code S Season 1, only to then get booted out of an easy Ro16 group by Bunny and even Impact. He helped eliminate both INnoVation and Maru in the Ro32 of Code S Season 2, only to get crushed by Dark and Stats in the Ro16.
Of the many GSL player archetypes, Patience embodies his the best: he can beat anyone, and yet he can also lose against everyone. That makes predictions involving him particularly hard...
Of all the players in this group, the one I have the most confidence in to do well is Trap. He's just beaten too many good players this year, and is calm and collected enough to answer all of the challenges he could face in this group. Second place is a lot tougher to pick. I don’t see TaeJa making it, which leaves this as a battle between two very volatile players in Solar and Patience.
Trap 2 – 0 TaeJa
Solar 0 – 2 Patience
Trap 2 – 1 Patience
TaeJa 0 – 2 Solar
Patience 1 – 2 Solar
Trap and Solar to advance.