Code S Season 3 - RO16 Group B:Start time: Saturday, Aug 31 4:00am GMT (GMT+00:00)
Trap, Cure, herO, TY
Days after KeeN demonstrated that a 77% increase in EMP area-of-effect might actually constitute a serious buff in TvZ (shocking, I know), it's now time to see how the latest round of balance changes have affected the TvP match-up. Interestingly enough, KeeN mentioned in his post-match interview that he was quite confident in post-patch TvP—a rarity considering how whining about the weakness of their race is the default state for most progamers—so perhaps Group B will show us exactly what he meant.
Just looking at the raw stats, Season 2 runner-up Trap should be a heavy favorite to advance from this group. Protoss vs Terran has been his best match-up during the WCS 2019 season, where he's put up a crazy good 41-11 match record with a 123-55 map score against mostly Korean opposition.
Still, I'm worried that a perfect storm is brewing to blast Trap back to his old, Ro16 player status. A lot of Trap's impressive PvT record was built online, a realm where he rules as one of the twin emperors alongside Zest. In GSL play, there's much less evidence to prove he's a truly elite PvT player. He got turned inside out by Maru in the Season 1 semifinals, beat SpeCial (2-0) and INnoVation (3-2) in Season 2, and beat TaeJa 2-0 in the Ro32 of the present Season 3. Trap's latest offline match, a 3-1 victory against HeroMarine at GSL vs. The World, did more to worry than reassure. It was a match-up he was supposed to win handily, but he ended up dropping a map after some less-than-perfect defense against a Tank push. Things got worse in the team match (even if it was technically an exhibition), where he was again unable to hold off waves of HeroMarine's infantry.
Trap fans could be tempted to let out a sigh of relief upon seeing that his initial opponent is the lowly Cure. If not for two, almost inexplicable Code S Ro4 runs in 2014 and 2016, Cure would rate as one of the least successful players remaining in the tournament. If you read the back of the bag, Cure is basically like the old Trap: empty calories filling space in the Ro16.
Or so you may be tempted to believe! Like the old Trap, Cure is one of those players who has built a cult following due his strong online play. Like the old Trap, Cure has talked about how he suffers from a mental block that prevents him from playing up to 100% of his abilities in big matches. And like the old Trap, Cure says he's starting to work through those problems. The Ro32 saw Cure nearly beat Stats in a close 1-2 loss. A pessimist would say Cure bashed his head against Stats' shield until he died. The optimist would say that any other player would have fallen to Cure's relentless attacks, and that Stats survived only because he is the greatest defensive player in the game. Throw in the Jin Air team-kill factor to weird things up, and we might have a surprisingly close match on our hands.
The other PvT pairing of the night has herO going up against TY. Once more, one player is a strong favorite on paper. Ever since his Ro32 elimination in Code S season two, TY has been on a furious comeback run with a WCS Global Finals spot in his sights. He finished second place at HomeStory Cup 19, losing only to Serral, and then proceeded to advance from his Code S Ro32 group with wins against Impact and Maru. Even after his unfortunate, first round match against Serral at GSL vs. The World (ending in a 1-3 loss), TY is looking like the best Terran player in Korea (don't forget, he almost won the Terran vote for Team Korea).
TY's PvT has been particularly impressive during this period, and he's currently on a seven match winning streak with victories over Classic, Zest, Stats, and Neeb. How could herO stand a chance? Yeah he's good, but he's good in a wonky way. His top four run at IEM Katowice, were both a showcase and indictment of his abilities: he needed to melt everyone's brains in bizarre, logic-defying PvPs to achieve his best result of the year. Besides that, his results have been a top sixteen and top eight finish in Code S, and a top eight finish at the recent ASUS ROG Summer tournament. Again, he's good—just not championship-tier good.
Then again, the fact that herO is such a wonky player is the biggest thing he has going for him. His latest series PvT from ASUS ROG where he eliminated INnoVation summed up exactly why TY fans should be afraid: First, he stopped INnoVation's two-base timing attack. Then, he shoved Blink Stalkers down INnoVations' throat for a 6 minute victory. Cue TY fans sweating profusely: 'Wait, losing by failing a too-clever timing attack, and then losing to a dumb all-in right after? That's exactly what TY would do!' No, they're not the most impressive games. But these kind of games have kept happening for herO consistently over the years.
Incidentally, do you want to know who gave TY his last PvT loss before he went on his winning streak? Why, it's none other than herO himself (in a Master's Colisseum match where I can't find the VOD).
After making the case for Cure above, I still don't really believe myself. Cure has just been so mediocre in Code S for so long, that I can't pick him to win a big, offline match until he proves that he can (the easiest stance to ever take in predictions). On the other hand, herO... That guy was made to confound fans, progamers, and anyone who cares about StarCraft II esports. If he can drag Trap into a PvP deathmatch with a quarterfinal spot on the line, I can see Trap's dream-like two seasons of advancing past the Ro16 coming to an end.
Trap > Cure
TY > herO
TY > Trap
herO > Cure
herO > Trap
TY and herO to advance