Complaints of "Zerg OP" were quieted for a night, as the RO16 group of death resulted in GSL's top two Zergs in Dark and Rogue both suffering elimination. Instead, the Protoss/Terran power duo of Trap and INnoVation survived to reach the playoffs.
Trap, arguably the best Protoss player of 2020, did his faction proud by advancing in first place. The highlight of Trap's day was a 2-1 victory over Dark, breaking a five match losing streak that had gone on for over a year. Trap even defeated Dark in a drawn out macro game, overcoming the cost efficiency of the late-game Zerg army by simply out-expanding and out-spending his opponent. Trap then took out frequent foe INnoVation in the winners' match, exploiting a predictable INnoVation with some tricky tactics.
INnoVation came through in second place on the back of strong TvZ, where he overpowered both Rogue and Dark in fairly straight-up macro games. Interestingly, INnoVation gave a very self-effacing interview afterward, saying he 'didn't know' why he won. Machine language experts are undoubtedly hard at work cracking this code, trying to figure out if INnoVation is truly lacking in confidence or if he's about to win another GSL championship.
Trap wasn't the only one to break a losing streak on the day, as Dark got his first offline victory against Rogue since 2015 by eliminating him in the losers' match. Unfortunately for Dark, it was all for naught, as he was overrun by INnoVation's bio in the decider match.
Recommended game: If you're tired of watching Trap losing late-game PvZ in soul-crushing fashion in major tournaments, then you'll enjoy Trap vs Dark on Ever Dream as a change of pace. While Trap did still get ridiculously outfought in late-game battles, his control over the expansions allowed him to outspend Dark and still win in the end.
Coming up: Code S will resume on Wednesday, Oct 14 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00) with the first two quarterfinal matches: TY vs DongRaeGu and Stats vs INnoVation.
Initial Match #1: INnoVation 2 - 1 Rogue
Game 1 - Deathaura: INnoVation opened with at triple Command Center into Battlecruiser build, which was quickly scouted by Rogue's diligent speed-upgraded Overlords. Unable to get the jump on Rogue with his initial BC, INnoVation decided to stay on the BC path by getting the Yamato Cannon upgrade while preparing for a transition to bio. Things fell apart for INnoVation when he sent BC's out to try some Yamato Cannon harassment, as Rogue fortuitously (or skillfully) hit with a Mutalisk-Roach backdoor attack while the BC's were in the middle of the map. Even with the BC's teleporting back to defend, Rogue was able to do a massive amount of damage as INnoVation had yet to accumulate a significant number of Marines. Smelling blood in the water, Rogue continued to attack with Muta-Ling-Bane until INnoVation couldn't hold out any longer.
Game 2 - Golden Wall: The two players started with a more normal macro build-up, where it looked like the players had signed a 'no-rush' pact as they prepped for an intense macro mid-game on the north side of Golden Wall. However, INnoVation caught Rogue off guard by starting his offensive a few beats earlier than anticipated. He mined out the central mineral wall to open up a south side push for his Marine-Tank, and then dropped Mules to open Rogue's backdoor ramp. Rogue just wasn't ready to defend against a deadly push right outside of his main base, and GG'd out after failing to dislodge the Terran army from its advantageous position.
Game 3 - Pillars of Gold: INnoVation seized the advantage early in the deciding match, with Rogue's poor defense against early Hellion-Liberator harassment costing him a significant number of Drones. This set up the classic INnoVation parade push, with endless waves of Bio + Mines pummeling Rogue into submission, overwhelming defending Lurkers with sheer numbers.
Initial Match #2: Trap 2 - 1 Dark
Game 1 - Ever Dream: An eventful early game saw Dark start off with an offensive Hatchery at Trap's natural (going 3-Hatch before Pool), forcing a 2-Gate start from Trap. After forcing the Hatchery cancel from Dark, Trap opted to stay on one-base mining to apply pressure with Gateway units. This forced Dark to over-produce speedlings early, which seemed like it would negate his advantage from delaying Trap's natural. However, Dark was able to counter-attack and get his Lings into Trap's main, killing Probes and taking the advantage back. Once Dark stopped Trap's Oracle follow-up, he was left in a commanding position..
However, Dark's famous killer-instinct ended up backfiring on him in this particular game. A Ling-Bane attack failed to kill Trap when he took his third base, while a Roach-Ravager-Bane attack failed to broach the Protoss defenses when Trap took his fourth. Trap survived with enough Immortals and Archons to be able to launch a deadly attack of his own, crushing Dark's initial wave of low-tech defenders and inflicting severe Drone casualties. While Dark managed to survive and get Lurkers out on the map, Trap had seized the commanding lead.
Deterred by the Lurker-Spore defense lines, Trap opted to tech up to Carriers while containing Dark. In hindsight, Dark might have been able to slowly push his Lurker-Spore lines forward and take more territory, but he seemed content to sit back, turtle, and tech. Dark eventually did manage to put together his ultimate army of Ultras, Corruptors, Infestors, and Vipers, and smashedTrap's Carrier-based force in a major engagement. But while Dark won the battle, his he wasn't able to win the war. He gave Trap more than enough time to convert his bank into a new army of Archons, Immortals, and Void Rays, and didn't push the tempo quickly enough to shut down Trap's mining bases. Furthermore, Dark had lost most of his valuable spellcasters in the key engagement, and lacked the money to replace them. Nor did he have a Greater Spire, which meant his Corruptors were stuck in Corruptor form without Carriers to counter.
Trap wisely decided to use his rebuilt army to play a cat and mouse game with Dark, mostly avoiding the main Zerg force while shutting down new expansions. Eventually, Dark just didn't have the income to keep up with Trap, and was forced to GG out.
Game 2 - Deathaura: Trap opened with a Void Ray expand to get rid of Zerg scouting, and followed with a sneaky 2-base Speedlot all-in. However, Dark's roaming speedlings gathered enough information to know that something was up (notably the lack of a third base), and he halted Drone production and started making Lings and Spines. Dark's reaction was so good that Trap didn't even try to commit to his all-in, and instead tried to transition into a macro game. However, macroing after a cancelled all-in is rarely going to work against a player of Dark's caliber, and Dark overran Trap with Roach-Hydra in the mid-game.
Game 3 - Pillars of Gold: Trap went for an aggressive Adept printer strategy off six Gateways, while Dark went for a curious defensive force of Ravager-Ling (scouting the Twilight Council but not seeing the exact Gateway count). While Dark defended the first round of Adept pressure easily, Trap caught Dark reacting half a second slow on his next Adept dive. This gave Trap the opening to begin the usual Adept tour of all the Zerg bases, getting a solid trade of Adepts for Drones. Dark wasn't left with enough of an army advantage needed to launch an effective counter attack, and Trap simply finished Dark off by attacking again once he had three Immortals.
Winners' Match: Trap 2 - 0 INnoVation
Game 1 - Deathaura: The game started off as a seemingly standard clash between 1/1/1 tech vs defensive Blink, but Trap abruptly seized an early advantage by shading three Adepts into INnoVation's main through his lowered wall. Trap could have just been lucky, or he might have known exactly when INnoVation was going to lower his Depot wall to send out a Hellion scout (the two play against each other a ton, after all). Korean caster TY suggested that Trap was taking advantage of INnoVation's habit of rallying his Barracks to a lowered depot in the wall.
In any case, the three Adepts killed off 10 SCV's, putting INnoVation terribly behind. From there, it was all too easy for Trap to macro-up on three bases, fend off some desperate drop harassment from INnoVation, and eventually collect the GG with an army of Colossi, Zealots, and Stalkers.
Game 2 - Eternal of Empire: Trap went for a daring Robo-less Blink Stalker all-in, while INnoVation went for another typical 1/1/1 tech build with a Raven. INnoVation managed to sneak a Hellion scout into Trap's natural, and surmised something was up due to the lack of a third base and Assimilators. However, despite starting a Bunker for defense, INnoVation's reaction speed just wasn't up to snuff when Trap blinked into his main, as he let his Raven get picked off before it could cast a single spell. From there, Trap used his Stalkers to slowly pick INnoVation apart until he had no choice but to GG.
Losers' Match: Dark 2 - 1 Rogue
Game 1 - Deathaura: Game one saw a peculiar scenario play out with both players trying to go for Roach attacks off three-bases without a Lair. Things broke Rogue's way, as he went for a version that was slightly slower, but had more Drones and the +1 Carapace upgrade. The situation got even worse for Dark as he left himself open to a Speedling runby just as his Roaches moved out, losing several of his crucial Queens.
Rogue committed hard to Roach-Bane to try and kill Dark off, but Dark was able to barely survive thanks to his defenders advantage. But that didn't even up the situation, as Rogue was able to tech faster to Roach speed while proceeding on to 1/1 upgrades. Dark wasn't able to hold out against the follow-up attack of 1/1 speed-Roaches and GG'd out.
Game 2 - Ice and Chrome: The two players went for a much more passive approach in game two, with both players ending up macroing up and getting to Lurker tech. The Hive tech choices that followed decided the game, with Dark going the standard route by adding Vipers to his Hydra-Lurker army, while Rogue made the unusual choice of making sixteen Brood Lords. While Rogue successfully hid his Brood Lords from Dark before using them revealing them in a surprise attack, there wasn't much of an advantage gained as Dark already had the units he needed to counter them in the form of Vipers and Hydras. Parasitic Bombs and Abduct made short work of the Brood Lords, and Dark went on to win the game easily. All in all, it was a rather baffling game from Rogue.
Game 3 - Ever Dream: Rogue went for a 12-Pool Zergling-Drone-Spine Crawler all-in, sending his units along a side path to try and elude Dark's Overlords. However, Dark had sent his first two Overlords out along atypical paths to spot this kind of all-in, and he was able to buy himself some valuable seconds of advance warning. After an intense defensive battle, Dark was able to barely triumph over Rogue's forces thanks to Broodlings emerging from his destroyed natural Hatchery.
Decider Match: INnoVation 2 - 0 Dark
Game 1 - Deathaura: INno played a Hellion-Raven opener into standard bio, while Dark opened with some light Roach-Ravager pressure before following INnoVation into a macro game. Dark made some unusual mid-game army choices, making Mutalisks for harassment while actually using Roach-Ravager-Bane as the bulk of his army. It didn't really work out for Dark, as his Mutalisks weren't able to get much harassment in, while his Roach-Ravager-Bane army couldn't win any battles before their supply-inefficiency started to kick in versus a growing Terran army. INnoVation eventually got his parade push going, and extracted the GG out of Dark with endless waves of units.
Game 2 - Eternal Empire: INnoVation opened Hellion-Banshee this time around, while Dark went for a more standard Muta-Ling-Bane based macro game. The game ended up following a typical 'INnoVation winning TvZ' pattern that's been around for ages, with Dark managing to barely survive against continued waves of bio, but not doing much else. While Dark did survive to Hive and Ultralisk tech, it wasn't enough to turn the tide in the end.