2021 GSL Code S Season 2 - Semifinalsby Poopi
The first semifinal match features Bunny and Trap, both of whom destroyed their opponents in 3-0 sweeps during the quarterfinals. Now, they face each other in entirely different match-ups, in a rematch of Super Tournament 2 where Trap inflicted a painful 3-0 upon Bunny.
Reaching the finals would be yet another landmark achievement for Bunny, whose current run to the top four is already a career best. As for Trap, a victory would see him return to the Code S finals for the third time, where he could try to wash off his “tier 2” curse.
Semifinal Match #1: Bunny vs TrapStart time: Monday, Jul 19 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
After years of being a solid Terran who couldn’t really threaten elite players, it’s shocking to see Bunny on the verge of becoming a real title contender in 2021. Few would have expected such growth from a player who only managed two RO16 finishes in 2020, but things changed seemingly overnight for Bunny once the calendar turned over to a new year. Bunny got off to a roaring start in the first Code A tournament of 2021, defeating Stats 3-2 to secure his return to Code S. He went on to shine in the RO16, upsetting TY and then defeating Hurricane to advance from Group A in first place. Unfortunately for Bunny, his run was abruptly ended in the quarterfinals by Dream, who used proxy-Barracks mind games to administer a brutal 3-0 beatdown.
At that point, most of us probably expected Bunny’s improvement to end there, remaining as a group stage gatekeeper who could occasionally make it into the top eight. However, Bunny’s performance in GSL Season 2 suggests that he’s grown into a fundamentally different player. He bypassed Code A entirely, earning one of four direct Code S seeds with notable wins over Zest and ByuN in the qualifiers. In the Code S group selections, he was still somewhat disrespected by being drafted in Group A “group of life,” but once again proved his skills by beating the more decorated ByuN in a one-sided 2-0, and then put up another 2-0 against reigning Code S champion Rogue in the winners match. Bunny’s match against DongRaeGu in quarterfinals seemed like it could be tricky, since it was his Zerg teammate's best match-up, and because DRG had just beat both Dream and INnoVation 2-0 to qualify for playoffs. However, unlike the previous season, this Bunny was on the winning side of a 3-0 as he dominated DongRaeGu with meticulous play. According to Bunny, there wasn't any particular secret to his rapid rise—just hard work and practice. However, despite defying expectations and coming into the semifinals with a perfect 7-0 record, Bunny still seems like the underdog against his next opponent.
Trap has cemented himself as the best Protoss in the world, with some six premier tournament championships won in eight months. The only catch with Trap is that he’s choked whenever he’s had a chance to win a “Tier 1” title like Code S or IEM Katowice. This season is his best opportunity yet to wash off that stigma, as he seems to be the strongest player left in the semifinals.
Trap’s top four result from Code S Season 1 granted him a spot in RO16 for the current season, but unlike his Terran opponent, he couldn’t qualify for the playoffs in first place from his group after giving up a 0-2 upset to PartinG in the winners match (Trap qualified in 2nd after defeating SpeCial and Solar). While that will certainly be a factor should he face PartinG again in the grand finals, Trap did well to brush aside that hiccup in the round of eight, demolishing the tricky sOs 3-0 in a very one sided series.
As for Trap’s PvT specifically, he’s ranked as the #2 player in the match-up according to Aligulac.com at the time of writing (below PartinG), compared to Bunny’s #6 position (sandwiched between ByuN and INnoVation). Looking at Trap's overall PvT record in 2021, it’s not particularly impressive at 37-23 in matches (61.67%), but win-loss record doesn’t tell the entire story. As you might expect for a multiple-time champion, Trap’s PvT record in major tournaments has been nearly impeccable in 2021, never getting eliminated on account of a Terran except for the aforementioned Code S and IEM meltdowns. His Super Tournament 2 run was particularly impressive in terms of PvT, as he went 3-1 versus Cure, 3-0 against Bunny and 3-2 against Maru in a Code S revenge match. Sure, Protoss seems to always perform well in Super Tournaments compared to Code S, but this domination against Terrans in offline BO5 reaffirmed my confidence in Trap’s baseline level of skill in PvT.
Despite all this, fans couldn’t be blamed for thinking first and foremost of Trap’s 3-4 reverse sweep against Maru in the previous semifinals. Indeed, if Trap’s “tier 1” tournament jinx is as strong as the community memes make it seem, then all of his strong performances in lesser tournaments have to be taken with a giant grain of salt. Still, from a certain point of view, the semifinal match against Maru is almost a credit to Trap. He admitted that he wasn’t confident before the match, and still came agonizingly close to earning a 4-0 sweep before committing an awful blunder in game four. And if the four-time Code S champion playing at the top of his game needed a complete implosion from Trap to barely win the series, then one could reasonably doubt Bunny’s chances in this coming match.
However, Bunny has more than a few things going for him. First, he’s played very few competitive PvT’s since his Super Tournament defeat to Trap two months ago, which means scouting data will be limited. Second, one of the few PvT’s Bunny did play was an ace-match win against Trap in the WTL, where he triumphed in a relatively straight-forward macro game. While it’s just one map, the symbolic value of being picked as the ace ahead of Maru and fulfilling that obligation can’t be understated. Also, Bunny has proven that he’s quite build-savvy in PvT, bringing Thor rushes, Marine-SCV rushes, and other incisive timings to his previous GSL matches. Finally, it helps that Bunny gets to practice against sOs (the third highest rated PvT player on Aligulac), while Trap might be unable to practice with his usual partner Maru who’s Bunny’s current teammate. That last part isn’t certain since we’re not quite sure about how team practice dynamics work in the post-KeSPA era—it could be something to listen for in the pre/post-match interviews.
The biggest reason to believe in Trap might be the big picture resumes, where we trust the established veteran over an underdog who’s yet to prove they can perform at the next level. In offline BO5+ series in PvT, Trap has a monstrous 18-6 record (75% win rate), with those losses coming against Maru (x3), INnoVation, TY, and Cure). In Legacy of the Void, he’s only lost to Code S champions: Maru and INnoVation. In comparison, Bunny has a much more limited 4-3 record in offline PvT BO5+ series, with the highest round in any of those matches being the RO8. While Bunny is severely outmatched in terms of resume and experience in this setting, the silver lining is that he took two BO5 series off Stats in 2021, thanks to his well-prepared build orders.
Trap acknowledged during his latest post-match interview that Bunny is playing well right now, and cheekily implied that Terran is strong on this mappool, but he did not seem particularly scared before this semifinal match, confident that the one week preparation time would benefit him. Bunny was interviewed before sOs and Trap played their RO8 match, so we could not hear his thoughts about facing Trap, but he mentioned he would have preferred to face his teammate sOs. Given how close Trap came to defeating Maru in the last semifinals when he was bleeding confidence all over the floor, I have a hard time picturing Bunny winning this match. Oddly enough, I would probably give Bunny better odds in a hypothetical grand finals, because Trap might choke under pressure once again after failing in two previous Code S finals. However, even for a player whose mentality invites much scrutiny, a match against first-time semifinalist Bunny doesn’t seem like it will affect Trap’s ability to play his best. I also do not think Bunny will crumble under pressure, even though it’s his first ever semifinals match in GSL, because he’s riding a great wave of momentum and playing the best, most confident StarCraft of his career.
Aligulac views a 4-2 victory for Trap as the most likely outcome, giving him an overall 62.22% chance of victory. But given Bunny’s momentum, the likelihood that Aligulac.com ratings haven’t actually caught up to his true level of skill, and the high level of preparation he’s shown in previous matches, I expect this series to go to game seven.
Unlike Maru, I don’t think Bunny will have a game-winning epiphany during a bathroom break before the final map, so Trap should ultimately win this by virtue of being such an established and dominant PvT player.
Prediction: Bunny 3 - 4 Trap