DreamHack Masters: Fall 2021 - Season FinalsBy Wax
Seeding has conspired to put two of the top title contenders in the same group, as both Trap and Serral will vie for playoffs in Group D. However, considering the history of group stage upsets in the DHM Season Finals, underdogs Has and Zoun may have some hope yet (or at least we'll say so for the sake of the introductory paragraph).
Group D Preview: Trap, Has, Serral, ZounMatch time: Friday, Sep 10 2:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00)
After meeting another heartbreaking end in the last season of Code S, Trap now returns to his sanctuary of 'tier 2' events. Super Tournaments, DH Masters, NeXT, TSL—these are the tournament series where Trap was able to show us 100% of his ability, win multiple championships, and earn his reputation as the best Protoss player in the world.
Alas, even that safe space was breached in the previous Season Finals, when Trap was eliminated from the group stage by Lambo and Scarlett's deadly Queen walks. With the benefit of hindsight, it does seem like that was an outlier event, with two brainy Zergs exploiting the Protoss potentate's hidden weakness. A convincing group stage performance from Trap would help wash away that stain, and reaffirm that he's the master of this specific arena.
Has should be an easy warm-up opponent for Trap before he moves on to a likely bout against Serral. Has, like SpeCial and sOs of the earlier groups, is known as a trickster who can melt the brains of even the most dominant champions. Alas, unlike SpeCial and sOs, Has hasn't really lived up to that reputation in a long time. In fact, I might even venture to say that his match against Dark at BlizzCon 2018 was the last truly great Has performance. As a fan of entertaining StarCraft, I certainly hope Has can channel some of his old weirdness and make the Group D players sweat a little. But realistically, they'll probably be able to scout his cheeses and shut them down without too much trouble.
Alongside Trap, Serral is another top-tier player looking to get some of his shine back in the Season Finals. The 'bank of past credit' is a commonly invoked trope in TL.net previews, with veteran players exchanging their past accomplishments for some benefit of the doubt in the present. In that regard, the legendary Serral might have the deepest line of credit ever. Despite the fact that he hasn't won a championship in nine months, and despite the fact that he didn't even make the DHM Season Finals last time around (failing to make the top 4 cutoff in Europe), I'm still putting him right up there with Dark, Trap, and Clem as one of the top title contenders. Even if Serral never wins a championship again, expect to read similar previews to this one for several more years.
Rounding out the group is rising Protoss star Zoun, who earned his DHM Season Finals debut after defeating Rogue 3-0 in a play-in match. It's rather cruel that his 'reward' for such an impressive victory is having to face Trap and Serral immediately after, but I'm sure that feeling goes both ways. After all, who wants to play against a spirited underdog who's stolen BO5 wins off of Dark and Rogue in major events this year? While not the most mechanically gifted player, Zoun tends to prepare good builds that set himself up to deathball his way over stronger opponents. On the other hand, when Zoun's strategies don't hit, he can look really outmatched. With barely 24 hours to prepare for DHM after playing in the GSL, it's shaping up to be a tough night for the Alpha X Protoss.
Predictions: I have to choose Trap and Serral to advance here, as I really can't see Zoun pulling off his underdog magic without the benefit of lengthy preparation. While I don't think there's much separating Trap and Serral, I'll take the Finnish Phenom as the #1 finisher due to Trap's recent PvZ struggles in high-profile matches.
As for Has, I'm not even hoping for a win—I just want him to make things weird like in the good ol' days.
Trap > Has
Serral > Zoun
Serral > Trap
Zoun > has
Serral and Trap to advance.