2021 GSL Code S Season 3: RO8 Day 2 Previewby Poopi
PvT fans rejoice! The second day of the quarterfinals features two of the absolute best possible pairings in the match-up, which will be sure to inspire (or ruin) your ladder experience for weeks to come. Who will survive these deadly duels and move on to the final four?
Quarterfinal Match #3: Trap vs MaruThursday, Sep 16 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)
Aligulac predicts this ex-Jin Air clash as a virtual tie, favoring Maru by the tiniest margin of 52% to 48%. The former teammates are perfectly tied in head-to-head record at 10–10 in matches and 33–33 in maps. Even their last encounter was a tie, as they went 1-1 in Team NV vs Afreeca Freecs match in the WTL. It’s also interesting to note that their record in the last three encounters is 1 win–1 tie–1 loss with a 7-7 map record. The only metric that’s not ridiculously even seems to be Liquibet voting, with TL.net users giving Maru a significant edge of about 2:1.
While historical record suggests we’re in for a tight, hard-fought brawl, there’s actually not much recent data going into this match. We’ve barely seen Maru play outside his GSL matches, so it’s difficult to gauge his level of TvP play. Ever since he got eliminated from the Code S Season 2’s group stage by Zoun and sOs, Maru has only played matches in the WTL, the current GSL season (+qualifiers), and in a minor Team GP cup competition (where he won a Ryzen 5800X for his trouble). While Maru only picked up one meaningful TvP win in those tournaments (a 3-0 against Zoun in the Team GP cup), fans should be encouraged by his overall dominant record. In those competitions, Maru didn’t lose a single series and put up a combined map record of 26 wins and 6 losses. Though it can be tricky to make cross match-up comparisons, it’s worth noting that he looked extremely sharp against both Solar and Dream in his Code S RO16 group, even in his only map loss to Solar in a late-game slugfest on 2000 Atmospheres. He was also clutch for Team NV in the WTL playoffs, finishing off DPG’s Rogue and Dark to win his team the championship. Maru may not have played a high-stakes match against a Protoss as fearsome as Trap, but his strong momentum combined with a schedule that allows him to focus entirely on the GSL makes me think we are going to see the championship caliber Maru.
Trap has been more active than Maru, playing in several competitions including the recent DH Season Finals where he finished in second place. In his Code S RO16 group, he dominated KeeN and SpeCial, showing why he was so eager to draft Terrans to his group as the #1 seed. He barely gave them any room to breathe throughout the games, and neither SpeCial’s cheeky BC build nor KeeN macro play on Romanticide were enough to make him sweat.
Trap does lose more PvT’s than you’d expect in smaller online competition, notably dropping matches to ByuN and Cure in WardiTV events, while losing to Clem and Cure (again) in Alpha X showmatches. These results might have dropped his PvT rating a little, but I would honestly take those with a grain of salt as they might not reflect his GSL series level very well. This result is a bit dated, but one must recall Trap’s last BO5+ series in the GSL: his Code S Season 2 semifinal match against Bunny. There, Trap 4-0’d the upstart Terran in utterly dominant fashion.
Maru and Trap have already played two BO5+ series in the GSL this year, with Maru winning 4-3 in the Code S Season 1 semifinals, while Trap came out on top in the semifinals of Super Tournament 2. Both the series showed the wide range of builds both players can deploy in the match-up, and may have revealed the key to beating Trap.
In his year-long run as the #1 Protoss player in the world, Trap has shown he can play virtually perfectly and beat the toughest opponents in the world at his best. Maru, Serral, Rogue, Reynor, Dark—he’s taken all of them out. However, Trap can also look hopeless against the same players, like he did recently against Serral in the finals of DHM Fall, against Dark in the previous Code S finals, or against Maru during his infamous reverse-sweep in Code S Season 1. In the latter series, Trap completely fell apart after letting Maru back into the series, playing scared as he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Indeed, Maru I think will be able to beat Trap if and only if he manages to affect his mentality. Trap is an inconsistent player in these high-stakes matches, sometimes playing best-in-the-world StarCraft, while other times collapsing helplessly. Therefore Maru will need to play his best to have a shot at cracking Trap’s confidence in PvT.
As expected from two of the more reserved interviewees in StarCraft II, both players were wary of facing each other in the quarterfinals. But that seems to be their default attitude toward each other, regardless of how close the matches actually end up being. Remember, Trap was especially unconfident against Maru back in Season 1, and he ended up almost winning in a 4-0 sweep.
This match seems like it’s very even all-around, but scheduling might give Maru the edge needed to beat Trap. Although Trap isn’t in the absolute worst situation like some other players who had to play their DHM Fall and Code S matches within 24 hours, he still has a preparation disadvantage compared to Maru who didn’t have any other obligations at all. Being destroyed 4-0 by Serral and then having to prepare for the Terran you are the least confident against is not an ideal scenario for Trap by any means. Though I think Trap had plenty of time to get over his loss, all the small details often matter at the highest level, and I will go with Maru to win this one. G5L curse or GSL winners palindrome, both lie on the shoulders of Maru.
Prediction: Maru 3 - 2 Trap
Quarterfinal Match #4: PartinG vs CureThe quarterfinals closes out with another top-notch PvT match as PartinG and Cure go face-to-face in a rematch from the Super Tournament 1 quarterfinals. The Big Boy triumphed 3-0 back then, and said he was content to play Cure in his latest post-match interview. As for the DPG Terran, he declined to express any confidence (or lack thereof), simply giving the textbook response of saying he would prepare hard for the match.
PartinG is coming as a slight favorite on paper with a 54% win chance according to Aligulac.com, and is comfortably ranked #2 in on the site’s PvT rankings at the time of writing. That’s just barely behind Zest and slightly ahead of Trap, though not much separates those three players. PartinG’s PvT performances in the Code S group stage were impressive, starting off with dominating 2-0 of ByuN. Though he did lose a big macro game to Bunny on Romanticide (with Bunny seeming to be in the best form of his career), the Big Boy managed to secure the 2-1 victory by bringing the series back to his comfort zone. A quick victory with a proxy-Void Ray all-in tied the series, and he finished the job with a powerful storm drop timing attack on Bunny’s third base. The DH Fall Season Finals was another occasion for PartinG to assert his dominance in the match-up, as he shut down the European TvP specialist HeroMarine in group competition and proceeded to clap the DHM Europe champion and fan-favorite Clem by a 3-1 scoreline.
On the other hand, Cure’s TvP ability is harder to gauge. If you were tired of reading about offline-Cure vs online-Cure in his previews, you will be happy to know that we’re keeping that portion relatively brief. However, the reason isn’t encouraging: online-Cure and offline-Cure have recently converged at a potentially troublesome place in TvP. Cure’s map win-rate since August is 62.50%, down from 67.23% for the rest of the 2021. He’s still winning plenty of online matches against solid players like Classic, MaxPax, herO, Creator, and even Trap, but he’s not quite as dominant as he was in the past. The main problem is that Cure has been getting brutally farmed by Zest, who has become the new king of the ESL Cups in recent weeks.
Since Cure hasn’t played PartinG in nearly two months, it’s tempting to use Zest as a proxy. If we assume that Zest, PartinG, and Trap are indeed around the same level in TvP as their Aligulac ratings suggest, then Cure could be in real trouble in the quarterfinals. If, on the other hand, this is a problem he has against Zest specifically—be it playstyle or mentality based—then perhaps there’s not so much to worry about. In fact, Cure has largely outplayed PartinG so far in 2021, going 6–3 against him in total and winning their last five encounters.
The only time they played offline, though, PartinG easily won 3-0 in January's GSL Super Tournament 1. Parsing an older result like that is tricky—was PartinG simply the better PvT player at the time, or was Cure suffering from his usual offline debuff? Also, Cure’s play in his current GSL run suggests that he’s a very different player than he was in January. In both Code A and the Code S group stages, Cure came prepared like never before with finely tailored builds that gained him early advantages, if not winning him games outright. While he lost his straight-up macro game against a sharp-looking Rogue, he still looked far better suited to playing on the GSL stage than before. Cure cited his upset loss to RagnaroK in Code A Season 2 as the reason for the change, saying his overconfidence in playing straight-up macro games had cost against a supposed underdog.
Cure’s preparation in the group stage really impressed me, as he looked capable of preparing and playing at a high-level in an offline, ‘GSL-style’ match. Even against heavy underdogs like Leenock, Cure went for overkill and completely throttled his opponent with well-prepared builds. Regarding his recent PvT struggles online, I tend to think that he has more of a problem versus Zest in particular, rather than against Protoss in general. Also, playing as many online cups as Cure does, there’s no real shame in suffering the occasional upset against Creator or Astrea—those losses are bound to happen. Overall, I expect Cure to come very well-prepared for his match against PartinG, and show us what he’s really capable of in a major offline match.
That said, even if Cure can give it his best shot, I think PartinG’s overall mastery of the match-up will allow him to absorb the blow and still come out ahead. PartinG has been a master of preparation for years before Cure changed his approach, and he’s bound to take a few maps with Void Rays, Blink-Stalkers, or other Protoss shenanigans. Macro games would be closer to 50-50, but I think that’s close enough for PartinG to collect the three wins needed to win this best-of-five. Right now, I think only Maru is capable of beating PartinG in an offline BO5+ series.
Prediction: PartinG 3 - 2 Cure