GSL 2019 Season 2 Round of 32 - Group D Battle Report
In epic speed-running fashion, we've already seen three of the eight groups played out, even with the GSL only starting this week. Today we get a fourth to cap a monstrous week of GSL action. We've seen upsets, shocks, nail biters and even a cheeky bit of BM (looking at you INnoVation). Hopefully this group keeps the action coming.
Today we have an interesting group on our hands. Not quite as stacked as our other groups so far, it features some long time veterans and some players who have just recently hit form, or shaken a curse from their back. Today we have Newbee's Dear, Jin Air Green Wing's Creator, Afreeca's aLive and Chivo's soO.
We'll start with our two Protoss players, who will begin the night facing off in a mirror matchup. Dear is perhaps the form player of the group going into today, that is despite the fact soO won IEM (I'll get to that later). From an extremely turbulent 2018, Dear has come into 2019 as one of the rising stars of Protoss play. Featuring some great performances in GSL he was a dark horse to win, until he met Maru in the round of eight. His IEM play was also impressive, coming top of his group before falling to trickster herO in the round of eight. Whilst another PvP loss in Super Tournament against Zest surely hasn't increased his momentum, I believe if he can get past Creator in this opening match then he has the full possibility to take 1st place here.
Before Dear can advance to a winners match, he has to play perennial Jin Air player, Creator. Despite no notable results in the past few years, Creator is one of my favourite players, purely down the amount of emotion he can display on a stage. If this hinders him is another question, but I have a genuine smile on my face when he wins and simply shows how much it can mean to him. Despite showing some good games over the years, I sadly expect Creator not to make it out today unless he can bring the bacon home and secure some impressive results.
aLive is our Terran representative today and he is once again one of those names that always seems unable to break the top eight. In fact by my research the last time he made the round of eight was in 2011, over six years ago. Last season was another disappointment, although to finish bottom of a group that contained Rogue, Patience and Zest is somewhat understandable. He is in the same bracket as Creator here in my book. Qualification not beneath him, but he will have to turn it up another level from what he has shown, especially on the day where he was awarded the NesTea award for 10 consecutive appearances.
Which brings us to our last group member, soO. His curse was lifted at IEM as he smashed through the bracket, beating Zest, Serral and Stats to take home the title and finally break his duck. He looked mightily impressive in Katowice, but my question is can he continue his rich vein of form from there? A round of 16 exit in GSL paired by a first round loss in Super Tournament (admittingly to Classic) makes me feel a little shaky. It's my hope he hasn't rested on his laurels and relaxed here, knowing his Blizzcon spot is secured. It's not like a round of 32 exit is uncommon for soO either. He went out 0-4 in season 3, 2018. Form places him as someone who should make the round of 16 with ease, but I am not so sure.
My picks for today is Dear advancing in first place, flanked by Creator, who will just push by soO in the decider.
Six are in, let's find out who seven and eight will be!
Dear vs Creator - PvP
Our opening match was a PvP, held on the smallest map in the pool, Cyber Forest. Dear’s exit in both IEM and Super Tournament came at the hand of Protosses, could Creator add to that misery? There were to be no cannons present but there was to be a clash of styles. Creator going for stalkers and a stargate, whilst Dear heading into a much faster nexus into robo. Dear committed with eight adepts into Creator’s base, killing 10 probes but losing every adept. The trade was technically even but placed Dear in a considerable economic advantage. Forges were added here for both sides, with both players content in advancing onto the mid game. Dear made a considerable push with +2 finishing and had the clear army advantage, forcing Creator to give up his third base. A decisive push into the natural straight after sealed the win for Dear in a fantastic and clean game.
Game one seemed like an omen, considering how Dear dominated from start to finish. A proxy stargate came out from Creator here, building two initial adepts at home. It was Dear who made the stalkers this game, before going into his own stargate. Dear let two adepts into his base but found and depowered the stargate of Creator before an oracle could even finish. Despite four probes lost, Dear was in control once again. A dark shrine was next in the works for Dear, but a scout from Creator forced a cancel. With both going into forge to indicate a longer game, Creator took an early third for Korean PvP (seven minutes) and it was matched by Dear. Some nice warp prism harass by Creator killed off a couple of important pylons as both armies postured to take a fight. Creator made some nice moves with his prism but when the engage came, Dear’s army was much stronger, despite the even supply. Dear took another one sided fight and pushed across the map to finish the series strongly.
Dear 2-0 Creator
aLive vs soO – TvZ
Very normal openings came out from both players in our initial map, with both players not willing to gamble in the opening game. A four hellion hit squad roamed around, with a cloaked banshee coming up behind. We’d then see an armoury, indicating a big hellbat banshee timing. It met a flat end though, soO almost under droning to have units available to hold off with ease. aLive looked to move into mech from here, as his banshee’s continued to roam and find little pockets of damage. Muta-ling-bane would be the composition for soO, as Tastosis wondered if soO had even scouted aLive’s composition. If he hadn’t scouted before, aLive made it known, pushing hard onto soO’s third. A scrappy long winded fight occurred, with both sides fighting with minimal units for over two minutes. Eventually aLive overcame soO’s third and took a strong lead as we headed further into the game. soO then switched onto roach-swarm hosts, the more ideal composition against mech.
From here it became a game of smart moves, aLive moving to snipe another base, leaving soO on five. For comparison, our meching Terran was safely also on five bases. A two pronged push signalled the theoretical end to the game, killing two bases and over 40 drones. soO took 30 seconds to process the loss before tapping out gg. aLive looking strong but how much of that win can we attribute to a compositional mistake by soO.
Another set of standard openings happened in game two, as the possibility of another upset entered our minds. We’d see stimpack from aLive, choosing to move into bio rather than mech this game. A third command centre and two engineering bays signalled aLive’s intentions, looking for a long game. It was passive from here, soO moving into a spire and mutalisks. A three medivac drop was our first action within a few minutes, however the drop did nothing but trade for aLive, in a strange off calibre move. Both sides then max out from here, aLive holding a two upgrade advantage over soO. He wouldn’t act on it however, instead making more command centres to try and move into the supreme late game.
The creep spread by soO was incredible however, basically surrounding aLive. Our Terran player eventually pushed out but soO countered, hitting the fourth base and pulling aLive back. He would then try to push again but a similar counter from soO tore through his bases. Needing to do damage, aLive saw his substantial army tore apart by banelings, sending us into a third game.
Our third game saw two unusual starters, a command centre first meeting a spawning pool first. soO didn’t make any zerglings from the early pool however, sending aLive into an initial economical advantage. The game stalled for a couple of minutes, before soO pulled the trigger and went for a roach ling flood. aLive was trying to transition into mech but couldn’t hold the wall, letting the flood in and giving soO the series win. He plays Dear in the winners match.
aLive 1-2 soO.
Dear vs soO - PvZ
Our winners match held no surprises this time, as our two favourites did battle to see who would take first place. Normal openings were to be seen on automaton, Dear moving into a dark templar drop. It was deflected easily by soO however but Dear stepped it up a notch. With a single dark templar at the back of the main and two archons floating around, three overlords and five drones died. soO dropped himself though, utilising a single overlord drop with zerglings to kill five probes of his own. Damage was done on both sides but it was Dear who went for a push from here with what seemed like a hastily put together force. There were four immortals though and they lived up to their name, staying alive through everything. Backed by zealots, they chewed through roach after roach until soO had nothing left, giving Dear a sudden initial map lead.
A stargate came out from Dear in game two, following it up with a twilight after only one oracle. soO took the game in a different way though, taking a lair off two bases before a third was even started. It was a strange build by soO whilst Dear looked to hit a glaive adept timing. Eight drones died to the adepts but at the cost of 14 adepts. Dear then made a follow up push, three immortals backed by sentries and stalkers. It was a tough fight with Dear pushing up a ramp onto soO. With Dear not making a third and soO on a very low drone count it was a back and forth fight. Once more the immortals were worth their weight in gold. Dear pushed into the natural but soO eventually held, pushing back Dear who then took a third base. Another push came out from Dear a minute later, coming with four immortals this time. This was beaten back by soO though, with our Zerg player moving over 50 supply up.
It was then time for soO to push on Dear. In a crazy game Dear eventually held the roach onslaught, relying on some disruptor shots to keep himself in the game. More roaches came from soO though, pushing once again to kill the third of Dear. Despite a valiant fight the scales had tipped, Dear unable to push soO back, giving us a final match to see who would advance first.
A robotics opener graced us in game three, with soO once again going for a quick two base lair. Unlike the previous game, where soO used the early lair to mass roach, this time he went for an infestation pit, indicating swarm hosts. Dear scouted however and he immediately pushed. A tug of war then ensued with soO waiting on his precious locust waves to be able to engage the Protoss army. Whilst the waves did damage, Dear could warp in faster, eventually able to overwhelm our Zerg player and send himself into the round of 16.
Dear 2-1 soO
Dear advances to the round of 16.
aLive vs Creator – TvP
Our losers match saw a TvP, with Creator applying some serious pressure off a cybernetics core before nexus. It saw aLive’s command centre seriously delayed, placing Creator in a fantastic position. A mine drop from aLive was batted back as well, giving our Jin Air player another boost in the early stages. A lack of a third command centre from aLive indicated a big two base play, with aLive gaining an advantage before his big push, killing several stalkers who were incorrectly microed. aLive then hit his big push, and he almost overwhelmed Creator before an immortal popped out to steady the ship. Creator showed great control to beat back another push of aLive and continued the momentum, following aLive back across the map to see his opponent type out gg.
Game two saw a more aggressive rush, a proxy gateway on aLive’s side of the map. A bunker was made straight away but Creator replied with a robotics facility. The robotics was also proxied and an immortal followed by a warp prism came out. Creator had to do damage but it flopped, mis controlling his immortal to see an end to the rush. It was all going wrong for Creator at this point as a reaper depowered his proxy. His next step was a dark templar shrine and a nexus at the gold but blood was in the water with our Protoss player significantly behind. Creator tried his hardest to harass but could not halt the move out, aLive easily powering through to take us to yet another decider.
With his sOs like build falling flat on it’s face in game two, a stargate and oracle faced off against a 1-1-1 into cloaked banshee. It was phoenix after for Creator as he came ever so close to losing his oracle to a mine. aLive’s first banshee hit a phoenix wall, with our Terran committing to two more banshees. They also met a sudden end, as Creator’s five phoenix continuously picked off scv’s. aLive looked to pressure Creator from here, moving with a heavy force. Creator met the force in the middle of map and thought aLive had moved home. aLive however had other ideas, picking up his army and dropping into the main. It caught Creator off guard and with his army unsplit. Over 10 probes died but aLive could not deal the winning blow as we moved into the 10 minute mark with Creator on a slight supply advantage. Creator then switched things up, moving into psi-storm.
Both players postured from here, taking an additional base each and posturing around the map. It was a passive few minutes, both players moving onto five bases a piece and moving into the late game. Five minutes later from our last fight aLive moved onto the map but took a horrible fight, Creator moving 40 supply up. It was a strange move by aLive who seemingly just had to sit pretty top be in an advantage. It left Creator’s army much higher on tech with tempest, disruptor and collosi in the mix. Some massive disruptor shots sealed the deal, aLive unable to push into the massive Protoss army and Creator moving onto face soO in our deciders match. A sad day for aLive as he could not match his NesTea award to a good performance here.
aLive 1-2 Creator
Creator vs soO - PvZ
Our final match saw another PvZ, with Creator going in as a big underdog compared to soO. A pylon block at soO’s third saw his base slightly delayed, with Creator going into a standard stargate. soO put the spanner in the works however, an early baneling nest prompting a quick baneling bust. It failed however, the oracle staying at home to deny the all-in hard. Creator was double the worker count having taken no damage but soO stayed in the game, hoping to complete a fantastic comeback. Creator had no intention of making a comeback happen however. A double oracle killed off nine more drones and all it took was two archons and charge to force the gg out of soO.
soO was to play normally in game two, no more tricks or cheese for us. It was seemingly his only option, considering the failure of the previous game. Creator meanwhile went into a double stargate phoenix build, hoping to catch soO off guard with an off meta build. soO went for a hydralisk build, luckily skipping roaches despite zero information about the phoenixes. It was the perfect hold, with the Chivo player practically taking zero damage, putting him in a fantastic position in the match. He then pushed off 60 workers, marching forwards with a force of 22 hydralisks, flanked by ling and bane. Creator had to hold for his life against the onslaught but with very limited psi storm Creator was unable to tame the flow, soO taking the equaliser and bringing us once again into a deciding match.
Our final map was New Repugnancy, with everything on the line. Would soO advance as expected, or would Creator shock us all and knock out the 2019 IEM champion?
A quick three hatch play came out from soO, looking for more of an economic opening than we had seen in the previous two games. On the other side, a sentry first from Creator was followed by a robotics, indicating the possibility of early aggression. A warp prism came out first but it was backed by a twilight and a forge. Glaives and +1 came from Creator, with the possibility of a big two base timing. We saw a similar thing from Hurricane in group C on Wednesday with devastating effect. With four gates he pushed, whilst expanding behind. Creator kept his immortals alive in the initial engage but both players retreated. soO then took his turn to pressure, roaches breaching Creator’s third.
Creator was bleeding units and immortals and he had to sack his third. soO continued to push and with a 50 supply lead breached the natural. The damage was done at this point and it was over, soO advancing as expected. For Creator, perhaps another what if moment.
soO 2-1 Creator
soO advances to the round of 16.
Series of the Day: soO vs Creator Deciding Match.
Game of the Day: aLive vs soO Game One.
GSL Code S continues on Monday the 6th of May, 18:30 KST with Rogue, FanTaSy, Leenock and Stats.
All pictures courtesy of AfreecaTV.