GSL Round of 32, Group A Battle Report
Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for GSL season 2? Are you ready to step back in time, towards the Renaissance?
It's time once again to welcome 32 warriors into the most prestigious competition in Starcraft II. Fame, honour and a note in the history books to be awarded to the winner. Season one saw Maru claim his fourth successive championship, a feat unrivaled in Starcraft history. Will he ascend above us meer mortals and take his fifth or will a new champion rise to the front, to halt the kings reign.
We have 12 Protoss players, 9 Terrans and 11 Zergs to contest this season of GSL. Leaving us was MC, Bunny and Losira, replaced by SpeCial, Armani and DongRaeGu (DRG). The instance of Bunny not qualifying was a massive shock considering his record round of eight run last season, but it shows the harsh and extremely competitive world these pro's compete in. Fail to perform on a key occasion and all can be lost. He will be sorely missed.
Predicting a winner from a tournament as long as this is a hard ask, but in my mind there are two players that have stood out this season and funnily enough they both were finalists in the last season. Maru's domination of the tournament over the past year has to leave him as a favourite, with the Jin Air player looking nearly impossible when given ample time to prepare and not doing somewhat experimental mech builds (cough super tournament cough). The other is Classic, who followed up his finals appearence in season one with a GSL Super Tournament win. He looks a man on fire and it would not surprise me if we saw a repeat final.
However anything can happen in the GSL and there is a whole host of names looking to seize an oppourtunity. Surely Stats will improve on his performance last season but how deep can he go? Will GuMiho pounce on his impressive performance in Super Tournament? Can Rogue and soO defeat their GSL hoodoo's and finally claim a title? How many Terran's will we see whine about Protoss? The ride will be long, but I'm strapped in and oh so ready for it to start.
Group A brings up a frantic start, featuring one newcomer, flanked by three very strong names. Maru will kick us off against Armani and anything less than a 2-0 will be a complete shock. Whilst the Jin Air player fell against Stats in Super Tournament, don't expect him to suddenly seem mortal, especially against Armani. A potentially tough winners match could meet Maru if he progresses but surely anything less than first will be a shock.
Armani managed to qualify to GSL Season 2 having returned from military service a short while ago. Last seen in season two of 2017, he is sadly the overwhelming favourite to finish bottom in this group. However he is the unknown quantity and could bring out some amazing play. Having been insanely active in online cups however, losses against players like Bly, Erik and Bee recently shows that he could be in for it today.
The other opening match will see INnoVation play Patience. If this was 12 months ago we would be counting out Patience, but the LP player has shown a resurgence over the past year. He reached the final eight of the super tournament as well as the final 16 in season one of the GSL. His play can be hit or miss especially in any match up that isn't PvP but don't count him out, I could easily see a sneaky second place finish here.
Fan favourite Terran player INnoVation is the last man in this group and I believe if he can beat Patience in the first game he has an extremely high chance of making it out. A win would likely see him play against Maru and although that sounds like a death sentence, the Jin Air player has looked incredibly vulnerable in TvT. Failing to win there would likely see him play Patience in the final match. If he is on top of Patience in the first series, I firmly believe he can do it again to advance in second.
Enough preview, lets get it on with the matches!
Maru vs Armani - TvZ
We always start GSL in the right sense, with Maru going for a double proxy barracks. It was scouted by Armani however, who had to pull drones to try and combat the marines. A bunker would finish up and we would see the shuffle, Maru showing some amazing micro to shuttle marines in and out of the bunker to take minimal damage. Zergling after zergling was chipped off, with a prompt gg coming just as the hatchery was about to fall. Maru showing his dominance in the opening game.
Following the initial game, Armani would frantically scout for a proxy, sending a drone everywhere around the map. Maru played standard however, moving us into a more normal game where we hoped we could see more of Armani’s play. A single cloaked banshee by Maru yielded six kills, buying time for an initial push. Armani caught two tanks out by themselves however, providing him a giant catch to hold the push and move us into the mid game. Maru pushed out in the 7th minute, with him leaving his bases exposed, Armani running in to kill 15 scv’s. It was a small win for Armani but Maru’s army continued to push at the zerg player, hitting hard at his fourth. Armani looked to pounce but barely lost, Maru rallying across the map to eventually overwhelm the zerg player and take an easy 2-0 win.
Maru 2-0 Armani.
INnoVation vs Patience - TvP
King’s Cove would be the opening battleground for our second match of the day, which we hoped would be a much closer series then the last. Patience opened aggressive, a two gate opener intended to put the pressure on INnoVation from the get go. A bunker was placed and the rush was pushed back, Patience moving into a stargate before nexus follow up. An oracle would zap a few scv’s down, before Patience would go full NA and hide a twilight council and a dark shrine in the bottom left corner. This would of course, supplement his other proxy in the center of the map. Two dark termplar would kill nine more scv’s, with Patience sitting over five workers ahead. Whilst Patience had the worker lead INnoVation lead in army. A push from INnoVation met a wall at Patience’s 3rd and it was deflected, both players moving into the deep mid game.
It was a chaotic match and INnoVation moved into mech play. Whilst for years considered irrelevant, mech has seen a resurgence in this match up as of late, with SpeCial and Maru showing off the style in recent tournaments. Both players seemed even, with Patience sitting on a seemingly sub optimal stalker colossus composition. It was seemingly sub optimal but Patience made it work over a couple of decisive moves, carving out enough of an advantage to eventually snowball, taking a 50 supply lead and taking map one.
Patience sat a map up as we moved into Automaton for game two. Standard openings from both sides would move into more Patience tomfoolery, three gateways proxied on INnoVation’s side of the map plus one gateway in his main equalled a four gate. A strange push put pressure on but was unable to deal significant damage, Patience then moving into an adept glaive attack. A mine drop by INnoVation killed only three probes, as a mass of shades then ghosted into INnoVation’s main and natural. Shades danced inbetween the bases, reducing INnoVation down to 20 SCV’s. A couple of well placed tanks looked to hold the line but the shades would keep coming, eventually leading to a collapse from our Terran player, Patience advancing to face Maru.
Patience's build in game two seemed crazy but would it have worked if INnoVation was looking to move into bio, rather than mech again?
Patience 2-0 INnoVation.
Patience vs Maru - PvT
After seeing what Patience did to INnoVation, Maru was seemingly next up on the chopping block. What would we different in this series from the last?
Standard openings were seen by both sides, with a stargate without proxy seen from Patience. You heard me right, without a proxy. On the other side Maru moved into a 1-1-1. Maru would move into a heavy mine count against Patience’s phoenix play. As we’ve seen before with this strategy only one drop needs to hit for this build to take the momentum in the game. One drop in the main killed seven probes and as Patience moved across the map, another 14 probes fell. Whilst we saw most Protoss turtle against this strategy Patience would push with a wall of glaive adepts, shading aggressively into Maru, who at this point had little defence apart from widow mines.
He pushed Maru from his natural into his main, breaking the first line of resistance from the Jin Air player. Patience had put a nail in the coffin, pushing Maru down below 30 workers. Whilst Maru eventually landed his natural oncemore, adepts would continue to shade in and bait out mine hits, the mines being ineffective, only killing one adept at a time. It was then a losing battle for Maru, having committed so much to widow mines he had little else, Patience moving over double of the supply up before gg was called by Maru.
Patience had shocked so far, would he take down the four time champion in the round of 32? Map two took us to King’s Cove, with no early shenanigans by either side. A 1-1-1 saw Maru meet another strange build by Patience, moving into a very quick storm for storm drops. Eleven scv’s would die to the storm drop, placing Patience with a small worker lead. Another drop would kill eight, but a three medivac drop would head into the main base of Patience. Ten probes would die as Maru continued the drop harassment, with mines and marauders landing all over Patiences’ three bases.
It was a scrappy and harassment based game but Maru had emerged the victor at this point as he took a 20 supply advantage and pushed across the map. An even fight ensued at Patiences’ third as storms rained, but he was unable to wipe the army, leaving only one tank and a handful of bio. This bio was backed up by over six medivacs healing away though and without enough gateway support Patience couldn’t hold, sending us into a deciding match.
Our deciding game saw Patience ramp up the tempo again, going for a quick three gate pressure. Another game of crazy aggression, Patience once again put on a clinic, killing over 10 scv’s whilst at the same time moving up to blink, a third and several more gateways. A follow up blink stalker attack once again put Maru briefly on a single base, with the Jin Air player on the ropes. The audience was stunned as a warp prism enabled a blink into the main, sniping every tank, raven and liberator to defeat the four time champion Maru. Patience had done it, killing two of the best Terrans in the world to advance in first place.
Maru 1-2 Patience
Patience advances to the round of 16.
INnoVation vs Armani
Coming from an explosive winners match it was a slow opening to our losers match as we saw INnoVation heading into a 2-1-1 timing. This build has lost favour over the past year or so and it was evident why, Armani reacting well to see the marines do very little damage apart from sniping a few creep tumours. Another double drop would float around for INnoVation but it seemed like Armani was on top of things. It seemed like it until a fourth base was cancelled however, one look at the supply would see INnoVation ahead by 30. A push would soon follow up afterwards and whilst Armani held initially with queens, lings and banes the tide turned towards INnoVation fast. By the time 2-2 had kicked in Inno was cruising, Armani visibly distraught as INnoVation took an easy 1-0 lead.
Armani mixed it up game two, going for a 12 pool in an attempt to do something different to move the game in his own direction. Our zerg player quickly went into three hatcheries behind the early pool, but held the vision of his zerglings from INnoVation. He flooded a number in just before the command centre was due to complete, forcing a cancel. If he was to take a map surely this would have to be the game. A tank-banshee-marine push at the 5:30 mark would push onto Armani and look to abuse a choke but he was prepared, sending queens to the location to bat away the push. The game stabilised from here with both players moving up to four and three bases with both on equal supply.
Armani moved into lurkers, in a transition not seen usually in ZvT. The game was very passive from here, Armani looking to try and drag INnoVation into burrowed lurkers in an off hand strategy. Both sides were fairly even but Armani took one bad fight and suddenly INnoVation had the edge. He picked off the lurkers and moved into creep. Armani fought bravely but was unable to hold, INnoVation moving onto face Maru, in a round of 32 GSL elimination match. Yep, one of these two titans would be going home tonight.
INnoVation 2-0 Armani.
INnoVation vs Maru - TvT
Who would have imagined a week ago we would see one of these two eliminated in the round of 32. The last time they met in the WESG semi-finals, INnoVation emerged victorious 3-1. Both players played a very passive first few minutes in game one but Maru would break the peace, three reaper and two hellions trading out evenly. A counter by Inno saw his two cyclones snipe Maru’s cyclone and push on, killing four scv’s before retreating. An earlier third command centre by Maru indicated he wanted to play a longer game but INnoVation chose to push. It then became a war of attrition with Maru under siege at his natural. The siege would take it’s toll and while it was eventually cleaned up, INnoVation held a 15 worker lead.
Maru had to push and push he did, both players trying for air superiority. Over 20 scv’s died at INnoVation’s third but he held. Both players were without an army, with INnoVation slightly ahead on upgrades. However it would be a sudden end, Maru tapping out without any pressure being applied to him. A strange end to the first game.
Our four time champion was on the ropes as we headed into King’s Cove. Maru took the economic approach once again, an earlier command centre going unchecked as both players moved into the fourth minute without much confrontation. A hellion drop by Maru killed six scv’s but it was the only action for the next few minutes. INnoVation would move out on the seven minute mark though, disabling Maru’s tanks and killing off 18 scv’s. This meant both sides were even, but a sudden move by INnoVation saw his four tanks set up on the side of Maru’s main. The sudden move saw several barracks destroyed but didn’t seem to place INnoVation in a overwhelmingly fantastic position. Liberators from Maru found fantastic value, distracting INnoVation and picking off several workers as we progressed further into the game. The next move would be a move out by Maru, establishing a position by INnoVation’s fourth. With ravens disabling the tanks of INnoVation, Maru would push in and take a decisive fight, killing off a base and moving into a commanding position. From here Maru was ahead in every way and although the game descended into a base trade Maru survived in flying colours, sending us to a game three.
Our final match of the day saw INnoVation try a single barracks into factory proxy. Upon scouting double gas Maru instantly made two bunkers, anticipating a double reaper proxy. Cyclones were the name of the game however for INnoVation, pushing out with two reapers and cyclone. Upon seeing the bunker INnoVation would move straight home, both players expanding, with Maru opting for another quick third command centre. The game pacified from here, with both players moving up to three command centres without any additional blood spilt. The ninth minute would signal an attack, Maru pushing onto INnoVation’s third. INnoVation had the air superiority but Maru with the tank advantage. Maru would pull away and look for a new position, roaming the map in an attempt to catch the opposing Terran out of position. This dance continued well into the 12th minute, INnoVation’s liberators worth their weight in gold as they forced Maru’s army back.
It was tense, both players only several clicks away from total destruction and therefore, elimination. INnoVation would continue the slow push, it went further into Maru, inch by inch. Liberators once again picked off key siege tanks. INnoVation would push into the mouth of the natural of Maru before a heroic hold by the Jin Air player. The game was on a knifes edge but in the ball court of INnoVation, another slow push forcing another trade by Maru. It was a good one by the Jin Air player but it wasn’t enough, Innovation killing off a chunk of Maru’s army to finalise the win, knocking Maru out the GSL for the first time in over a year.
INnoVation 2-1 Maru.
Patience and INnoVation advance to the round of 16.
Series of the Day: Patience vs Maru - Winners Match.
Game of the Day: Maru vs INnoVation - Game Three.
GSL Code S continues tomorrow at 18:30 KST with Group B, Impact, Zest, GuMiho and Trust.
All pictures courtesy of AfreecaTV and Liquipedia.