As usual I received an email from John with all the details about the qualifier that was going to be held on the 7th floor of Sindorim’s Technomart… at least that’s what the mail was saying.
However when I got to the 7th floor, NOTHING was there. Lights were off, the playing area was completely empty, no desks, no computers, nothing. I checked the date and time and it was supposed to be the time, but I couldn’t see anything around. I started to freak out, there was NO WAY I would miss this qualifier after preparing this much and with my time left to make something happen in Korea running out. I started looking everywhere if I could find something that would answer my question just to find a paper on a wall saying stuff in Korean... great that was helpful.
I would’ve called John if I had a phone but I didn’t, the only solution I could think off right the moment was to rush in some PC bang, email him and hope he would check his mails. So I ran downstairs, got out and started desperately looking for a PC bang but there was none around. Good thing it doesn’t matter where you are in Seoul, even if no PC bang are around you’ll end up finding out if you walk a bit – or run in my case. I eventually found one where I got a drink and sent a mail to John asking what the hell was going on and why there was nothing on the 7th floor. I also checked in the email he sent me to check that I was at the right place and I wasn’t crazy, it was exactly where it was supposed to be so I was as confused as mad at the idea of missing the qualifier. Luckily John answered me around 15 minutes later, telling me that it was his mistake, they weren’t holding the qualifiers in the same place anymore …
It was on the 3rd floor !! I ran back to the Technomart and got the 3rd floor. At first I wasn’t seeing anything .. It was still all those video games stores, I kept walking to the other side when I saw a few people gathered somewhere ; it was the entrance of the room the qualifiers. I let out a big sigh of relief before running into TorcH in his baller StarTale jacket, DoA, mOOnGLaDe and Cella. I said hi before asking : “Where is John… I need to kill him”.
I explained what happened when TorcH suggested going back to the 7th floor and wait a bit in case other foreigners would not find the place ; him and DoA went there while mOOnGLaDe and I went to check-in with John before sitting on some really comfortable benches, chatting and waiting for everyone to finish checking-in and the qualifier to begin.
There were a lot of people so it took a while, but GOM staff eventually came to make us setup on our computers. For this session HayprO, mOOnGLaDe and I were playing, aswell as some of the other foreigners who signed up. HayprO and I had a freewin round 1, whereas mOOnGLaDe had to play viOlet for his first round match.
I warmed up while waiting for John to get my opponent and was feeling much better this time, I was pretty comfortable and neither my micro nor my map awareness was off. mOOnGLaDe was already playing his games when John arrived to get me in the lobby for my game. I was playing against a zerg.
I decided to proceed exactly as planned. First map was Xel’naga as usual and I was going to open with a 1 rax CC but with gas to trick my opponent, and with the gas accumulated throw down 2 factories at once to start mass hellions productions and hide them until blue flame is done, while poking with my first 4 marines as soon as they were out. It did ok damage, killing a decent amount of lings and a couple drones.
I took my natural once blue flame was done and sent the hellions to raid his natural and did very good damage. I already felt the game was won if I didn’t screw up at this point, after he made himself safer with spines and queens I just focused on denying his third while getting Thors off 2 factories, hellions, and upgrading with 2 armories. He managed to get his third once mutas were out, but I kept doing some damage with my hellions all game long as well as slowing down creep spread. I already had 1/1 at this point, and hit a timing with Thors, hellions and some SCVs when +2/+2 finished.
He tried to counter attack, which was his only option but I could take care of it with the few reinforcements with only some SCV losses, while killing his third. My army got widdled down quite a bit but was still big enough so victory was mine … and that’s when my computer decided to crash. I tried to tab out tab in and wait for it to recover but no chance, I got dropped from the game.
I’m not gonna lie, seeing my screen freeze while I was marching to his natural to end the game made me furious inside. I had no idea how they were going to handle this issue and was very worried they would want me to regame after I had such a lead. I called John to tell him and ask what I was supposed to do ; I think him and Chae went to watch the replay on my opponents computer while mine was rebooting to take their decision : I was clearly in very good position to win so they gave me the map. WHAT A RELIEF !
My plan was working so far so I stuck to it in Metalopolis. We spawned close air on the left side, me on the north. I did that 2 base stim marauder / hellion timing I was planning for … but my opponent did not react to my build the way I wanted to. When I attacked he was ready for it with spines, lot of lings and banelings, which prevented my push to do any relevant damage… I was expecting to do at least some damage with it so I was in a very bad position now.
Fortunately I started a third CC when I moved out so I could still play it out and decided to play standard from there… and by standard I mean losing my main and my natural in a 54min split map game where I pulled through by controlling the middle while dropping constantly and massing mules on his remaining bases to starve him off. The turning point was when I managed to clean up his broodlords in the middle and take his gold base, where he failed at busting my position in a last ditch effort, spelling the end of a game I thought I lost for sure after losing my main to a counter attack :
+ Show Spoiler +
TorcH, mOOnGLaDe and DoA were watching and congratulated me after this long and drawn out game. It was actually quite tiring to play, it was very tense and I thought I was gonna lose many times while playing. I asked mOOnGLaDe how his games went, and was very sad to hear that he lost in his first round against viOlet, who would eventually go on to qualify and go straight into code S. He told me a bit about his games before I went to get something to drink, and when I got back my next opponent was ready : it was a Protoss.
Again I played the series out exactly as planned. I decided to use the build involing Thors and Banshees that I've been working on and that was working pretty well in practice.
First game on Xel'naga went really smoothly, my banshee harass did damage, and I managed to defend an immortal push after getting my natural, which put me in a good position allowing me to take the game a bit later
I was confident in my build so I stuck with it on Metalopolis. Banshees didn't do as much damage, but they still kept doing damage until my opponents gets phoenixes when he realizes I was doing the same thing again. I scouted it in time so saved my banshees, and got a faster third after seeing him commit to this much tech. It triggered a push from him on my third which almost killed me but I managed to barely hold by pulling SCVs to flank and repair Thors, while a couple Banshees were killing probes and trying to deny his third. At this point I thought I had a bit of an advantage and geared for a push a his third with lots of Thors, Marines and Banshees supported by a Raven. I drew some of his army away with a Banshee or 2 that I managed to sneak in which allowed the banshees in my main army to have an much easier time. I won the fight and killed his third but I had no more marines and only a few Thors left with my banshees.
I pushed into his natural with the remaning of my army to do as much damage as possible and he had some immortals with phoenixes, but I thought it would be a good idea to strike cannon a couple of my own last Thors… He cleaned up everything, but he couldn't really attack me, I was gearing up to take my gold ; he was already trying to get his own up with lots of cannons, which is where the last battle happened before he could really get it running : I attacked his position with a ton of marines, banshees, a few Thors and 3 Ravens, which made the attack impossible to hold for my opponent as they made his cannons not too useful with this many PDDs. I killed his gold and his army and kept streaming units at his third until he could not fight anymore and tapped out.
When I took my headset off I heard people clapping. I turned around to see a bunch of people standing there and congratulating me for advancing to the semi-finals. DoA Torch mOOnGLaDe were here, as well as Jaeho Lee, Cella, Jessica, TheWinD, Chae (GSL’s director) and some guys I don’t remember or didn’t recognize. I never realized this many people was watching me play, I knew some were but a lot more joined while I was focusing on my games so I didn’t really pay attention. Most seemed really happy to see me advance, giving me pats on the back and whatnot. Jaeho shook my hand as well as Chae who was looking excited for this, throwing some of the nicknames he would use for me when I would be playing in the GSL. They were asking me why I was celebrating my win by using cannons on my own Thors so early, but I had to admit.. It was just a mistake, at this moment I was only thinking about winning for sure not how I would celebrate.
Needless to say it was a great moment for me, my practice seemed to be paying off and I was getting closer and closer to make it. I didn’t even have any time to rest when Chae came back to ask if I was ready.
In fact I was not, I wanted to take a break but instead of saying it I just told him I needed to get something to drink and I would be ready to go. I got myself the usual champions drink (Pocari Sweat), and came back to play my semi-final match against a SlayerS zerg : YuGiOh. Now it made more sense why Cella and Jessica were watching me play, even though it was a TvP.
As the previous qualifiers experience taught me, I had to stick to my plan. I did the same build on Xel’naga I did earlier and did pretty good damage all game long, more than I would realize during the game. I was pretty far ahead and instead of playing it safe because of it I got caught offguard by something very risky he tried to get back in the game : burrowed infestors. I didn’t have detection so I took a lot of damage from it.. instead of running around trying to catch them with slow Thors I just pushed out and counter attacked. I killed his third and his natural, but he ended up defending somehow when I walked up the ramp with mass infested terrans and lings. At this point we were both on very low econ, but he had a huge advantage because of his spellcasters. He didn’t let me build up enough to secure my natural again and kept busting my main with banelings lings and infestors, I managed to defend for a while with what I had, but I was losing ground and eventually couldn’t come back so I had to gg.
At this point I was kicking myself for not playing a bit safer after doing damage, but I tried to stay composed and focus on the next map on Metalopolis where we spawned close air position. I was still affected by the way I lost last game and the plan I had didn’t really work out, my marauder hellion push got stopped quite easily because of my poor execution. My opponent was, again, prepared for the push, and I didn’t have a third CC. I was pretty much dead. I tried to hang in there but there was not much hope. I was out 0-2.
I had the first map won, and just botched it by not having a good read on the situation ingame. Rest was mostly me being tilted because of it, which would prove to be one of the flaws I would have to fix if I wanted to be successful.
Those qualifiers meant a lot to me so I was devastated by this, I was so close and didn’t really lose because I was outclassed, I just made stupid mistakes resulting in me being outplayed by a player that I was capable of beating without a doubt. DoA, Andy and Torch tried to comfort me, telling me that I did very well and had the best performance out of all of us but I didn’t really care about this, I was here to win not just make a decent showing. Andy was even joking that he didn’t even get to win a series to try and make me feel better, but he was unfortunate to hit viOlet first round. The fact that he even tries to comfort me while he had a rough run himself made me soften up a bit, it was not right for me to look so mad about that when he had it worse than me, but was handling it much better than I.
The last games of the morning group were being played when we went for lunch with mOOnGLaDe and another foreigner, semipsyc, at a Japanese restaurant in Technomart. We talked about our plans when I got asked about fOu... Well I thought I was going to join but never had any news until I call who was the manager at the time. When I called he told me he quit and wasn't fOu's manager anymore. I lost my contact to the team because of this so that was it, I decided to forget about it. We went back to see the last group being played after being done eating ; HayprO and TorcH were up.
They both got byes first round. TorcH had to play IMYoda next, who he ended up losing to, while HayprO won 2-1.
HayprO had this funny tendency to play ridiculously long series compared to the others at the qualifiers. His round 2 match was a ZvT that went to map 3 with every single one of them being big macro games that went for over 30 minutes.
However against his next opponent, it wasn’t going to be the same. He was playing against TopClass, and fOu protosses were very cheesy and liked to all-in a lot. I think he lost to some all-in game 1, won Metalopolis in a relatively long macro game, and then it was game 3 on Scrap station. So obviously TopClass went back to what fOu protosses did TheBest : all-in. He did a 1 base blink stalker all-in where he managed to get his stalkers on the high ground next to the natural with a reinforcing pylon on the low ground. It was extremely hard to hold and HayprO almost managed to push it back a few times, but even after then TopClass just kept going at it harder and harder until he eventually breaks HayprO because of his much better position on the highground not allowing for flanks or anything. He was out 1-2 :
+ Show Spoiler +
Later on, I was going home... but not at the GOM house.
*** Part 5 ***