The results this GSL seasons have been unexpected so far, and the Ro8 continued this trend with MMA and MC being knocked out by Alive and Genius, two players nobody expected would win against the former champions. On the other side of the coin some things did turn out as usual, with Puzzle choking yet again for no apparent reason and DRG continuing his reign of dominance. The new GSL format has definitely made things tougher for the players, but so far hasn’t quite given us as many epic matches as people have expected. We all expected more matches like the slugfest between Jjakji and Oz in the Ro16, but so far things have been fairly one-sided.
With the players we have in the semi-finals though, it is starting to look like that will change. With only one protoss, one zerg, and two terrans not named MVP or MMA remaining, anything can happen. Gumiho vs DRG is a matchup that many of us have wanted for a long time now, with two highly stylistic masters of their craft battling it out to see who is superior. The match between Alive and Genius similarly should be a great matchup, with two resurging Code S veterans seeking to prove that they are among the GSL elite.
So grab your drinks and take one last look at your Liquibet rank. Things are going to get crazy.
For Alive and Genius, this will determine who will be remembered and who will fall back into obscurity. Make no mistake about it; they are both skilled players who have showed naysayers that sticking around Code S for as long as they have actually means something. The player that will advance to the finals will finally throw away their reputation for being inconsistent and gain priceless momentum going into the grind next season, while the player that gets knocked down now will forever have to live with what could have been.
There is no doubt that the heaviest weight on the shoulders of these two players will be their own expectations, so expect Alive and Genius to play their hearts out. It’s going to be a slugfest.
The story for these two seasoned-but-unaccomplished Code S players couldn’t have been written better even if someone had tried to set it up. Not only do both players have everything to prove, but they also are roughly evenly matched in terms of skill and experience. The matchup doesn’t favor either player as well, so it’s unlikely that either Alive or Genius will be able to dominate over the other. Unlike Gumiho and DRG, Alive and Genius aren’t heavily stylistic in the matchup, so expect both players to fully explore the dynamics of the TvP matchup as they try to find advantages over each other.
Just looking at the statistics, Alive seemingly has the innate advantage over Genius, having a 72.7% TvP win percentage in the GSL compared to Genius’s 63.6% win percentage. Factor in all of the iCCup Korean Weekly matches for Alive, and he has a stunning 62.22% TvP win percentage in all Korean tournaments. More recently, Alive took out Brown in the Ro32 and Killer and Oz in GSL November Code S Ro16, so the numbers and recent experience seem to be squarely on Alive’s side.
Expect to see more shenanigans like this from Alive
Of course, statistics don’t tell the whole story. Alive's victories over Killer and Oz were fairly one sided as both Killer and Oz made some fairly silly decisions, and looking in-depth at Alive’s victory over Brown simply reveals Brown’s poor multi-tasking and control. What we can take away from Alive’s games though, is that he isn’t afraid to cheese his way to victory. Whether it was a late proxy banshees against Oz or double proxy barracks in the center of the map against Killer, Alive definitely showed how comfortable he was executing unusual builds as he was comfortable in longer macro games.
While Alive played well in his most recent TvPs, Genius has had a much more checkered recent history versus terrans despite looking completely dominant versus SC in the Ro32. In his Ro16 series versus MKP, Genius dropped the first Bo3 in two straight losses as MKP soundly out-played Genius, and Genius narrowly took the second Bo3 by exploiting MKP’s positioning errors in major engagements. Genius did look solid in his victories, but the real story is told by his defeats, in which MKP’s superior multi-tasking soundly defeated Genius’s decisions to rely on zealots with charge to hold back MKP’s early and mid-game pressure.
It’s important not to read too deeply into Genius’s struggles against MKP though, especially since past GSL seasons have proven that statistics and past match histories are poor indicators for how things will turn out in the semi-finals and finals. Genius is definitely most comfortable in the mid and late game versus terran, and has the unit control and understanding of the matchup to carry him past the early game. Korean terrans have said many times that they consider the end-game protoss army almost unbeatable on equal terms, and unfortunately for Alive, Genius is pretty good at reading his opponents in the mid-game and adjusting.
MKP finding out what happens when you leave Genius alone for 10 minutes.
Alive is fully aware of this, and undoubtedly will pull out all of his cheese and early game pressure to secure an advantage over Genius. Alive’s TvP thrives on harassment and pressure, and while his multi-tasking isn’t quite at MKP’s level, it is good enough to give Genius a headache. Alive doesn’t need to kill Genius with his pressure builds or harassment; he just needs to carve out enough of an advantage to delay Genius from making the infamous protoss deathball. Alive’s tactical awareness and micro isn’t the greatest, but as long as he manages to keep Genius on the defensive they shouldn’t be an liability, so expect Alive to be as unpredictable as possible to keep Genius on his back foot.
Like I said earlier, expect both Genius and Alive to explore many of the different aspects of TvP. Genius will undoubtedly cheese Alive, and Alive will also try to play it safe sometimes and sit back, so dynamic of the matches will definitely fluctuate as long as neither player chokes. The weight of their own expectations might prove to be a factor, as neither Genius or Alive are particularly renowned for their mental control. With both players that have everything to prove though, expect them to give us some memorable games.
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Genius – Alive has the slight edge in skill in the matchup, but Genius has the momentum. Genius is a man on a mission, and I would give the nod to the more motivated player in this case.
I definitely have to give Gumiho credit for continuously defying my predictions (while simultaneously ruining my Liquibet rank) and making it to the semi-finals of GSL Season 1 2012. As much value as the community may place in skill and talent, Gumiho has proved that preparation is the key for advancing in the new GSL format, with his prepared builds letting him triumph over MVP in the Ro16 and letting him demolish Puzzle in the Ro8. Gumiho might not be joining MMA and MVP in the pantheon of elite terrans anytime soon, but this season he has done what they could not; survive.
Guimiho’s resilience will be put to the test as he goes up against the heavily favored DRG, and despite the hype around DRG, Gumiho actually has a good shot at taking down DRG. Gumiho’s stellar TvZ instincts have been the lynchpin of his GSL career, and arguably his TvZ play is second only to MMA’s TvZ. Preparation has helped him advance this far, and now he has a chance to advance to his first-ever GSL finals on the back of his favorite matchup. Safe to say, things have not looked better for Gumiho.
Whereas other terrans are content to apply pressure at specific timings to punish potentially greedy zerg play, Gumiho seemingly instinctively knows when and where to strike, rarely adhering to standard timings and always committing large amounts of units with his harassments. Once Gumiho’s mental aggressive switch is flipped, he rarely stops until the damage is done or he doesn’t have anything more to throw at his opponent. This aggression often catches many of Gumiho’s zerg opponents underprepared, which forces them to over-react and commit their main forces to defend, allowing Gumiho to safely expand and/or grab map control.
The Gumiho Special: Marine drops at the third and endless waves of marines in front of the natural
Nestea found out just how powerful Gumiho’s TvZ style was in the WCG 2011 Korean Qualifiers, falling to Gumiho’s relentless drops and powerful marine-tank follow ups, and never getting in a position to challenge Gumiho’s dominance of the tempo of the games. DRG also recently fell to Gumiho’s excellent TvZ instincts in the GSL November Ro32, as Gumiho used a marauder-hellion timing to badly derail DRG’s plans long enough for Gumiho to power up for a relentless marine-medivac push that overwhelmed DRG.
DRG really can’t completely defend all of Gumiho’s possible aggressive timings and builds without derailing his own plans. Instead DRG will have to rely on his own instincts and intelligence to plan with Gumiho’s hyper-aggressive tendencies in mind. Luckily for all of you zerg fans out there, DRG is one of the few zergs in the world who has the instincts and intellect to do so. No other zerg comes close to DRG’s innate grasp on the matchup and his almost infallible ability to punish terrans who are too greedy or too predictable. DRG also isn’t one-dimensional, and he is as comfortable throwing everything on the line with a roach-ling all-in as he is with executing perfect muta-ling-bling play.
When MKP tried to pull a fast one on DRG in the Ro16 and use a wildly unconventional three base thor-marauder-hellion timing attack, DRG intelligently reacted and adopted his army composition to MKP’s seemingly unstoppable army, crushing it with ease. Going back to the famous Blizzard Cup finals, when MMA decided to sit back and try to play out his 3-0 series lead with overly greedy macro builds, DRG punished MMA’s complacency with a series of powerful roach timings that were appropriate for the maps, and forced the series to a close game 7.
Seemingly unbeatable terran build? Not if DRG has a chance to do something about it.
With two highly instinctive players meeting head-to-head in their best matchup with so much on the line, it’s hard to see who will come out victorious. Guimho’s nerves might prove to be a factor, especially if DRG wins the first couple games and throws him on tilt, but given the amount of preparation he has shown in recently I doubt that it will have a substantial effect on the matches. The main factor that will determine the outcome of this face-off will be how DRG will punish Gumiho’s highly risky aggression. An aggressive army is an army that isn’t in position to defend, and you can bet that DRG will try to minimize the damage that Gumiho can cause while wreaking havoc of his own on Gumiho’s economy. If DRG tries to defend and let Gumiho dictate the tempo advantage, Gumiho will carve out a lead that DRG will find hard to overcome.
There is no doubt that DRG has the mental control and intelligence to move onto the finals, and given how dominant he has been in his tournament run this season, he should be the one that advances. Whether or not DRG advances though, will depend on if he takes Gumiho seriously. DRG might be tempted to play safe and rely on his theoretically superior skill to carry him to victory, but every zerg who have tried standard play versus Gumiho have only found defeat. It isn’t likely that DRG will take Gumiho’s unique TvZ style for granted, but DRG will definitely have to crank his own aggression up a notch to avoid getting swept aside.
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DRG to advance – Experience and skill should prevail here. This is DRG’s time, and he knows it.
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