Disclaimer: This is not written by me, but Mizenhauer. I'm just posting this as a blog because he asked me to. <3
LRSL Bronze Challenger Match Preview
This summer’s edition of LRSL may very well be the most exciting iteration of the storied tournament series yet. Though most notable for the simple fact that it appears headed for an actual conclusion, one can’t ignore the wealth of exciting games the community has been fortunate to witness. Who could forget ByuN’s innovative and brilliant orbital timings or The_Red_Viper’s unbelievable three hatch hold against Cricketer’s 12 pool?
After five weeks, four players have emerged from the scrum. It’s been a roller coaster ride of satanic ritual fueled RNG from the 5-0 Durn, schizophrenic play from Luolis, dependability on Wire’s part that would make safety shorts envious and a bag of cheesy builds that had Shine calling for advice from Coach Mizenhauer. In an ode to Spo, the playoffs will feature a Bronze and Silver Challenger match before culminating in a Grand Final. Luolis and Wire are the first to take the stage in a PvT rematch of Round 4 that promises to continue the grand tradition of excellence and immaculate play that is LRSL Summer 2017.
The Third Base
Luolis is, in many ways, a hopeless romantic. Brawling, sweeping, primal and volcanic, he owes his strength to Naama and his teachings. Luolis dedicated himself to two base builds, falling in love like some teenage school girl. The assortment of timing pushes became an indelible part of his identity. Luolis is at his best in TvZ, dancing with his narrow, but adored strategy. It takes the lead and, when reflected in his own mechanical superiority, it’s a number that spells doom for his opponents. But, while Luolis is at his imperious best when allowed to execute his famed tank pushes, he struggles mightily in other matchups. TvT is a hardship in and of itself. His 44% win rate in the matchup is clear indication of that. Unfortunately for him, he will have to delve into even murkier waters in the first match of the LRSL playoffs. He’ll have to brave the maelstrom that is TvP.
To say Luolis is hapless in TvP might be an understatement. It goes beyond his 6-16 record on ladder against the race. When one watches him play, it’s clear that there’s a critical lack of understanding in the matchup. For one who’s so supremely uncomfortable against Protoss, he has an vexing penchant for ushering the game into the later stages. His nasty habit of flubbing maxed out engagements provides a predictable ending for the torrid tale. It’s some medieval torture device pulling him in a hundred directions. The two base builds near and dear to his heart just don’t work and, in utter desperation, he scrambles for a solution. But he’s yet to find it because he’s fighting himself. He’s too busy searching for an eureka moment to embrace the tools already available to him. Yes, Luolis will not be able to sit on two bases against Wire. But that does not mean he cannot carry the principles of his playstyle into another phase of the game. Sound mechanics, crisp build order execution and flawless micro. All of these things transcend bases, minutes or races. When Luolis takes his third base in the Bronze Challenger match, it cannot be with trepidation or desperation. It will need to be with the same confidence and assuredness that pervades his two base builds. Luolis cannot betray himself, just as he cannot betray his love. He needs to hold the spirit of Naama close and raise it to new levels as he takes his third.
The Forgotten Archetype
Protoss is a sort of listless wanderer. Micro maestros like MC showed the heights that could be reached through meticulous control. Players like PartinG and herO were the natural evolution from that point. Following in MC’s footsteps, they relied on timings as their primary weapon. In a word this trio exemplifies ruthlessness. Then came Rain, the first Protoss rooted in mechanics. But even he strayed from his rigid ways, incorporating a variety of offensive builds into his repertoire. Players like Zest and Stats inherited his legacy. Resilient, adaptive and well rounded, they became the prototype for modern Protoss. On the fringes were players like Classic whose best asset was that he held every weapon in the arsenal. He could call upon any strategy at a whim and often left opponents scratching their heads. And who could forget Has, the free-wheeling maverick. But, still, Protoss lacks an identity. Whereas Zerg and Terran are meant to be played this way, Protoss has never been so certain. And among all its faces, lurking in the shadows, are the disciples of a lost champion, one whose style once shattered all conceptions of how the race should be played. That Protoss is Creator, and his truest follower and natural successor is Wire.
Check the boxes. [x] Gate/Nexus/Core, [x] Defensive Posture with Robo/Twilight [x] Double Forge, Third Base [x] colossi and Storm. It’s a recipe that Creator made famous. Wire has elevated it to new heights. Heading into week five there were three Protoss in the top five, but Wire’s steady style prevailed where Olli’s dark templar could not. Heartland met a grisly end, leaving the final disciple of the great Prime Protoss as the lone representative of his race in the Round of 4. He may have backed into the playoffs, but his match against Durn was one of the most exciting of the tournament. Durn had to throw everything at him, including a battlecruiser, to take the match as Wire simply held fast against all attacks. It’s the type of resolve we’ve come to expect from the French Protoss. He perfectly embodies the never say die attitude of his people. Make Colossi. Never Surrender. If anyone can weather the storm that is Luolis, it will be Wire. And he won’t just do so by battening down the hatches, either. Because his defenses are merely the precursor to a lethal attack, the hammerfall that could fell even the mightiest Korean. Wire is the last of his kind. The final Patient Protoss. It will be through his deeds that the StarCraft community is put on notice and Creator’s lost legacy is brought to light once more.
A Second Bite at the Cherry
The Bronze Challenger Match marks the first of two rematches in the LRSL playoffs. Luolis and Wire met back in week four. Back then both players were sitting on 2-1 records, Wire having been defeated by Olli in week two, with Luolis picking up a loss at the same stage to the triple Protoss rolling monster, Durn. Another misstep could have been damning for either player, but in the end it was Wire who came out on top. Luolis set the pace in the match with a puzzling three rax build, only to have the opening completely quashed by early colossi. It was a far cry from the marauding Terran we were used to seeing, as Luolis was left trudging home with his tail between his legs. It’s fair to say that Wire dominated the series. He dropped game two, but that was more on his error than anything else, with a botched engagement spelling his doom.
But as we’ve learned from GSL group stages, the second time around rarely goes the way of the first. Luolis has a week to prepare for this match and now is fully aware of the monster he faces. Wire meanwhile has yet to display the flexibility required to navigate a best of 5. It’s a facet he’ll have to add to his game to duplicate their prior result. With the weaker Mizenhauer waiting in the Silver Challenger match, this series may prove to be the true gatekeeper to the finals. For Luolis, it’s another step on the road to redemption. For Wire a chance to prove that he’s more than the man who lost 2-0 on the final week and relied on the strength of his opponents to reach this stage. One thing is for certain, the world will be watching on August 25th as Luolis and Wire continue their journey towards a LRSL title.
Editor: The Spirit of Tzuyu