Aquatic Bird Opens' August Report
As August comes to end, literally on the day of Master Swan, Light told me to write up a summary/report.
So we begin with a knockout performance from our very own captain Light_VIP. He started the month matching his teammate Blisk’s record of 4 wins, only to exceed that by becoming the first 5DO champion - the winner of 5 Duckling Opens. Technically, Light sits at a 100% championship rate for Duckling Opens he played in August, after deciding to focus more on admining and also because he’s a min-maxing casual who mains a Hunter in WoW. (:D)
As is the nature of competition though, as one player rises, another descends, and unfortunately that player was Ruiyichi. Since Light only told me to start doing reports this month, Ruiyichi’s dominance hasn’t been put on paper. Until now.
Ruiyichi came in at the start of July, walking the royal road to his first championship and continuing that trend two more times, joining the pantheon of Lumiya and Edenil to become a three time champion, and matching Blisk’s three consecutive championships. And that’s not even mentioning making it to finals of the July Master Swan Open, an impressive performance especially considering he was Diamond at the time.
As summer started to close (Steelmold: Yaku has no idea when summer starts and when summer ends. Light: It's literally the last day of winter...), most of us were expecting the American to end his dominance at the start of the new semester, but that came much sooner… because he managed to reach Masters league in the middle of August! See you in Master Swan Open, Ruiyichi. Oh and Steel told me to mention all the others that got promoted out of SDO (Steelmold: And…?).
Though Light wasn’t the only one claiming his place in the sun, as long time SDO regular and one of the few players within the target timezone demographic, Nemesis finally won a Duckling Open with her signature DT style and only dropped a single map in the finals. And she had the good fortune to avoid her least favourite PvT match-up.
Sea Duckling Open Monthly Stats
Master Swan continues to bring back our old guard with many familiar faces making a return, most notably TerranLord playing in his first CranKy tournament in two months. No Ruiyichi though (#FeelTheJudgement).
New players arose however, including TerranLord’s superior and PsiX teammate himself, Droptimus of Proxy Tempest fame. Another amongst the newcomers was latest MSO champion Shadow. He walked the royal road taking out previous SDO finalist mLty, former MSO champion Siegfried and finally former MSO and SDO champion Salivanth in a close 3 - 1. Demonstrating precise micro, composure under pressure and solid defensive play, Shadow, now dubbed The Legend Killer, will be an exciting player to watch.
And now a new section, the awards
Aquatic Bird Monthly Awards
Terran Of The Month
For a tournament that’s usually good for the XvT match-up (Steelmold: Xel’Naga race confirmed!), August has been surprisingly dry for Terran champions, with no players that can really be considered consistent enough. Results however are the other side of the judgement and the Terran player with a championship this month has been Sword. Though I’d give Purge a runner-up if for no other reason than that his run in SDO 35 had some pretty memorable moments.
Zerg Of The Month
At this point I decided to just get on Light_VIP’s good side, but I have some points to back this up. With 4 SDOs this month, Light has won half of them back-to-back and stands as the only Zerg champion. There’s also him setting the new record for total championships but I already wrote about that.
Protoss Of The Month
Protoss players have always been a minority in SDO and this month was no exception. In fact we like to joke about how all the Protoss players have a pact to either all sign up or no one does. Protoss Of The Month initially seemed to have a similar problem to Terran Of The Month, but after reviewing the brackets, Nemesis, a player who had never made it past the quarter-finals of SDO before, would gradually place higher and higher until finally achieving a championship in the final SDO of August.
Player Of The Month: Light_VIP
So I’m hoping that by getting on Light’s good side he’ll get me some ice cream. I’ve already talked about Light’s results so let’s look at his actual runs. Or at least the games we documented in the casts. Which actually aren’t that many. In fact only semis and finals.
SDO #34 would seem to be Light powering up gradually, reaching his final form in the Winners' and Grand Finals. The games we saw however would paint a different story. Light’s casted loss, though a close game, was against a Lurker heavy Zerg player. Light maxed out on Roach/Ravager/Hydra, and we didn’t see him do this the rest of the tournament. From what we could see, it was less of Light powering up, but rather realising how he should win, all-out aggression.
Whether he used Ling/Bane, Roach/Ravager or any other variant, Light would never stop poking in, scouting his opponent, deciding what he could get away with and generally, never taking a fight he couldn't lose or at least only fights where he could trade efficiently, teching up greedily as he did.
SDO #35 would be his record setting tournament, but very easily could have been his biggest disappointment. In the semifinals, Ruiyichi would prove to be the better player in game 1’s ZvZ, his main race. But Ruiyichi didn’t choose to play Zerg, he chose random, and once Light saw that Ruiyichi rolled Protoss in Game 2, you could almost sense his delight as he whipped out the Cucaracha build for a decisive victory. In Game 3 Ruiyichi rolled Terran. What he didn’t know was that from being in a clan with Voltacus, Light has practiced against 2-1-1 extensively, holding attacks beautifully, counter-attacking seamlessly and denying Ruiyichi an appearance in the finals for the first time.
In his finals against Purge, Light would continue to show his counter-attack style and see him become the first 5DO champion.
Best SDO Series: Light_VIP vs Purge (SDO #35 Finals)
So Light vs Purge was the only series I could remember off the top of my head, perhaps it was because of Light’s 5DO win, perhaps it was because of the... clippable moments or perhaps it was because of the history between All-Inspiration and CranKy Ducklings.
Turns out, all of that would contribute to the memorability of this series, but Light told me I need to talk about the games.
In a few ways Purge was reminiscent of a former All-in member close to CranKy, Lumiya. He liked using Banshees, he liked using mines, and he managed to incorporate two of Lumiya’s favourite strategies into one game. Cloaked Banshees into a double drop with Widow Mines. But there was one major difference between the two. In majority of the games, Purge went mech.
On paper, the sheer immobility of mech would be countered by Light’s counter-attack style, and to be fair it kind of was, but that doesn’t mean that Purge didn’t put up a hell of a fight.
Game 1 was, well, on paper (Steelmold: no it was in-game). Purge, being unable to position his army and zone out Light’s sufficiently on Redshift would demonstrate how the interaction between the two army compositions, or in fact, lack thereof, typically looks like.
Game 2 would be much more dynamic. Very much a tribute to Lumiya, with Banshees and Widow Mines. A constant back and forth, Purge harassed with Banshees, Light made Spores. Purge does a double drop, Light does a Ling run-by. Light doubles down on Ling/Bane, Purge doubles down on MMMM. It was anyone’s game, until one crucial moment. Widow Mines are already a bit of a gamble, unpredictable to all but those with the micro and multitasking to babysit them. More importantly though, mines can be exploited. In what might have been Purge’s war winning battle, Purge set up 4 Widow Mines in a diamond, one that would have wiped out majority of Light’s army. Instead, Light sent a handful of Lings, a couple of Banes and 2 Hydras. In the heat of the moment, Purge’s instincts took over, he turned his push to focus on the bait, and got hooked right on top of the mine shots he’d set up. A few seconds later, Purge would call perhaps one of the more painful ggs in all of his time playing Starcraft. (see clip)
Game 3 would be on Catalyst. Purge would use the map, specifically the ease of defending on 3 bases to get to the mech composition he seems to enjoy using so much. Already behind on aggression after falling for a fake proxy rax (“That’s some Lumiya shit”), Light’s run-by’s would find Purge’s defenses impenetrable and his attempt to tech-up would find Purge’s timing impeccable. A final clash with a few anti-armour missiles, with Ultralisks that already lacked Chitinous Plating would see Purge come back in the series.
Light would not let this happen again. Opening up with a Pool first, followed up not with a Ling flood, but a double expand. Instead, Light waited. He scouted the Hellion opener from Purge, scouted when those Hellions moved out, and then he pounced. (Fun fact: later on Milk used this game to exemplify the importance of walling the natural when doing a Hellion opener.) Indecisiveness on Purge’s part would give Light enough time to produce Roaches, wipe out Purge’s mineral lines, defend against the Hellion counter-harass and set the worker count to 20 Drones vs 3 SCVs. Purge held on, if there was a way to come back he was completely determined to find it, Light’s unwillingness, or perhaps, inability to close out the game granting the slivers of hope he needed to continue. But alas, MULEs can only help so much, and with a single, final F2+A move, Light would become the first time, five time, SDO champion.
With the entertainment value of the games, providing several memorable moments, with the historical context between the finalists, or at least the clans they represented and the climax of being able to crown the first 5DO champion, I find myself having difficulty remembering a series that comes close. That may just be the new meds my doctor put me on though.
Best MSO Series: Droptimus vs Blisk (MSO #6 Quarterfinals)
Runner-up: Shadow vs Salivanth (MSO #6 Finals)
Blisk has been a fan favourite since he first proxy hatched himself an SDO championship. In contrast, Droptimus, while a regular in more... appropriate tournaments for his timezone, was a complete new-comer in CranKy events. What could we expect from the craftiest Zerg in CranKy and the unknown admin of PsiX, the clan that brought us the double Cyclone drop and, according to Milk, the 2-1-1?
Turns out, kinda what you’d expect from anyone going up against Blisk, but that’s not a bad thing to our tribunal of judges. Blisk brought out his trademark proxy Hatch every game, though in a different way each time.
In game 1, he used it as a mind game, not producing anything from his proxy and instead going for a double expand that wasn’t scouted. Barely having enough to defend Droptimus’ pushes until the inevitable hive tech. Droptimus however saw his few windows of opportunity and went for them, though a little over-zealous at times, a failed base-trade would ultimately see Blisk take the game.
Game 2 was a more traditional Proxy Hatch (though a nontraditional cheese worker spray from Blisk) producing a creep queen and making use of the larvae while he could. Droptimus would then demonstrate his name sake and go for a stimmed double drop however, catching Blisk off-guard and walking over his minute Roach/Hydra force to victory.
Finally on the ace match, Droptimus showed that Blisk wasn’t the only one who knew how to cheese, going for a Cyclone all-in, which just so happened to blind-counter Blisk’s proxy Roach all-in.
So maybe only game 1 can be considered close, but each game was a delight. There’s a certain charm to Blisk’s proxy Hatches, about how he seems to have absolute knowledge of the strategy inside-out, and then takes it one-step further. Even when they fail, there’s a certain hedonistic appeal from just seeing something completely different.
Writing: Yakuzaku | Proofreading: Light_VIP & Steelmold | Editing: Kuro
More From CranKy Ducklings
CranKy Ducklings CranKy Clan
@CranKyDucklings CranKy_Ducklings CranKy Ducklings Discord