It has almost been a month since Afreeca Team Battles started and TeamLiquid coverage commenced. During this time, we've seen many teams rise and fall but few would have actually predicted Team GuemChi making it to the finals beating several notables teams on the way.
In their last semifinals, they beat Team Bisu with a score of 3-1. Surprises included Tyson losing his first ATB match to PianO while Soulkey closed things off with sSak with a base trade scenario! This set up a confrontation with Team Flash on Sunday, set to start in !
The finals are finally here and should be a blast to watch as Team Flash looks to secure first place while Team GuemChi, the underdogs look to be the first to upset the indisputable best team of this ATB. As you wait for the finals, go on and read the last semifinals recap by c3rberUs and the finals preview by BLinD-RawR. Let's get hyped!
In the back of my mind, I sensed this game will just be a replay of PianO's game versus BeSt the week before. Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. Tyson, the spear that pierced God himself started with a proxy gate but didn't quite get anything out of it. After reaver play that didn't do much either, PianO brought his drop-heavy TvZ style to annoy the heck out of Tyson. It worked pretty well especially when it allowed him to just walk straight up to the protoss natural ridge and shell the probes there. The position was tough to crack; I know Tyson knew as all his dragoons turned to soup at the mouth of the ridge. With his first loss pretty much inevitable, he kindly donated most of his probes to tanks and mines then GG'd.
I'll be honest here, this game was underwhelming. It was a mirror build from both players. 3-gateway robo expand, except Bisu's natural expansion timing was noticeably faster; around 45% done when GuemChi started his. That part was a bit suspect as they were doing builds until they got reavers. There was a total of two battles, a small skirmish that Bisu won and a bigger, game-ending one. In the latter, GuemChi opted for double reavers against shuttle-reaver. The shuttle-reaver danced on the edge of death and almost got both reavers (1 destroyed, the other 1-hit away) but it didn't matter anyway with Bisu's dragoon count being two times that of GuemChi's.
Soulkey spawned really far from the other three players but since his zerglings are fast, it wasn't really an issue. Team GuemChi quickly took action by building a wall, keeping sSak's lings south of the border. With him out of the equation, SoulKey and PianO focused down Bisu. Bisu was ill-equipped and the timing hit him while he was dropping PianO's base. He barely lived using probes and a reaver but when PianO came back to seal the deal, it was over. Meanwhile, sSak managed to tear a hole through the wall and unleashed his zerglings on SoulKey's defenseless main. Both Bisu and SoulKey were practically out so it left PianO's main race versus sSak's zerg (off-race). Just like in regular 1v1, PianO ate sSak's zerg for dinner.
On the back off arguably an upset with PianO winning over Tyson and great teamplay, Team Stars was a game away from a finals date with Team FlaSh. And here SoulKey made it happen! It was a 2 hatchery muta versus 2 starport wraith. This game was pretty quick for me. At first, it was SoulKey sacking his first mutas while taking out as many SCVs. Then it quickly turned into a base trade scenario with sSak's wraiths clearing house at SoulKey's base and SoulKey returning the favor. However, SoulKey was a step ahead with building a base at the other main. The GG came after the mutas returned home and the wraiths fell from the sky.
Team IamMang advanced to the Grand Finals!
As far as a finals goes for this tournament goes, this is the best possible finals. Sure, Team Flash vs Team Bisu would have been flashier with a Flash vs Bisu match, but this finals here is much like any other day back in proleague. It's a fight between a team of strong individuals and a team with strong teamwork and chemistry.
A lot of hopes are riding on GuemChi by this point to actually close it off. Unfortunately, though not only is he facing Last who has been consistently playing his absolute peak for the last month and a half in all matchups but he's playing against him on Fighting Spirit. Now, normally I’d give GuemChi the benefit of the doubt because I believe that he has the ability to become better than Bisu on a good day or turn into good ol’ OMEKIM and fail miserably. However, at this point, even “better than Bisu” won’t be enough to stop AlphaGo.
Soulkey in the ATB is like what Brave from Samsung Khan back in 2012 was. You could pretty much be sure that if the lineups were double blinded, that Soulkey would come out on Outsider anyway. While that predictability is a negative point, on the other hand, being so focused on one map means that he's that much more dangerous on it. Rain’s PvZ leaves a lot more to be desired at the moment. He does have flashes of brilliance from his proleague days when he was playing and learning from Bisu but he fares a lot better in his other matches than in PvZ.
The team of PianO and Soulkey are hands down the best 2v2 team here having not lost a single one of their four games, being the sure fire win for their team and making this the hardest match for team flash and last who are also offracing. Unless they get lucky with good positions, I don't see them winning this one over PianO and Soulkey.
Flash’s TvT is still untouchable for everyone not named Last and his best matchup by far. To be honest, PianO has received the short end of stick here. Blue Storm is a pretty good map when it comes to TvT and it's had a lot of good memorable games on it in recent memory. The longer this game goes on, the less likely PianO is going to win. Expect some early game shenanigans from him.
Now assuming everything has played off like I said it would, we’re up for an Ace match on Circuit Breaker, which in all likelihood will be Last vs Soulkey. Both players are playing at a much higher mental form than the rest. Flash is pretty good but not like Last at the moment who has literally been playing out of his mind. This will be a great TvZ and I am itching to see what Soulkey brings to the table to potentially close it out because Zerg needs a win over terran, lest we continue to hear more “terran imba” chants in all the streamers' chats.
Team Flash to win in the grand finals 3-2!
Writers: c3rberUs, BLinD-RawR, BigFan
Graphics: v1, Nixer
Photo Credits: Afreeca, Liquipedia
Graphics: v1, Nixer
Photo Credits: Afreeca, Liquipedia