Code S: Ro32 Group G Recap
Results from Live Report Thread by TheBB.
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The Zerg Also Rises
- FXOLeenock advances in first place, putting seven Zergs in the Ro16.
Another group played, another Zerg advances. In terms of narratives, one has to feel that RorO let down more than just himself in forgetting about ultralisks in his final game against Hack in last week's games. As it stands, four out of seven groups have been won by Zerg and seven out of eight Zerg have advanced to the round of sixteen. On the opposite of the spectrum, Protoss is making the Sad Zealot Fan Club have a resurgence, with ST_Squirtle going out in another disappointing performance on behalf of the chosen of Aiur. In the middle of it all, the two Terran fought it out for the remaining spot.
‘Round of sixteen is a good place’, Leenock said. ‘There is a lot of Zerg’, his brethren replied.
FXOLeenock came into the group as a solid favorite to advance. His ZvT in general would have to be rated as a solid tier above the ones of Innovation and Keen, while Squirtle suffered from the large power shift between Zerg and Protoss. Gone are the days where you expect to see Leenock sometimes simply lose to Terran cheese and PvZ all-ins. He might have suffered a tough loss to Taeja last season, but his general consistency as evidenced by team league performances and hectic MLG tournaments is a real strength. Group play in Code S occupies a strange middle ground between careful preparation and rewarding consistency; Leenock has proven adept at both formats and the group play gave another indication of his prowess on both fronts.
His play against both Innovation and Keen was a tour de force of showing Zerg diversity and creativity. Against Innovation he was utterly dominant; it scarcely looked like the STX Soul player had any real chance of winning. The Cloud Kingdom game was a rare treat even from Leenock, a player known for his unorthodox builds. With early investment in lings, banelings and roaches, he attacked bringing queens with him to break the banshee defense of the Terran. It functioned as a delayed attack usually performed as an all-in, but with a third base he could saturate and with the time to bring queens, it ended up almost completely breaking the opponent. From an advantageous position, Leenock was able to finally get his drone count up and win with standard play.
In the games against Keen, Leenock relied on spire play throughout. While he lost the first game on Daybreak opting for the road less travelled in the midgame with mutalisk play, the two following games showcased once more his aggressive nature. With a two base heavy mutalisk opening on Whirlwind, he was able to cripple Keen utterly, punishing the game one victor’s lack of mobility and the lack of defense for a muta cloud that Leenock cleverly obfuscated through the early midgame. The last game was again decided early on, as Keen was helpless to repel a flood of roaches and banes.
Fascinatingly, Leenock used five very different builds in his five games against Terran this group. He was victorious in four, all of them featuring heavy deviations from the standard TvZ metagame. Meanwhile, he lost the only game where he looked to be playing standard, though one wonders just how standard midgame spire play really can be called at this point. However, we know that he is no slouch in a standard game either, so simply being able to execute such a wide variety of tactics must be a headache for any opponent coming up. Leenock has yet to taste ultimate victory in GSL, but between his excellent ZvZ and what is becoming a formidable list of strategies at his disposal, he must remain a heavy favorite to make it to the playoffs once again.
The road to Code A is paved with untried cheese.
- Losing his first match, STX_Innovation rallies to be the second KeSPA player to make round of sixteen.
I think almost every preview and recap done of STX_Innovation (aka Bogus) may have included phrases such as ‘it is still difficult to tell how good he is’ or ‘he knows how to all-in at the exact right time’. As much as we strive to learn, to figure out players and to map out tendencies and strengths through watching, the STX player still remains a bit of a mystery. In Group G, he did what could be reasonably expected of him. He lost convincingly to Leenock first, but the games did not give us much indication of his standard play and holding the unorthodox attacks of the Zerg player was a lot to ask. However, he dispatched of both Squirtle and Keen without being pressed too hard.
Against Squirtle, he did exactly what should have been obvious to anyone really following Innovation. On Daybreak, he proxied two barracks between the natural and third of his opponent and executed the all-in with brutal efficiency. The following game was a more standard two base push, with medivacs and stim that caught Squirtle in the difficult two base transition up to charge and storm. With the Protoss player’s defense looking subpar, Innovation had no problems securing a match with KeeN to decide who would move on.
Against the MVP Terran, he again looked like simply the better player. Game one on Entombed Valley was quite messy, with Innovation’s first tank push into Keen’s natural initially looking promising, but failed to do significant damage. In the midgame, the two seemed to fall into a pattern of trading who exactly had the advantage until Keen half heartedly went for a counterattack upon seeing his opponent move out. With only marines, he was not able to do much damage; Innovation sniped the tanks in the middle of the map before cleaning up the bio in his natural and gained a significant army advantage. In the final game of the day, Bel’Shir Vestige proved to be Keen’s undoing, as Innovation simply pushed in with far superior numbers in the early midgame. Once again, the KeSPA Terran failed to look great, but he did once more confirm his aptitude for knowing exactly when to push and punish unwary opponents.
All in all, Innovation strengthened the beliefs we already held about him; willing to cheese, good timings and a fairly solid player overall. But the questions we have remain unanswered; perhaps it is his play style that makes one wonder exactly how good he truly is. One way or another, he remains an underdog to advance past the round of sixteen, and it would be surprising to not see a Zerg snap him up greedily during group selections.
'You are not a bad player. You are only a case of arrested development.'
I had expected MVP.KeeN to either look good and not advance, or look horrible and somehow make it through. What I had not expected was what we saw, a player clearly outclassing Squirtle in all areas of TvP then taking the first game off Leenock in the winner’s final with defiant macro play. What we expected to see was cheese, hellions and general aggressive play. Keen looked through his first three games a much stronger, solid all-rounder than what we have previously seen. However in Keen’esque fashion, it all came crashing down in the end and he finished the day going 0-4, losing to a variety of early pressure plays and losing his composure completely in the first game against his fellow Terran in the group. Ultimately, there is much to build on for Keen, if he is able to progress and grow into the player he showed us a glimpse of today, then succeeding in a Nada-less Code S environment might be on the cards.
‘You are all a lost generation’
In terms of pure results, Protoss is heading back to the dark ages. After a few seasons of sustained Code S success, the current one has looked like a bit of a disaster. However, no Protoss has exemplified this as evocatively as ST_Squirtle. While a player such as Seed put up a hard fight but was not quite good enough and HerO looked very unlucky to lose out, Squirtle was nowhere near where he could be expected to be. He should have been to his group was Creator was to Group E, losing to the favorite Zerg but dismantling his two Terran opponents. Instead, he never got to play against Leenock and was most disappointing in his usually solid PvT endeavors. Better players than Squirtle have fallen down to Code A before, but the way he did it looked curiously ominous for the Startale player.