Axiom-Acer vs. LG-IM
Crank, Ryung, and Scarlett
Team MVP vs. FXOpen
Brackets and results on Liquipedia
Axed by the Ace
Results via Live Report Thread by Karasaki.
+ Show Spoiler [Results] +
Ryung stars in Axiom-Acer's 4 - 3 win over LG-IM
If you asked people to rank the GSTL teams before the start of the league, many people would have said Axiom-Acer would be competing with NS HoSeo to stay out of last place. Just two matches into their GSTL season, Axiom-Acer is now forcing many fans into a hasty reassessment.
For their second straight match, Axiom-Acer won a close, 4 – 3 victory against one of the established powerhouses of the eSF. In week one, it was Team MVP that suffered the upset, with MMA finishing off the match with a clutch ace performance. In week three, it was MMA's friend and rival Ryung who was the hero, equaling MMA's performance by taking down championship contenders LG-IM as the last runner for his team.
It was already a better start than even the most optimistic fans could have hoped for from the 'foreign' coalition team, but things managed to get even better for global fans. Scarlett provided the icing on the cake, making a most spectacular Korean debut by taking out four time champion Mvp in the opening match of the night. Combined with a solid contribution from Crank and Ryung's ace heroics, it was enough for Axiom-Acer to record another famous upset in the annals of the GSTL.
Scarlett defeats Mvp in Korean debut.
After seeing LG-IM_Mvp eviscerate players like Stephano, TLO, and Ret at last month's IEM World Championship, it seemed like Acer.Scarlett would be the next foreigner Zerg to fall to the four time GSL champion's dizzying medivac play. However, in one of the biggest surprises of the GSTL season thus far (well, next to Axiom-Acer's overall performance), Scarlett lived up to the considerable hype behind her by defeating the King of Wings.
Mvp decided to start with the blue flame hellion opener that had served him well in WoL, but it turned out to be the wrong move. Even with a defense based largely on speedlings, Scarlett was able to stop the attack with barely any damage taken. That allowed the Acer Zerg to easily transition into a 1/1, speed bane/zergling bust attack which ended up being the deciding play of the game.
Mvp didn't have the defenses necessary to hold off such an attack, and was left with a crippled economy when the dust settled. After that, the game was all but over, though Mvp did what he could to try and mount a comeback. Scarlett simply played it safe without overextending, and won with an unstoppable ultra-ling-infestor combination in the late game.
War in the Trenches
Though LG-IM took a very unexpected blow to start, they quickly recovered by deploying the IEM World Champion YoDa. YoDa started off by avenging Mvp, defeating Scarlett in a difficult match on Akilon Wastes. While Scarlett showed some good engagements in the mid-game, nerves got the better of her as she allowed her spire to bleed out due to lack of creep, and forgot the vital chitinous plating upgrade for her ultralisks. Nothing short of Scarlett's A game was going to be enough against the relentlessly aggressive YoDa, and she was forced to GG out after being worn down by constant attacks and drops.
Undaunted by YoDa's win against Scarlett, Axiom-Acer sent out yet another Zerg in Miya to face YoDa on the new map DMZ. However, he wasn't able to do much better than Scarlett, and got off to a poor start as he was forced to awkwardly give up on a roach-bane bust after being scouted. YoDa flexed his multi-task muscle, using ground forces and multi-directional drops to break down Miya and give LG-IM the 2 – 1 lead.
It looked like LG-IM might start to break away with YoDa heating up, but AX.CranK proved to be the right choice to kill YoDa's streak. Instead of a sniper's aggressive all-in, Crank came with a very greedy build, going for a fast third base and double forge against YoDa's own economy centered build. Initially, it looked like Crank had miscalculated, as some light infantry pressure from YoDa tore down the third nexus before Crank could defend. However, Crank still managed to eke out a win in the end, when YoDa decided he would use his advantage to go for a massive, SCV-pulled all-in attack. Poor micro from YoDa blunted the effectiveness of his attack, and he GG'd out after Crank survived the attack with a superior economy and upgrades in hand.
While Crank was surely happy about getting his first GomTV win in nearly 10 months, he didn't have much time to celebrate as LG-IM immediately struck back. LosirA came out as the third man for LG-IM and promptly took Crank down, fending off his +1/+1 gateway all-in with clever use of burrow, following up with mutalisks for an easy victory.
Down to their last man, and needing to defeat two of LG-IM's players, Axiom-Acer decided they would put their fate in Ryung's hands.
Whatever you can do, I can do better
It was hard not to crack a few jokes at AX.Ryung's expense two weeks ago when MMA came out as the ace for Axiom-Acer and defeated Team MVP. Ryung had been overshadowed by MMA ever since they had been teammates on SlayerS, and no amount of amusing MS Paint scribbling over MMA's face could change that. Seeing MMA outshine Ryung again on a partial SlayerS reunion team was as comical as it was tragic.
Well, it seems like things might actually end up being different this time around. With all eyes looking toward MMA to rescue Axiom-Acer once again, it was instead Ryung who swooped in as the team's Ace. And just like MMA, Ryung came through with flying colors, defeating the final two players of the opposing team to complete an epic, 4 – 3 victory.
The final two games were actually surprisingly easy for Axiom-Acer. Losira opted to go for an early burrow roach strike against Ryung, but took more damage from a hellion backdoor than he managed to deal out himself. With Ryung having gone for an especially greedy build to start, this led to a slow and painful death for Losira, who ended up having to fight mass marauders with roaches.
Aptly enough, the final boss for LG-IM was the Bosstoss MC from partner team SK Gaming. MC made a theatrical entrance, making Squirtle feint an appearance before MC yanked him back. Unfortunately for MC, his in gameplay proved to be as predictable as his out of game antics, as Ryung perfectly read his intent to go for oracle play. Ryung liberally made turrets on defense, knowing that the resources wasted on early oracles meant Protoss would have barely a chance to win later.
It played out pretty much as expected for Ryung, as he got up a powerhouse three base economy while MC struggled to make up for his poor opener. While MC did manage to hold off one big attack from Ryung with some inspired defense, he couldn't survive the onslaught of Terran infantry and was forced to concede the series to Axiom-Acer.
Player of the Night: AX.Ryung
This might have very well been the best performance from Ryung in the GSTL. He dealt with his opponent's early game gambits deftly, and was able to stroll to easy victories. As an added bonus for all esports fans, it makes the relationship between MMA and Ryung – esports' greatest frienemyrivals – all the more interesting.
Winner InterviewsWith Crank, Ryung, and Scarlett.
Q: How do you feel after winning the match?
Ryung: We didn't think we would win, we thought that it would be a goo result if we lost by a 3 - 4 or 2 - 4 score. But our players played well once they entered the booth, so we were able to take it. I felt particularly good because I beat two players I had very bad head to head records against.
Crank: Scarlett had problems with her wrists so she so couldn't practice as much as expected, but I'm happy she did well. More than the end result, I was not prepared to play specifically against YoDa... but I ended up playing somehow. I'm glad I won that match.
Scarlett: I'm really happy we won, when I was watching the last couple of matches I got really nervous, especially when Crank was playing against YoDa and the all in was coming. It looked like he was dead, but somehow he won so I was happy.
Q: It was impressive to see you use infested Terrans to take out widow mines. Was that something you practiced?
Scarlett: A lot of Zergs I've seen have been going swarm hosts against Terarn lately to use locusts to take care of widow mines. I was practicing going infestors most of the time and I didn't want to switch to swarm hosts at the last minute, so I used the infested terran eggs.
Q: You were in a good spot against YoDa in game two, but you got reversed by his good medivac play.
Scarlett: In both games, since it was my first time playing in Korea I got really nervous, I was a little shaky. I was forgetting some things... In the first game my armor upgrade was late, in my second one I forgot about chitinous plating.
Q: You predicted MC's oracles well in the ace match, did you expect it was coming from watching his games?
Ryung: I expected he would do one of three builds. I saw what he was doing and I was kinda sure, no, very sure what he was doing. MC has done that kind of play in the past, so I just put down three turrets blindly.
Q: You dealt with Losira's roach attack well to win the second game. Were you expecting that kind of strategy?
Ryung: Because I scouted a fast lair I didn't expect roaches. However, I remembered MMA advising me to just backdoor hellions in that situation. It worked out well because my opponent couldn't focus well. It was good to create two things for him to focus on.
Q: You were in a tough spot during your match against YoDa.
Crank: I wasn't able to play well for a while, and it was a while since I played in the GSTL, so I was nervous. I couldn't even watch the minimap well, and I thought that troops that had simply walked over had flown over by medivac. Still, I was somehow able to stop the all-in attack well.
Q: Did you focus a lot on PvT practice after losing to Sting at the ESET UK Masters?
Crank: Things just didn't go well that day, I wasn't playing well, and my skill wasn't that good at that time. After I come back from a tourney I sometimes take a break, but I felt that I couldn't rest in that state with the GSTL ahead. So I practiced and I think I've improved my skill level through that.
Q: A lot of ppl thought MMA would play as the ace.
Ryung: I was thinking beforehand to come out if Crank lost. However, he defeated YoDa and I ended up having to face Losira instead. When that happened I asked MMA how would it be if he played since he is better against Zerg, but he just told me to steady myself and go out and play.
Crank: This time we prepared more with Heart and Ryung in mind. It's somehow worked out so that MMA plays later in the line-up, not because he's better than those two. This times things worked out so that Ryung played last.
Q: There's a big Korea-World skill gap. Are there any players outside Korea who can also stand up to Koreans, and what do you think of the gap?
S: I don't think there are very many foreigners who are on the same level at all. I don't know if there's any that people don't know about yet, that aren't already famous. I think the reason is that the practice environment. It's hard for foreigners to get good practice. Playing here on ladder, playing with my teammates, it's SO much better than NA. There was no challenge there, I didn't learn much. Here I'm learning a lot. Yesterday when I prepared to play against Mvp, I played against Ryung and MMA a lot and I lost like every game, it was very depressing.
Q: Really, every game?
Q: The new WCS system and region locking has put you in a weird situation. What are your thoughts and plans?
Scarlett: I want to stay in Korea for a while, so this season I'm going to play in the Code A qualifiers, which is a risk, but in 2013 you can switch your region once during the year, so depending on how it goes in the next couple of months. I might switch to North America, we'll see.
Q: It could be possible to play part of the American WCS online. Can you see yourself being based on Korea for practice, and travelling to the states temporarily for the live portion?
Scarlett: I might want to stay here long term, depending on how it works with the Axiom partnership, and everything else. I've only been here for three weeks... I'll decide later after 3 months or so.
Q: Has winning two matches against strong teams changed your mindset or goals?
Ryung: Our goal hasn't changed, which is making it to the playoffs. As long as we don't get satisfied just because we're beating good teams, we should be able to make it.
Q: Okay, any final comments?
Crank: The team is doing well lately. There was a time when our results weren't that good and the mood was down. John (TotalBiscuit) always cheered us on us back then, telling the players not to doubt themselves, I want to tell him that we're very grateful for that, it helped us play well. Also, thanks to our sponsors Sony Online Entertainment and Planetside 2, SC2Links, and Husky.
Ryung: When I agreed to go out as the last player, I didn't feel pressure then, but was just really curious about what would happen. But when I got into the booth, I kinda felt like running away. I pretended not to be nervous, even when MMA put his hand on my chest to check my heartbeat. Ace really is a position with a lot of pressure. Also I didn't feel all that great when MMA was the ace, I wanted to play as the ace quickly. Also, I wanted Scarlett to win her debut match, so I'm glad she did.
We only had one Zerg before, Miya. Now the foreigner Scarlett has come and won a game. Miya should look at himself, stop talking so much, and start showing something with his play.
Scarlett: Thanks to Acer, and Axiom for the partnership and the opportunity to stay at the team house and play in the GSTL.
Ryung: Oh, write the sponsor spiel for me too. Oh wait, make mine different. Thank to John and Genna, with a lot of exclamation points if possible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Saturday night's GSTL match is interesting in a lot of different ways. First and foremost, it’s a rematch of the two finalists from the last GSTL season. Second it’s a clash of two differing team league strategies. On the one side is Team MVP, the champions of the only GSTL to be held in a round-robin style format. While they have a strong ace in DRG, they also have one of, if not the deepest bench of any team in Korea. On the other side is FXOpen, the kings of the elimination style GSTL leagues of 2012. Their bench is solid with a lot of room for growth, but the real strength of FXO comes from the core duo of Leenock and Gumiho. They are the bull and bear on FXO’s logo, two symbolic forces of the GSTL (Tear is the orange background).
The Starters: MVP.Dream vs FXOGuMiho
The choice of starters here really reveals the two different mindsets of the two teams. First up to bat for MVP is Dream, one of the only MVP players not named DRG who can qualify for foreign tournaments to clean house. While always a strong player since his major breakout at 2012's MLGs, he really made a name for hismelf by knocking Rain out of the GSL with strong multi-tasking based TvP. Since then he has reached a new level of play showing a lot of all-around strength in all of his matchups, with a specialty in TvP. With no glaring weaknesses, Dream is a solid and conservative choice that allows them to play the GSTL match by ear, picking and choosing different players based on the situation.
FXO’s choice of Gumiho is the equivalent of bringing a cannon to a knife fight. Gumiho is not just a monster in GSTL, but the monster of GSTL. While he's a huge contributor during the GSTL regular seasons, during GSTL finals he becomes even more beastly. He is undefeated in the finals with an 8 - 0 record, with 3 of those wins going against team MVP. This is a much more aggressive strategy than what FXO usually goes for. FXO’s typical strategy is to use supporting players to start off a match, control the map order, and snipe out a few players before bringing in the 1 - 2 punch of Gumiho/Leenock to sweep. Now, FXO plans to start the match by kicking down the door, perhaps because the shorter, best of seven format doesn't allow any margin for error. Gumiho will try to take down as many people as possible, the second and third spots will be used to get rid of bad maps for Zerg, and Leenock will clean up the rest if MVP gets that far. While it's risky to put a key player up so early, it often pays off to put a streaky player first to see if he can get hot. Even if Gumiho goes down, Tear and Leenock are still waiting on the bench.
MVP: KeeN, Noblesse, Super(Vampire, Lure, finale, Monster, Sniper, Shine
FXO: Tear, JKS, Lucky, TheBest
The count is 9. There are 9 players on MVP that are currently playing around Code A/S level, and they are evenly distributed to about 2-3 for each race. Each one of them has proven themselves in one form or another in results. Keen is a perennial Code S Terran. Noblesse and Shine are consistent reaching the Up/Down and just barely falling short. Lure is the Grand Emperor of China. Nakseo (formerly known as Monster) has been known as an online terror for as long as we can remember. Finale and Vampire have all been to Code S in recent seasons, which few players on the FXO roster can say.
FXO has a much group of core players. While recently they have had an influx of new players, the newcomers have yet to show what they are made of and will probably need some more time to develop. Tear is the major force here, giving FXO some much needed Protoss representation, and is the most reliable backup man for Leenock and Gumiho. After that it’s a toss up between JKS, Lucky, and TheBest as candidates for the fourth spot. Of them, Lucky has pulled out the most big wins for FXO in GSTL, but FXO has shown they're willing to be adventurous with who they use outside of their core players.
Wildcards: MVP.TAiLS vs. FXOsC
The best way to describe Tails is one shot, one kill. Outside of GSTL, Tails is a middling Protoss player. He has some nice builds, but seems to have a hard time planning out a series and seems to have a harder time stringing together enough wins to get into Code A. Inside the GSTL, he is one of the most dangerous snipers on any team and the #2 on LG-IM’s most wanted list (behind Symbol). In GSTL, the foreknowledge of player and map choice allow Tails to kill players that are seemingly far beyond his skill range. Everything seems to click for Tails in the GSTL, be it the chaotic nature of team leagues, the constant shuffling of races, players and maps, or the responsibility of helping his team. Whatever it is, Tails' true strength has always come out in team leagues and he may very well be the silver bullet that MVP uses to slay Gumiho if Dream can’t do the job.
After one and a half years, the prodigal son returns. Once FXO's ace, sC has been on an odyssey, battling health issues, switching teams and then games before finally coming home. While his last few games of SC2 before his switch to LoL were uninspired, FXO/fOu was the place where he first became great. While I doubt he will come out for this match, he could be the hidden trump card FXO needs to take out MVP (the team sC briefly joined for unknown reasons).
The Aces: MVP.DongRaeGu vs. FXOLeenock
One week ago, I would have picked Sniper as the ace. However, the last GSTL match MVP had has shed some light on MVP’s opinion on their zerg players. Given a choice between 3 zerg players and 2 slots against Axiom, MVP chose Nakseo and DRG in that order. Maybe Sniper hasn’t adjusted well to Hots yet, but whatever the case, it is clear that MVP has more faith in DRG to carry on the ace role for the moment and despite losing to MMA, I see no reason for MVP to switch aces for this week.
The ace choice is easy for FXO as Gumiho is being sent out as the vanguard. It’ll be up to Leenock to sweep things up if anything goes wrong. Leenock plays about even with DRG in ZvZ. His ZvP seems completely different and new in HotS, and seems to really suit him. The biggest problem for Leenock will be his ZvT as he didn't look like he had a chance against Innovation at MLG Dallas. Still, that was awhile ago and he may have found an answer to his ZvT problems.
Both players have often taken up the ace role for their teams, and neither team really gets an advantage if the aces go head-to-head.
Just like almost every GSTL game FXO plays, everything will revolve around 2 focal points: Gumiho and Leenock. MVP needs to stop Gumiho as soon as possible. Gumiho needs to try to slaughter all of MVP. Even if Dream is somehow able to get a triple kill on FXO, Leenock is still completely capable of reverse all-killing for FXO. Predicting a score here is difficult as there are too many factors to consider, and too many streaky players on both rosters But I’ll give a very slight edge to FXO just based on the format alone. A Bo7 makes the tag team of Gumiho-Leenock much stronger as compared to a bo9 which would allow MVP’s deep bench to shine.
FXO 4 - 3 MVP