Code S RO32: Group D Recap
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GuMiho <Antiga Shipyard 1.2> Maru
GuMiho <Entombed Valley> Maru
GuMiho <Daybreak> Maru
HerO <Metropolis> Curious
HerO <Dual Sight 1.1> Curious
HerO <Entombed Valley> Curious
Maru <Entombed Valley> HerO
Maru <Antiga Shipyard 1.2> HerO
Maru <Daybreak> HerO
GuMiho <Entombed Valley> Curious
GuMiho <GSL Cloud Kingdom> Curious
HerO <GSL Cloud Kingdom> Curious
HerO <Dual Sight 1.1> Curious
Maru advances to Code S Ro16
HerO advances to Code S Ro16
Curious falls to Code A Ro32
GuMiho falls to Code A Ro48
The Prodigy Powers Through
Watch out, MarineKing. You might have just taken down two big MLG titles in New York and Columbus, but back in Korea, your young teammate is making a run at your title of Optimus. Making his debut as the youngest player to ever be in Code S, the fourteen-year-old Maru showed the composure of someone twice his age and experience in the booth. A lot of new players have come into the Code S spotlight, only to be burned and thrown back into Code A instantly (like B4 and Seed the night before). Unlike the others, Maru was able to brush aside any talk that he was too inexperienced or not ready, and got out of the group in first place.
Not only was it impressive that he got out first when his initial opponent was a semifinalist from last season, but he had to come back twice in consecutive series where he lost in the first game. No one would blame you for tilting, or crumbling a little under the pressure of being one game away from elimination, because that's just human nature. But for competitors like Maru, it seems to only further fuel their determination to win. Even in the Up/Downs, Maru lost his first first game before pulling off four straight victories to top his pool and get into Code S.
His Code S group was no different, where he lost to hellion drop harass in game one against Gumiho, but held his ground in the next two games with strong macro and mech play to gain the match victory. Even when he was down 40 supply in game two and being contained by Gumiho who had a superior economy, Maru was able to fight back with upgraded mech and win with one unstoppable push.
In the winner' final, when he was tied 1-1 against Hero, Maru switched his game up and departed from the strong macro play he had shown all night, and went back to his roots with a cheesy proxy barracks. HerO was caught completely off guard, and even his great micro wasn't able to stop him from taking a lot of damage. Meanwhile, Maru was setting up with triple orbitals back at home, and was able to coast to a victory.
You could say that Gumiho should have beaten Maru if he hadn't made a few mistakes, or that HerO's gateway pressure on Antiga showed sloppiness that could only have been caused by nerves -- but what does that say about Maru? A 14-year-old in his first Code S season was able to stay calmer than a player who had the ability to make the Code S semifinals last season and a player who had traveled the world and performed in front of thousands of international fans. Maru showed the signs of a great player, able to play a strong macro game, but still cold blooded enough to go all-in at the most important moments.
Deciding to become a full-time progamer at the age of 14 is no easy decision, but Maru is dedicated to becoming one of the best in the world. If tonight is any indication, his dream will come true sooner rather than later.
The Emotional Hero vs. The Curiously Emotionless Zerg
In a battle of a player who might be the most emo(tional) in the GSL against a player who could probably win the GSL and still not smile (and refuse to take trophy kissing shots because it would crimp his style), Hero was able to prove that he belonged among the Protoss elite by making it through against Curious. Many people already thought that his PvZ ranked among the world's best, and defeating one of Startale's strongest players in two Bo3 series went a long way towards proving it.
The night wasn't all good for Hero, and he dropped a series against Maru where he didn't seem quite 100%, but Liquid's ace was able to play calmly enough to decimate Curious in the match to see who would make it out of the group. HerO used a variety of uncommon tactics against Curious, from range upgraded phoenixes, small numbers of PvZ carriers, and a one base, two-stalker rush. Curious was able to win one game against him on Dual Sight in their first series, but wasn't able to win any more after that, losing the next three to the Protoss.
On the other hand, Curious' ZvT was monstrous, tearing Gumiho apart with his late-game Zerg army, but it didn't matter as his qualification to the round of sixteen came down to beating Hero. His face remained unchanged, looking emotionless when he tore Gumiho apart and the same when he was eliminated from Code S at the end of the night. The same couldn't be said for Hero, having a distraught appearance after losing to Maru in the winners' final and then looking overly relived and joyful after securing his spot in the top 16.
Gumiho was up 2-0 in the semifinals of last season against the eventual champion DongRaeGu. His first two games were jaw dropping, using multi-pronged attacks and drops to overwhelm the best Zerg in the world. His nerves got to him and DRG was able to pull out three straight victories to reach the finals, but Gumiho had arrived. People had finally recognized him as an excellent player who ranked among the best Terrans in the world.
A month later, he is out of Code S and one series away from being out of the GSL altogether. Gumiho won the first game of the night against Maru with his ability to be everywhere on the map with his drop harassment. After that, he wasn't able to win another game all night, losing the next two to Maru before being crushed against Curious. There is no question that he wasn't playing his best on the night, but it didn't matter. Even if he played some of the best TvZ we've ever seen in his games against DongRaeGu in the semifinals last season, it only mattered how he played that night, and he didn't play well enough to even get third in his group.
Now in the lowest rung of the GSL ladder, he will have to at least win against IMdreamertt to have a shot of getting back into Code S next season. He has the talent, but if he doesn't bring his best against the GSL rookie, another shooting star might fall out of sight, far beneath the horizon.
Game of the Night: Hero vs. Curious - Game One (first series):
Range upgraded phoenixes played a major role in negating Curious' mutalisks, but that's something everyone knew was possible in certain situations. The real surprise was that Hero made carriers as an actual piece of his army in the late-game...and he won. Yeah, the first carrier was killed in no time, but the second was able to defend his main alongside cannons as Curious tried to push in at the end. We might not be see this as frequently as the mothership in PvZ, but Hero was able to make it work in a game where hopefully Blizzard was watching carefully.
Code S RO32: Group C Preview
FnaticRC aLive, ST_July, Liquid`Zenio, MarineKingPrime
Since joining Fnatic RaidCall, aLive has been insanely good. He's proved his Code S semi-final run was no fluke, going on to defeat top class opponents with an incredibly good win rate in a variety of tournaments afterward.
I keep seeing the IMMvp of old when I watch the aLive of the present. There's something that feels plain boring about how he goes about his textbook plays with deadly precision. An all-in or cheese in the hands of a player like MKP might appear like a daring, exciting risk, but they can't help but look like parts in some coldly calculated equation for maximum series efficiency when used by aLive (or Mvp). Perhaps that's just a matter of perception. The point is, whatever style aLive is using is getting him some serious results.
aLive will probably keep building on his tournament resume, as he's been blessed with a fortunate group draw. aLive is by no means a bad TvP player, but it does happen to be relatively weak compared to his strong TvZ and TvT (like Mvp!). In a group with no Protoss players, aLive should feel great about his chances to go through.
However, I do remember the series that knocked aLive out of the most recent MLG event, where he was knocked out of the tournament by two consecutive baneling busts. If that doesn't set off alarm bells in your brain, then something must be wrong with you, because his first opponent is...
...none other than ST_July. Rumor's of July's demise were greatly exaggerated – similar to fellow golden mouse winner Nada – and he tore through three Terran opponents in his up-down matches to show that getting into Code S ain't no thang to a three time OSL champion.
Like Nada, July's problem seems to be more about how good he cares to be, rather than how good he could potentially be (the answer, again: three time OSL champion). So despite the fact that his record against Code S class players aside from him Up-Down matches has been quite sketchy as of late, it would be dangerous to count July out. aLive and MKP have both shown susceptibility to Zerg all-ins, and there might be no one better at them than July.
July will have to hope he can avoid Zenio. Though Zenio's ZvZ results in online tournaments have been iffy at times, he's been a veritable ZvZ assassin on the big stage. In contrast, July's ZvZ performances on the GSL stage have always been quite poor, making the prediction for a potential Zenio vs July match rather lopsided even for a mirror.
Liquid`Zenio is the biggest wild card of the group. He's managed to avoid his worst match-up in ZvP, and he's drawn a pretty weak opponent in a potential ZvZ. Considering that his best match-up is TvZ, and that he's been famous for finding ways to sneak into the RO16, it looks good for him on paper. The problem is that he's playing against two TvZ monsters.
At his best, Zenio is an incredibly patient and fluid ZvT player, avoiding pointless engagements, sacrificing bases while quietly taking others, and waiting until he has exactly the right composition he needs to attack (vs MvPsC in Code A). At worst, he is overly aggressive and neglects his economy, giving up double population leads in ridiculous upsets (vs Empire|Kas in Kiev).
It's likely that it will all come down to how aggressively MKP or aLive can drop Zenio. Zenio's awareness and reactions are usually good, but not always great. sC got crushed when he decided to barely drop at all, while MMA absolutely dominated Zenio by committing heavily to drops and aggression (@the IEM World Championship).
Finally, we get to the two time MLG champion, and the fan favorite to win this group, MarineKingPrime. While I agree that he has a great chance of getting through, I'm not sure it's a done deal.
The first thing I thought when I saw MKP's group was 'Sucks that MKP doesn't get to play any Protoss opponents.' Strange as it might sound, MKP's ability to ignore supposed counter units to bio (colossi, templar, archons) and bludgeon Protoss players to death is more impressive to me than his victories over DRG in two grand finals. Despite the final scores, MKP's series against DRG felt like they really could have gone either way, whereas his recent TvP victories have just looked absurdly one-sided.
Looking at the recent past, He's lost precisely one PvT series he 'shouldn't' have lost against oGs.Vines in the GSTL, while he's dropped the occasional TvZ game or series against players he was expected to beat like TLO, Curious (on Calm Before the Storm, no less), and Losira. MKP is obviously an excellent TvZ player, but there's just a nagging feeling of uncertainty compared to when he plays TvP.
His TvT has really come a long way since it was a major liability in his game, though it's not as impressive as his other match-ups yet. It should serve him decently well against aLive, who is a good TvT player who gets just a little too much credit because Artosis went a bit overboard on the hyperbole after a good TvT series against Gumiho last season.
Overall outlook and prediction
Everyone has a pretty good chance against each other in this group, and the two Zergs could very well upset the two Terran favorites. The only head to head result that would really surprise me a little is July > Zenio, and that's a mirror anyway. For the sake of making a prediction though, I do think there are two clear favorites, and they are MKP and aLive.
aLive > July
MarineKing > Zenio
aLive > MarineKing
Zenio > July
MarineKing > Zenio
aLive and MarineKing advance.
Bañe-ata by shiroiusagi.
Writers: Fionn and Waxangel.
Graphics and Art: Meko and shiroiusagi.