Four months had passed since the last OSL Final (So1 OSL). Back then Boxer, the icon of Stacraft, had played his 6th OSL Finals in his 12th OSL and once again lost to a protoss. He thus failed to win his third OSL title and hence did not win the Golden Mouse, a special price Ongamenet had announced just a few weeks prior to the finals.
OGN put the Mouse back in the safe, where it rested over the last months only to be brought out again last weekend. It was Finals time again and again one of the contenders was a possible third time champion.
Final contender No.1 - The Tushin aka God of War July
July, the first Zerg to ever win a Starleague, the only Zerg to win an OSL up to this date as well as the only first and only Zerg to win against a Terran in an OSL Final (EVER 2005 vs. Goodfriend) had made his way to the OSL Finals once again. For the fourth time overall and the third time against a Terran. In addition to his two OSL titles he also has a KT KTF Premiere League title in his list of accolades!
Final contender No.2 - The Cheater Terran aka Monster Terran iloveoov
His oppponent iloveoov is the living proof for the fact that Boxer is not only the arguably greatest player of all time, but that he also has a very good eye when it comes to spot a talent. He handpicked iloveoov for his team, who then rapidly made a name of himself by sort of pulling a Nada, that is winning MSL three times in a row and then went on to defeat his master in an OSL final, claiming is 4th major title.
|Gillette OSL 2004||3rd Place||1st Place|
|EVER OSL 2004||1st Place||Top 8|
|IOPS OSL 2004/05||Top 16||2nd Place|
|EVER OSL 2005||Top 8||1st Place|
|So1 OSL 2005||3rd Place||Top 8|
These two players are widely recognized as the currently best players of their race, which is heavily supported by the KeSPA Rankings. iloveoov led them on from August 2004 until February 2005, then July was first from March 2005 until February 2006. It is only this very month that iloveoov took back the first place.
But let's not talk about past accomplishments too much and throw a glance at the current Finals by jumping right to the pre-game interviews Fireblast! kind enough to translate:
Pre-game Interview of July
Q: How do you feel about being on this stage right now?
A: I’d like to thank everyone the fantastic turnout today, and I promise to show you very entertaining games to make up for it.
Q: The Golden Mouse is within your reach, how do you feel about it?
A: Well I’d like to focus on winning the games. If I accomplish this, the golden mouse and the 3rd OSL win will naturally follow.
Q: You mentioned earlier on that you will aim to recreate the magic of the famous Boxer-Yellow face offs. However considering the history of OnGameNet, Zerg has never fared so well in the previous finals.
A: I will make sure that the Zerg will be victorious in this particular scenario today.
Q: I hear that your father even cut his business trip short to make it here in time for your performance. What would you like to say to your parents and your fans?
A: I thank my father for making the trip back to be here for me. My parents alone are reason enough to try my best and win.
Pre-game Interview of iloveoov
Q: How are you feeling right now?
A: I’m very nervous, but at the same time very excited as I will finally be able to show what I have been practicing so much for this one moment.
Q: That’s the first time I’ve heard the words nerves and Choi Yun Sung in the same sentence.
A: I’ve often lied about being confident in the past, I’m usually quite nervous during games. However right now I am being honest, and seeing as my opponent is someone as good as Park Sung Jun I must respect him, maintain my focus and not be complacent at any time.
Q: How well do you remember your encounter back in 2004 Gillette OSL, when Park Sung Jun defeated you on the way to his royal road in the semi-finals? (royal road is a term used by the Korean community when a starleaguer goes on to win the whole thing in his first time in the starleague.)
A: Yes, it’s a moment I remember clearly and I will have my revenge here.
Q: Your final words for your parents and your fans?
A: I will make sure I will win today.
Due to the facts that the Finals were not as long as many of us had probably hoped and that our beloved Manifesto is back in his Canadian homeland for a few weeks ToKoreaWithLove and myself thought of something a bit different for the Final reports, so we made biased player view reports from both sides for all except the last game. We hope you like and enjoy the idea!
Game 1: July (Z, Pirates of Space) vs. iloveoov (T, SK Telecom T1) on Cultivation Period
This is July's view
Our feared and beloved God of War spawns at 6 and starts of sending his mighty Zeppelin of war (Overlord) towards 3 to check if by chance the Boring Terran had landed over there. With 15 hours of practice and opponent studying per day July obviously knows the ultimate build for this map and opts for a 9 Pool build followed by a Hatchery at the natural expansion. But WTF wth Maphacking Terran already has a pesky SCV there, blocking the spot where the Hatchery is supposed to be placed. Anyway, not a problem for the quick-thinking Hero of the Zergs, as he lures away the SCV with the Drone and simply sends another one to build the Hatch.
With no Terran in Overlord's sight at 3, the 2nd Lord on the way to 9, July sends his first six evil Zerglings towards 12 only to find out that the scared Terran has blocked his entrance with a Depot. Meanwhile the expansion Hatchery finishes and July morphs a Lair and a Den intending to play Lurker/Ling as his first card.
Nasty Marines kill July's scouting Zerglings everywhere and as he attempts to run by the depot oov puts 2 stupid Medics there. Geez, can't he think of anything more confusing for the poor Zerglings than women in combat suits?
Iloveoov may hide behind Depots macroing his ass off, July is not outsmarted this easily, sensing something is in the air he adds some Sunks at his natural until he has a total of 5. July starts to unfold his plan by morphing his first few Hydras into Lurkers, as suddenly out of nothing the oov appears on the outer rims of July's creep, stims his mini soldiers and starts hitting the Sunks. With his brave Drones July tries to buy some time, but to no avail. The Lurks finish morphing but oov just runs past them. Not only does he certainly use maphack, but he also is a coward! God of War can do nothing but resign.
I guess Sea will have to suffer when July gets back home to the POS headquarters for not thinking of 3 Barracks Hanbang rush as a practicable build.
This is iloveoov's view
The manly oov finds himself at the 12 o'clock position, and quickly gets around the usual worker-producing stuff. Cleverly blocks his entrance with the first Depot, effectively blocking his cowardly opponent from seeing anything. While a Worker is scouting the map and disturbing a Drone about to make a Hatchery, he starts two Barracks in his main. Classic solid TvZ should be all he needs to beat down the predictable Zerg build on this map.
To prevent July from getting too bold around him he clears out a few Zerglings outside his base. Also makes sure to keep any Overlords out when adding his 3rd Barracks and first Academy units. A few Lings trie to get in and scout, but a brilliant two-Medic wall blocks every attempt while the Marines keep the area clear.
When the manly Terran is ready, he moves out his now very impressive Infantry group, meeting little resistance in taking down the few Sunkens defending the Zerg expansion.
Oov's sexy Marines taking care of some business
With no static defense, July can't do anything to defend himself. "God of War my ass", the Marines scream and run by the Lurkers who arrive 30 minutes too late, wrecking more havoc in the main Zerg base. The Marines hardly notice the few Lurkers trying to interrupt the destruction and a few more Marines from the terran base is all oov needs to seal the deal and scare July into surrendering - as oov knew he would.
Oov 1:0 July
Conclusion: Oov's timed triple Barracks Fireworks Terran style rush worked perfectly, as he never let July scout him and when he moved out July had nothing to stop him.
Interview with Joo Hoon (SKT1 Manager) and Kingdom before Game 2.
(to Joo Hoon)
Q: Game 1 ended so quickly with the 3 barracks rush. Was this planned before the games?
A: After much analysis we found that Cultivation Period is not so bad for Zerg after all. Knowing the immense importance of the first game, we decided it was best to end the game early with a strategy involving strong offensives. On the way here we discussed how many medics should be mixed in with the marine force, and by the time we arrived the preparations for the strategy in game 1 was complete.
Q: People have been touting Cultivation Period as a Terran map so much. Did this put Choi Yun Sung under any pressure at all?
A: Yes, we both agreed that he would be expected to win the first game, considering the choice of map. We certainly knew how crucial winning the first game would be. In order to gain the momentum and the upper hand psychologically, it would be ideal to win the game through a strong strength-based play. I’m glad that it has so far turned out as we had planned.
Q: You must know your teammate inside-out; are there any particular maps that you feel expect Choi Yun Sung to win on?
A: Rush Hour has always been one of his favourite maps. I feel the match is 80% won, considering he has won the crucial first game as well as Rush Hour being used in game 4. Even if Park Sung Jun holds out until the final game I feel he will have a limited number of cards to play on Cultivation Period.
Game 2: July (Z, Pirates of Space) vs. iloveoov (T, SK Telecom T1) on Ride of Valkyries
This is July' view
July finds himself safely at the 7 position, and knows from practice games that the chances of oov being @ 5 are pretty good. Knowing how terrans nowadays don't have the balls to play straight up, he smartly plants his Spawning Pool before expanding to the natural. A confident expression shows at his face as a Marine turns back next to his Hatchery, and he plants another one on top of his ramp.
His first Lings arrives at the Terran ramp to find a almost laughtable number of Marines. The Fool Terran has only a single Barracks! His 8 Lings makes quick work of the few Marines holding the ramp, and are now free to roam around the Terran base. A new CC takes to the air, and he smiles to himself as he rallies his Hatcheries to the Terran expansion and starts the production of more Lings.
When arriving at the Terran base yet again he finds the ramp guarded by only Workers and a single Firebat. Knowing that Firebats in themselves are not much to be afraid of, he confidently ignores the Workers and focuses on the Firebats. After a few rounds of Lings he finds himself inside the Terran base, fighting with now speedy Lings against only Workers and the Firebats that comes out of the two Barracks every now and then.
Sure of his victory, he pumps a few more Drones to complete his hold of the game. But the Fool Terran must be cheating! He has never really belived the "cheater" nickname of oov, but somehow the ape has a million SCVs working the minerals while using a full group to fight! The sheer surprise makes him missclick and lose an all-important group of Lings to Workers and a single Bat.
Ling control 101 from prefessor July
His opponent somehow lived through it all! July can't believe it, but still has a nasty surprise ready: Spire is almost done, and there is no way oov can get sufficiant defenses up in time..
As the first Mutalisks take to the air and wing their way against the hated Terran encampment, July takes the time to expand up left and makes the switch to Lurkers, just to seal the deal. But the Mutas he put his trust in are greeted by a mass of Turrets, and a running expansion! Thinking quick, July orders them to circle the expansion and go in from above. On his way he notices an impossible 4 working Barracks and two almost-complete Factories. What the hell? Feeling the game slipping, he takes a few SCV kills before fleeing through a maze of Turrets. Good thing he prepared with Lurkers and a 3rd base, he should still be well in the game.
July gathers the rest of his Mutas and Lings in his 2nd natural area while waiting for the Lurkers to arrive, but a nasty surprise comes before the Lurkers. Out of the darkness comes a solid mass of arines, stimmed to the teeth and with Medics backing them up! The Ape! Somehow he times the killing of supporting units perfectly and leaves the trusty Lurkers shooting spines at nothing but air, while the rather unattractive Marines now attack the important expansion at 11. Most of the Lurkers die in a futile defense attempt, and being the smart Zerg he is, July knows he has one choice - all-in! Everything he has decends upon the Terran natural, the symbol of evil, in hopes to get back the game that is rightfully his. But the Cheater Terran lives up to his name and has Tanks backing up the marines. As his last forces are sandwitched between Infantry and Tanks, July lifts his hand and types a sad gg.
This is iloveoov's view
Starting on the right side and with the 1-0 advantage after the quick rape in game 1 Boxer's pupil feels very confident. Wanting to capitalize on the psychological edge he already has, he decides to pressure the Chubby Zerg right from the start and opens with an 8 Barracks build.
Oov's scouting SCV finds a 9 pool as it enters a scared Zerg's base. Sending his first to Marines in the direction of the Hatchery July just started at his natural, NaDa's better copy thinks about Bunker rushing it for a second and then decides against it, very well knowing that the Zerg is already a bit low economy because of the 9 pool. Seconds later this proves to be a wise decision, as 6 pesky Zerlings hatch in the July's main and make their way towards the natural. A Bunker would probably not even had the chance so finish before the Zergling's arrival. Oov sends his lone marines back home, while the 6 Zerglings follow the scouting SCV - also on its way home.
Knowing where is true strength lies iloveoov follows his single Barracks up with a CC, a build that he popularized himself and which he knows about as inside out as Yellow knows the feeling of being 2nd. Fat Zerg tries a stupid attempt of attacking with 8 Zerglings, while our beloved Monster is counting his favourite SCVs, who then get to finish them up as the Marines preferred to fold (hello Bigballs) instead of fighting.
With the academy finished, a second Barracks building and the first Zerglingtoasters being produced oov lands his new CC at the natural to get his game going. But Sumo likes to be the annoying kid, so he sends wave after wave after wave of Zerglings, all of which oov slowly roasts on his choke. Gotta love the smell of Napalm in the morning! You're not the world's best defensive player for nohing, eh? Not even the fact that oov had to lift his CC for a short period of time changes the fact that you don't play suicidal against him, his defense is just way too tight (anyone remember Anytime vs. oov from So1 groups on RoV?).
After a while July finally seems to get sick of seeing his Zerglings being roasted all the time, so he stops running into the Choke of Fire. Oov quickly grabs the opportunity, lands his CC again, fortifies his expansion, adds 2 more Barracks (total of 4), builds 2 Factories, starts upgrading his infantry and macroes like two NaDas. By the time foolish Zerg tries his next futile attempt, this time with Mutas, Monster Terran's base is fortified like the Verdun stronghold. He could as well have parked them over two groups of stimmed Marines, it would have made little difference.
Mighty Ape's army scours the map and any expansion but the Zerg's natural, Sumo tries another futile attempt, gets toasted, the end.
Oov 2:0 July
Conclusion: July did some pretty good pressure early on, but did a fatal miss in the middle of oov's base and lost Lings at a critical moment. He never hurt oov's economy, and with two CCs pumping workers oov had a monster econ once he cleared his base.
Game 3: July (Z, Pirates of Space) vs. iloveoov (T, SK Telecom T1) on Sin 815
Oov's poster reads "The Final Round He Will be Champion", and after watching the July rape in game 1 and two, I belive it. Everybody whining about maps can pretty much shut up, as oov's ownage in game 1 was July's own fault and on the only zerg-favoring map oov still walked over July like a battle.net newbie.
The 3rd and possibly deciding game has oov taking 11 and July finding himself at 5. Both opens no-nonsense builds, with July taking his natural right away and oov doing rax-gas-fac. Letting July take his natural is no problem, as the 815 naturals lack the gas that usually makes fast expanding zergs so dangerous. July is working his way to drop tech and with a hydra den and a 3rd hatchery I would suspect a pure hydra opening. I am right. Hydras pour from July's hatcheries as oov's master plan is revealed. The terran giant is simply teching to dropships while adding another rax and a single upgrade from his ebay.
But July is on to him. The first dropship barely leaves the base before running into July's first Hydra group and eventually turning back. Oov takes the time to drop a Worker on the 10 island before setting out again, now sporting two shiny Dropships o'doom. Unfortunately July is on it yet again, and oov is forced to turn around down at 7. July has meanwhile expanded to 1 and has a mass of Hydra roaming around the map. Unfortunately he didnt cover oov's ramp and oov is able to gather about 24 M&M and set out to attack the new Zerg base.
Oov's forces gather below the ramp, but are promptly slaughtered by an incredible mass of Hydra. Oov is left trying to establish his own expansion, something he manages to do thanks to some nice Dropship divertion (running his Dropship back and forth between his base and July's 1 base). July still has a nice mass of Hydras, and rallies them to attack the new Terran expansion. About 3 groups of Hydras go on the offensive, and while outnumbering and out-positioning the Marines he still somehow manages to lose when oov's impossible reinforcement numbers arrive. With oov being the winner of the last battle, 6 working Barracks in the Terran base and the first Vessel arriving, the game seems to be evening out.
Oov tries to buy some time with a quick 2-Ship drop aimed at 1, but July has Scourges in the air and kills the Dropships before they can drop anything. Untouched by the loss, oov moves out an impossibly large M&M army, accompanied by two Science Vessels. The usual "oooh" and "aaaah" from the crowd, and my usual surprise. I think oov's macro is, if possible, getting STRONGER. July, now sporting Lurkers to help his Hydras, moves his etire army into position. A mass of Hydras supported by lurkers should be a match for any infantry-army, but somehow oov ends up winning.
July making positioning mistakes? Now I've seen everything
July did attack from a somewhat akward situation, but oov even had enough units left to force his way up to the 1 base of July despite the ramps being even less than normal heterosexual. As usual: How the hell did he DO that? Oov had even found the time to send a small Marine force to deal with the newly completed Hatchery down at 7.
Oov can obviously forgo the laws of nature and has no problem producing two port Vessels from a single gas. July keeps his 1 base for now, and is still going strong on Hydra/Lurk. He should really switch now, as the Vessel count is getting scary, but with only two gas and money spent on Range Upgrades he can't afford it just yet. That new Hatch on the 3 island might change that, if he can hold off the endless sea of infantry just a little longer.
With much of the Zerg force consentrated on the defense of the 1 ramp, oov moves his new, even more impressive army down towards the Zerg natural, and with the support of now 7-8 Vessels walk over whatever defense July has left.
"My Gorilla styles is stronger! Hear me roar!"
July, seeing no way out and no way to turn this around, surrenders the game, match and championship to the mighty gorilla terran: iloveoov!
Final Score: iloveoov 3-0 July!
The votes were pretty close on Liquibet on this one, almost a 50:50 split and even though I was absolutely certain oov would take the win, I definitely didn't think it would look like a 2nd edition of the IOPS OSL Finals. July's OSL finishes seem to follow a certain pattern though, he went 1st, Round of 8, 2nd, 1st, Round of 8 and now 2nd again. He won both his titles in July, the next Finals will probably be in July and according to this pattern July should win the next OSL.
Anyway, whether you belive in stuff like that or not, I think one thing can be said for certain: July and iloveoov are the top contenders for a possible 3rd title right now. They are the most dominant players of their respective race (don't say a word about IPX, he hasn't played in a single OSL yet), have been top of KeSPA for years now and seem pretty much immune to slumps. Garimto finished his career long ago, so he certainly won't win a 3rd title and as for Boxer and NaDa, well they are not in the next OSL. Yet. Because even though ODT has been finished this is still subject to change, since OGN is revamping its league system. Read about it here.
Also, Fireblast! has again translated an interview, of course it's iloveoov's winner interview! There are also a few questions directed to July.
Post-game Interview with iloveoov
Q: How do you feel now?
A: I feel great. To be honest I didn't think I'd win 3-0. I practiced with the mindset that it may well go to the final fifth game, as the maps seemed to have many Zerg-favouring aspects.
Q: You were close to losing in game 2.
A: He kept charging at me with his zerglings, so I thought to myself if I managed to fight the early rushes off it will be even from then on. However I had a greater advantage than I thought. Both my firebats and his zerglings died constantly so it was very tense. It was a fun game.
Q: It's good to see you smile after your victory.
A: I couldn't smile in my first final. I knew how much winning would mean for Yo Hwan. I forced myself not to feel sorry for him, as it would be humiliating, so I couldn’t smile back then. But right now I feel very content and relaxed.
Q: Which point in the match decided your win?
A: The first game. It enabled me to carry on and win the whole thing 3-0.
Q: What was the biggest hurdle in this Starleague?
A: I nearly collapsed after the Semi-finals. I didn’t have a proper breakfast that day and I thought it would be over quickly but I was forced to the final game and my stamina was failing. It was difficult for me to carry on.
Q: You're on level terms with the others in the race for the golden mouse.
A: I think of the golden mouse as that extra something that I could play for. As a progamer such competition provides an extra boost. In my next final it would be great if I could compete with Yo Hwan for the golden mouse.
Q: The common belief is that Cultivation Period is a difficult map for Zerg users.
A: I think eventually Zerg users will find the right strategy to win. Today I felt my opponent also came prepared with a good strategy.
Q: Your break begins now.
A: While all my other teammates were enjoying the start of their break I had to prepare for this final. I want to have fun now. My holidays begin today (laughs)
Q: Would it have been different if you had lost the first game?
A: The second game would’ve been very difficult. I was able to win with both the psychological advantage and momentum I gained from winning the first game.
Q: Who came into your mind the most?
A: My parents. During last year's holidays in the new year I was making my way back from my visit home and my mother cried at my departure. Recalling all the emotion from that time spurred me on.
Post-game Interview with July
Q: On losing 3-0
A: I had practiced immensely for the match but after I lost the first game disappointingly I couldn't show what I had prepared. The reason I lost is because I never managed to do what I had in mind.
Q: The first game was especially disappointing.
A: I had come with a strategy I had prepared tearing my hair out. After I had lost the first game so shamefully I felt numb from there on even in the second game. I have regrets on the second game also; when I sent the waves of zerglings there was a point where I produced drones. I should have either gone all-in or gave up with zerglings.
Q: Your post-match thoughts?
A: Last time when I lost 3-0 in the Iops final I managed to follow it up by winning the Ever 2005 OSL. The crushing loss had become a bitter lesson. I feel it will be the same this time round. Next season I will make sure that I will show all I have prepared, and return as a stronger player. The possession of the golden mouse has merely been delayed another season. I shall be the first one to grasp it.
Pictures from Fighterforum can be found here:
Cheers & Out.