The final lap: Code S semi-final review and grand final preview
A representative of each race in near perfect distribution - what more can one desire of a Code S Ro4? Surely sick comebacks, rare displays of micro management and godly multitasking are just a few suggestions and Alive, Genius, DRG and Gumiho offered them all.
Semi final match 1: Genius vs Alive
Game 1: Entombed Valley
Game 2: Metropolis
Game 3: Antiga Shipyard
Semi final match 2: DongRaeGu vs Gumiho
Game 1: Cloud Kingdom
Game 2: Entombed valley
Game 3: Daybreak
Game 4: Dual Sight
Game 5: Metropolis
Grand final preview
Genius vs Alive
Game 1 @ Entombed Valley
Alive opened with a 4-rax marine heavy build but chose not to make any aggressive move and instead secure his natural and a third. Genius too took that path, forgoing the opportunity to punish Alive's low tech and got his third himself. Still, one colossus did hit the field and he would prove to be the best thing that Genius ever produced.
Constantly putting the colossus in Alive's face, Genius manifactured the impression that he indeed was going for tier 3 robo tech, while actually massing high templars hidden out of Alive's sight. The terran did fall for the trap and started viking production from two starports, which, of course, was a very unnecessary move considering that eight vikings were a bit of an overkill for a single colossus.
THe game went passively for its better part until the maxed-out face-offs. Although Alive seemed to get the upper hand in the first few, ultimately his insufficient ghost numbers would prove crucial to Genius' victory as just a few storms were all that the protoss needed to scorch the bio army and take the lead.
Game 2 @ Metropolis
Game two began with a very newbish mistake by Alive, whose SCV failed to scout the double gas opening by the protoss, which right then would have hinted what was to come namely, Genius' favourite PvT 1-base play - the 3-gate void ray.
Eventually, Alive did scout the proxy stargate and responded immediately by throwing some emergency bunkers so for all intents and purposes he was safe.
Despite the heavily guarded terran base, Genius stuck to his plan (having no other option, really, as he was very much all-in with that build) and thanks to some otherworldly micro, he managed to keep all three of his void rays alive while burning down Alive's bunkers, exposing the few marines there were to death. Even the immuned to nerd chills should watch this game for its ten seconds of void ray micro, it was that awesome.
Game 3 @ Antiga Shipyard
Alive's game plan in set three took the form of a 2-reactor rax, 1 factory marine/tank push, that unfortunately got scouted by Genius and gave him the perfect amount of time to decide how to react to it.
Knowing that all he needed to do is stall, Genius walked out on the map and slowed the terran army with forcefields and by threatening an engagement that forced Alive to siege and unsiege a couple of time. More than enough time for Genius to get his immortals out and be absolutely prepared for Alive's offensive. With so many protoss units out, Alive's rush transgressed from a killing move to a simple contain and the number of units that were out in the open would not serve the second purpose all too well. As Genius completed his colossus tech, he a-clicked to break the terran occupation and emerge victorious with a 3-0.
Gumiho vs DongRaeGu
Game 1 @ Cloud Kingdom
Knowing how dangerous Gumiho is when set loose, DongRaeGu went for a muta opening on Cloud Kingdom and kept the terran in his base for a long time, while going up to five bases behind this.
Still, Gumiho was in very good shape. His third was taken relatively quick and his defense was unbreakable so although he could not make move out on the map, he lost very little in terms of units or economy. What aided his cause was the fact that at some point DongRaeGu got too cocky with his mutas and tried raids on the main, taking critical damage to his units mainly thanks to the thors that eventually hit the field.
Suddenly, the door was open for Gumiho and in a blink of an eye the terran was everywhere. Two bases of DongRaeGu fell in an instant. Being waned down by constant terran attacks, DongRaeGu tried to go for a baneling/mutalisk counter attack but Gumiho was fortified all too well. 1-0 for the FXO player.
Game 2 @ Entombed Valley
The second set began with Gumiho going for a bunker rush, the latter only to be defended perfectly by DongRaeGu, who kept his composure and lost minimal to none units. Once the rush was over, DongRaeGu immediately went for a roach/baneling bust build, knowing that it might work wonders since Gumiho was still very marine heavy.
But it was now Gumiho's time to show that he too has some defensive expertise. Even though his rax wall-off cracked, Gumiho did not lose presence of spirit and with the help of his SCVs and a few siege tanks, the roach infestation was cleaned with very minimal casualties, making Artosis articulate his admiration for Gumiho's prowess.
With both players suffering some heavy aggression, they now took the time to macro up and prepare for the late-game. DRG forwent the mutalisk tech and stayed on ling/infestor while teching to ultras while Gumiho, naturally, went for his signature multi-pronged bio drop aggression. It was DongRaeGu, however, who would find his composition of choice unsuitable as even though in great numbers, his ultralisks did little to nothing to Gumiho's army and even when they found their way into his natural, the DPS was just not high enough to produce any significant results. On the other hand, Gumiho was literally everywhere[ once again. A small squad had cleaned the ultra caverns plus the entire zerg main while other armies were cleaning DRG's expansions. Operating on five places at once, Gumiho took the words out of viewers' mouths, playing possibly the best game in the entire season. After his best fungal did not make a difference at all, DongRaeGu had to gg out, bringing the series to a very unexpected state.
Game 3 @ Daybreak
DongRaeGu was in trouble, there was no denying that. He was down 0-2 in the match-up that he is famed for and it did not look like Gumiho had any intentions of slowing down the tempo. It was time for a different approach.
In set three, DongRaeGu stayed on ling/infestor through the mid-game once again, but quickly rushed to brood lords, hitting a greater spire tech at around the 15th minute mark - a style very common for some European zergs such as Nerchio and Slivko, the latter almost eliminating Supernova from IEM Sao Paulo with a similar play.
Thanks to some great fungals, DRG was able to keep Gumiho's army from directly attacking his bases, while at the same time dealing with the terran drops as best as he could, not suffering too much economy or tech damage. Once the brood lords were on the way, the dice were thrown.
DRG set course for the fourth of Gumiho, who simultaneosly launched yet another drop in attempt to force the brood lords back. DRG, however, would not take the bait and continued his approach, while his main was quickly dying. To his luck, his greater spire was nicely tucked away from all the action so his crucial tech was safe. And so, with having way superior army composition, DRG won set three and began his comeback.
Game 4 @ Dual Sight
One might say that it was on Daybreak that Gumiho became awared that he is mortal but it was actually the Dual Sight set that hammered this realization down his skull. The terran opened with a reactor hellion build but not only did he do zero damage, he was also constantly exposed to ling run-byes that shredded his economy - and also his temporary illusion of invincibility - to pieces. DongRaeGu closed game four with a massive infestor attack, tying the score and walking into the final set with a huge momentum.
Game 5 @ Metropolis
I would of loved to see this series end in any other way but this. DongRaeGu got an enormous advantage after scouting Gumiho's hellion/marauder opening and spined up in its anticipation. Realizing that there was no hope in executing this particular rush, Gumiho switched out of it and into a siege tech but was immediately punished by DRG's 2-base roach/baneling bust. Although still holding to his life after suffering such an intense damage, the game was already decided - DRG soon spread out to four bases, got his mutalisk tech and with Gumiho's third being oh so late, he just morphed a bunch of banelings and escorted his mutalisks to the victory and the 3-2 comeback.
Genius vs DongRaeGu
Before the autumn of 2011 I would have never been excited about a Code S final and you very well know the reason why. They never turned out to be great, or even good for that matter. But now it looks like new days are coming to the GSL. After countless seasons of one-sided stompage, Leenock and Jjakji were courteous enough to deliver us the best GSL final since MarineKing vs NesTea in 2010! The former were the ones that brought the wind of changes to Code S but it is up to the two MVP boys here to turn in to a hurricane.
DongRaeGu is an interesting piece of art. His first appearance dates back to GSTL 3 where he was the major driving force behind his team, pushing it to a grand final spot. In the short time that followed team MVP's rise to fame, DongRaeGu got recognized as one of the best ZvT specialist in the world, even rivaling the overall solid "professor" NesTea.
Over the coming months, DongRaeGu evolved like a true representative of the zerg swarm. He was the subject of the biggest hype that had ever befallen MLG, he crushed through DreamHack Valencia and won IEM New York, quickly becoming a travelling StarCraft 2 imaginarium.
Yet he was still far from the perfect being. The MLG golds continued to allude him and so did the Code S ones. By December 2011, however, his two top three finishes at Providence and Raleigh would dwarf in the shadow of another personal disappointment for DongRaeGu - the silver medal from the Blizzard Cup, which he was awarded after falling to MMA in one of the closes and most dramatic ZvT series for the past year.
Recuperating from a '11 which could have been much, much better, DongRaeGu began the leap year with the energy and the brute force of a steroid-infused zerg Hulk. He bashed through MLG Winter Arena to place second after MarineKing, showing that ZvT is not the only match that he excels at but can just as easily butcher protoss players for the glory of the swarm. In addition, he took an exhausting Code S journey, surviving two groups of death and ending the hopes of a couple of young players, namely Parting and Gumiho.
Photo by: MLG
DongRaeGu's ace card going into this final, however, is the momentum he acquired recently from winning an astounding amount of ZvPs in the last few weeks. His MLG Winter Arena ZvP record show that DRG played a total of six such match-ups, winning five of them and finishing with 12-4 overall score. Combined with the 7-3 score from his Code S ZvP victories from this season alone, this puts him at 19-7 or 73% win ratio in premier events. "I want to also be known as protoss killer", said DongRaeGu during the Winter Arena and he surely is becoming one. Winning the Code S final tomorrow might just well be the final step of this stage of his evolution.
Here's a bold statement: no one deserves a place in the final more than Genius. "But, Nydra, this makes no sense," you might say and so I'll be quick to back this up.
First of all, Genius is the first protoss to make it to a Code S final since Inca was eaten alive and spat out by NesTea in GSL May, so actually this makes him the first worthy protoss to achieve this since MC won his second title in March 2011.
It took one year for the protoss race to find their new crusader. And you know the tosses - that's an honor earned with sweat on the brows and enemy blood on the psi-blades.
Going back to this "no one deserves it more" phrase, Genius went through the same group stage hell as his team-mate but while every single sentient being on the planet expected DRG to waltz through it unhindered, Genius was not a subject of such high esteem. How about that now, hm? After destroying DRG in the Ro32, Genius eventually made it to the playoffs only to exert his prowess over MC and Alive, defeating both of them 3-0, stealing community's attention away from DongRaeGu for the first time in... ever.
Nevertheless, it is hard to pinpoint any advantages that Genius might hold when it comes to the upcoming grand final. Both him and DongRaeGu have extremely solid early and mid-games and the first 15 minutes of the game will revolve around the questions "Can Genius withstand DRG's relentless aggression?" and "Will DRG be able to live through the oh so common 2-base attacks?"
Photo by: Thisisgame.com
Overall, there are just too many undisclosed question marks regarding the actual face-off so we have to rely on history and statistics to make some sort of an accurate prediction. Having covered that in the previous paragraphs, my wager lies with DRG still: Genius might have conquered the hearts of the fans with his recent successes but DongRaeGu has both the experience advantage of having played more than four times ZvPs than Genius, as well as the sheer win-ratio lead.
My guess is that by tomorrow, we shall have a new zerg champion.
Final prediction: DongRaeGu 4-1 Genius