Naniwa and the benefit of the doubt: Code S Ro16 Group A recap

Posted by Radoslav "Nydra" Kolev 2 years, 44 weeks ago

Match 1: Naniwa vs Genius

The mirror of near identical blink builds on Antiga Shipyard was shattered by Genius's very bold but very wrongly appraised blink up the ramp. This backfired for the Korean so hard that he was left staggering with a base behind and more than fourty supply disadvantage. Genius brought his seppuku to completion with a desperation follow-up while Naniwa stood there, laughing internally.

Genius might have killed himself in game one but was completely outplayed on Ohana. As the 4-gate openings from both players met a stone wall, Genius started a robo and threw down a nexus while Naniwa transitioned into yet another all-in, sending a 1-base zealot/immortal/thermalless colossus down Genius' way. The micro spectacle of Broadway class that the Swede performed for the public was not to Genius' taste and the Korean tapped out after none of his immortals could find a way to drill through the zealot meat shield and fire at the colossus.

Match 2: Supernova vs Virus

On Dual Sight, our two super terrans traded early blows and as they found out neither would get his way, they shook hands and agreed on a longer game. It was Supernova who got the better end of the deal as an elevator push delayed stim for Virus as he lost a barracks and, as the game eventually spiraled into a base race, Supernova was once again on top of it all. The race to victory cost Virus every single one of his SCVs and the StarTale terran realized there is no point running anymore.

As the round two whistle was blown, Virus came back by winning Ohana in a solid, straightforward set, being the player with the better positioning and view over the game. Spawning on Cloud Kingdom for the final set, Supernova opened sky terran, immediately switching away once Virus found out about that and summons a couple of thors. Going back to heavy ground army, however, was very much like walking into the jaws of Virus' trap as he was now stealing from Supernova's book and going sky terran himself. As the superior viking count and the battlecruisers came knocking, Supernova had to tap out.

Winners match: Virus vs Naniwa

The tailwinds of the mid-game were not exactly in Naniwa's favor on Ohana as Virus was oftentimes the better player, staying slightly ahead after every engagement and even succeeding in making a killing move against one of Naniwa's bases. But the cogs of Naniwa's macro never rusted and a total of 17 gateways constantly churned out units until Virus was brought to his knees in the late game.

With very few more but very convincing steps, Naniwa walked the last mile to the Ro8 as Virus lost the second game on Antiga Shipyard after the simplest 3-gate pressure left him for dead. Barely standing on his feet, Virus went for a desperation comeback drop and even sniped two of Nani's colossi but the Swede still had too many sentries and zealots to break the front and be the first foreigner in the Ro8 since HuK's run in GSL August 2011.

Losers match: Genius vs Supernova

The grim adventures of Genius.

Chapter 1, Ohana: Genius is a happy, happy protoss until he single-handedly botches one battle, engaging with non-charge zealots in the back and blocking them out with forcefields when they finally made it through the crowd of other units. Supernova snowballs uncontrollably downhill to victory.

Chapter 2, Daybreak: Supernova plays Genius like a protoss piano, dropping and nuking so many places at the same time that by the end of the game he had more ghosts than Genius had probes. The perfect work of an experienced butcher is also a good comparison, in case you find the piano metaphor a bit too tender. Rematch versus Virus incoming!

Final match: Supernova vs Virus

Although looking strong in the first series against Supernova, Virus rushed headlong into defeat in this one. On Daybreak, Supernova crippled his main with a single banshee while at the same time Virus flew directly into marine gunfire during his "comeback" drop, losing a full medivac and tapping out immediately after. Game two on Cloud Kingdom was just as one sided as the loss of few unattended tanks wrote the first line of the story which irrevocably ended with Virus's elimination.

The benefit of the doubt

I guess every StarCraft 2 fan that watched today's games and/or hopped to any community site is wondering the same thing: Can it be done? Can finally foreigners defeat the Koreans on their home turf. How is it possible if a top four finish is the best they've ever gotten? In fact, if we put aside those dark unexplored SC2 times within six months of the official launch--and hence Jinro's accomplishments--the only one to come as close as Naniwa during the "modern" era of the game is HuK and this was a result of a year-long stay in Korea. The one time the Canadian made it to top eight, he was reminded by eventual champion Mvp that he is still mortal and he should leave the big stage to the big boys. Indeed, HuK returned the curtsey two months later by winning Orlando, but the fatiguing and unforgiving GSL was still very far away from any foreigner's reach.

To the foreign community's delight, there are factors which are strongly supportive of Naniwa's crusade and were not present in HuK's case. The Swede just won a second Code S group within a week so his momentum is approaching warp speed. There are just two zergs left in the tournament--and both of them in a group with Mvp and Hero--so the possibility of him playing his worst match-up is still dimunitively small. If July and Leenock fall tomorrow, there will be nothing but tosses and terrans and Naniwa is 4-1 in PvP (including a one-sided stomp against Genius, who once three-nilled MC in a Code S match) and 4-0 in PvT.

Last week, the croaker in me would have sworn that Naniwa's mojo will have ran out by the middle of today's group. Now, I am sitting in front of a text file, revisiting those thoughts with a silent disbelief. Many things depend on how Group B develops tomorrow but as of this afternoon, I find giving Nani the benefit of the doubt to be the easiest thing in the universe.

Final standings

Code S Ro16 Group A standings
Sweden Naniwa4-0
Korea Supernova5-2
Korea Virus2-5
Korea Genius0-4
Naniwa 2-0 Genius
Virus 2-1 Supernova
Naniwa 2-0 Virus
Supernova 2-0 Genius
Supernova 2-1 Virus
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