Creativeness, volatility and the most solid Terran play available - this was Ro16 Group C featuring sOs, Shine, Taeja and Bomber
Table of Contents
[Match 1] Shine vs Taeja
The law says that when there's Shine there will be early aggression and Taeja was the first today to be on the receiving end. What was supposed to be an innocent squad of four zergling evolved from a simple nuisance to Taeja's worst nightmare. The lings delayed the hellion opening, the static defenses at Taeja's natural and killed two marines, essentially bringing Taeja's tight build order to ruin. When the Liquid Terran did finally get rid of the lings, it was already too late for anything: a roach transition into a maiming attack took the life of 23 SCVs and Taeja had to admit defeat.
Shine breaks in and the bulk of Taeja's SCVs will soon be dead
Confident he can break Taeja once again with a similar playstyle, Shine took a 10-pool opening on Daybreak and immediately rallied lings across the map. While being irritating, a cancel on the CC was all he was able to accomplish, however, and Taeja took it from there: he out-expanded, out-macroed and out-microed Shine to such an extent that the Zerg had to fight from a supply deficit for the better part of the game. Even flawless baneling connects that would otherwise be gamebreaking did not affect Taeja's stream of units and the score was tied.
As the final game on Star Station developed, Taeja played as he was laid out of concrete: there were no holes in his early reaper pressure, his expansion timings were spot on as well as his defenses against the ling/muta of Shine and the yellow wave of marines, mines and medivacs was growing larger by the second. Although Shine tried his best to keep up in bases, he could neither reach an effective hive tech nor find a painless way to travel between his hatcheries since Taeja's mine field had taken critical positions of the map.
When engagements did break out, the vista was almost as ugly for Shine. Targeted widow mine shots were exploding lings and banelings by the dozens, leaving the mutalisk flock impotent to do anything, even harassment was not an option. Down in supply once again and with each one of his bases under drop pressure, Shine tapped out.
There's too much Taeja everywhere on the map (and not nearly enough Shine)
[Match 2] sOs vs Bomber
Bomber’s time in the second match of the day was short-lived and he has partly himself to blame for that. Bomber opened Daybreak with a proxy marine rush only to be easily repelled by the nexus cannon, dealing virtually no damage to sOs.
Superbly ahead in terms of everything, sOs decided to not just go for a mobile, break-your-face army, but supplement it with puncturing zealot drops that put Bomber even further behind. Forced into a position where he has to slalom between several positions in his own base, Bomber was dealt a checkmating hit as sOs marched up the ramp and cleaned house with an A-move.
Game two would end just as quickly but this time it was sOs’ ingenuity that triumphed. The Protoss opened with a 1-zealot, 1-stalker pressure – rare but not too strange build on Whirlwind – while secretly accumulating stalker off three gateways. Using the zealot and stalker only, sOs pushed Bomber into lowering his guard, leaving his artery completely open for the severing gateway attack.
[Winners match] sOs vs Taeja
Having the previous series in mind, Protoss fans were surely overexcited to see more of sOs’ mastermind plays and the Woongjin ace disappointed not one bit. Scouting Taeja’s expansion build triggered a triple nexus from sOs and a macro game scenario was officially in the making.
If other PvTs often tell the story of a bio army fighting a deathball, this one was much more intricate, thanks to sOs’ smoke and mirrors that completely fooled Taeja, having him misread the entire situation. sOs used illusions to fake a high templar tech and trick Taeja into improper responses, while at the same time building a double robo’d colossus army. Upon engaging and losing the first battles against sOs’ ball, Taeja tried to react by adding vikings to his army but that was just another step in sOs’ plan. When the Protoss did finally add high templars and storms, Taeja found himself lacking answers once again and the AoE output erased him from game one.
Compared to sOs’ orchestration on Whirlwind, Taeja’s tying victory on Star Station almost left a bitter taste after its anticlimactic development. A powerful shot during a widow mine drop cost sOs 14 probes and set him severely behind, almost to the point of no return. From there, Taeja did his job perfectly: he scouted and prevented the prism tech of sOs and later caught a critical snipe on his thermal lance research to make the entire Protoss army worthless and ready for the taking.
With the match tied 1-1, the next game would determine the first player to advance out of the group and sOs showed no fear of taking a small risk. The Protoss opened with a proxy stargate play but Taeja timely scouted it by seeing six probes on the gas and finding and forcing a cancel on sOs’ tech. Knowing Taeja would likely stay on the defensive for the next minutes, sOs immediately went into triple nexus and threw down a handful of gateways, preparing for a rich and powerful bust.
Said bust found one severely underprepared Taeja. The Terran had some bunker defenses but not nearly enough and sOs did not hesitate for one second: the force fields came instantly to propel an easier advancement and shortly after Taeja was uprooted from his position. The Liquid player did struggle for some moments after but he soon had to give it to sOs.
[Losers match] Shine vs Bomber
With unconvincing performances in the first two matches, it was no surprise to see Bomber and Shine one series away from elimination.
Not succumbing to the impulse to end it quickly, Bomber approached game one patiently and methodically, going for a very well-composed mech play. Staying on three bases, Bomber defended Shine’s mutalisk raids flawlessly while slowly building towards the one-hit-kill army of tanks, hellbats and thors.
Terran’s push soon came and Shine answered in the worst possible way. By bleeding roaches into the mech instead of gathering them for a strong punch as well as engaging without the mutalisks present, Shine and his entire defense looked decomposed. As more and more units fell for free, Shine tapped out for the 0-1.
A complete build order loss followed as Shine opened with a 2-base roach play on Daybreak only to be greeted by the very tight, rich on marines defense of Bomber. Zero damage was done and Shine fell back to his side of the map but Bomber would not let him go unpunished. Commanding a marine/tank force to march towards Shine’s third and crush every opposition, Bomber won himself another round of games, saving his tournament life for now.
[Final match] Taeja vs Bomber
Nothing went right for Taeja in the final match of the day and so the ending of Group C was almost painful to watch. Spawning on Atlas for the first game, Taeja opted for a fast cloak but a 2-rax triple reaper opening from Bomber both scouted his entire plan and killed quite a few SCVs, easily securing a nice and free economic lead and delaying Taeja's own expansion. Having suffered such an early game loss, Taeja immediately tapped out after discovering Bomber is very well prepared for his banshees.
Almost tasting the long-craved quarter final spot, Bomber went on to play a game with a downright spectacular macro. Although losing a few full medivacs in the early game, Bomber still somehow maintained a supply lead over Taeja but also knew exactly how much more he can stay on two bases against Taeja's three. Hitting the perfect moment before Taeja's economy could blossom, Bomber ripped Taeja apart with overwhelming numbers and advance to the Ro8.
Ro16 Group B: Reaping legends
No matter how you call that group – group of death, god cemetery or a classic case of comparative phallumetry – this is the most excitement that this Code S season will ever deliver. Regardless of what happens on May 2nd and on every subsequent day till the end of Season 1, Group B is
likely surely to not get toppled.
The fact that only two legends will make it out alive – leaving thousands of fans disappointed while making thousands others manically exuberant – is only half the fun. There’s a lot of history between all the players and no matter how this group develops, there will be grudge in every single round. Grudge so dense it’s almost tangible.
Initial match #1: PartinG vs Life
Frankly, the StarCraft 2 world hasn’t yet seen a rivalry like this one. Granted, the MC vs IdrA storyline back in 2011 was entertaining in its own way and the KeSPA vs eSF was pretty much the center of all attention last year but Life, PartinG and the history between them is on a whole new level. This is a rivalry way beyond BM showmanship and company interests. This, I dare say, is the first time we’ve seen something which reminisces the old BroodWar grudges like Boxer/Yellow or Flash/Jaedong.
Between their first clash in IPL TAC 2 in January 2012 and today, PartinG and Life had played each other sixteen times (most recently in the last Code S where Life was denied his playoffs spot), with PartinG in the slight lead 9-7. There have been clashes at MLG grounds and Blizzard Cup grand finals alike, making their history dwarf the word “epic” into insignificance.
Now, PartinG and Life are posed to play at least one Bo3 before the week is over. Confident that he can take out the Zerg prodigy again, PartinG picked him himself to be his first opponent in the group but it might prove to be a backfiring decision. The comeback that Life orchestrated during the Blizzard Cup finals as well as the level of play he showcased during the last Code S season was nothing short of spectacular and, if that’s not enough, Zerg are finally figuring out the ways to overcome the difficult at first ZvP. PartinG’s domination in the Ro32 was as impressive as they come but something tells me he might not survive the rivalry this time.
Initial match #2: Flash vs Innovation
While not coated with such a long history, Flash vs Innovation is surely to be equally exciting. Most readers will remember how the two came out to play of the absolute finest TvT’s in all HotS during MLG Dallas.
The madness of this series is still fresh, which leads me to unfaltering conviction that the second match of Group B will also be worthy of remembrance. Flash’s knowledge of the mirror match-up has long been on a divine level (peaking at the stupid 89% in international tournaments) and is always a sight to behold, colored with countless drops, ingenious comprehension of positioning and, when needed, maiming air play and late-game prowess.
Fortunately, so is Innovation, a player also coming from the great KeSPA school of TvT. Before HotS arrived, Innovation was packing the impressive 77% win rate in mirrors and although this number has severely declined in the new metagame, this might simply be because of the reason that he hadn’t had that many televised TvTs in the first place. In fact, the heart-stoppingly close games against Flash at MLG and a couple of SPL matches against Taeja (loss) and Reality (win) are all he has to show in terms of statistics but we all know there’s a plenty more to come from the STX Terran.
All that being said, I somewhat fear for Innovation. Although his overall performance has left many a viewer speechless, this marathon of death can very well topple him. A loss to Flash would mean fighting on the brink of elimination against Parting or Life and this is not something you ever want to happen to you.
With the risk of sounding too negative towards a personal favorite – Innovation needs to beat Flash, or he’s likely to be out.
Life > PartinG
Flash > Innovation
Life > Flash
PartinG > Innovation
PartinG > Flash
Life and PartinG qualify
The numbers talking
Predictions above courtesy of Aligulac.com