Invincible no more: Axiom-Acer vs StarTale in GSTL
Two matches before the end of round one, StarTale met Axiom-Acer with the desire to crack the aura of invulnerability around the joint roster.
Since their inception before the first season of the GSTL for this year, Axiom-Acer (or AXA for short) have been the hot thing in eSF’s team league. It was easy to be a fan of the joint roster, one half of it consisting of the fan favorites from Genna and John Bain’s team and the other half having names like Scarlett and MMA. It wasn’t a foreign roster per se with six out of seven players at that time being Koreans but it was the team of the Western world nonetheless, the odd one amidst the sea of local teams.
And then AXA started winning and as the regular season of GSTL S1 went on, they became heroes in everyone’s eyes. While the other joint roster in EG-TL were experiencing struggles in the team league next door, Axiom-Acer were slicing through the eSF brands like they were nothing. Their only loss to FXOpen, AXA finished second in the group stage, equal in series and five points behind MVP.
The excitement surrounding AXA was thick and tangible. Not even their 0-5 playoffs loss against the eventual champions from IM could cool it off and as GSTL Season 2 was announced, the hype around the joint roster resurfaced.
Eager to return fans’ trust, AXA opened the tournament strong and paraded their new weapon Innovation, all-killing two-times GSTL champions FXOpen. In their second match against SouL, Innovation was joined by a triple-killing MMA for another victory. A third one followed on September 24th as Crank and Alicia combined their forces to singlehandedly defeat AZUBU. Blooming with confidence, AXA were walking towards a clean sweep of round one.
And then - a burst of panic.
Not that it was all bad for AXA from the beginning. Their first choice was in Ryung, the player who all-killed StarTale in season one, and the Axiom Terran gladly delivered. Despite having an appalling losing streak in TvP, Ryung inculcated early dominance by shoving Avenge in his main and going straight for the lemons on Fruitland. The early mineral surge spiked up Ryung’s bio count and the Terran was soon on the map, maneuvering around it attempt to catch Avenge’s death ball out of position.
This in particular would not happen as the Protoss player was extra careful with his movements. Always having an MSC and the power of recall with him, Avenge circumvented Ryung’s army, killed an expansion of his for free and put himself in a nice advantage. Economic lead was not enough to win him the game, though, and Avenge’s heavy emphasis on archons and neglect of psi storm came to play a cruel trick on him as Ryung almost comically trampled through him, suffering small to none AoE damage.
Ryung opening the day en force
Down a game against the leaders of the group stage, StarTale executed a peculiar order, calling forth B-teamer Panic, a Protoss player of no renown and with scarce televised record. Three matches later, Panic would become the hero of StarTale and their main contributor to their victory.
Panic’s triple-kill-to-be started with a relatively unexciting game against Ryung. The Protoss opened with oracle harass which, although unsuccessful at the start, dealt more and more damage as time went on. A hidden phoenix tech followed to support Panic’s death ball and hitting a window triggered by Ryung’s investment in upgrades, the StarTale player landed his punch. The score bent under the force of the hit and went back to a tie.
Unmindful of Panic’s strength in PvT, AXA sent another Terran in Heart. After playing a standard game for the most part, Heart pulled his SCVs in Bomberesque fashion, packed up whatever ghosts he had and rallied towards Panic’s third.
The dynamics of the fight were in Heart’s favor for the first few inches of conquered land. Sniping the high templars and dodging the storms placed the Terran within hand’s reach of Panic’s third nexus and this is where he ran out of steam. Mustering a heavy melee vanguard of zealots and archons, Panic pushed Heart back and kicked him into defeat even without the help of storms.
Panic had one final contribution to StarTale's eventual win, a convincing (yes, you read that right) victory against AXA ace Innovation. Following the strategy of his team-mate Heart, Innovation pulled SCVs around the 12th minute mark only to find Panic was prepared against him too. Cannoning up his natural and positioning his high templars on the high ground, the StarTale Protoss proceeded to humiliate Innovation's attack, putting the score to 3:1 for his team.
Time wars and psi storms hit Innovation's army
After the fall of Innovation, AXA pulled Alicia as a last resort but the Axiom Protoss did not get them far. A short game five put a stop to Panic's killing spree and prevented the all-kill but the minor triumph would not be turned into a 4:3 comeback. Bomber came to replace the dead Panic and it took the Season 2 champion about fifteen minutes to deny Alicia's early DTs, establish mid game economic advantage and crush the Protoss' spine under the feet of his bio.
Although a base behind, Bomber's macro keeps him 60 supply ahead of Alicia
|Axiom-Acer||vs||FXOpen||4 – 0|
|Azubu||vs||StarTale||4 – 3|
|SouL||vs||Axiom-Acer||2 – 4|
|FXOpen||vs||Azubu||2 – 4|
|SouL||vs||StarTale||3 – 4|
|Axiom-Acer||vs||Azubu||4 – 2|
|SouL||vs||FXOpen||2 – 4|
|Axiom-Acer||vs||StarTale||2 – 4|
|StarTale||vs||FXOpen||4 – 3|
|SouL||vs||Azubu||3 – 4|
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