Aiur rising: Code S Season 2 semi finals preview

Posted by Radoslav "Nydra" Kolev at 09 May 2012 20:21


Time for the penultimate Code S reckoning and Mvp, Parting, Hero and Squirtle sharpen their claws. IM's terran is looking forward to a fifth GSL grand final, while for the young trio this is the chance to step up and prove that MC is not the only protoss that can win Code S golds.

Code S reaches a most peculiar stop as the semi-finals take a previously unseen shape.

Mvp is the only terran to survive the protoss invasion but what's stranger is that his mere presence in the Ro4 is an upset of its own. Still struggling with his wrist injury and the resulting slump he has been labelled an underdog--which is unusual by itself--and most everyone on the planet that knows StarCraft is currently betting their children, businesses and inherited property on him losing tomorrow's match.

But the oddities do not end with Mvp's status. If calling Mvp the burned out bulb on the chandelier would be considered outrageous a few months back, how about having three protosses in the semi-finals, all of MC-quality if not higher, each of who represents the highest peak in mastering one of the three protoss match-ups.

The first one is Parting, the undisputed ruler of PvT with win records that statistics find hard to explain. The second is HerO, the PvZ revolutionist who convinced the world that warp prisms are not there only to take away robo build time. And finally, there is Squirtle, a player that hasn't lost a Bo3+ mirror since early 2011.

The string quartet is ready to play.

» Champion in flesh: Mvp vs Parting

Say what you want about the Mvp but he will never lose that regal figure. Tempered in hundreds of battles and having won more medals than anyone else, the terran ace of Incredible Miracle stands before the semi finals with the scars of the survivor. Mvp knows he's not the worthiest among the four, in this season at least, and as a real veteran he is smart enough not to indulge in such delusions. He's the only one of the entourage to not win any of his two groups, always taking the last chance train to the next round. But as a real veteran he also knows that it's not the path to victory that the audience remembers, it's the victory itself. Mvp will not let go of a fourth Code S title so easily.

The quarter final series against Naniwa was a testimony that matches are won not only by otherworldy control or unheard-of macro, but also by careful planning and playing to your strengths and your opponent's weeknesses. In under thirty minutes, Mvp gave a treatise on the "Art of War", catching his opponent by surprise and punishing his greedy metagame-dictated builds. It was inelegant, vicious and cruel but a victory nonetheless, one that lit the fuses of not one or two gunpowder discussions.

Was Nani outplayed? Would the outcome have been different had the game been "proper"? Does the terran deserve the win? Mvp does not care. History is written by the victors.

The Code S annalists, however, remain sceptical towards Mvp's path to absolution, and with good reason. Barring his way is Parting, undoubtedly the hardest opponent Mvp has faced since MMA in October 2011. Holding the absurd record of zero late-game losses and displaying uncanny endurance to every terran playstyle in existence, StarTale's protoss is for all intents and purposes invincible. The first stop of Parting's travelling PvT theatre was Polt in the Ro32. TSL's captain hammered and rammed and bashed his enemy's positions only to get nowhere and be the first victim of Parting's unbeatable late-game. As if that was insufficient, Parting went on to make fun of TheSTC by pulling off one of the sickest comebacks in GSL, and topping it all off with a 2-1 against MarineKing if only to make it clear that he is, in fact, the better player.

The terran majesty is now worried. Some of his early-game strats have already been used against Naniwa and the ones he did not show can very well hit a brick wall. If Parting doesn't die to cleverly designed timing attacks and if the game goes on to the late game, Mvp knows that by the power of aching wrists and Parting's 100% success rate there is just one outcome for him.

A loss.

Nydra's prediction: Parting 3-1 Mvp
Procyonlotor's prediction: Mvp 3-2 Parting
Hattfatt's prediction: Parting 3-2 Mvp

» Every Artosis' dream (and every writer's nightmare): Squirtle vs Hero

With every tournament there is this moment when the preview article stumbles on a PvP. It then stops there, unable to provide any sort of objective prediction just because it's goddamn PvP, the mirror that defies statistics, championship titles and recent records, giving the bird to every analyst that was stupid enough to get involved. The volatility of the match-up suggests nothing less than a chaotic and just as lethal rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock game and it's never safe to gravitate to a certain player solely based on the "But he's won so many PvPs" premise.

Having this small interlude in mind we turn to Squirtle, the undisputed favorite in this semi final or at least this is what numbers and past events want us to believe. After laying low for long months, Squirtle began gaining momentum with IPL and GSTL and by the time of this season's Code S semi-finals, he accelerated to unmeasurable velocity. What protosses at the StarTale house are being fed will remain a mystery but the results are already out there.

Fans of Hero and Team Liquid have all the right to be anxious. As mentioned, best of 1s aside, Squirtle seems immune to PvP losses. His IPL 4 second place and GSL top four come with victories against MC, Creator and Oz among many else and he currently holds the best record of all Season 2 semi-finalists. With the exception of Parting, Squirtle is probably the best protoss in the world at the time of this article. Not seeing him in the grand final would be something.

But then again it's PvP, meaning that Hero might just do it and give Liquid their first Code S finalist.

Nydra's prediction: Squirtle 3-2 Hero
Procyonlotor's prediction: Hero 3-0 Squirtle through pure dumb luck
Hattfatt's predictions: Hero 3-1 Squirtle