Today in OSL: Fantasy and First top their groups, Life and Leenock ousted in upset

StarCraft 2 Radoslav “Nydra” Kolev
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Group E: KangHo, JangBi, Fantasy, Life

 

Fantasy, killer of kids and dragons

It was a day of legends and champions for OSL today and the StarCraft fans who still remember the Fantasy vs TRUE game from last season (and those are most people, I imagine) line up to watch how the SKT-trained Terran will perform today, hoping for another chapter of pure insanity.

Life was first on the line for Fantasy and although the game couldn’t come close to the aforementioned series with TRUE, it did showcase once again the typical Fantasy GG timing. Bel’Shir Beach was the chosen battlefield and the Brood War legend and the young prodigy reached for each other’s throats with the characteristic viciousness of their playstyles by utilizing hellbats and mutalisks.

Surprisingly enough, very few workers died that day and so the match was stretched into its full late-game beauty. The first few direct engagements went terribly for Fantasy but he continued sending marine and hellbat drops down Life’s base to bait the Zerg and allow him to safely secure and saturate a third base.

The thick mutalisk cloud continued to cause troubles for Fantasy but the SKT Terran would just not die and his endurance soon paid off as Life indulged in overconfidence. Spotting a crack in Fantasy’s defenses, Life flew into his main as to “checkmate” Terran’s production facilities but ended up eating a huge widow mine shot to the face, which wounded his mutalisks enough so that Fantasy can push them back. From there, Fantasy regrouped and marched down Life’s side of the map, killing a base after base until the ST Zerg GG-ed.

Much more underwhelming was Fantasy’s winner match against JangBi, his old OSL rival.  The two met on Newkirk Precinct and after a prolonged downtime caused by a succession of technical difficulties both before and during the match, the series did come to an end after a one-two jab from Fantasy. A hellion run-by allowed the Terran to scout the entire map and deal enough damageto JangBi (while suffereing none in return), and a plain and frontal bio attack lethally punished JangBi’s decision to spread too thin tech-wise, unfortunately his only option after being so much behind in everything.


Fantasy's attack is ruthless, JangBi has no way to defend his third

KangHo follows Fantasy to Ro16 after another second place

IM’s KangHo is certainly no stranger to fighting in rubber matches (in fact, this is how he made playoffs last season) and same was the case today. In the Group E opening match, KangHo continued the initiative of bringing strategies from CatZ’s playbook to Korea, which started with Savage’s aggressive hatchery against Innovation last week.

If Savage was able to capitalize on this play against the seasonal champion and almost match him in the late game, KangHo was far less successful in this endeavor, mostly because of how Jangbi responded. Instead of trying to take his already immensely delayed natural, the last BroodWar OSL champion went straight for a 1-base robo. Played for a fool, KangHo tried to transition into a mass queen/swarm host mix but Jangbi was already another step ahead and a second robo facility went down and production of mass colossi began.

KangHo’s attempts to break through the AoE DPS output of Jangbi were admirable but everyone watching the series knew the young Zerg will have to start the day with a loss.

Being forced into a losers match against Life was certainly not what KangHo wanted but it all ended much better for him than anyone might’ve expected. Like in the Fantasy series, Life opened strong and secured early game advantage but foolishly, even cockily, attacked into massive concave, static defenses and a million transfusions. Appreciative of this unexpected gif, Losira stabilized, broke out and won the roach wars in the late game.

This had KangHo make a full circle and arriving at the very beginning of the group – a rematch against KHAN’s Jangbi – and approached the game in almost the same way, blocking the natural of the Protoss to delay his expansion but canceling his catch to not lose precious minerals. A ling run by killing the “Artosis pylon” powering the robo of JangBi further hurt the Protoss and by the time JangBi could muster an offensive with warp prism, blink and immortals, Losira was already too fat on units. A revenge was taken and KangHo advanced as second.

Life and JangBi taste elimination

Unfortunately for their massive fanbase, fate would not have it so that Life and Jangbi make the round of sixteen. While the last BroodWar OSL champion certainly has a lot more to improve and his elimination is not entirely surprising considering the level of skill in his group, Life's ousting comes as a shocker. After mind-boggling run in late 2012, Life continues to struggle in reclaiming the throne of "best SC2 player in the world", only to be tripped by unforseen obstacles like Sjow at DH Summer and Group E here.

 

Group F: RorO, First, Leenock, Hyvaa


Of PvZ and appropriate handles

The StarCraft world kind of forgot about First after his Katowice win and IEM WC silver and so once the IM Protoss made it back from Challenger and into Premier - for the first time in his career to that - he would not have it so that he drops back to the lower clique immediately.

Having to practice one match-up and one match-up only had certainly made it easier for First to prepare for today's group but the level of overpowering he showcased was indeed tremendous. His first victim was 2013 Code S S1 champion RorO who got served with phoenix/zealot opening which took down his third, abusing the late arrival of the roaches. Archons were later added to the main blink stalker mix of First to fight the spire transition of RorO, which also helped him forcfully penetrate through the wall of Zerg static defenses, erected to keep RorO safe while he tries to make plays with his mutalisks. By the time RorO decided to engage directly with his air it was already too late.

Twice as short was the winners match against Leenock. Once again the game was opened with phoenixes but a warp prism tech was added instead of harassment zealots. Instead of a soul train push, however, sentries were unloaded into Leenock's main which chain-locked the ramp while zealot's tore down everything in sight. Upon clearing the Protoss presence, a swarm host tech was put down for Leenock, only to find that the colossus production that will win the game was already started. First topped the group and moved on to Ro16.

Hyvaa survives the ZvZ hell

Overall, Hyvaa's journey through a series of mirros and into the Ro16 was more or less a standard one for any Zerg. A failed 10-pool baneling play send him to the losers match after Leenock's defenses of queen and spine crawlers proved too thick to break, but another ling/baneling/spine crawler fest extended his tournament life and eliminated RorO in the process.

Down in the deciding match Leenock was alread waiting and Hyvaa plunged into the revenge match whole-heartedly. What came as a result was a fifty-minute ZvZ of WoL-esque roach/infestor mirror games, solved by the decision of Hyvaa to add swarm hosts to the mix. Using locusts to constantly bruise the army of Leenock and bait fungal growthes, Hyvaa pinned down the renowned champion at his third and beat him until he concede.


Welcome back, WoL ZvZ!


The champions are out

Like Life's end in Group E, the fall of Leenock and RorO in Group F was not supposed to happen if you listen to predictions or statistics. Althogh playing his best match-up only with a record of 68% win rate, RorO somehow couldn't convert it into positive results and fell to Challenger against all odds. At the same time, Leenock continues his slalom between Premier and Challenger as this is his third time in a row not passing the Ro32 of Korea's premier tournament.

Rotator photo: Team Liquid