Today in OSL: Bomber, Bbyong in Ro16 opening day highlight
With Zerg mirrors are usually not the most exciting match-up to kick off a round of serious competition but Soulkey and Symbol gave it their best to make this one special for everybody. The two game series started standard as both players stuck to the playstyle they know and love, i.e. Soulkey sprinting towards the spire tech and Symbol gearing for a roach-centric, ground-based offensive.
Yet there was a pinch of diversity in Symbol's play still. The standard core of a +1 roach timing attack was mixed in with a creep highway that sped up the advancement of Symbol's army, giving it the necessary velocity to hit Soulkey hard.
As hard as the hit was, however, Soulkey still had no troubles cleaning up the first attack. The cost of mining time and of keeping his mutas on his side of the map longer that he would've wanted was a small one compared to the casualties Symbol suffered and so the Azubu Zerg was on the back foot. A nydus worm was thrown in by Symbol to serve as highway alternative now that the overlords were chased away but once again, there was no breaking Soulkey, who had spined up his highgrounds and narrowed his entrance through artificial choke points.
Symbol tapped out to give Soulkey the early lead and prepared for game two but it didn't get better for him there either. An early ling attack robbed Symbol of a free queen, his ling/baneling counter was shut down at the ramp by Soulkey's own queens and a second free queen was lost a minute later, setting Symbol far behind. The reigning Korea champion would begin his Ro16 run with a perfect 2-0.
For a Group B match that featured neither Flash nor Innovation, celebrity underdogs Bomber and Bbyong made it so that at least one of their games is memorable and entertaining to watch. An expected hellbat drop came from Bbyong to draw the first drops a blood but although well behind in workers, Bomber seemed to not mind it. With the coming of the mid-game, the StarTale Terran embraced the grandeur of Whirlwind and zerg-ed it up, spawning command centres all over the place while skillfully waging the mech mirror wars in the middle of the map.
Losses were unsurmountable on both sides and even Bomber's blooming economy - most of which remained unscounted for the majority of the game - could not keep him afloat for long. The war eventually drained both players of resources and from a series of maxed out engagements, the conflict withered down to small-scale battles for the couple mining bases still left on the map.
It was in those moments that the game became even more see-saw than before. At first, Bomber was looking to take the match through his banshee switch. Then, it was Bbyong who was in good position after amassing more hellbats than Bomber and dropping them on top of siege tanks. And finally, it came to Bomber drilling through Bbyong's army after all, somewhere around the tenth "now this is it!" moment.
Popular disbelief is that Bomber dies to such kind of killer drops...
To viewers' misfortune, the rest of the series never got so epic. In game two, Bomber tried to break Bbyong with a banshee opening into a marine/tank push only to tap out after realizing that the latter's failure means that his 2-base bio set-up is now fighting a 3-base mech. Yet Bomber was nevertheless able to bring the series into his favor with a reaper opening into marine drop, without ever having to meet Bbyong's army directly.
Facing First's 78% PvT win-rate was a tough show for Fantasy and his fans of new and old.
And it wasn't like Fantasy was playing badly, on the contrary. World-famous for his drop plays and the incremental killings of his opponents, the renowned SKT Terran was feeling most comfortable at the start of both games as mines and hellbats and all other sorts of medivac-centric play tried to disturb First's well-being.
Only, First wouldn't have any of that. The IM Protoss who rose to fame after two consecutive IEM grand finals in 2013 was like an immovable object in his defense. Where other players crumbled, First stood tall and even found ways to outrace his opponent economy-wise.
What was even more surprising for Fantasy was the fact that the was in a game with a player better in harassing than him. Constant zealot warp-ins made sure that Fantasy never got full control over the game and fit nicely into First's magically orchestrated PvT paradigm: defend drops, bleed zealots everywhere, poke with main army to keep enemy occupied, spread to five bases to opponent's three, A-Move for victory.
Fantasy in the not-so-rear moments of being behind in every aspect
If First's one-sided beating of Fantasy had its entertaining moments and early-game thrills it was not so much the case with the final game of the day between Supernova and KangHo. Struggling for recognition for many years now (and getting another chance to do it placed in the company of Maru and Trap, players of equal popularity and, very likely, skill), it was important for both of them to get an early edge in the group and set the tempo for the rest of the matches.
This honor fell on Supernova's shoulders as the Azubu Terran came out dominating, ripping KangHo apart and making Tasteless compare the battle to a grandmaster vs master ladder duel. A very simply hellbat drop opened game one and kept KangHo occupied just enough so that he misses to spot the advancement of the main bio army which put Supernova in the lead.
A cute proxy reaper rush with a bunker inside KangHo's main gave start to game two but Supernova's decision to discontinue to pressure made the game evolve into a standard HotS ZvT, with KangHo packing mutas and banelings and Supernova running around with a bio/mine army.
Knowing game one was a bit embarrassing, KangHo upped a level and played like a Korea premier contender should (for the most part) but Supernova quickly established control over the game once again. A succession of marine drops bled out KangHo's economy which allowed for Supernova's main army to eventually march in for the 2-0, despite being fully cleaned multiple times throughout the match.
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