2010 was the year that Starcraft 2 found its heroes, its villains and its storylines. The GSL, the world’s premier tournament, gave the finals with the biggest stage in the world. But which were the best of those games? This is Battle Report: Power Rank 2010!
Tier Four: Sloppy at best
These games are the reason that the open seasons have a bad reputation. Dodgy decision-making, funky plays that make no sense and more fumbles than a blind baseball game; these games have all the signposts of “turn off now!” Regardless, we love them much like the crazy old uncle who sits in the corner mumbling to himself; we feel a bit bad for them and they make us feel better about ourselves.
Marineking is at match point, Nestea has just been peeled apart. Everything is on the line and this should be an epic game. It isn't. Nestea pulls out a greedy build and Marineking tries to exploit it, but like an old Jeeves and Wooster sketch, everything goes wrong very quickly. Sloppy play leads to a bungled attack and Nestea just attack moves across the map, through Marineking's non-existent wall and wins the game instantly. A disappointing game that could have been so much more exciting.
This game isn't necessarily bad. It certainly isn't as bad as game 6 was. It just happens to be a game in which Nestea vastly outclassed Marineking and made it thoroughly uninteresting to watch. Proxy barracks gets scouted by based Nestea, marines overextend and die, Marineking has no wall so Nestea makes banelings in his base. This game might have been more interesting if the same thing hadn't happened in the game immediately before.
I'm beginning to feel bad for Nestea. All of his wins in this series bar the last one ended up being very unsatisfying to watch and relatively dull as he swept away Marineking like a beggar in his palace. Maybe that was part of Marineking's plan, so that nobody would want to watch his losses. This game is Nestea's first win in the series, so it at least has some story. There's also some cool floating CC play by Marineking but at the end of the day it's just Nestea making a bunch of units and killing an opponent who's trying to be too fancy.
This game is certainly a bit more exciting than some of the others, but it's short and very clear what's going to happen. MC reminds us that you could warp in on the high ground in Wings of Liberty with a gateway rush on Steppes of War. Rain makes the tactically poor decision to try to get out a marauder to fight what is largely a zealot force. The game ends not long afterwards, and the result is unsurprising.
Tier Three: Lacking Refinement
These games aren’t bad; they’re just a little simple. Continuing the earlier analogy, these games are the cousin who you’ve always suspected might have been dropped on his head at birth. But despite that, he’s great at conkers and nobody can beat him when it comes to cannonballs. These games have so much in some ways but don’t quite complete the formula for epic match. They’re often one-sided, feature a fatal fumble or just end before things really kick off.
This game is good, and it's a real shame that it had to place so low down the list. The game begins with a gold base for Fruitdealer and a tank drop from Rainbow, but that ends relatively quickly when Fruitdealer rolls out an obvious solution that nobody had thought of before. Just when the game looks like it'll transition into an interesting mid-game, Fruitdealer sneaks in a nydus worm and just kills Rainbow. Much like some of Nestea's wins over Marineking, this game was just too well played by Fruitdealer to be a real roller-coaster.
Haha! Nestea has a roach rush in store; this will work wonders on Steppes of- Oh wait, Marineking has bunkered him in... The game's fairly micro intensive from there as Nestea bullies his way onto the map but is forced back by heavy marine numbers. There's some solid back and forth action as Marineking tries to siege up the centre and for a while it looks like Nestea has it in the bag. At the end of the day, Marineking manages to hold on enough to take up the deadly position at Nestea's natural and win. There's a good amount of action throughout and with whoever wins going up to match point, the tension is real.
Rainbow's comeback attempt in the series 1 finals is an often overlooked game. There's action from the start as Fruitdealer tries to cause chaos and things start getting crazy very quickly with a proxy infestation pit and bases all over the place. Rainbow keeps up the tempo with drops and relentless pushing down the centre of the map, utilising the terrain to his advantage. Fruitdealer responds with unusual infestor/hydra play and forests of spine crawlers. A doom drop from Fruitdealer leads to a *sort of* base-trade where everything is on the line, but when the smoke clears, Rainbow's multitasking is too much and he manages to stabilise, finishing off the scattered forces of his opponent. When it comes to crazy play and mad skills, this game has everything.
Welcome to the land of strange tech aggression and god-like micro! MC/Rain opens with a 1/1/1 style all-in from Rain as he plans to set up a bunker shop outside MC's base, but not before his protoss opponent can push out with a void ray attack. The transition from MC features tons of cool phoenix play and a transition into immortals. With tanks shelling his front lines, the tension mounts but MC keeps his cool and breaks the line in a great moment. The bosstoss cleans up in style and it's a great prelude for what's to come.
Tier Two: Sick Plays Abound
These games populate the top ten for a reason; they’re all solid and entertaining. Every game in this tier is a complete game, without anything missing or left to desire. These are the games that we remember for years after they happened. The only problem is that there’ll always be cooler and better games that took your breath away. These games are your dad. At first, he’s the coolest guy in the world, but as you grow older, you realise that there are much cooler people in the world and he’s not as good as you remembered. A lot of these games are dated quite badly and don’t stand up to history, but they’re world class nonetheless.
Lost Temple is a great map, and this is the worst of the three finals' games played on it. Marineking opens with a double Thor Drop at Nestea's natural and micros like a mad man to take out the natural. Nestea, not to be outdone, crawls his way back into the game, inch by inch. Marineking goes for an unusual mix of Marine/Thor, which proves to be less useful than planned against Nestea's Roach/Bane. However, with a ton of awesome splits in the mid-map, Marineking keeps the aggression on and swings all around the map to put on pressure. The final assault has everything pulled for Nestea and the game is a great example of all the things that made us love Marineking in the first place.
For all the other things that made us love Marineking, see this game. It's a classic 2 rax from Marineking and the match is really micro-intensive. Lots of the fights look like easy locks for Marineking, but he micros and stutters perfectly to claw out every edge he can. Nestea never manages to stabilise all game as Marineking puts on great aggression that leads to dynamic and tense engagements. It's a short game and it lacks strategic depth, but for nail-biting excitement, it's top-notch entertainment.
It pains me to put this game outside of the top five, but sadly the quality of entertainment in the early GSLs was so high that it just didn't stand up. This game is easily one of the most tactically impressive in the early open seasons, with Rain setting up a strategy from start to finish which is designed to destroy MC. Opening with a fake bio timing, he goes for cloaked banshees and with excellent control and multi-tasking, he ravages MC's economy. From there, he controls the map like a boss and closes out the game after a series of great attacks and a solid defence. It's the one game in the series where Rain really looks like a winner, but by god, does he looks like a winner. Definitely worth watching if you love mind games and cool strategic planning.
On the exact opposite end of the spectrum, here's a game where MC can't quite make up his mind about what his plan is; but everything he does is fantastic. Getting all three tech routes early on, busting out as many technical attack plans as he has fingers and playing tactically to deal with the situations where he falls behind, MC dominates this game, despite Rain playing like a god as well. Both sides continue dropping all game long, Rain holds MC's natural for half the game and MC pulls off hidden bases, storm drops and blink-stalker backstab plays without any hesitation. Even after winning the game on the back of non-stop harass, MC still micros the final engagement perfectly to take home a win that looks and feels great to watch.
Tier One: The Top Five
Why do these battle reports exist? Because of these games; because they will always be the defining moments that we remember as the start of starcraft 2. Some are here because of their storylines that still inspire excitement at the thought of them; some are here because of sick plays and back-and-forth action; some are here for the strategic brilliance of the plays. These are the pantheon of 2010 games and they deserve to be there. These games are YOU, because let’s be honest, none of your family are quite as awesome as you are.
This is Rainbow's map. Rainbow has great multi-tasking and drop play. He should win, right? WRONG! Fruitdealer shows just how fantastic he is with hidden bases all over the place, impeccable defence versus the dreaded tank drop and flawless mutalisk play. Almost every drop is shut down without any real difficulty and Fruitdealer locks down the map with surprising ease. Then he comes back with his own drops; both at Rainbow's base and on his army! From there it's just sick macro and control that gives Fruitdealer the edge, and with one of the sickest ramp busts in the open seasons, he manages to push through into the production of Rainbow to end the game. It's great all round, with lots of action, great solid play and a badass hero in Fruitdealer to cap it all off. For me, this game will always be who Fruitdealer is.
What's better than a sick all-in with great micro and multi-tasking, an epic hold and an eventual base race? TWO sick all-ins with great micro and multi-tasking, an epic hold and an eventual base race! The last game of the Open Seasons delivers with fast paced action as MC goes for a 4 gate and Rain goes for a blue flame hellion drop. MC loses his workers quickly but makes a bold play for the win. Barely taking out the last defences of Rain, he manages to break the front lines, but the terran keeps playing for the draw. However, one probe manages to elude him, and with that, MC takes the series.
Almost everyone remembers this game; Rainbow executes a great early game defence as he takes the island, but Fruitdealer counters with the gold base and crazy back and forth drop play to catch Rainbow out of position. Breaking the front with overwhelming numbers, Fruitdealer shows his macro brilliance as well as his tactical badassery, assaulting the island simultaneously as he crushes the front lines of Rainbow. The terran is no slouch either, going for his own drops and showing great micro where he can, but in the end, there's nothing to stand in the way of Fruitdealer and the zerg press on with Ultralisks, carving his way to his championship title.
The first ever game of an open GSL final was just as great as the last, with fast-paced action and impeccable strategies on both sides. Fruitdealer goes for a super quick spire for mutalisk map control, which he capitalises on by taking both of the far corners of the map. With Rainbow unable to push out without Mutalisk backstabs, Fruitdealer sets up the early game to allow him control of the action and the ability to build up a strong 4 base economy.
Rainbow adapts quickly, using a big marine/tank army to control the centre of the map. From there, he splits of sections of his army to assault the edges, trying to maintain enough in the centre to keep back Fruitdealer. He even drops like a boss and sets up planetaries so that he can establish his own economy, but with great and unconventional infestor usage, Fruitdealer manages to sustain his economy long enough to create a massive lead. Getting up a big ultralisk count and with a massive support army of infestors, mutalisks, zerglings and banelings, he breaks the centre, crushes the planetaries and wins the game. Great action, great strategy and great tactics from both players. It's a really fun game to watch and the brilliance of Fruitdealer makes you fall in love all over again.
It isn't the smartest game ever. It doesn't have flawless control or drawn-out action. But when it comes to the greatest storyline in a game, this is it. Marineking goes for his fallback and rushes with 2 barracks. Nestea sets up an unbreakable defence. With Marineking's future and his destiny resting on the outcome of the match, the last game of Season 2 is a nail-biting race to the finish which comes down to two worker pulls in the middle of the map on metalopolis. With everything on the line, there can be only one god, only one emperor, and only one Silver King...
That concludes the power rank for the 2010 GSL Finals! Do you agree? Post about your favourite game in the comments below! That wraps up 2010, But that isn't the end of Battle Report or the GSL; 2011 heralds the golden era. Mvp and MMA; Polt and Jjakji; domination and defiance await in Battle Report: GSL 2011!