Aquatic Bird Opens - 2019 Season 2 Report
Sea Duckling Open #55-#57 | Master Swan Open #13-#15
Light told me to come up with a better name.
Season 2* of 2019 was a season of opportunity. With big names like mLty being restricted to MSO, and Aquatic Bird Open legends like Blisk being restricted from both tournaments, the race to the top was reignited.
(Editor's Note: For consistency reasons we consider January & February tournaments Season 1.)
Newcomers signed up with ambition in their eyes but in the end, they still had to overcome the old guard. With the exception of Taldan, the royal roader of MSO #13, at the end of each tournament it was a familiar name who took the tourney, with Sunokasuri taking her second SDO victory by revenge on EmBánGiày in a rematch, Nemesis also achieving her second SDO championship, and finally Akontistes, a regular player taking his first by reverse sweeping his teammate.
Blisk gave his own Swan Song taking his last Aquatic Bird Open championship and second MSO victory, tying him up with his old rival Salivanth. The runner up of that event was XPA who took his own Swan championship a week later, earning his first MSO title.
2019 Season 2 Stats - Sea Duckling Open #55-#57
One newcomer able to distinguish himself would be TheKyojin, a Moroccan Protoss player with a DT heavy style that would make Nemesis proud. He’d face off against her in the Finals of SDO #57 but eventually found himself bowing to the Matriarch of the Nerazim.
Starduck made his reappearance this season after nearly a year long hiatus, proving once again the effectiveness of copypasta cheerfuls. Having always been a “tricky” player since cheesing his way to his first SDO championship with Zerg way back in SDO #24, Starduck has since switched to Protoss citing his reasoning “I forgot how to macro with Zerg”. Already finding success with the race finishing 3rd place in SDO #56, his progress with Protoss will be interesting to watch.
SPAM THIS TRUCK TO WAKE STARDUCK
2019 Season 2 Stats - Master Swan Open #13-#15
Continuing to maintain our title of Clan Mr.Worldwide, LegendK has started the SDO B Stream casting in French. In addition to providing French commentary, following other matches showcases players that previously may have been overlooked, giving us much more material to work with.
And speaking of more material, with the change of MSO alternating weekly with SDO, we also decided to split the player of the season awards, having one of each race for both SDO and MSO. And speaking of awards...
Aquatic Bird Season Awards
SDO Terran Of The Season: EmBánGiày
Honourable Mentions: LastDance, XenoBlaze
And so EmBánGiày continues to reign as king of the hill. Despite only playing in the first SDO of the season, EBG made it the furthest by far with no other players consistently placing enough to really affect this judgement.
Continuing to adapt and evolve, EBG has shown quite the variety of tactics and builds, deviating ever so slightly from the standards set by other players. Though if there’s one consistent aspect of EBG’s play, it’s his patience, clutching out victories from behind by waiting until he has just enough numbers to bait his opponent’s army into Tank fire.
Though I don’t really want to take MSO into account for the SDO award, EBG has been making a bit of a name for himself there as the legend slayer, upsetting prediction after prediction, knocking out the likes of Emin, Voltacus and Salivanth early on in the brackets.
Though the title of SDO Terran Highlander is still highly contested (shoutout to XenoBlaze who made the finals of MSO #15), EBG reminds us why he was named our last Player of the Month and Terran of the Month 3 reports in a row.
SDO Zerg Of The Season: Sunokasuri
Two Zerg players signed up regularly this season, AlphaX’ Akontistes and Houkago Tea Team’s Sunokasuri. Their persistence paid off, both of them coming out of the season with a championship each.
Winning her second championship, Sunokasuri vanquished her rival and the opponent she feared the most going in, EBG, placing them at a 2-1 series score and 6-5 in maps before getting herself promoted to Masters League, keeping the score in her favour for at least a little while. Really though I think the main reason she didn’t want to face EBG was because the last time they played her computer overheated. With a close third place finish in SDO #57, Sunokasuri also displayed a level of consistency just edging out Akontistes’ season achievements.
Though known for her signature Mutalisk switch (SPAM THIS GLITCH), Suno has varied her play a bit this season, sometimes engaging in Roach Wars instead of avoiding them and mixing in the more classic Hydra/Ling/Bane into Ultra/Ling/Bane composition, which Milk noted seemed to fit her style better with multi-pronged strikes.
SPAM THESE SHOES SO SUNO WON’T SWITCH TO OSU
SDO Protoss Of The Season: Nemesis
Honourable Mentions: TheKyoJin, Marvis
After clawing her way through the lower bracket and sweeping TheKyojin, himself somewhat of a DT connoisseur, Nemesis proved herself Matriarch of the Nerazim and showcased what made her DTs so scary, achieving her second SDO victory since her first in SDO #37.
Though a weakness in PvT has held her back for a while, Nemesis has since overcome this, unveiling new builds and tweaking her playstyle against each race, while still displaying some classic Nemesis tactics to throw players off.
With her championship victory in SDO #57, Nemesis has not only achieved her second SDO championship, but has had perhaps her best SDO season yet, with a back to back Finals and never dropping below the Semis.
MSO Terran Of The Season: XPA
Honourable Mentions: Voltacus, XenoBlaze
XPA may not be a Royal Roader by any stretch, but after a reappearance in MSO #13 (he only played in the very first MSO), even the casters mistook him for a new appearance at first. But with a showing like this, he’s made everyone remember his name.
XPA is a player who knows his stuff, immediately denying mLty’s preferred strategy of “aggression until they can hold it”, XPA showed his ability to evaluate gathered scouting information and understanding of what to do in a given situation. He’s demonstrated a variety of clever builds, such as Bunker rush or proxy 4 Rax and Hellbat/Marauder. He combines these with good positional play to either starve out his opponents or turn the tables in a fight out of nowhere by staying completely patient.
Though he was taken out in the first round of MSO #13 by the eventual champion Taldan, XPA with back to back finals was the most persistent and consistent player in MSO, culminating in his first MSO championship at the end of the season.
MSO Zerg Of The Season: Blisk
Honourable Mentions: Xil, mLty, Light_VIP
Before breaking 4.9k MMR, Blisk returned for one more splash in the pond, delivering his Swan Song (heh) in MSO #14. Contesting both the Old and the New Guard, Blisk started his run taking out his former teammates and captain, Yakuzaku and Light_VIP, before taking on the rising stars of EBG and XPA.
As I noticed in our own series, Blisk got a lot better than I remembered, demonstrating a better understanding of the balance between making drones and making units, better understanding how much greed he can get away with, though still utilising his signature proxy Hatch to completely throw off the newcomers who’d never seen it from him before.
A more active than reactive Zerg player, Blisk’s dictating the pace of the games often let him get away with unorthodox unit compositions, to the confusion of opponents, casters and viewers alike. My personal favourite was the Kitchen Sink Army of Ling/Bane/Ultra/Corruptor/Broodlord/Infestor.
While we won’t see Blisk compete in CranKy events for a long while, he gave us a brilliant send-off, showcasing some of his fan-favourite quirky playstyle (Steelmold: No, Quirky is a different Zerg) and becoming the second player to achieve two MSO championships (on top of his 4 SDO championships).
MSO Protoss Of The Season: Taldan
Honourable Mentions: XenoDactyl, Salivanth
The Royal Road has been walked (Steelmold: speedrunning =/= walking) once again, this time by PigPan’s American Protoss player Taldan.
A new appearance in the CranKy community but not entirely unknown. With a reputation for giving the Sewer Mermaid a run for his money stemming from online cups and streams, Taldan brought all of his builds with him to confuse his opponents, amuse viewers and ultimately, achieve his first MSO victory.
Between Chargelot allins, Cannon rushes into proxy Robo contains, and Proxy Gates with offensive Cannons, combined with slick micro, map knowledge and the ability to throw his opponents off of what build they go for, Taldan may have only played in one MSO, but has already demonstrated how scary and unpredictable he can be. (Steelmold: One time he even made a 2nd Nexus)
To the point where when looking at the brackets before the start of a tournament, Voltacus says a silent prayer hoping he won’t have to face him again.
The Underduck Award: XenoBlaze
Making his first appearance in SDO #57, Xenoblaze didn’t make a make a big splash, getting taken out by TheKyojin and later Nemesis in the Lower Bracket, leaving with a less than impressive finish.
With MSO #15 only a week later, Xenoblaze turned it around. Taking out SDO champion, Akontistes in convincing fashion, conquering his TvP demons by defeating MSO champion and Masters league player Saxy 2-0 and clinically dismantling a hyped up Yakuzaku to reach the Finals where he displayed a very aggressive Battle Mech style taking full advantage of the splash damage his units provide.
Though XPA would get the better of him in the end, no one could have expected that in a bracket with Salivanth, Akontistes and Saxy, the Diamond Terran who got knocked out early just one week prior in SDO would be his final challenger.
Best SDO Series: Sunokasuri vs EmBánGiày (SDO #55 Finals)
Honorable Mentions: Akontistes vs Nemesis (SDO #56 Finals), TheKyoJin vs LastDance (SDO #57 Semifinals), Nemesis vs TheKyoJin (SDO #57 Finals)
3-3 in map score, 1-1 in series score, meeting only one tournament two weeks later, EmBánGiày and Sunokasuri would have their tie-breaker. And they’d go down to the wire.
With both players on par with each other in terms of their mechanics, the series would come down to making less mistakes. The first two games exemplified this. On Cyber Forest, Suno kept EBG on the back foot, keeping him on his side of the map for so long, cleaning out any drop attempts and happily teching up before finally losing patience, losing her army to Liberators and choke points, swinging the momentum comfortably to EBG.
On Kairos Junction we’d see this play out to the fullest. In a constant game of back and forth, we’d see a pattern of Attack-Defend-Counter Attack-Defend-Macro-Try Again, neither player being able to break the other thanks to their impeccable macro, this time ending with EBG running out of patience overextending into a multi-prong trap.
Stretching each others multitasking to the limit on New Repugnancy, Sunokasuri ultimately got the better of EBG with a change in army composition from Muta/Ling/Bane to Ling/Bane/Hydra forcing him to use his silver bullet on the next map, a BC rush.
With Suno over preparing anti-air, a well-planned switch to Marine/Tank saw her crumble to the parade push of Man with Gun, bringing the series tied up 2-2.
With neither of them willing to take any risks on the ace map, both of them took a more passive approach, hoping to end it with one well timed push. Quickly teching up, getting upgrades and building their desired armies, any prediction was as good as any other, but at the end of the four and a half hour tournament, EBG was the first to have a lapse in concentration, exposing too many Tanks to too many Ultralisks and so Sunokasuri broke their tie 2-1 in series, 6-5 in maps and 2-1 in SDO championships.
Best MSO Series: Voltacus vs Salivanth (MSO #13 Semifinals)
Honorable Mentions: Blisk vs EmBánGiày (MSO #14 Semifinals), Blisk vs XPA (MSO #14 Finals), XPA vs Xil (MSO #15 Semifinals)
Shield vs Sword, Australia vs Britannia, CTL Training Dude vs CTL Cap, Lizzy Sal vs Volvocus, two players with a history almost as long as they’ve been playing SC2.
Back in the days of Psionic Aftermath, Voltacus was captain of the CTL division with Salivanth as his third-in-command. Despite being lower in the chain, Salivanth has historically gotten the better of Volt, with cleverer builds and stronger mechanics. A reputation as the top MSO player with the most top 4 placements and (at the time) the only player with two MSO championships, did nothing but add to what Voltacus believed since they were teammates in PsiX. That Salivanth was the scariest player on the bracket, and ultimately, the better player.
And Salivanth wasted no time reminding his old captain of this, opening up the series with his signature double Robo Immortal proxy, almost like he wanted to test him with a skill check. Somewhat complacent with his early scouting, by the time Volt suspected something was coming his way, it was far too late, and crumbled under the hands of his apprentice’s Warp Prism micro.
But Voltacus was determined, he’d break his “Voltacus Tradition” and make it to the Finals this week, and the only thing in his way was a player he understood extremely well. Not underestimating his opponent out of the respect that comes from knowing each other for this long, Salivanth knew this trick wouldn’t work twice, opting instead for aggressive Blink openings the following two maps. That kind of respect can only come from a two-way street, and Voltacus knew that his opponent had a plethora of strategies.
Evaluating the information gathered from his scout and preparing his defenses well, Voltacus swatted away Observers and Stalkers, pushed with a potent timing attack and after kiting, concaves and target firing, did enough damage to force an all-in that he in turn, easily defended.
Following this trend on the ace-match, Salivanth turned the tables as Voltacus’ timing attack was forced to become an all-in. But with the same precise micro and some clever Mine traps, it did more than enough damage to break out to a 4-base economy and fielded a second push that Sal’s two base economy couldn’t produce enough to defend.
And with that, Voltacus broke his Semifinals curse by finally getting the better of his junior officer.
SDO Player Of The Season: Nemesis
For the longest time, Nemesis had the reputation of being the unpredictable player. The gatekeeper who kept eventual champions honest, a reminder that anything could happen in a Bo3 and it’s up for you to spot it.
After almost a year since her first appearance, certain patterns in her play emerged (proxy DT), her preferred tactics for each match-up (proxy DT), her preferred locations for a proxy (DT) or ninja base (Probe /dance) and the clear weaknesses in her strategies (proxy DT). Ironically, the craziest player in SDO had become the most predictable.
Realising this, Nemesis took to the Protoss Elders of AlphaX for inspiration, finding new builds that called for a slight change (proxy DT only sometimes). While still having a penchant DTs, Nemesis has found herself more comfortable with timing attacks, finding her solution to PvT by changing her tactic of keeping her opponent on their side of the map to build a strong late game army, to holding her opponent’s push with brilliant efficiency for a powerful counter attack.
While we talked about EBG’s drastic evolution in only a few weeks last report, a gradual evolution after hitting a wall for months is just as awe inspiring to watch and to me, even more meaningful.
By the way, Lord told me to tell you to play in MSO Nem. (Nem pls)
MSO Player Of The Season: XPA
"Nico is a German Terran, his acronym stands for Xtreme Proper Amazing and he likes bio I guess. He’s dope as hell, but he’s choked before." - special thanks to AlphaX Caerwyn for providing such insight.
By the time XPA won his MSO championship, he couldn’t really be considered a newcomer, but was still a player that was very much unknown to many in the CranKy community, admittedly including myself.
Watching his games, you can get a sense of his play. XPA understands the game very well, he knows how to evaluate information based whether it be from scouting his opponents base or poking at their army, and knows what to do with this info.
He seems to have good positional sense, demonstrated when he baited mLty’s Roach/Ravager army into what seemed like an open base before sandwiching it between bio and Tank fire. And he understands himself, or at least, his builds very well, knowing when to give up on a proxy and just how to squeeze out every ounce of use from it to maximize efficiency.
Having a season that even Nemesis could envy, achieving back to back Finals and only losing to eventual champions, XPA was the clear choice for his consistency and persistence, finally overcoming his nerves with a championship to end the season.
Writing: Yakuzaku | Proofreading: Light_VIP & Steelmold | Editing: Kuro
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