2019 Cranky Events Season 4: Abiogenesis
Sea Duckling Open #61-#63 | Master Swan Open #19-#21
Light told me to mention Oceanic Pond League somewhere.
History repeats itself in SDO, with the same two champions leading the Terran charge, XenoBlaze and AionLeader.
While still keeping with the theme of having only Terran champions, we weren’t subjected to the barrage of TvT matches we had last season, with two Zerg newcomers, Spy and Cheoklate, keeping the dream of having a non-Terran champion alive. We even had some PvZ matches that we didn’t actually end up casting.
2019 Season Stats - Sea Duckling Open #61-#63
MSO on the other hand was a much wilder ride. Right off the bat, newcomers Molten and ieLLiMo gave us a PvP finals in MSO#19, the first of the season.
MSO #20 gave us an unsurprising TvT finals between TerranLord, who’d just gotten his revenge against ieLLiMo, and Emin, making it to his fourth MSO finals. After a series of cunning proxies, calculated Tank battles and Caerwyn intros, Emin edged out the series to become the first three-time MSO champion.
MSO #21 then took “wild” to another level, giving the first ever Masters-less MSO finals between the previous week’s SDO runner-up, ChillAllDay and our very own Captain of the Ducklings, Light_VIP.
After an unorthodox series spanning half the tournament, ChillAllDay emerged as the second ever non-Masters league MSO champion since Chelch in MSO #7, winning an MSO before winning an SDO.
2019 Season Stats - Master Swan Open #19-#21
Though Terran continues to reign supreme, this season Zerg and Protoss fought back much harder, with a select few players above the others to lead the resistance.
Aquatic Bird Awards
SDO Terran Of The Season: XenoBlaze
Honourable Mentions: PotatoPleb, AionLeader, ChillAllDay
EmBánGiày has been dethroned, and in his place, XenoBlaze has taken the mantle, firmly establishing the dynasty he began last season.
Like in the previous season, XenoBlaze, while dominant, was not immortal. Cheoklate came along in SDO #62 and with some cunning moves, managed to break XenoBlaze’s Absolute Defense.
XenoBlaze now down in the lower bracket was eager for revenge. After dispatching Tsuneo by basically doing the same thing his opponent did but better, Xeno then came up with a solution to get the better of Cheoklate in their rematch.
Defend harder, defend smarter, get to a point where you don’t have to defend. He held Cheoklate’s aggression and prompted him to overcommit before counterattacking on New Repugnancy, he took control of Cyber Forest with an ever imposing map presence, and ended things with a Bunker Rush on Thunderbird, which I suppose can be considered defending in its own right.
Despite his absence in SDO #63, it was clear that AionLeader simply ruled as his regent, and tied with Blisk’s four SDO championships, Xeno looks towards another player to dethrone, Light_VIP and his 5DO trophy.
SDO Zerg Of The Season: Cheoklate
Honourable Mentions: Akontistes, Spy
After a short Zerg drought in the previous season, Season 4 proved to be a lot more promising for the Swarm.
SDO regular Akontistes made it to the semi-finals of SDO #61 right off the bat and new-comer Spy took out Phoenix, Der Deutsch Gott himself, to finish again in the semis of SDO #63. But the true champion of the Overmind for SDO was Singaporean newcomer Cheoklate, finishing 2nd in SDO #62.
Cheoklate can be described as the antithesis of his rival in SDO #62, XenoBlaze. While Xeno is notable for his defense, Cheoklate has demonstrated a high understanding of offense.
Without being particularly aggressive, Cheoklate likes to take calculated engagements maximising his unit efficiency to take favourable trades, never attacking unless he can be sure he’ll still have a force ready after the fight.
A proper macro Zerg, Cheoklate has also proven himself to be more adept at using late-game units, especially the Infestor and its Fungal Growth and Neural Parasite spells.
Despite generally higher number of Zerg sign-ups, Cheoklate, as the sole Zerg in SDO #62, made it the furthest and left his mark as the most promising newcomer of the season.
SDO Protoss Of The Season: Nemesis
With a resurgence of Zerg players, it was Protoss that became under-represented once again in SDO. But once again, the constant among them has been Nemesis.
The only Protoss player who made it far enough for us to cast, Nemesis continued to be one of the trickier players in SDO.
Listening to the mantra of Protoss, or players who lose to Protoss, or just Yakuzaku, Nemesis has realised the meaning behind the phrase, “Chargelots are pretty good,” and has used it as the cornerstone of her strategies. At least in PvT.
Whether it’s a Chargelot rush in the main with a Warp Prism, Chargelot run-bys into multi-prongs or even for a more desperate defense against 3-Rax, Nem’s usage of Chargelots was ruthless but varied and well planned beforehand.
While hit the hardest during the Terran Regime, Nemesis’ cunning was able to produce some hope for the Protoss resistance.
MSO Terran Of The Season: Emin
From champion to forgotten to one of the few two-time MSO champions, Emin has now risen above the pantheon to become the only three-time MSO champion so far.
This season Emin has shown himself not just adaptable within games and series’, but also overtime. Particularly in TvT, we’ve seen Emin go for more drop play, but often not to harass, and rather to support an already existing force or just outright doom dropping.
A classic Marine-Tank player, these drops meant that Emin was able to win positional battles despite not necessarily having the air advantage.
A noble macro player, Emin was perhaps the only Terran player who didn’t utilise the proxy builds his peers threw in at least once in a series. But perhaps that was why he was able to claim the championship that others like Voltacus or TerranLord couldn’t, because he focused on his fundamentals.
Though once forgettable, Emin’s record breaking three-time MSO championship forces all but Steelmold to remember his name.
MSO Zerg Of The Season: Light_VIP
SPAM THESE WINGS FOR THE CAPTAIN OF THE DUCKLINGS
Almost a year ago, Light_VIP was featured as the Zerg player and overall player of the month in the very first report after becoming the first five-time SDO champion.
Shortly after, Light was satiated and decided to focus on admining the weekly tournaments, with the lingering goal of hitting Masters league at the back of his mind. By hitting Masters league, Light forced himself to only be eligible for MSO, but like many other Diamond league graduates, Light found himself unable to recreate the dominance of his past.
With MSO #21 though, Light has shown that he’s steadily making progress towards the MSO championship to make him forget about the masterpiece that is the 5DO trophy.
As Voltacus describes, “Light is an unorthodox player by design (I blame TRUE)” and Light has continued to show off the style of aggressive Ling/Bane that earned him the moniker, “TRUE-lite”
Light is able to find the smallest openings in a wall and take full advantage of holding down the Z key to flood his opponent's base to the GG. His well practiced transitions to Ultralisks and Corruptor/Ling/Bane have continued to prove reliable, giving him the firepower to finish 2nd in MSO #21, after a 5 game series of a tournament that lasted past midnight for Light, when he would otherwise be sound asleep.
All in all, Light hasn’t undergone an evolution of style like many other players have shown upon hitting Masters League, but rather, kept true(heh) to himself and refined his play to make the dream of achieving the MSO championship one step closer.
MSO Protoss Of The Season: Molten
Honourable Mentions: ieLLiMo, StarDuck
Starting the season with SDO, it seemed like we were headed to a continuation of Terran domination. Though a week later, we were blessed (or blursed) with a PvP finals, and we’d crown our first non-Terran champion in a CranKy event after over a month, Molten.
Though capable of playing standard macro games, the games we’d follow ended up being PvPs, a match-up where guile and game sense really gets to shine. And in these matches, Molten proved he had both of these in spades.
Molten showed off his arsenal of proxies, displaying a certain degree of map understanding. What impressed viewers and left casters speechless though, was his cannon rush.
Starting off somewhat standard with a proxy double gate support, Molten positioned his cannons and waited for a response. Probes were pulled as ieLLiMo scrambled to stop the cannons from finishing and in the chaos, Molten snuck a Probe up the main ramp and plopped down a Pylon right between one of his opponent’s Gateways and own Pylon.
Continuing the charade, Molten then microed his Probe and later Zealots along the ramp, pretending to try to get high ground vision, all while ieLLiMo’s buildings were being assaulted.
Molten also proved that he could handle being on the other end of the stick, patiently defending one-base pushes while stealthily sending out a harassing force across the map to force a reaction from his opponent.
After showing off what peak PvP *really* looked like, Molten gave us all a breath of fresh air, and finally disrupted the Terran domination.
The Underduck Award: ChillAllDay
At first I was hesitant to list ChillAllDay, the Diamond 1 SDO runner-up, as the Underduck. But by winning the MSO only a week later as a non-Masters league player, when higher ranked players like Voltacus were still chasing that win, I reconsidered.
Making his premiere in SDO #63, ChillAllDay gave a first impression of being a very solid player. He defended against Spy’s aggression almost perfectly before going back and forth with AionLeader in the finals eventually finishing 2nd to his sole clanmate.
A week later, he’d get the better of his friend with a 2-1 victory and later became the first half of the Master-less MSO finals.
In his series against the other half of the Master-less MSO finals, Light_VIP, ChillAllDay’s play was fairly standard if not for his penchant for Hellbats.
A man after my own heart, ChillAllDay was dedicated to his Hellion/Lib opener that transitioned into a somewhat off-meta Hellbat/Marauder push which when executed correct would hit hard and fast enough to deny the Zerg a third base and make it easier to keep them on low economy. Mostly I mention this because this is the build I choose to use from now own, thanks man.
Best SDO Series: LastDance vs PotatoPleb (SDO #63 Ro16)
Honorable Mentions: Cheoklate vs XenoBlaze (SDO #62 Winners' Finals), Cheoklate vs XenoBlaze (SDO #62 Grand Finals) AionLeader vs ChillAllDay (SDO #63 Finals)
Though we weren’t subjected to the excessive amount of TvT matches we were last season, more often than not we’d wind up casting a TvT as we moved on to the finals or semi-finals. That makes it all the more surprising that the series of the season was not only a TvT, but one that took place in the first round of a tournament. This match gave us a bit of everything, and ended before it could drag on too long.
Starting on Turbo Cruise with one of the rare games we got see the full evolution of the Terran tech tree, the 25 minute game started with a classic Mech vs Bio battle. It was LastDance’s Mech firepower vs PotatoPleb’s Tank positioning, PotatoPleb’s drops vs LastDance’s static defense and a constant fight for air superiority until both players realised they needed to transition to dominate the skies. BCs were made and promptly lost, SCVs were sacked in favour of army supply and Turrets were built across the map to gain whatever advantage they could in the lead up to the final engagement.
After the sky lit up with large air engagements a couple of times, PotatoPleb’s upgrades, multitasking and much more mobile ground army ultimately won him the map.
Following up on Kairos Junction, looking to end the series quickly, PotatoPleb picked up the pace with a proxy Reaper/Hellion drop.
Taking out 12 SCVs and being up twice the worker count, it seemed like the writing was on the walls, if not for the fact that LastDance had just enough resources for a single Cloaked Banshee. And just like that, LastDance took full advantage of his opponent’s lack of detection to even the worker count. A follow-up Cyclone drop would completely turn the tables and push the once confident PotatoPleb further and further into desperation. As wave after wave of Marines ran into Tank fire, PotatoPleb eventually conceded and brought us to the ace match.
Now we’d have the quick game we were promised, as both players risked everything on a double rax proxy. While PotatoPleb opted for the more common Reaper proxy, LastDance went for his signature Concussive Shell Marauders.The Marauders proved to be the superior unit in this case, as Concussive Shells negated PotatoPleb’s mobility before knocking down his door, demanding the GG.
While the CranKy Terran Apocalypse (Light won’t let me call it Open TvTD) may not be remembered fondly, this series among others will be among the most memorable in SDO.
Best MSO Series: TerranLord vs mLty (MSO #20 Quarterfinals)
Honorable Mentions: TerranLord vs Emin (MSO #19 LB), Molten vs ieLLimo (MSO #19 Finals), TerranLord vs Emin (MSO #20 Finals), ChillAllDay vs Light_VIP (MSO #21 Finals)
Some matches are memorable for the stories behind them, some for the mind games, and others for the skill of the players. But the best games are the ones that push players beyond their limits, games that make casters slightly struggle to go through the play-by-play with the sheer amount of things going on, games that leave you exhausted by watching them, let alone how the players feel.
This season, that match was TerranLord vs mLty.
Continuing to evolve his play, mLty showed us a brand new side of him with an extremely Mutalisk heavy playstyle that’s both familiar yet different from the mLty of old, almost a synthesis of his aggressive and macro styles.
TerranLord, while not changing too much of his own playstyle, adapted accordingly and for three straight games we got to see what makes TvZ the most exciting and popular match-up. A constant back and forth battle for map control.
There isn’t too much to talk about build orders or strategies as every game played out near identically in that regard.
mLty would go two-base Muta and start harassing to keep TerranLord back as he expanded, and eventually overwhelm him with fully upgraded Ling/Bane. TerranLord would try to prevent this, setting up his defenses, doing light harassment or scouting and slowly build up a powerful Bio/Mine force to cut through mLty’s army and push all the way to the main base. The only difference in results then, was simply mechanics, or maybe mistakes.
Game 2 for instance had both players showcase some of their best micro yet, between mLty’s splits and TerranLords target firing. Ultimately it was mLty who had the first lapse in concentration that Lord took full advantage of, turning his slight army advantage to a massive army advantage, taking the game.
It was a series we almost didn’t get to cast, with the lobby remade because it was only after the start game timer was pressed that the players noticed we were looking for a match. And in the end, we count ourselves lucky we didn’t show up those few seconds later and were able to catch these two playing some of the best SC2 in their competitive lives.
SDO Player Of The Season: XenoBlaze
XenoBlaze does it again. After dropping out early in SDO #60, he returned two weeks later to dominate the SDO once again.
This season, while still proving himself a clear cut above the rest, XenoBlaze had many more moments where he demonstrated himself as more of a clutch player. Whether it was having to out-micro his opponent, react to cheese or make a split second decision, Xeno was consistently able to turn the tables on his opponent in what would usually be the defining moments of the game.
Consistent is a good way to describe XenoBlaze, as not only did he get the same results as last season, but he did so in the same fashion, with the same solid defense we know him for. Now as the second player with four SDO championships since Blisk in early 2018, time will tell if he’ll join Light_VIP as a fellow 5DO champion, or if he hits Masters league before then.
MSO Player Of The Season: TerranLord
“I love summer, everybody has time off” - Steelmold 2019 (Kuro: It's winter in South Africa...)
And one of the most anticipated players to finally be available to play again was TerranLord, a former SDO and shortly afterwards, MSO champion.
TerranLord is one of the players who really should have been featured by now, but hasn’t been since his biggest moments of glory were either before Light told me to keep these reports, or overshadowed by another player or event. But with his skill, his results and his methodical style of improvement, it was only a matter of time and availability.
This season we saw TerranLord play some of the best Starcraft we’ve seen in any CranKy event, very clearly having worked on his weaknesses in between each tournament. When TerranLord was weak in the early game, two weeks later he’d return having it covered. When Lord struggled vs Protoss, two weeks later he returned with new builds to exact his revenge against the very Protoss player who knocked him out.
TerranLord’s meticulousness extends not only to his practice outside of tournaments, but it’s also what his playstyle is based off of. Almost machine like, Lord has a somewhat binary form of decision making. One very observable example of this is his constantly checking of Emin’s upgrades during their game in MSO #19, refusing to engage unless he was far enough ahead.
This may seem like a bad idea, as it somewhat downplays other potentially important variables in the decision making process, but doing so also makes Lord a very decisive player. Rarely doubting himself because more often than not, when he decides it’s time to push, engage or tech-switch, he’s right. All the while remembering to macro of course.
While not a champion this season, with his methodical approach to improving and his meticulous nature both in and out of game, once again, it’s only a matter of time and availability until he joins the pantheon of two-time MSO champions.
Writing: Yakuzaku | Proofreading: Light_VIP & Steelmold | Editing: Kuro
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