With ASL Season 16 starting on August 14th, and with all the hype going into it we thought it was only appropriate to talk about the the level of play that went into the previous season. Who better than our very own Simplistik to talk about what made the Semifinal series between JyJ and hero a must see series, especially from the latter part.
Game 5 - Nemesis
After the first four games, the second semi-final of ASL15 was finely poised at two games a piece. For the first time in the series, JyJ builds his depot at the natural, and promptly runs into herO's 4-pool. The first lings arrive before the Barracks is even finished and they mange to batter their way through the wall. Somehow, amazingly, with a complete SCV pull JyJ holds on long enough to finish a marine and seal the wall. At this point there was a chance for another long Nemesis game, but then two marines wander off to chase down the two zerglings remaining in the Terran base.
And without any SCV's at the wall, herO busts through again to take the game. Possibly, the layout of Nemesis is to blame. Plausibly, JyJ felt he needed to chase the zerglings, lest the eggs to the North get taken down. Or possibly, JyJ thought herO would do a Hyun, give up the aggression and transition into the midgame.
Game 6 - Retro
And so JyJ goes into game 6 with his tournament life on the line, having nearly held a 4-pool, and, with nerves of steel, he opens 13-CC, luckily to herO's 11-hatch. The wall finishes, the lair starts and we get treated to a very tight SCV-drone-duel.
herO decides to stick with mutalisk aggression, and places the third hatch in his main. When the initial two medics have finished their first aid training, JyJ orders an immediate move-out. Having patiently waited for just this moment, a special forces zergling (possibly disguised as a dog) improbably gets past the marine squad and slips through under the landing barracks.
Meanwhile two sunken colonies have finished morphing, just in time to repel the bio pressure. Excellent missile turret timing keeps the mutas at bay. The marines dance the muta-shuffle in the middle of the map. herO sends a drone to take to 9 o'clock and JyJ adds two starports and an armoury, to gear up for a valkyrie push. Up to 11 now, the muta flock begins to pick off some turrets and marines, but both players seem indecisive here. JyJ doesn't counter or defend immediately and nor does herO commit. The Terran dithering proves costly, when the bio gets swallowed by a muta-ling surround. Although perhaps a few too many mutas get sacrificed in the process.
JyJ trains fresh ground forces, while he waits for air support. herO does what herO does best: spawn more drones. And with the Terran economy humming after a powerful macro opening, more drones are certainly necessary. As soon as the first two valkyries descend from the heavens, JyJ sends his troops across the map again, popping a few stray overlords along the way. The Zerg third looks wide open: the sunken is unfinished and two hydralisks slither around aimlessly. But two of the eggs morphing near the hatchery actually contain lurkers, which come out just seconds before the marines are in range. One of the lurkers somehow burrows under the hatchery.
"What's that under the hatchery?"
Having sustained no real damage so far, herO looks to be in a good position. His supply is high, he has three gas and his defiler mound is complete. The final beckons. And then the game takes a strange turn. JyJ has added vessels, dropships and additional barracks. Two dropships, two vessels and one valkyrie brazenly fly into the Zerg main, after being spotted. There are lings, hydras and lurkers. This shouldn't really do anything...
But JyJ decisively wins the micro battle. D-matrix buys time, one lurker gets irradiated and the bio task force slowly stutters into the corner of the map and takes up a defensible position behind the extractor. herO's lings are not hero-lings and run past the marines like blind sheep. Half a dozen drones perish and three overlords pop, slow hydras are bad in narrow spaces and consume is not ready.
This botched defence puts herO on the back foot. His best bet is to seal the Terran in with lurkers under dark swarm. But just before the defilers arrive, marines, with irradiate support, fight their way through the lurker field.
The orange cloud doesn't quite reach close enough to the Terran natural and the reinforcement timings don't work out for herO. He either has swarm or lurkers, but he desperately needs both together. Getting impatient, four lurkers poke out ahead of cover, and get wrecked. Meanwhile, JyJ's third CC has completed on location and a chunky bio force is out on the map. A few more Zerg units get thrown into the meat grinder and eventually the remaining lurkers get caught by a large vessel cloud. With the disinfection regime nearly complete, herO taps out.
Not exactly a fair fight.
Game 7 - 76
"No more games, I'ma change what you call rage
Tear this motherfuckin' roof off like two dogs caged
I was playin in the beginning, the mood all changed
I've been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage"
herO came close to winning in game 6, but his defence was too clumsy. JyJ's telegraphed drop into the main ended up doing crippling damage to the Zerg economy. And so we find ourselves in the decisive game of the tournament. (The final was a formality and the winner was always going to be Terran from here on, given that ZvT is herO's weakest match-up.) And what better map than 76 to close out this series? Honestly, this map has delivered so many cracking games in just this one tournament, why aren't there more maps like this?!
"No more games..." -
With a place in the final, JyJ chooses the most self-respecting build: forward 8-rax in the correct direction. The first overlord misses the barracks, and due to scouting decisions, the first marine marches straight towards the Zerg spawning location. herO went for the very ordinary 9-hatch, 10-pool, 9-gas opening, because, ehm, 76! (Maybe 89 would've been a better name.) Three marines and an SCV poke into the Zerg main, but herO's defence is on point this time, and he takes minimal damage.
What's a good follow-up to 8-rax, you ask? Forward factory, of course. What else? And what do you do with a forward factory (on 76)? You float it onto the Zerg island natural. Obvs. The only problem is that the people piloting the factory have sworn never to harm working animals and refuse to land on that cute drone, which is looking for a bit of shade to cool down during yet another tough day mining crystal, with its teeth.
Not the drone!
The drone continues to chase the factory, while one of its siblings starts morphing into a spire. Oh, incidentally, what's a good follow up to a denied floating factory? 2-port wraiths, of course. The spire has only barely started when the starports are up and running, behind a wall on the ramp guarded by one (1) marine.
Extract from ISO 3103:1998 "Standard Brood War Builds"
The rapid wraiths massacre the trapped drones on the island. The factory crew lands (completely distraught by the horrible slaugher), but the one vulture produced gets killed by a sunken. Then, finally, herO's own flappy air force hatches. At this point JyJ has no e-bay, and therefore no turrets, so maybe the swarm can do some damage. Mutas chase off the factory, but scourge fail to connect with the well-micro'd wraiths. Cloak finishes before the spore, so more drones are snuffed out from the air.
I can see what you see not. Vision milky, the eyes rot. - Book of the Blind
Behind the threat of his (INVISIBLE) paper planes, JyJ expands to the low ground mineral only, and starts to transition into bio by building additional barracks and a second e-bay. Amazingly, at this point Zerg has access to three gas, while Terran is still on one. Naturally, herO sticks with air, but he doesn't get much done, to put it mildly.
Not amazingly effective
JyJ expands to the bottom right main and moves onto the map with an expeditionary bio force. Meanwhile, the swarm tries to revive its economy, including taking the 12 o'clock base, and morphs more mutas. herO gets embroiled in another air engagement and... If you thought the previous engagement didn't go amazingly well for Zerg, and you like Zerg, you might want to look away now.
Don't look, this is gonna hurts
Most of the wraiths die to reinforcements, but herO is still in a tough spot at about half the supply of his Terran opponent. JyJ patrols the centre with a big bio ball and adds a physics lab. Having had the initiative all game, JyJ isn't going to let off now and starts dropping herO's islands. Unlike in a well-known legal system, double jeopardy is not against the Brood War rules; players can attack the same area as often as they like. The first drop into 9 o'clock does a huge amount of damage (again) and, with irradiate backup, it costs most of the mutas to overpower the 1st parachute regiment.
The 2nd wave of drops wipes out the remaining mutas, kills more drones and takes down the nydus. herO looks finished, but just barely holds with some good scourge hits and his first round of ultralisks.
18th century sim cities were not built for 21st century
While herO hangs on by his fingertips, the Terran economy is getting out of control: four gas and four mining bases. Overlords try to deliver ultralisks to the bottom right several times, but a bunker and some decent sim city is enough to keep them at bay. The truth is that at this stage of the game it's hard for Zerg to get anything done without defilers, and herO doesn't have any. A drop attempt into the bottom half of the map gets shut down hard by well positioned marines and irradiate. When the first battlecruisers arrive at the hive, herO knows the game is up. And, like Royal last season, JyJ proceeds to celebrate his tense semi-final victory by... crashing his chair.