July Zerg (Park Seong Joon) v [Oops]Reach (Park Jeong Seok), Daegu, Republic of Korea, August 1 2004
And so... the elite of the Korean Starcraft community converged on the southern city of Daegu for the final of the 2004 Gillette Ongamenet Starleague between the swarm's July Zerg and Aiur's champion [Oops]Reach. A massive crowd, perhaps even outnumbering the Busan beach crowd which saw the Pro League Final, had gathered for the titanic final match. The players, with July dressed in a bright red cloak and with newly-dyed red hair and Reach clad in a black cloak, approached the stage on a raised rolling platform, sweeping through the centre of the crowd.
July's manager told the crowd that his charge was nervous at playing before such a huge crowd but that his greatest strength was his supreme confidence that he would emerge victorious. Reach's KTF manager said the protoss player had been practising up to 20 hours a day for the final, while Reach himself said he had been practising hard with Yellow and Chojja to prepare for the final match-up.
Game One on Nostalgia
July Zerg (zerg at 11) chose a 12-hatch opening, while Reach (protoss at the five o'clock position) opted for one gateway and assimilator. His first zealot thundered across the map towards the zerg base and, ignoring the expansion, headed straight into the main. As the zealot marauded around his main, July was waiting for his first zerglings to hatch out of their pulsing eggs and turned his drones to attack the lone zealot, destroying it in a wisp of smoke and with minimal disruption to his economy.
Reach now started work on a stargate, but July Zerg's scouting drone, still making a nuisance of itself inside the protoss base, saw the warping structure. At this point July still had no extractor and was going up to his fourth hatchery as he finally started to collect vespene gas. With corsairs imminent, July was morphing an evolution chamber so that he could make a defensive spore colony to protect his overlords. However, instead of the expected corsair, the first ship to emerge from Reach's stargate was a scout! The slow-moving but adaptable vessel jetted across the landscape towards the zerg main, ignoring the overlords, now clustered around a single spore colony, heading towards the mineral line in the zerg main. The scout's feeble ground cannon peppered the zerg drones to little effect, although July did have to take time to transfer wounded drones to his expansion.
Reach had now warped in his templar archives and two dark templar stealthily crossed the centre of the map towards the zerg base. Reach started to warp in nexus at his natural but was forced into some hurried defence as July Zerg harassed the soon to arrive expo with lings. A single cannon on the edge of his main plateau helped him fend off the threat. Meanwhile his useful scout had managed to obliterate two roaming overlords before being downed by July's first hydralisks.
July was now trying to take the game to his vaunted opponent but as his ling and hydra force crossed the map they found themselves under attack by dark templar, with the army having left its overlord detection far behing. Four dark templar harassed the strike force, causing July to retreat his troops to his trailing overlord. July, who now had lurkers available, now took the 12 expansion as Reach, his main and natural now providing him with a potent economy, broke out into the centre. Both armies jockeyed for position in the centre and as battle was finally joined it looked like Reach would have to rapidly retreat, his zealots falling back, but a third psionic storm from an arriving high templar severely depleted the zerg army.
Reach attemped to seal off the ramp at the seven o'clock plateau with three cannons, in preparation for an expansion there but July made a concerted effort to take out the cannons before they finished warping, sending a force of hydras. Reach just managed to close down the hydras as they arrived at seven, with a small force of dark templar enough to buy time for the cannons. Reach also started warping in an expansion at the six o'clock position, drawing down a massive lurker and zergling assault from July Zerg, by now becoming more and more concerned at his opponent's burgeoning economy. The battle raged back and forth but just as it looked as if the swarm had the upper hand, reinforcements arrived from Reach's main to neutralise the threat.
July had now morphed a hive and was working on upgrading to cracklings but Reach was now warping in the expected expansion at the seven o'clock position and his six expo was completely surrounded by cannons. Ultralisks now made their first appearance on the fields of Nostalgia and they lead a fierce assault on Reach's natural expansion, the zerg army sweeping across the map and destroying the protective cannons. Reach's temporarily out of position army surged across the bottom of the map to rescue the situation. At the same time Reach was dropping dark templar into July's new expansion at one o'clock., destroying it before detection could arrive.
The swarm again attacked the protoss natural but was forced back by a superbly microed combination of corsairs and dark templar. Reach was now in the ascendancy and dropped dark templar into the zerg 12 o'clock expansion. July just managed to hold onto the expansion with a mass overlord arrival. However, just as he though he had seen off the threat, Reach re-dropped and was able to destroy the hatchery. For all his aggressive play and attempts at expansion, July now found himself without a source of minerals, as his natural was running dry and his other expos had been sliced to ribbons by Reach's relentless dark templar.
The templar continued their dark reign over the Nostalgia landscape with an attack on the zerg main, although July managed to survive the onslaught and now had a new expansion at the nine o'clock position. The zerg army was sizable, but the swarm's economy had faltered, while the protoss were collecting resources all across Nostalgia. Emboldened by his successes, Reach burst out of his main with a force of zealots, templar and archons. As blue lightning crackled over the heart of July's army he realised the it was all but over and left the game.
July Zerg 0 - 1 [Oops]Reach
Game Two on Requiem
Leading by a game after his sensational victory in the opening clash, Reach (at 12) opted for a forge-first build, while July Zerg (at nine) went for spawning pool before expansion. July's first force of zerglings headed towards the protoss base but found a cannon waiting for them. July weighe up his options then decided to attack. Reach still had no zealot and as the lings managed to destroy the only cannon Reach's entire game hung in the balance. A single zealot emerged to save him but the lings had picked off a few probes in the meantime.
As Reach attempted to repair the damage and built a new cannon, July morphed in his lair and followed it quickly with a spire. Reach's growing force of zealots was loitering around outside the zerg position as the first mutalisks hatched out of their eggs and headed for the protoss main. They swooped in on Reach's only cannon, destroying it with ease. With no other air defence available, Reach ended his feeble resistance and typed gg.
July Zerg 1 - 1 [Oops]Reach
Game Three on Namja Iyagi
Playing on what is purported to be his favourite map, July Zerg (at the eight o'clock position) opted for a 12-hatch opening, while Reach, continuing his quest for the unorthodox made a centre pylon and gate, smack in the middle of the map. As Reach warped in a forge at his main, his first zealot headed down towards the zerg position. He built a pylon at the edge of the zerg expansion but was forced to cancel his cannon rush as the first zerglings scurried out of July's main to defend.
Reach now started cannon construction and a new nexus at his natural as July finally found the centre gate with his lings and destroyed it, along with its powering pylon. July had morphed in his lair and was working on a spire, while Reach started warping in a robotics facility and a stargate, followed by a second stargate. July went for multiple tech as he morphed his hydralisk den. Meanwhile, Reach had been warping in a fleet of corsairs and had one reaver waiting at his base. July now had lurkers available and was starting an expansion at the five o'clock position. He was dominating the skies with an ever-growing flight of mutalisks. Reach had reaver and shuttle but could as yet do little to take the fight to his zerg opponent.
As Reach continued to wait in the hope that an opportunity would present itself, July had a hive and was working on a greater spire. Having dropped off a probe at the five position, Reach started a massive cannon construction project on the edge of the new zerg base. However, before he could do any damage, July's newly arrived guardians obliterated the cannons. Reach's giant fleet of corsairs was more than matched by July's flights of mutas, devourers and scourge, which were roaming the map menacingly.
Reach tried to catch the devourers without muta backup but ended up drawing July's forces into a massive air battle the outnumbered protoss ships could not win. As the corsair fleet was obliterated, having achieved nothing the whole game. Reach's natural was at the mercy of the swarm. Hydras arrived to assist in the demolition project and headed into the protoss main. Reach had been working on two dark archons and high templar, but their arrival was much too late to do any good. A single maelstrom did little to delay the devastation as July took the lead in the match.
July Zerg 2 - 1 [Oops]Reach
Game Four on Mercury
And so, after two defeats it was do or die time for [Oops]Reach. Could he take the match to a fifth game?
Reach (at three) again opened with an early forge as he looked to go double nexus. July (at six), on the verge of the Starleague title, morphed in a pool and an extractor. After his forge had arrived, Reach set to work on two cannons and an early second nexus, while July took advantage of the hiatus and started a hatchery at the 6.30 position. Reach had again opted for unusual positioning of his gates, starting two gateways at the left centre position. Unfortunately for the protoss army, July discovered the gates almost immediately and attacked them with his first force of zerglings, forcing Reach to close the warp rifts and leaving him with no gateways at all.
By this time, July had his hydralisk den and was morphing his lair, looking to be well ahead of his protoss rival even at this early stage. Reach finally warped in gateways at his base as July, showing once again the aggressive nature of his play, his trademark throughout this Starleague, started a hatchery at the right centre position, just a short distance from Reach's natural. Two lurkers were on the way and July started yet another expansion at the low centre position. The swarm was already taking over the map. July had a spire, while Reach was waiting for two stargates to arrive.
Reach had sneaked a probe to the 11 position, where he had warped in a number of gateways and was working on a new nexus. As July's first flight of mutalisks patrolled the Mercury skies, July discovered the new expo and attacked with mutas, scourge and zergling. However, Reach had been busy warping in a force of dragoons and some corsairs and sent the attackers fleeing, following some ground/air skirmishes.
July wasted no time. He had the advantage and knew he should try to take advantage of it before the protoss economy kicked in. His mutalisks swooped down on Reach's three o'clock main, obliterating the defensive cannons and delivering death from above to the innocently mining probes and destroying the nexus. Reach's entire game was faltering but he tried to counterattack with his dragoon force at the left centre position. July wasted no time on defence and delivered blow after blow to the protoss infrastructure, his mutas destroying the 11 expansion. In a last desperate move, Reach's dragoons continued their advance down the map, only to found themselves caught in a vice between two armies of hydralisks, ending all hope of victory.
July Zerg 3 - 1 [Oops]Reach
July proves himself the champion of the entire swarm by becoming the first zerg player to win the Ongamenet Starleague. After speeches by Korean actor Jo Jae Hyun and a German representative of Gillette Korea, who entertained the crowd with his faltering Korean, July Zerg was presented with his winner's cheque for 20 million Korean Won, roughly 9,400 British Pounds or 17,100 US Dollars. In recognition of his second place finish, Reach received 10 million Korean Won.
July, who finished with a record of 11 - 4, truly had a phenomenal tournament, 4-pooling Casey, and knocking over Zeus, Xellos, Oov and Reach to take the ultimate prize. Throughout the tournament he eschewed defensive play and always took the game to his opponent, his performances against Oov a particularly striking example. Reach, who finished 8 - 7, had a good tournament, showing flashes of his old brilliance, particularly in the semifinal, and defeated Nal_Ra, Nada and Silent_Control on the way to the final.
This is Arbiter[frolix] signing off from the 2004 Gillette Ongamenet Starleague.