With all the best of the European scene doing battle at Assembly Winter this weekend, everyone expected a NA player to take the win in this weeks TSL Qualifier. Well, ROOT.qxc certainly hails from the NA server - but in a surprising twist - he played the whole tournament out from Assembly Winter. He didn't have an easy ride either - he had to plough through tournament favorite SeleCT as well as strong players like Mouz.Hasuobs on his way to the final where he cleared out Zeerax 3-0 with clever adaptive play. He is also the second American to qualify for the TSL.
Before we get into an interview with the latest TSL participant, there is a little change to the format of the recap this week. The feedback about 'Ladder Scenarios' was so positive that we've decided to expand it and give it it's own news post later in the week - just so we can hype you up even more for the penultimate TSL Qualifier. Also you might like to enter our raffle by completing the quiz over at PokerStrategy.com - you never know, you might be the lucky person getting an all expenses paid trip to Korea! And don't forget about out TSL3 Forum where you can stay up to date on the latest TSL related discussion (and find out who our Asian Zerg invites are, if you don't know already!)
An interview with ROOT.qxc
TeamLiquid: Congratulations! How do you feel securing a spot?
ROOT.qxc: Feels really good to have gotten a spot. I've been trying to fit the TL open into my schedule in Madrid (I haven't been playing as much) and it's been a struggle. I've been training parkour on Saturdays with a club I found in Madrid and usually I had to leave early in order to play the TL open. I'm really glad that I can relax now and not worry about it and focus on other things.
TeamLiquid: When you started playing in the open yesterday, did you see yourself going all the way and winning?
ROOT.qxc: I wasn't entirely sure. I just went in hoping for the best. After losing in assembly I was pretty determined to do something to redeem myself. Usually after losing a match/tournament I go and ladder. After losing to HuK I played around 2.5 hours of ladder games - took a short break and then began the TL Open. I definitely got pretty lucky with my bracket which was nice. I also felt like I had a better handle on how good I needed to be in order to win it from my training / participation in Assembly. I knew I could win if I just kept my focus and kept playing my best.
TeamLiquid: You had to play late into the night.
ROOT.qxc: I ended up being left basically all alone as the finals ended and almost all the players left. Jimpo and a couple other fans watched until I finished playing the Semis vs. Select... and after that point I needed to win. I was sitting in a dark room surrounded by empty computers and chairs. Totally abandoned to Starcraft. I needed to win to make sure it was all worth it.
TeamLiquid: How many hours do you think you played yesterday in total?
ROOT.qxc: I woke up around 9:30 a.m. - played one or two warmup games. Then I played Hasuobs around 11:00, and around 3:00 I played and lost to HuK... then I laddered for around 2.5 hours. Then I played the TL Open probably from 6:00 or 7:00 pm until 3:00 am or so.
TeamLiquid: You played almost 18 hours, that's impressive! Were there any games or opponents that stood out as most memorable?
ROOT.qxc: I almost lost to Antimage in the Round of 64. Fortunately for me, he likes defending more than all-in countering when I'm just doing little bits of harass. I definitely raged after my first game against Select as well. I was so sure I was going to win that. Beating Select was a nice boost in confidence for me as I've lost to him in a number of tournaments and matches in the past.
TeamLiquid: Are you excited to play against Koreans? Is there anyone specific you want to play out of the invites?
ROOT.qxc: I'm not particularly excited or not excited. This may seem kind of strange/apathetic but I only really focus on things that are immediately relevant. The actual tournament is pretty far off and I don't need to worry about preparation for it for a while. Right now I need to worry about midterms coming up and the IEM world finals at the beginning of March.
TeamLiquid: You sent an application for the GSL foreigner house. Are you excited or nervous about it?
ROOT.qxc: Mostly the same. I've gone through with the steps that I need to right now. Further preparation comes later. In general I don't like letting myself get too emotional about events as I've found it tends to hinder my judgment. Saying that makes me feel like a robot - but it's really important for me to be able to act the way I want to and get tasks done. I guess I'm a workaholic in that regard.
TeamLiquid: Do you have any specific goals for your SC2 career this year, or are you taking everything as it comes?
ROOT.qxc: My goals only really extend up until the middle of June. Right now I'm planning on IEM Finals in Germany - TSL - MLG in June - Dreamhack in June followed by Korea. As far as goals go... my goal is to win. Everything and always. And I didn't mention MLG Dallas because I probably won't be attending for a few reasons, the biggest being jet lag and missing class.
TeamLiquid: Spain to Texas is a long flight.
ROOT.qxc: I think I may be burning most of my goodwill with my teachers by going to the IEM finals - which for some reason happen to start on Tuesday and go one round per day until Saturday. So I'll probably have to miss almost the entire week of school. Oh, and I want to take a break from Starcraft while I'm in Madrid if I can. During my school year in California pretty much all I do is SC & classes. I've been having a lot of fun doing other things like parkour - frisbee - hanging out with friends and such.
TeamLiquid: Do your teachers and friends there know that you are a popular top player in the Starcraft community?
ROOT.qxc: I've only told a few of my closer friends how important SC is to me and what I've accomplished there. Most of my other friends at least know about Finland since we often talk about weekend plans and the like. Teachers... no I don't think so.
TeamLiquid: Did you follow or participate in previous TSLs? Your ICCup / CSL records were pretty good.
ROOT.qxc: Not really. I'm fairly new to the competitive scene and when I was playing Brood War seriously I was busy enough just trying to catch up. I didn't and still don't spend a lot of time watching casted games.
TeamLiquid: When did you start playing BW seriously?
ROOT.qxc: Around two years ago. I began on the first of February if I remember correctly. I began on iccup as a high D player. Just before I got a key to the SC2 Beta in around march of last year I had just hit B when I was trying to qualify for the Fnatic recruitment ladder challenge.
TeamLiquid: Any predictions on who else will qualify for TSL?
ROOT.qxc: Qualifying for TSL takes a decent amount of luck and a lot of persistence. I havn't really been keeping tabs on who has points but I would be a little surprised if Select didn't win one of the last two. I'm not really sure beyond that.
TeamLiquid: Any last words? Shoutouts?
ROOT.qxc: Check out my twitter - qxc0000, my facebook page - qxc, and my team's webpage root-gaming.com. Thanks to all my friends and fans for their support.
TeamLiquid: Thanks and good luck!
ROOT.qxc: Thanks. Take it easy.
qxc is one of those Terran's who you simply can't hate. He has a tendency to do slightly unorthodox things in his games which generates some pretty awesome games. For instance, he's not afraid to experiment with things (he invented the Viking drop from Medivacs after all...) and he's a player who is able to think on his feet more than others. It's this mindset which allowed him to react to Zeerax's PvT build and easily win games two and three of the final.
During Assembly, qxc dropped a game against Hasuobs on Shakuras Plateau. In the TSL Qualifier he came up against Hasu again and on the same map. With the last loss still firmly in his mind, how did qxc handle taking on one of the best Protoss in Europe? Well let's see... oh and keep an eye out for qxc's excellent use of Ravens during this game!
qxc's path to the finals was far from easy. On his way to the top he went through the some fierce competition. Hasuobs, a fellow competitor at Assembly Winter, was one of the toughest opponents that qxc had to go against in the tournament. On Shakuras Plateau, qxc spawned in the top right while Hasuobs spawned in the bottom left. qxc opted for a 1-1-1 build into cloaked banshee while Hasuobs went Gate-Gate-Expand. Since Hasu controlled the top Xel’Naga Watchtower, qxc’s banshee had to take the long way around the map. This gave Hasu’s robotics enough time to finish and minimise the damage qxc’s banshee would cause. Simultaneously, Hasu had moved across the map with a small force of Stalkers and pushed up qxc’s ramp.
Without a bunker qxc’s marines had no choice to retreat, but fortunately a fresh banshee had popped and with cloak, was easily able to repel Hasu’s attack. But the attack had distracted him and his other Banshee had only netted two kills. By the time he was able to get back to microing his Banshee, Hasu had been able to warp in some new Stalkers and easily dispatch of the threat. Hasu safely transferred Probes back to his expansion while qxc floated his brand new Orbital down to his natural. Neither side had really gained an advantage from their early game pressure, but qxc had a slight economic edge thanks to Mules.
Hasu teched to Colossus while qxc began to transition into a more Marauder heavy bionic force. qxc also added two Ravens. As soon as Hasu’s first Colossus popped, he began to pressure with a Stalker/Colossus army. Since qxc went 1-1-1, he was still lacking the key bio upgrades to fend off the push safely (namely, stim and concussive). qxc danced back and forth before being able to lay down a PDD from one of his Ravens – a critical defensive move.
The PDD forced Hasu’s Stalker heavy army to retreat while Hasu warped in a round of Zealots. He also tried poking at qxc’s army with his Colossus and trying to drain mana off the PDD in the process while waiting for more reinforcements. Eventually a second Colossus arrived and the mana of the PDD had been depleted – and Hasu seized the moment to move up qxc’s ramp and attack.
However, a misplaced Force Field blocked off Hasu’s Zealots from reaching qxc’s army and a clutch EMP drained the shields off of the majority of his force. With those two things working in his favour, qxc was able to fend off the attack and crush everything Hasu had. qxc now had a sizable army advance as well as a sizable economic advantage since he had not SCVs this entire time, whereas Hasu had cut probes. The game was still not over yet, since qxc’s army was hurt significantly, but the advantage certainly was held by qxc.
Hasu knew he needed to make a bold move to get back into this game and quickly took his third base in the top left main. Meanwhile, qxc expanded as well by taking the natural of the bottom right expand. qxc had switched into full Medivac/Viking production and had healed up his army. He had scouted Hasu’s third earlier with an SCV, and now moved his fully healed army over to crush the base and keep his stranglehold on the game. It didn’t take long for the Nexus to fall and there wasn’t a thing Hasu could do about it.
Hasu now resorted to breaking the rocks in his main so he could expand to 6 while qxc asserted map control by controlling both the center and the two Xel’Naga Watchtowers. Of course, controlling these alerted him to Hasu’s expansion at 6. Without Tanks there wasn’t much qxc could do about it except snipe off the Assimilators, but it didn’t matter – his advantage was about to spill over into a win. After pressuring 6 and forcing Hasu to move his army there to defend it, qxc moved his army around to Hasu’s natural and in doing so forced Hasu’s army into a really poor position.
With half of Hasu’s army unable to attack from the high ground (the Zealots), there really wasn’t much he could do to save his natural. qxc even got off some Hunter Seeker Missiles onto the Protoss army (check the pic!). Things went from bad to worse as Hasu tried to come down his ramp to save his natural as the choke point naturally increased the effectiveness of qxc’s units while decreasing the effectiveness of Hasu’s.
It didn’t take long for qxc to clear out the natural, and force Hasuobs to concede the game. Hasuobs is one of the best Protoss in Europe, and this game wasn’t even close. qxc never let up his worker production and gained a solid economic edge while fending off of Hasu’s aggression. Indeed, his only fault in this game was not controlling his first banshee better – since if he had been able to defend and attack simultaneously the game would have been over in less than 10 minutes. Otherwise this game is a scary example of how good qxc can be and in doing so gives hope that an American will rise up and be a hero against the Korean invites on the horizon.
You can watch more of qxc's games from his replays in the TSL Qualifier or watch his Semifinal and Final games casted by Day and DJWheat on TeamLiquid's Youtube Channel.
As mentioned earlier, there will be no Ladder Scenarios in this post! However you can look forward to an even more comprehensive look at the ladder later in the week. But I will say this, with Strelok jumping up to 103 points this week things are getting really tight at the top as we head towards our final two qualifiers. Don't forget that we're also announcing the last of our invites this week! Right before the finals of TSL Qualifier #7 are cast we will be announcing our final five Terran invites - you might need a change of pants for that so be prepared!
Next week we have our final TSL Qualifier held on the European server. It's Europe's last chance to take advantage of the favorable conditions and make their mark on the TSL. There are still a lot of good players in the hunt for qualification - Mana, Morrow, Nerchio, Select and Sjow to name a few. It really is anyone's game this weekend as there are no more second chances for people, it's do or die time.
Best of luck.
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