IEM Season V - World Championship
VOD archive -- click on dates March 1st - 5th
Intel Extreme Masters -- Recap
Moon is only half right. During the IEM World Championship, Koreans did dominate the rest of the field, going 1-2-3 in the final standings and finally overcoming the jet-lag handicap that has crippled players like oGsInca and oGsTOP in the past when attending overseas events. But it would be more accurate to say that Korean training owns white dudes. Five out of five players with Korean training (Squirtle, Moon, mOOnGLaDe, IdrA, and Ace) made it to the bracket stage of the tournament, while only one out of the seven other players made it that far. A mediocre group of players from Korea went against the very best that the rest of the world had to offer, and the overall game record tells the tale: 40 wins, 10 losses.
It's safe to say that the impassible Korean-foreigner divide from Broodwar is alive and well, for now.
Those 40 wins, 10 losses included the amazing 4-round tiebreaker between Squirtle, Socke, and Sjow, a highlight of the IEM World Championship. At the end of group play, Sjow, Socke, and Squirtle were all 2-3 in their group, and to determine who would get the last spot in the group, they played each other in tiebreakers. However, the players went 1-1 against each other three times in a row, extending the ESL broadcast for hours longer than it had been scheduled. Socke showed that he has world class PvP by going 4-2 overall vs Squirtle; however, Squirtle eventually advanced after four long tiebreaker rounds, advancing fourth in his group and moving on to face Idra in the bracket rounds.
Socke vs Squirtle -- Game 5 of 6
One game in particular showcased Socke's deep understanding of PvP. This match took place on Xel'Naga Caverns during the third tiebreaker. In the previous tiebreakers, 4-gates had been common, and Socke used this fact to his advantage. He built his cybernetics core before his second pylon, in full view of Squirtle's probe, and chronoboosted his warp gate research without chronoboosting probes and gateway units, again letting Squirtle see what was going on. After Squirtle left, he only put up three gateways, but Squirtle, smelling a four warpgate, put up four in defense. Socke played the ruse out to the end, sending a probe to pretend to put up a proxy pylon near Squirtle's base.
This probe died to Squirtle's stalkers, a victim of his master's cunning plans
After a few minutes, it became clear to Squirtle that no 4 gate was coming, and he moved out to attempt to punish what he assumed would be a 3-gate expo by Socke. However, Socke had not put up an expo, going for 3 gate blink stalkers instead, and he routed his opponent's forces in the initial engagement. Squirtle retreated to his ramp, where he held off Socke's blink stalker attack. After that attack, Socke started chronoboosting probes, but didn't stop poking at Squirtle's ramp. After a while, Socke retreated, and both players put up their expansions simultaneously.
this is a pretty bad position to be in if you don't have blink
While Squirtle went twilight council in order to get blink, Socke built a proxy stargate for void rays, preparing the ultimate anti-colossus combination. Squirtle obligingly went colossus, and Socke built up a force of a few more stalkers and three void rays and attacked at the perfect timing. He killed Squirtle's lone colossus rather easily and won with a superior unit composition.
not even close
After such a grueling tiebreaker round following a full day of casting, the team of Day, TLO, and Rotterdam were completely exhausted. But even when bushed, the trio, casing two at a time, were fantastic. Each pair had their strengths: Day was, well, Day, and when paired with TLO the cast was full of spot on analysis from two top Starcraft 2 players. Rotterdam was the perfect host, asking just the right questions of his more knowledgeable partners, and he and TLO casted their games like a pair of old friends, even though they had just met. I'm looking forward to more of this casting team in the future.
In the quarterfinals, IdrA lost 2-3 to Squirtle in a close series. Squirtle's use of air compositions seemed to baffle Idra in the three games he lost, but Idra, as always, showed excellent play when playing long macro games. Replays from that match, and from the rest of the playoff, can be downloaded here. Meanwhile, mOOnGLaDe showed once again that MorroW's ZvZ just isn't up to par with his other matchups in a 3-1 victory.
In the semifinals, Game 3 of Moon vs Squirtle was the highlight of the round. Throughout the series, Moon's poor economy management was more than made up for by his flawless decision-making, and that was nowhere more evident than in game 3. Moon made all the right decisions, dropping everywhere with overlords as if he were playing Terran and barely holding several powerful Protoss attacks. The series was back and forth, and the games Moon won are highly recommended for viewing. On the other side of the bracket, Ace outclassed Moonglade 3-0.
In the third place match, there was some sloppy play between Squirtle and Moonglade. When the dust cleared, Squirtle had eked out a victory, 3-2.
Moon and Ace played in the finals. In game 1 on Delta Quadrant, Moon wasn't able to scout and instead prepared for every type of cheese at once, getting two spore crawlers blind in response to a phantom stargate build and forgoing a lair in favor of bunches of lings to defend a phantom 4-gate. Fortunately for Moon, Ace went blink stalker, which mass speedling counters pretty well. Moon won after Ace dragged the game out 5 minutes too long.Game 2 was the infamous "crowd-hack" game, in which Squirtle fast-expanded on Lost Temple and where Moon tried to win with a one base nydus timing. While the nydus was building, a cheer went up from the crowd, and Ace scouted the nydus exit with a probe. Whether the two events were coincidences was the subject of a lot of debate, but Idra chimed in after the event was over, saying that he had analyzed Ace's replays beforehand and that Ace always scouted for nyduses after fast expanding on Lost Temple. So it's likely that Ace would have scouted Moon's all-in without the crowd, but of course there is no way to know for sure. After his all-in failed, Moon was on one base as zerg. Predictably, he lost.
Game 3, on Blistering Sands, featured another all-in by Moon, this time a one base roach bust on the back door. Ace handled it perfectly, saccing his main and getting a stargate. With cannons securing his natural, Ace was free to tear up Moon's roach army and head for Moon's main, where two queens had to fight two void rays and a phoenix. Excellent play by Ace, countering perfectly the most popular zerg strategy on Blistering.
On game 4, Moon responded to Ace's fast expand not with an all-in, but with a double expand. He got a blind evo (which I think more zergs are going to be doing in the future as insurance against air builds like the one Ace did). Moon defended Ace's first attack with good micro, and from there denied Ace's third until a climactic battle in which he crushed the Protoss army by shift-right-clicking both colossi with his corruptors and killing everything else with mass hydra.
The final game was on Xel'Naga Caverns, and had way too much action to be recapped here. Banelings, roaches, hydras, corruptors, immortals, colossi, base trades... it was a fitting end to the tournament. You can and should watch the game here -- jump to the 1:19:00 mark!
Well, that just about covers it. Check out the Liquipedia article at the top of this page for detailed results, and check out the link right under that for VODs of the whole tournament!
Thanks for reading!