Up/Down Matches, Day 2 Recap
Results from Live Report Thread by Seeker.+ Show Spoiler [Results] +
GanZi 1 - 3
Sniper 2 - 2
InCa 3 - 1
Leenock 4 - 0
Leenock <Dual Sight 1.1> GanZi
AcE <Antiga Shipyard 1.2> Sniper
Leenock <Bel'Shir Beach Winter> InCa
AcE <Entombed Valley> GanZi
Sniper <Crossfire SE 1.1> InCa
AcE <Metropolis> Leenock
Sniper <ESV Cloud Kingdom> GanZi
AcE <Daybreak> InCa
Sniper <Antiga Shipyard 1.2> Leenock
GanZi <Bel'Shir Beach Winter> InCa
Leenock You Out
There was some chatter coming into the group that Leenock's ZvP hadn't been up to snuff lately, getting him knocked out of his last few tournaments. With his best match-up, ZvT, only being showcased once in the group, and that being against a TvZ specialist in his own right, Ganzi, it looked like it might be a tough road back to Code S for Leenock.
His ZvP might have been an issue against the likes of Oz and MC, but Inca and Ace? Even playing his weakest match-up, his multitasking and overall macro play were more than enough to destroy the two Protosses. Neither game was particularly close, with Leenock pressing the issue and forcing his Protoss counterparts to react to his aggressive ways. Inca, after falling way behind to strong early baneling pressure from Leenock (actually losing his main base in the process), tried to come back with a funky stargate build. But with more than enough hydras on defense, it was a laughable effort. The game against Ace was closer, but exposed the immense skill gap between the two players. Ace tried his hardest to keep Leenock's attacks at bay, but due to focus on microing and trying to stay alive, he let his minerals float too high and eventually crumbled to the pressure.
The other two games for Leenock showcased his multitasking once again, as he used his powerful attacking style to force both Ganzi and Sniper into submission. Inca and Ace might not be the strongest Protosses against whom Leenock could prove that his ZvP is Code S level, but it's a good first step on his way back to trying to become the best Zerg in the world.
The Dark Knight Rises
He did it again. Even though everyone but Wax doubted him to make it out of the group, the man who makes DT's and crosses his fingers for success was able to escape the studio with a 3-1 score and another Code S medallion. It wasn't the prettiest run, starting off with InCa getting stomped by Leenock in embarrassing fashion. After falling to an early baneling bust while trying to get up two bases, Inca tried to make up for his disadvantage with a shot in the dark, multi-stargate strategy, even after scouting that his opponent was going for hydralisks and infestors. He was able to get a decent amount of phoenixes before Leenock came in for his second big attack, but it wasn't enough as his opponent already had double the supply before the battle started.
His second match was much better than the first. Against Sniper on Crossfire, Inca was able to use a warp prism drop with sentries and blink stalkers to its highest potential, killing off Sniper's main base with his brilliant strategy and following it up colossi. It did end up in a base trade as the game reached its climax, but with colossi, blink stalkers, and the economic lead due to his drop at the start of the game, InCa was able to win easily with his far superior army.
The next two games went as many would have predicted. He was able to defeat the 0-3 Ace in his strongest match-up, PvP, even using his personal avatar DTs to harass inside Ace's main during the mid-game and give him time to up his colossus count. In his final match against Ganzi – where everything was on the line, where if the former Slayers Terran had won, it would have gone to a tiebreaker between InCa, Ganzi, and Sniper – Inca was able to seal the deal and claim the Code S spot for himself. Ganzi, who is notorious for having weak TvP, went for an aggressive build with a bunker, some marines, and a marauder mixed in. Inca was able to stop it dead with some nice stalker micro, drive Ganzi back, and make the Terran do one last ditch all-in with SCV's pulled to hope for a miracle victory. The timing didn't work out as planned, Ganzi GG'ed, and Inca, for the second straight season, made it through the Up and Downs in second place to make Code S.
His PvZ outside the sentry drop with blink stalkers on Crossfire didn't look top notch, and it will be a problem if he gets matched up with the likes of DongRaeGu or Nestea, but his PvP and PvT, albeit against weak opponents in those match-ups, looked solid.
Bad Night for GanZi and AcE
To keep it short, Ace looked bad in the group. He got rolled in his first three games before putting up a somewhat decent fight against Inca in his final game, but even then his army positioning was bad and led to him losing. Right now, Ace is a lower-tier Code A player that will have to up his game next season if he wants any hope of getting back to the Up and Down stages. His ceremonies are fun to watch, yes, but when will we actually see a ceremony after he wins a game for himself? He's lost his last seven games in the GSL booth and even though he was the one doing the celebrations in his recent team league match against Prime, he ended the night looking distraught in his booth after GhostKing wiped the floor with him.
I will give him credit for being able to put up a decent fight in his game against Leenock, having to be everywhere at once to stop Leenock's intense, relentless style, but his multitasking just wasn't up to snuff and wasn't able to produce at a high enough rate to keep the game going. Ace can be a good player and is a former IEM World Champion (even if it was over a year ago), but compared to the other two Protoss players on Startale, Parting and Squirtle, he has been left in the dust. Squirtle, his counterpart since the early days of the GSTL, was able to 4-0 his group last night and look incredible. Last night, well, Ace looked incredibly lackluster.
Ganzi has left Slayers and is now searching for a foreign team, but his last night in a Slayers jacket didn't go as hoped. He was able to beat Ace, but so did everyone else, and he lost the rest of his games to fall into Code A for the upcoming season. In his strongest match-up, TvZ, where he was supposed to shine in the group, he faltered, not being able to handle the play of either Leenock and Sniper. Both players ran Ganzi ragged, attacking from all angles and not letting the Terran player stop to take a breath. Unlike Ace, Ganzi didn't play particularly badly, with both Leenock and Sniper playing excellently in the two games he lost, but as a former Code S semifinalist, you expected more.
Match of the Night:
MvPSniper vs. oGsInCa
If you're a Protoss player and hate the map Crossfire, you have to check this game out. Inca might be known for his DT shenanigans and terrible, and I mean terrible PvZ final against Nestea last year, but this was his shining moment in the match-up. While running Sniper's roaches around with his stalkers and hiding the fact he had blink, Inca was able to drop sentries into his opponent's main undetected, blink his stalkers into the main, forcefield the ramp, and go to town on the drones, hatchery, etc. while Sniper had to try and break down the rocks to stop the massacre with his roaches.
Up/Down Matches, Day 3 Preview
An NBA head coach once said, "Never underestimated the heart of a champion." Well, I'm not sure if it was his 'heart' I was underestimating, but I underestimated Leenock nonetheless, and got burned. Leenock looked better than he had in months, 4 – 0'ing his group and making it back to his rightful place in Code S. On the other hand, my faith in the dark arts of underdog oGs.InCa was well rewarded, as he made it through the group in second place.
I tried to combine those two results into some kind of lesson I might learn – but to be honest, I really can't find much in common. Yes, they're both runner-ups, but Rainbow, Rain and TOP have long since taught me it's 100% okay to doubt silver-medalists. The only conclusion I can come to is that Leenock worships the same dark god as InCa, which allowed him to overcome his weak ZvP and crush through his group.
Anyway, on to day three.
The best compliments we can afford these two are "actually in Code A!" and "actually beat their first round opponents!" Other than that, they've been mostly unremarkable. Terious hasn't contributed at all to Prime's world domination plans, while Alicia's inclusion in SlayerS' B-Team-only efforts in international team leagues tells you where he ranks internally. So, with it being clear that both of these guys are clear underdogs in a tough group, how do we decide between fifth and sixth?
Well, I'm going to make it awfully simple. Alicia is Protoss. Every Protoss player who shriveled up and died during the long Terran Summer of 2011 has returned with the snows of winter. Some have experienced drastic revivals, like Genius, while others have made more modest recoveries, like San. In any case, there's just something about these times that's helping the brothers of Aiur make their return. Though Alicia might not be the the strongest of their number, it's a boost that at least affords him a #5 spot in this group.
Oh, how quaint! JYP in a three Terran group.
I had a conversation with tree.hugger the other day, as he asserted that JYP's PvT, while bad, was not AS bad as the record might suggest. I had to agree with the statement, falling back on my ancient Brood War history for reference. The statistics show that even a player who is terrible at a match-up will still have about a mid 30's win percentage at worst over a large sample (I suppose we could infer that if you can't win 1/3rd of your games in your worst match-up, then you probably won't get the opportunities to play enough games to build up a large sample in the first place). So yeah, JYP's present 6 - 24 (20% winrate) PvT record in Korea is not a good indication of his long term win-rate, and it's probably actually around 35%. No, I can't tell whether that was a compliment or insult either.
To be honest, he looked very good against PuMa at the IEM World Championship, going 2 - 3 and almost beating the TvP master. JYP is more aware than anybody about his poor PvT record, and it looked like he had been working hard to overcome that reputation. However, it was still ended in a loss, despite his impressive play. Until JYP proves he actually can beat Code S class Terrans, I'll continue to predict against him.
It's not Maru's fault that he played the greatest player of all time on a day where his eminence actually decided to care. Everything I've heard from people in the scene tells me that Nada could be a championship contender if he felt like putting his full effort into it, but alas, he seems content with crushing the dreams of fifteen year olds and staying in Code S.
There's not much to say about Maru in terms of pure skill. He's got the ability to be a Code S player right now (dismantling Happy in Code A, all-killing Startale in KSL, finding playing time on a team with MKP and Byun). It's all about whether he's got the heart and nerves. We've never seen Maru in a high pressure situation, and it will be interesting to see how he plays. Perhaps he will do well in the earlier games, but he could do with some more testing in situations where his tournament life is on the line in one single game. The level of tension during the up-down matches has been insane, and we've seen some incredible emotion from both the winners and the losers thus far. It really does seem like next to semi-final + matches, these are the matches that matter the most to the players.
I've never completely bought into the TheStC hype, thinking there must be a considerable amount of hipster "I like non Code S players" BS behind it. Believe me, I would know, having been on the DRG bandwagon while he was beasting the team leagues and getting knocked out of Code A by JYP (mysteriously, DRG would lose his allure after MLG Raleigh...). I'd like to think I've been proven right for the most part by TheStC's recent Code A and GSTL performances. We've seen that he's a very good player, but there appears to be another tier above him.
While he's not a championship contender just yet, I find it hard to believe that there are 31 players who are clearly better than him. He's a Code S class player, and could definitely make a deep run if he got the chance. It's not exactly world championship level competition in the Up/Downs (not everyday, anyway), so that kind of skill level should be good enough for TheStC to safely make it through this group. He couldn't have picked a better time, really. His TvP is his best match-up, and with the recent Protoss proliferation, a seeded Code S finish would not be out of his grasp.
After losing to Zenio in his direct-to-Code S match, sC had an amusing Twitter conversation with Genius about how he should quit League of Legends. While it was a joking statement, it felt like something that could have been 100% true.
I was reminded of FruitDealer at IEM New York, playing League of Legends and chatting on instant messenger between games, while people laddered furiously around him. FruitDealer, naturally blessed with the gift of just being way smarter than almost everyone who plays Starcraft II, took second place anyway. The way sC plays, using his god-given macro talent to throw infinity armies at people until they die, could probably get away with the odd game of LOL inside the GSL booth. In that way, I kind of just expect sC to coast to a Code S spot. Since I already brought up Twitter once: Leenock forgot to include sC among the players he wished luck in the up/downs, sC called him out on it, Leenock said he just assumed sC would get through.
Bañe-ata by shiroiusagi.
Writers: Fionn and Waxangel.
Graphics and Art: Meko and shiroiusagi.