They said he was washed up. They said the game had passed him by. Two time WCG champion? Big deal, against a bunch of hasu foreigners. Two-time OSL champion? Yeah back in the day where no one even knew what APM was. He spent 2003 in the gutter, succumbing to players who were faster, newer, and hungrier.
But, the Emperor holds his name for a reason, it isn't a fluke. Boxer resurrected himself from the challenge league, duel league cycle, and is now back on top of the progaming world. His second finals in a row, Boxer was looking to set yet another record by being the only person to win a third OSL title. And what would he win by accomplishing such a feat? OGN has forked over $8,000 USD for one of these beauties; a gold mouse. From now on, any player who wins three OSL championships will receive one of these, and a map to the nearest pawn shop.
So who does he have to beat to get his highly insured hands on the prize? Anytime[gm]. If this was 3 months ago all but a few would simply say... who? However, after his inaugural season in the OSL, Anytime[gm] has leapt from relative anonymity to protoss superstar. Through his group he tied for the lead with Iloveoov at 2-1, knocking out Yellow in the process. It didn't get any easier in the playoffs, but Anytime stepped up and handled Xellos and Iloveoov with precision. Now he stands opposite the king of progaming, Boxer himself.
Who has the hands, the nerves, the skill and the speed to bring it all home? Let’s find out.
Warning: this isn’t typical, and it isn’t short.
A nexus warped onto the surface in the east, and immediately the beacon on the top began flickering. As the Terran commander stared into the gloom of the twilight landscape, he could faintly see the outline of its spires. Behind him, his own Command Center, still gleaming and new, flickered with the same glow, as scv began to roll off the assembly line. Who was his opponent this time? A veteran of countless engagements, it didn't really matter. What lay ahead of him was as familiar as his own face. As regular as his breathing. He had sent men to die... millions of them, without a care or thought. That’s the way it had to be in this war, sacrificing precision and strategy for compassion was the road to defeat, and death. The commander turned, his cape swirling around him, and descended into his Command Center to ready himself for the grueling battles ahead.
Nervously tapping his foot, he though "I know it was too late to back out... but I wasn't supposed to have made it this far! Proving myself was all... but then one opponent fell after another and here I am!" To ease his nervousness the Templar gutted one of the bound zerglings next to him and drank the dark rich juices it contained. The slightly narcotic effect of the alien blood calmed him and helped him focus on the task at hand. He had beaten the Terran's protégé, he could beat the master as well. Barking orders at the wispy probes behind him, a gateway for his brethren and research core appeared. On it was stamped the trademark of his own Aiur guild. Comforted by the fact that his own clan mates would be supplying his wares for the battle, he rapidly invested in a citadel and templar archives while calling forth two of his dragoon allies. Friends from many battles, he knew that by coming first his friends had embraced certain death, but it only spurned him to command better, with more honour and more precision. As he waited for the chance to call forth his powerful templar, he got his first indication of the enemy other than the shriek of mining minerals in the distance. A hapless scv used all of its cunning to make it to the ramp, but was promptly cut down by accurate balls of pure energy, causing it to fry and sizzle. As it perished, his own scout was destroyed by machine gun fire. Without a thought Anytime sent out another, mindless of its pleas for mercy. Despite being from different races, the Protoss and Terran commanders understood the same rules of warfare. Turning his attention back to the battlefield, Anytime called forth a second powerful Nexus and continued with his single gateway.
I'm blind... thought Boxer, standing on the ledge of his outpost. I'm expanding and I'm blind. I need to see, and I need to mine. An academy went up as another scv built a second Command Center. The scv were so afraid, they leapt to his bidding without pause. Sure enough, the cloaked assassins came through the night, their faint shimmer the only indication there was anything there at all. "I'm ready for you, you cowardly bastard." Two bladed warriors tried to gain purchase in the terran base, but both fell to shell fire and the clattering of small arms. “Round one to me, junior” Boxer though with a wry smile. After securing his expansion Boxer again used his technology of farsight to reveal his opponents intention. To his surprise, the protoss already held one expansion and was warping in another! "So bold for one so young," he snarled.
Anytime knew his initial gambit had been a failure, and was surprised to see the signature blue lights of a scan so early in the game. His first two warriors had fallen, but their presence would give the Terran pause to move. Scans were not endless. Knowing this, another Nexus went up, and in his base his plans continued to unfold. What was the answer to a powerful Terran? Not to play shy, not to play weak... bring your strongest units to bear... bring an ARBITER! As he basked in the beautiful glow of the stargate, an aid came rushing in. "MASTER! The Terran is moving!" With purposeful strides Anytime strode to the ledge overlooking the battlefield and began to give orders to his deployed units.
Sitting astride his vulture, Boxer knew his only chance was to do some damage now, before the bastard got any more entrenched in his position. Rolling his metal forward, he sieged up on the upper ramp, giving himself position over routes both north and east that his opponent could take. Shells whistled from overhead and shrapnel churned the ground, making vapour out of those protoss fighters too slow to react to the change in position. Slowly he crept forward... mines and siege, mines and siege. The war machine was humming at home and the loss of some tanks to his own mines barely caused Boxer to blink. Such was war. Barking orders furiously, the minefield was re-laid, and the tanks crept ever closer to the multi-spired nexus where the giant chunks of minerals were being reduced at a frenetic pace. Then he saw a shadow pass over his frontline and looked up into the sky. An Arbiter! So quickly too... and, in the second of distraction it caused, zealots were swarming his tanks, with dragoons hurling volleys of energy. His push destroyed, Boxer himself barely escaped the carnage, and in his retreat to home, he saw yet another Nexus appear in the northwest corner. A feeling of dread rippled through his stomach as he knew he had underestimated his opponent.
"Brilliant timing commander!" claimed the eunuch, "you sent that infidel packing!" Not bothering to respond to such obvious flattery, Anytime continued to marshal his troops. Now was the time to take advantage of his reprieve. Vultures scurried around the map, causing a minor distraction and even less damage. In response, a squad of dragoons snuck around at the terran expansion in the west and began obliterating scv's. Thirsty in his lust, Anytime failed to see the pronged flank of mines and tanks, causing his squad to perish. "A pittance" he muttered under his breath. I have more important surprises in store... Sure enough, a moment later he ordered his two arbiters to the main base of the terran. Time for the death blow! His blood pounded in his head in anticipation of the violence to follow.
"Master! We are taking heavy turret fire! Permission to recall ahead of schedule!"
"Recall in the main, KILL THEM ALL!" he howled into his command module.
The video from his arbiters seemed to slow down time for what happened next. He saw two legions of troops disappear from his defenses, and then saw both of his recalled groups disappear in a massive explosion of robotic and organic symmetry. "NOOO..." he howled. The bastard terran had mined his base and observers were nowhere to be found. Spitting in disgust he turned from his dais and stormed back inside the nexus.
Even rookies make mistakes. Smugly, boxer observed the civilians slowly shoveling away the wreckage of the two arbiters, not to mention filling in the massive crater left by the explosion. However, defense was not the answer. It was time to take back some of the map his opponent had so boldly taken earlier in the game. His metal once again moved to the middle of the map, finding the highest terrain possible. Again on his front lines, as he refused to be anywhere else, Boxer saw the protoss army take position across from him, the two forces splitting the map in two. Zealots snuck along the top of the map, but a precautionary turret detected them and prevented the damage. Laughing at the predictable outcome, Boxer turned his attention back to the main armies. "He wouldn't think of attacking my metal head on would he?" The question was answered when the world went dark.
"Master! Spectacular attack!" Anytime grunted and licked his lips with satisfaction. His armies were taking the map piece by piece. The failure of the arbiter was a distant memory. His warriors had fought mightily, like TROJANS! Raising his fist to the assembled masses below, the earth shook with their battle roars. The fight was truly on now! Capitol ships had been ordered... the minerals had been mined. The terran couldn't match the might of protoss air and Anytime knew it. His land army cleared a path along the northern edge, destroying a defenseless command center as his high templars blanketed another expansion with blue lightning, halting another terran mining site. As the terran commander tried to reinforce and redeploy, Anytime smiled. He knew he was already miles ahead. His first three capitol ships drifted overhead, laden with interceptors inside. As his eyes in the sky saw goliaths march out of the terran factories, Anytime divided his forces. "Recall in the north east, and this time NO FAILURES!" he shouted. To his carriers he said, "once the terran forces engage in the north, you engage the natural expansion in the south. We will bleed this old man dry!"
"Sir? Sir? Can you hear me Sir?" Sweat and blood covered his tunic. The HUD in his vulture was down, but Boxer was a man of tradition. A man of war. He had always kept a pair of field glasses around his neck, years after they became obsolete. He knew he was in trouble as a protoss recall hit one expansion, carriers hit his main, and the protoss land army tackled a third. Attacked from three positions at once! Boxer couldn't believe it. This man was a cyclone! He tried to fight off the attack as best he could, subduing the land elements of his opponent, but there was no refuge from the whistling interceptors overhead. He had no choice but to return to the Command Center lest his vulture be one of the unfortunate ones and his already tested luck ran out. Speeding to the rear of his lines, he passed row upon row of broken, useless machinery, and broken, useless men. Mentally, his army was beaten from the constant pressure. Every time his goliaths came in range, the protoss carriers moved just beyond a land formation and avoided the rockets. As he struggled to track down the blimps, platoons of zealots came running in, cutting out the legs of his biped warriors and allowing the carriers to escape. It was relentless! They never died! He realized that with the destruction of his armouries, it would be even longer before he could reach maximum power with his units.
As the terran continued to try and prevent the aerial onslaught, Anytime settled back. He felt good, in a rhythm. His opponent had one field of minerals left, and no way to deal with his air. He was still in the field, but only out of stubbornness. Terran metal fell in heaps, and a full wing of carriers was far too powerful for his opponent to deal with. Finally, the factories began to crumble and Anytime knew victory was his.
He had retreated before. He had tasted defeat before. It always tasted bitter. Like the taste of last nights liquor and stale tobacco. As he was bourn away, he saw the flames that dotted the skyline and vowed vengeance.
"Where to sir?" asked a petrified soldier, little more than a boy, not yet old enough to shave. No, he took that back. After the fight today, no one in his army was a mere boy. They were all men.
"We will regroup at coordinates 815. Ready my command center."
Anytime 1:0 Boxer
Anytime winced as he touched the fresh cuts on his face. With each new victory, he was granted further marks of distinction which noted his victories. The human had retreated to 815, land not unknown to either commander. An scv glided into his base early, making it obvious the terran had scouted correctly. No matter, with a fast robotics he would have a far superior scout in a matter of moments. It was what he loved about his race, the advantage of not being the mindless swarm or the fragile humans. He was invisible; he dealt devastating magic; his warriors had honour and screamed with pleasure, not pain, when they met their fate. The scv again made its way into his base, passing under the legs of his dragoon. No matter. Let him see the support bay. Let him see the observatory. It mattered not.
Huddled in the southeast, on a raised bit of land, goliaths patrolled the perimeter. They were the elite, having already shot down one observer and sending its glass shards glittering in the sun. Directly above him, his opponent tried to emerge with a reaver shuttle, but his early scouting vulture who had volunteered for low ground duty scouted it. With his life. As his dropship sagged under the weight of its goliath payload, Boxer spotted another shimmer in the sky. "Scan factory sector now!" he ordered, and sure enough another delicate eye began to drift away. It moved not nearly fast enough however, and it soon joined the ground below. He knew the Protoss had taken his natural expansion, but he wasn’t worried. He started a new primary building of his own, and continued building his transport fleet. He had to, the protoss had dual robo by now and he had to keep his carrying capacity somewhat even with him. He drifted his first command center north to three, in between the two camps. Clandestinely, he started another one in the southwest, but without reinforcements nearby it was merely prospecting.
Furious with his observers, Anytime paced up and down. Three times he had lost them, the precious investment of gas and information spinning to the earth. "Enough." His three shuttles dropped on the western island shutting down all operations. "Sir, send transport, we lost ours" crackled the command station. Anytime had no time to listen though, as he saw four specks in the sky grow larger and larger. "All reinforcements to Nexus 2!" he howled. Goliaths dropped from the sky one after another, tearing apart defenses with their high-bore cannons and shredding probes mindlessly busy with their own tasks. "Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. Time to suffer," exclaimed Anytime. And then he pounced.
With his western expansion afloat and his hidden CC compromised by a single dragoon, Boxer wore a look that could melt lead. That look turned lethal as two reavers tore apart his scv in the southwest, one landed in the middle, and his drop again failed in at the protoss natural. "Curse those protoss ships. Why can't we match their speed?" The consequences of this unbalance were further revealed as reavers again fell from the sky, in his main and at his expansions. No sooner did he pick up his goliaths than protoss units appeared on his front door again. "Damnit! Why can you fools not stop those ships?!?"
Anytime felt the thrill of the hunt pulsing through his veins. He had taken down the terran main, the backbone of his enemy’s economy. Now, he would crush his lone expansion. Two more reavers fell on the undefended expansion. Laughing at his opponents meager resources, Anytime crowed, “I can be in two places at once, WHY DONT YOU LEARN HUMAN?" Some lessons were too much for lesser species and Anytime planned to make him aware of it. Again he sent his ships forth to the southeast and southwest. It was clearly in mop-up stage now, and as he saw an escape rocket blast into the sky he knew the remaining forces would provide little resistance without their leader. "Come," he said to his captains, "tonight we sport and tonight we feast."
Anytime 2:0 Boxer
R-Point. It was as good a place as any for his final stand. He had seen successes here. Its pastoral highlands looked out over a landscape of valleys and mounds formed by the remains of an ancient civilization. Any influence that civilization had had on the environment was almost erased, with only the depressions and hoodoos leaving any suggestion that there had been anything at all. In the southeast, he could look across the terrain with the sun at his back. His soldiers would have that advantage in the morning anyways. And, if he had his way, Boxer knew he would do all of his fighting in the morning.
Anytime's head swam with sickness and he felt thick ropes of blackness congealing on his face. Last nights victory markings had been particularly savage. He slumped on the ornate granite railing of his Nexus balcony, indicating to his underlings his desires. He needed intelligence. He was worried. This was terran land, and he was deep inside the enemy’s domain. The observatory began to warp in, and next to it a citadel when he noticed marines and a tank rolling towards his choke. Dragoons blocked the ramp, and a templar archives neared completion. "Let him march, for all the good it does him" snorted Anytime. "Let's see how he likes my templar in behind his lines."
Boxer couldn't believe it. His initial play had been to simply buy him time for his expansion, but as his comstats came online he discovered that the protoss had done him one better! Two nexus! Boxer understood the fine line between bold and brazen. His opponent had crossed it. "Now, we strike. and we hand this Protoss pup a beating he so richly deserves." Four tanks and a smattering of marines and vultures rallied to his choke and started across the map. He knew his rival wasn't stupid, and as he drove across the map he saw a protoss shuttle reverse and chase his army. But, he also knew that his opponent had miscalculated. As he reached the outskirts of the base, dragoons and probes raced out to meet him. With two losing battles behind him, his soldiers vented their frustrations and blew apart everything in their path. Gun blazing, Boxer sieged up outside the protoss ramp and hammered the high ground. His barracks gave him perfect vision of his targets, and with satisfaction he saw through his field glasses the protoss leadership warp off the field. He was happy he hadn't missed that, and he readied his own ship for pursuit.
Anytime 2:1 Boxer
"Neo Forte?" asked Anytime "But that is still deep in terran territory!"
"What, you think you can run? You fight and die with honour" thundered the protoss leadership. "You die on the field or you die on the end of my blade"
With that Anytime turned and focused on the map laid out in front of him. He was in the northwest, and again his adversary had a scout in his base quickly. Anytime guessed he was to the east, but soon realized he had erred and sent his first dragoon down the map. With two gateways and his core spinning, there would be plenty more where that came from. He probed the terran ramp, but it was bottled tight. Why was he just staying on his small platform? He would run out of room soon.
Boxer saw the group of dragoons waiting outside his ramp and smiled. His hidden factory in the east would help nicely. He laid his mines on the north-south path between the two bases and moved his tanks and marines out. In a sick way, he was reminded of a prank from when he was a child, crouching behind the legs of a boy while his friend pushed the victim back over him. As the dragoons lumbered backwards, the mines popped up doing their dirty work. Blue sludge filled the treads of tank and boot alike as he rolled forward to the protoss mineral choke. "I'll give him this, he’s got balls" he said as the protoss commander stood his ground. "But it isn't going to matter."
Anytime hung his head in disbelief. His force had fallen to a simple trick, and as he heard the ratcheting of the siege tanks, he knew they had dug themselves into the ground outside his base. Resolutely, he continued to recall troops from the homeworld as the terran presence crept ever closer. Now even his new units were under attack as they retreated from the mouth of the gateway. He sighed, and succumbed to the inevitable. He issued only one more order before warping off the battle field. As he left he heard the thunder of tank fire and cries of his soldiers. They had found their release, he had owed them the sweetness of death.
Anytime 2:2 Boxer
His hands trembled slightly as his craft landed beside the Command Center. He had come full circle, and now it was time for him avenge his earlier defeat. He could still see the remains of the previous engagement scattered about the mouth of the mammoth building. Here and there an impromptu grave had been hastily resurrected by the last remain survivors of the battle. Probably minutes before they would have met those they honoured in the void. In slow motion, as if time were repeating itself, he looked to the west and saw the nexus blinking faintly in the sky. It was time once again to do battle, and this time there could be no mistakes.
Anytime had not the strength to scream. Had he been able to, he would have filled the halls of his nexus his agonized howls. The leadership did not look kindly upon failure, but failure twice was inexcusable. It was only because of his previous victories, and current circumstances, that he was even alive. The punishment doled out to his body had last for what seemed like an eternity. And now, he was supposed to guide his army to victory? Only whispers escaped his lungs, as orderlies scurried amongst his advisors who nervously waited for direction. Even in his state, his wishes were followed. No one dared betrayal. His gateway and robotics facility hissed as they entered the landscape, and soon his warriors emerged, bowing to his honour before taking their positions. As he initiated another nexus, his observers revealed the terran strategy, spotting a new command center drifting towards another mineral field. The stage was set, and with the violence soon approaching, Anytime rallied, and felt the bloodlust give strength to his body.
His factories heated the night, with sparks and molten metal rapidly creating the troops he needed for battle. It was never fast enough it seemed. He had succeeded in expanding without pressure, but the protoss commander had upped the ante, expanding two times to counter. He knew that the number of gateways could multiply far faster then his factories could be constructed, so taking a deep breath, he ordered his newly minted army out into the battle field. Like a repeat of the battle before, protoss troops flooded over his units the instant they came to the middle of the map. Snarling with frustration, Boxer revved his bike along the front lines, haranguing his troops to fight. Leading by example, he initiated a vulture raid on the protoss expansion, but succeeded merely in escaping.
With each of his comrades’ kills, he could feel power course through his body. His warriors were on the offensive now, and Anytime longed to be with them. His legions of dragoons forced the terran back from a second expansion in the west, and would soon be joined by the dreadful airpower once the infrastructure finished warping in. All was going according to plan. Even as the terran general tried to move out of his base, he didn't realize how far behind he was. Nexii littered the west side of the map and heaps of minerals were being fed into the gateways to create a sea of death. As the terran moved out once again, Anytime grinned, and quickly ordered a rush of zealots. The tight bunches of tanks blasted each other apart trying to rid themselves of the bionic menace. It was child’s play really. His soldiers willingly sacrificed themselves, not for kills, not for fame, but simply for time. Every second the terran push was held back was another second for Anytime's burgeoning air force to gain strength. Soon, it would be time...
His metal overpowered, Boxer looked to the skies for his salvation. He knew what was coming. Air, and lots of it. His wraith pilots were getting their last rights below him, just before they took wing to fight the giant carriers. As the blimps appeared on the horizon at the edge of his main, the wraiths lifted off and took flight. Boxer simply touched his hand to his hat in a salute. He knew that it was a do or die mission, and not just for those in the air. They had to destroy the observers before the giant beasts could release their payload. As he watched the sky, he saw them swoop in... one... two explosions sent observers spinning to the earth as air to air rockets exploded in a symphony of fire. But, it was not enough. A third observer revealed to the carriers the location of the wraiths. As the pilots turned to flee, they were met by the pulsing rays of corsairs, sweeping in on the flank to retain supremacy of the skies for their protoss captains.
Anytime was on his feet. The suffering of the last days was a distant memory. He watched as his land forces took cover under the umbrella of interceptors and his army marched forward, destroying the terran western expansion and any resistance along with it. With terran resistance falling, the carriers found their way into Boxers main, raining death from above. Anytime saw the view through his troops' eyes, and saw the terran commander furiously issuing orders from his perch in the Command Center. It was futile, he knew, and he only risked death by staying. However, as the base fell around his army, he saw the rocket lift from the command center into the air. It streaked towards the sky and out of view. Boxer... was gone. Victory… was his.
Anytime 3 > 2 Boxer
Lying in his berth, Boxer surveyed the rapidly disappearing scene below him. He had fled his troops, beaten and scarred. His only solace was that he had learned his opponent; defeat was a bitter lesson. He hoped to once again face this protoss commander on the battlefield. He wasn’t dead. He would be back.
Anytime drifted in and out of consciousness. The only thing worse than his punishment after the fourth battle was the reward for his victory in the fifth. Finally, he was able to form coherent thought. He sensed in himself great power. He felt without touching the new marks upon his face. He also felt the presence of two other beings. He was defenseless to prevent the feeblest of attacks, so he could only ask... "who?.." A light flickered, and in front he saw two legendary faces. "I am GARIMTO" said the first, his furious eyes blazing far brighter than the light.
"I am Reach" said the other. A smile danced upon his lips but again the eyes... always the eyes... gave away his deadly intensity. "We are the first two pieces of the legend of the fall. Welcome, Anytime. Rise, and take your place among us as the third."
Well, Anytime really took it to Boxer, and fully deserved his OSL title. Anytime really excels at attacking on various fronts, and in reality, Boxer never got established in the games he lost. Especially on RoV, Anytime tossed Boxer around all game, and then used the advantageous terrain to win with carriers. It was truly impressive play. As for Boxer, he will have to wait another season for his golden mouse, and for his thirds title to raise him above the rest.
We had a lot of good coverage on this OSL, so here are some links:
This is a nice statistical wrapup done by Orome
Some fighterforum pictures of the event posted by Carnac
An Interview with Anytime after winning, translated and posted by Cambium
A link to the VOD's of the games, uploaded by EntertainMe. It is where I first got the games so I could track them and write reports, so a big thanks to you sir. If those links don’t work, you can always check out TL.net’s torrent service.
I hope you enjoyed the league. Big thanks should also go to Bill, as he did the labour of this OSL, and I simply enjoyed the cream. Thank you sir. I hope to be more active next season and I hope it is as entertaining as this one. Let me know what you thought of the report. I have never spent as much time on one as I did this.