Despite my considerable excitement, I had a hard time writing the preview for this series (and it probably shows!). I poured over statistics and studied maps and watched games and theorized builds and drank liter upon liter of vodka, but in the end, my only coherent thought was this: we just don’t know.
We don’t. We don’t know who’s going to show up to the games tonight. It could be a consistent, skilled veteran who’s finally ready to take the plunge into stardom by brutally crushing the hopes and dreams of a young upstart. Or it could be another GoodFriend, a strong player who’s never going to clear that great player “hump.”
Likewise, we could see the micro-oriented art form that is TvZ taken to a whole new level by a player whose youthful strength simply has no equal, a player who embodies the proverb, “Experience should fear the strength of youth.” Or we could see an over-hyped, under-skilled player who doesn’t have what it takes to hang with the truly elite.
We just don’t know. With both players having had two full weeks to prepare for this series and both of them having shown—no pun intended—flashes of brilliance, no amount of statistics could possibly predict its outcome. No result would surprise me; this series has unlimited potential.
OSL Semifinal #2
Game 1 – Fantasy
Speaking of not knowing, Fantasy features the most positional variance, well, ever. With four wholly different starting locations and some of the longest distances between bases since Legacy of Char, Fantasy seems custom-built for boring, safe, macro-based builds. But as Iris showed in his game against Stork, it doesn’t have to be that way. As I’ve noted in the past, the Legacy of Char position is aerially close to the other three positions, especially the Gaema Gowon position, making wraiths a viable option should either player spawn in the upper-left. Then there’s the absolute certainty that GGPlay will 12-hatch at his natural. Will Flash make a proxy barracks (or two) in an attempt to win a quick game, or will he acquiesce to the map’s generally slower pace?
Game 2 – Hitchhiker
When it comes to this game, I really don't know. Zerg players have employed a mind-boggling assortment of strategies, from two-hatch to one-hatch to three-hatch to mutalisks to defilers to guardians to ultralisks and everything in between. And Terran players are always dangerous on two-player maps, especially ones like Hitchhiker, with its mass of twisting corridors. Flash could bunker rush. He could SCV rush. He could float a factory to the other side of the neutral buildlings. He could even proxy two starports on the other side of the Zerg neutral buildings.
Or he might just fast expand. That's my best guess, but nothing would surprise me on Hitchhiker.
Game 3 – Python
On a map like Python, positions are crucial. With his strong mutalisk micro, I'm sure GGPlay would love nothing more than to have the spawning positions be 12/3 or 9/6. I don't doubt that Flash, with his propensity towards macro-based TvZ builds, would feel completely comfortable at cross positions, though he'd probably prefer 6/3 or 12/9 due to the shorter distance between bases. I'm expecting a completely standard game from both players.
Hot_Bid has made the interesting point that mutalisk harassment is far more effective when the Terran player spawns at 12 or 6 due to the larger space between the main mineral line and the back edge of the base. So positions are even more crucial than I thought!
Game 4 – Monty Hall
I'm expecting GGPlay to jump on the bandwagon and employ the ever-so-effective, ever-so-funky ZvT build that Silver pioneered on Monty. But more importantly, I'm expecting Flash to scout for the initial, offensive hatchery that is so critical for the success of that build and have an effective counter prepared, something along the lines of a floating barracks or a barracks crush in order to squeeze a few marines through the mineral wall. Knowing that Flash will inevitably have a counter prepared, GGPlay might try to vary the build by going up one of the side corridors, but because he's never played a ZvT on Monty Hall, I have to believe he'll acquiesce to something that's proven so effective for other players.
Game 5 – Fantasy
If the series makes it this far, we, as fans, will really have something to cheer about. While most players prepare an ace strategy for the deciding game of a series, there’s something about Flash and GGPlay that makes me believe that both of them will play completely standard this game, trusting in the same abilities that allowed them to win two games each.
My thoughts appear on this series, however, appear to be largely unique! Or maybe Team Liquid, on the whole, isn’t as big of a cop-out as I am. Here’s what others had to say:
Jathin: “I honestly think the new generation of players have terrible late-game management. You'll notice that in long, drawn-out games, the more experienced player tends to come out on top. And with the little I have to judge Flash on, it seems he fell apart against Boxer in late-game.”
HonestTea: “Flash? They play best-of-5s in the semis so that players like Flash don't advance. There's no way he takes GGPlay.”
Hot_Bid: “I'm really curious as to how much Flash is going to cheese. Just because he did against Bisu does not mean he's automatically proxy 8 raxing against GGPlay, but he's gotta know that the longer the game goes the less likely he'll be winning.”