Life: My Middle Name is “Attack”
Life is known as the youngest SC2 prodigy, winning his first GSL at 15 (just shy of beating his BW counterpart Flash’s record) and going on a tear through every single opponent and tournament for several months afterwards. Though this was at a time when broodlord/infestor was at an all time high and Zergs were winning every tournament, Life surprised everyone with his unique ling-centric aggressive style. His continual ling runbys and his impressive ability to get the most out of a handful of lings defines who he is as a player. To this day, Life always seems to find a way to get lings into his opponent’s base despite tight walls and concentrated effort to keep them out.
Since his debut in WoL, Life has demonstrated that he is very versatile, with his victory at IEM New York being perhaps his highest point. In the finals against Naniwa, Life showed an impressive display of strategies ranging from hydra/queen/nydus to extraordinarily passive swarm host play to very aggressive roach/hydra mid games while setting up a strong ultra/queen push, (even a proxy hatch strategy!). Since then, we’ve seen mostly roach/hydra play from Life in ZvP, with an emphasis on either preventing his opponent’s third from ever going down, or busting it with a powerful mid game timing.
Life vs Zest G1 on King Sejong Station
Perhaps the best example of this is a rehashing of his most recent series against Zest at IEM Toronto. Up to the semifinals, both players appeared to be unbreakable (Life remaining undefeated, and Zest only narrowly set back by TaeJa after a close series). With the memory of Life’s unmistakable ZvP prowess close by, there was still a question of whether he could beat Zest, the three-time soO slayer. Although Life soon falls apart and drops three games in a row to lose the series, Game 1 is a striking example of Life’s iconic aggressive play and highlights his uncanny ability to always sneak lings into his opponent’s base.
Life opens with a fairly greedy triple hatch before pool build, playing on his prediction that Zest will play very greedy to start off. His risk pays off, as Zest goes blind nexus first into gateway and cannot punish him. Life adds on gas after securing all three bases and begins zergling speed in anticipation of a ling swell right around 7:00.
No, Zealot, don't do it!!
Life scouts the front of Zest’s base with six lings, manages to pull the zealot out of position, and, true to his reputation, runs in with his lings and gets a full scout of Zest’s base, killing the zealot and a handful of probes along the way. After scouting Zest’s phoenix opening, he adds on spore crawlers and begins to drone up heavily and tech while still keeping a small ling force active on the map. With six more lings, Life nearly kills a pylon and forces out two forcefields. Upon seeing a third base from Zest, Life takes his fourth fairly early at 9:30 and prepares for a powerful mid game assault.
Life’s next wave of aggression revolves around roach/ling pressure while getting up the proper tech at home. After making another wave of lings and a large pack of roaches, he tries to threaten the third base of Zest before a colossus gets out. Unfortunately, the colossus is already out by the time he arrives, so he cannot do any immediate damage. Life very cleverly pivots the utility of his units by immediately swinging over to the backside of the natural and threatening the counterattack, forcing Zest’s attention away from the third base. Again, Life works his magic by somehow convincing Zest that he's backed off, only to finish of the rocks, run in, and snipe an idle colossus before running back out again.
Meanwhile at home, Life is working to zone out the phoenixes with his hydralisks while building his corruptor count. By pushing the phoenixes all the way back behind the main base, he is able to make corruptors only from his front hatcheries and successfully hide the incoming bust entirely from Zest. When he is nearly maxed on roach/hydra/ling with about eight corruptors, Life busts the front, picks off every colossi, void ray, and phoenix, leaving his hydras and roaches to wreak havoc on the Protoss army consisting mainly of blink stalkers and sentries.
Life has banked up nearly 1500 gas with +2 flyer attacks on the way behind this push and switches into mutalisks once all the sentries and expensive units are gone. In this position, even if he fails to win with the timing, he can still follow it up with a devastating muta/ling play to rip apart the Protoss economy. However, in this game, Zest GGs and taps out before any of the mutas ever see the light of day, and Life has proven once again that his aggressive style looks unbeatable.
Life mixes his trademark aggro style with several different openings, making him very unpredictable. It’s certainly never a question of if Life will be aggressive, it’s simply a question of when. Whether it’s a 14/14 or a gasless triple hatch opening, it’s up to the Protoss player to figure out exactly when that pressure is coming. Unfortunately, this is Zest’s undisputed strong suit. With nearly flawless decision-making, it’s unlikely that Zest will fall again to the wily tricks displayed in Game 1 of their previous series. In addition, Life’s tendency to avoid swarm host play at all costs in recent months may prove to be a glaring weakness going into the late game. Life is going to have to rummage deep into his bag of tricks and come up with some truly convincing ploys if he wants to win this series. That’s not to say it isn’t possible for him; his flashes of brilliance are indeed some of the best SC2 ever seen, but he’s going to have to be shining brighter than ever if he’s going to want to take down Zest.