Photo Credit: ESL
Bomber: Victory Through Overwhelming Macro
Rising from obscurity in 2010, Bomber broke out in the May 2011 GSL Code A taking first place over the King of Wings, IM.Mvp. From that point forward he was a consistent, though not dominant, figure in GSL until switching to WCS America in 2014 and a constant, well performing presence in other tournaments over the years. Since joining Red Bull this year his play has only improved. While he went through the same sort of decline all terrans did in the beginning of 2014, with victories in WCS NA and Red Bull and Blizzcon around the corner he is set to send 2014 out with a bang.
Bomber’s primary strength lies in his solid macro based play. His micro, multitasking, game sense, and decision making are generally fantastic, as they’d have to be for a player of his caliber, but none of them stand out like his macro does. From time to time he does get really surprised by a cheesy or aggressive build or have a large group of marines get walloped by banelings due to inattention while he’s doing his macro, but killing one Bomber army isn’t enough. Once it dies there’s usually another ready to defend or march across the field.
Bomber vs DongRaeGu G1 on Overgrowth
The best example of Bomber’s macro style TvZ is from the recent Red Bull tournament in Washington DC. Drops? Clearing creep? Multipronged aggression? Forget about it, Bomber’s just going to make a big, well upgraded army and bludgeon the zerg with it until he taps out.
To open up Bomber does a 1 rax expand, but delays his marine until his natural is started. Then with only 3 marines on the ground, he starts his third command center at 4:10. This means it finishes before DRG even takes his third. Because of this extremely greedy opening, Bomber makes a Wings of Liberty style wall with a bunker next to his natural. If DRG were to get aggressive, there’s no way he could seal off the usual wall in time. However, DRG has opted for a macro opening so there’s no aggressive potential coming, not that Bomber knows that yet.
At this point Bomber does something very unlike himself. He builds 2 hellions and then 2 widow mines for map vision instead of using his factory for its true purpose, building reactors, and then actually scouts with the hellions. Confirming the lack of a fast lair and gasses, he’s confident to take the third closer to DRG and goes immediately to 8 rax. He also seals his natural with his armory because it’s the right size and he doesn’t want to waste any of his precious marine making minerals. He does a little poke with his first 2 medivacs along the hallway on the left side, but the point of doing it is simply looking for any easy openings to do a small amount of damage or maybe push back some active creep tumors because he doesn’t want to lose any of the units.
At 12:50 one of the players is maxed, and it’s not the zerg. At 137 to 104 army supply and with 2/2 only moments away from completion, Bomber decides that it’s time to go and just walks up on creep to DRG’s third. DRG desperately cranks out units and banelings to push back Bomber’s attack, but Bomber is just building up a bank in the meantime. DRG nervously waits out his own 2/2 and pushes forward into Bomber’s army for a surprisingly good trade. However, the zerg army isn’t strong enough to punish Bomber for it and despite being 40 supply down after that fight he still manages to remax faster.
DRG decides the best way to play this is through counter attacks at a constantly denied fourth base and into Bomber’s natural, killing a large number of SCVs. In theory this seems like a good idea and it does slow Bomber’s next massive push out, but in reality DRG just handed Bomber a present of more open supply for his already considerable army. Because DRG didn’t manage to finish off a very damaged floating orbital command, Bomber’s economy is still setup to be very strong, even if he doesn’t want to use a scan to properly land his fourth base.
Why bother with a scan when you can just mine at saturation with 36 scvs?
Very quickly, Bomber’s army supply doubles that of DRG. After pushing back the aggression at his natural, Bomber begins to rally across the map with a constant stream of 3/3 infantry and hellbats to meet up with his main force which is already back at DRG’s third. Lacking the supply and the banelings that could try to stop the waves of blue washing across his creep he can only watch as his fourth and third die to Bomber’s army, while Bomber claims his own fourth. At this point the game is effectively over. With 3x the army supply, Bomber ignores DRG’s counterattacks and just constantly pushes forward until the new third and the natural are dead. With no mining bases and barely any army versus a soon to be established gold base and a comically placed fourth, DRG is forced to tap out.
Jaedong and especially Bomber both rely on solid macro play to take down their opponents in TvZ. Bomber’s macro play is stronger, but throughout his career he has been vulnerable to surprises from his opponent like unscouted aggression, untypical builds, and unexpected greed. He also likes to overextend on creep, something that a player like Jaedong, who can manage to take good exchanges even off creep, can take advantage of. We don’t know how the games for the WEC qualifiers went where Jaedong defeated Bomber 3-2, but they probably involved exploiting those weaknesses in his play.
However, in the past couple of months Bomber has been playing some of the best Starcraft of his entire life. He has added things like more proactive scouting and even varying up his play to include some surprises, like his use of a large number of banshees in his series against Polt in WCS NA. The strengths of Bomber’s macro combined with the closing of his weaknesses makes for a frightening prospect for his opponents. If Bomber can keep being the dominant player that he was at Red Bull and WCS NA, he will slide out of the round of 16 with ease.