Photo Credit: ESL
soO: Injecting Fear Into The Opponent
It has been 516 days since we’ve last seen a GSL final without soO. This SKT T1 Zerg was overshadowed by his teammate Soulkey in 2013, but now the tables have turned. Having made 4 GSL final appearances in a row, there’s no doubt that soO is the best Zerg of 2014, and a win here would only satiate his thirst for his first gold medal. Seemingly unstoppable pre-finals, soO simply dispatches all of his opponents, but collapses mentally where it counts. Pretty much everything goes wrong in the finals for him, from build order loses to making cataclysmic mistakes, he just hasn’t been able to clinch that title yet.
soO plays a very safe opening style while taking risks going into the midgame, droning up heavily Ret style. Although this can be dangerous vs. aggressive builds, soO always seems to make units at the perfect time, pulling drones to help defend while losing almost none due to the priority mechanic. His defense is calculated and precise, always having just enough units in position to hold off specific drops, whether they be a single medivac or multiple. His overlord spread is good enough to re-position units if need be, and his creep spread is just enough for unit transportation too. All of these qualities pale in comparison to his best: spawn larva. This macro mechanic is the single most important out of all racial mechanics, and soO is able to utilize it the best out of any Zergs. Continuously hitting injects allows a steady reinforcement line, which gives him his trademark wave after wave assault. He will take ever so favorable trades, which eventually leads to him finally breaking his opponent when they can no longer hold the line.
soO vs ForGG
For the second game in a row, soO opens up with pool before hatch, with the goal being to delay the low ground command center. ForGG opts for the standard reaper opening into 3CC. soO’s gamble pays off, by slightly delaying the low ground CC. This in turn forces ForGG to bring back the reapers he made, allowing soO more leniency to drone up. The final advantage of this opening is the supply cap forced onto ForGG from the delayed CC, his hellion production cannot start immediately so soO can start the creep spread earlier.
The game plays out normally for ForGG, adding barracks before engineering bays while soO follows his opening up with a 1-1 roach timing. He adds his third hatchery about a minute later than usual, prompting ForGG to sacrifice his reaper in order to scout the main base of soO. soO tries to pick off the reaper before it hops into the main, and by doing so he pulls his queens out of his wall and allows the hellions to runby into his main. Not only does ForGG see everything, he picks off 14 drones to go with that, and takes a commanding position. So how does soO react to this? As soO always does. Cut army units entirely in favor of drones, abandon the bust in favor of standard muta/ling/bling play, spread the creep and hit those injected. soO quickly closes the worker gap and takes the lead once again, his upgrades are ahead because of the aggressive opening he took, and flows smoothly into the midgame.
The first drop comes at the 11 minute mark when all soO has to defend are five roaches he started to make for the timing, and this turns out to be just enough as ForGG is forced to retreat. At this point soO has reached optimal drone count, and this is when he beings to produce non-stop army units. Constant injects, the development of creep and map awareness allows soO to take a fourth base, and amass a huge army of lings/banelings to defend his half of the map. Both players continue to make army units, and ForGG eventually decides to push through death alley, into the fourth base of soO. The ensuing engagement is an absolute masterpiece from soO, every little detail meticulously calculated.
This is why Terrans should never engage in death alley
Knowing that ForGG has tanks, soO is the one to initiate the fight while the tanks are unsieged, coming out ahead in the army trade and backs off before the siege tanks can make a difference. This also buys time for soO to set up an even better engagement. He waits for his next rounds of lings to nearly finish, and starts morphing in more banelings which will come in later in the fight, and then proceeds to re-engage ForGG’s army. soO engages the Terran army as his reinforcing lings are streaming into the Zerg army, providing that extra cushion vs. tank fire. Mutas focus fire down the siege tanks to prevent losing too many banelings while the ground army of soO is rallied behind that of ForGG’s, so that banelings can get close to the bio and mine shots will friendly splash. He waits for the last tank to fall before going in with his next set of banelings, that he had previously started morphing right before the fight, and they clean up the last of the push.
This is soO’s queue to start his wave assault. It’s non-stop army units from soO at this point, with the objective being to slowly gain an army advantage, and either camp the production of the Terran player or demolish the economy. soO pushes until he has no more banelings, and retreats when he hits a Terran wall or when there are too many bio units out. He regroups at the middle of the map for the next wave, morphs in more banelings and goes in for another attack. And another. And another. soO never relents on his wave style, crashing into bio armies until it finally breaks. ForGG finally ends up losing too much, and GG’s out of the game.
soO’s style is entirely based on hitting every inject, allowing him to spew a mass amount of zerglings every round rather than the same amount streaming over a period of time into his army. This let’s him crash endless waves of Zerg into his opponent, seemingly until they can no longer hold on, or until soO takes a disastrous engagement. The only worry soO should have is surviving the potential cheese and aggressive builds, and being vs. TaeJa who likes to play the macro game, should get into his comfort zone of building up his economy and start the army trades. soO also takes pages out of Hyun’s book, mixing in roach busts which can prove to be fatal should the Terran not scout it, and even if the bust does fail it can sometimes leave the Zerg on even footing, or even ahead if enough damage gets done. Overall this should be a long, drawn out series with lots of bases being mined out, and tier 3 units being produced. Utilizing much lesser used strategies like burrowed banelings, and baneling bombs on mineral lines could help soO in his quest to reach yet another final, and conquered that coveted first place finish.