Dreamhack Open Winter 2014 Grand Final Day 3 - ForGG vs Life
Veterans of the scene might remember the strong impression that ForGG, known as oGsFin back then, produced when he appeared in the arena at the end of 2011. The ex-KT Rolster player had indeed instantly earned a Code S spot by going undefeated in his Code A bracket. As a former MSL champion in BW, the expectations were high for him but were matched with a similar disappointment when he unceremoniously went out last of his Code S group the next season (1). The newly christened ForGG did not find any more success in the following season.
Shortly afterwards, ForGG was recruited by the French team Millenium, left Korea and started competing in international events, entering many of them as one of the favorites; yet the desired Premier title kept slipping out of his grasp:
- Top3 at ASUS ROG Summer 2012;
- Runner-up at DH Valencia 2012;
- Runner-up at ESWC 2012;
- Top4 in WCS EU 2013 Season 1;
- Top4 at ASUS ROG 2014;
- Top4 at DH Stockholm 2014;
- Top4 in WCS EU 2014 Season 2.
All those tournaments saw ForGG repeatedly falter and fall near or on the podium with the same disheartening verdict: close but no cigar.
Thus pretty much no one was expecting him to win this DH Open Winter. On paper, even after herO, soO and Bogus withdrew from the event, the likes of Life, Solar and TaeJa were the heavy favorites. Had a Power Rank of the players attending the event been written, it is dubious the Millenium ace would have even made it in the top 6. Yet it was definitely ForGG who emerged first of his group and transcended his usual play to end up on the highest step of the podium.
Defining ForGG's style is straightforward; we can go back to the origins for that. Whoever was around there in late 2011 might remember the TvZ build he showcased in his first streaming sessions, a reactor hellion raid into cloak banshee expand into a 2 base hellions/thors/banshees/SCVs all-in. Characteristic of his aggressive play based on harassment and timings, this build aimed at massively disrupting Zerg's development so he was unable to defend the final onslaught. Even if the game evolved a lot since then (that build was before the queen patch), this opening was like his signature: in essence, ForGG is an aggressive player who favors harassment, relying on his strong multitasking abilities; he does not hesitate to hamper his own economic development in exchange for more army, without being excessively cheesy or all-innish for all that, and overall has a flair for timings and sensing when his opponent is weak. ForGG is the midgame player par excellence, as evidenced by the fact the Ghost icon is greyed out in his Barracks whenever he plays TvP.
Despite being a long mech game on paper, the Catallena set from the Grand finals against Life showcases those features in ForGG's play.
Setting the Pace
The first game on Nimbus (horizontal spawns with Life top left and ForGG top right) saw Life's 10 pool fail against ForGG's standard reaper into hellion 3OC opening, and the Millenium Terran used his early game lead combined with the vulnerability of Life's natural to aerial raids to win the 4M vs lings/banes/mutas macro game that ensued. After that, ForGG net a quick victory in the second game with a 2 rax Bunker rush on Overgrowth. ForGG thus had the comfort of a 2-0 lead when the third game began on Catallena, and so far it looked like he had turned away from the mech strategies he had used throughout the first series. But that was not the case.
Unsurprisingly, ForGG opens with reapers to exploit the terrain—the main has a large cliff opened to reapers. He chooses a minor economic sacrifice and goes 11 rax 11 gas instead of the regular 12 rax 12 gas to have his first reaper out a few seconds earlier. To add further pressure, ForGG sends his SCV (who saw the scouting overlord coming from the north position) to start a Bunker at Life's natural (2) and builds a third reaper.
Another trademark of ForGG's TvZ is that his first reapers tend to have an abnormally high mortality rate: ForGG is quite reckless with them and systematically takes risks in order to snatch up some drone kills. In that game, the maneuver does not go well and his 2 first reapers die in mission while the third one is guarding the natural. Otherwise, ForGG would likely gather his 3 reapers and try to attack workers: 3 reapers kill drones and lings in 2 shots, which makes it nigh impossible for Zerg to pull back the targeted unit before it dies; assuming good micro, 3 reapers can also kill one queen without any loss. Should they survive, the 3 reapers also synergize well with the hellions/banshees transition that ForGG plays: they can absorb queen shots instead of hellions and provide a small but appreciable source of extra damage.
Since he has already lost 2 reapers, ForGG sacrifices his third one to check the back of Life's bases, mostly looking for a roach warren that he doesn't find. ForGG thus "only" scouts that ling speed is in research and that the saturation seems normal. Just like on the Nimbus game of the first series, Life indeed opts to play 2 base mutas (Life waits for the reaper to leave his main to start his lair), a very old ZvT opening that delays upgrades and the third in exchange for earlier mutas and the resulting initiative. The opening does well against hellions/banshees harassment since the earlier lair allows Zerg to have overseers ready before cloak even completes, after which mutas can push back the hellions/banshees and reclaim map control, but some extra caution is needed from the Zerg side since the removal of Transformation Servos as some hellbat timings can quickly overwhelm a pure lings/queens defense (3). This is why Life, on top of the typical Spine that is the defensive signature of the opening, has a baneling nest ready to parry the threat.
Life pokes ForGG's main with an overlord to confirm the hellions/banshees opening, preemptively morphs an overseer and moves his 3 extra queens to anticipate the arrival of the banshee in the main. The banshee is at first repelled without any loss, but knowing that the front is left unguarded, ForGG uses a scan to get rid of the sparse tumors—Life is banking energy on some of his queens in case ForGG commits with a big hellbat push—and checks Life's lack of third with his hellions. Recognizing the signs of a 2 base muta opening, ForGG turns his hellions into hellbats and marches into Life's natural while harassing the back of the main mineral line with his banshee. But Life is ready.
Micro us. Micro us. Mic…
Whether ForGG is paying attention to his banshee at the north or has one of those moments where his hands seemingly freeze as soon as banelings come hurtling, the 5 banes make quick work of his tightly clumped hellbat push.
At this moment, it should be noted that even if ForGG's aggression is repelled without much troubles, Life is not in a commanding position for all that (4). His creep spread is inexistent (ForGG saw to that), he has no economic advantage and his mutas have no particular window: just like in the Nimbus game of the first series, ForGG has swapped his factory with his starport and has started producing a thor and 2 vikings (against mutas, vikings act as a nice support for thors, and anyway ForGG has no time to complete extra Factories before the first mutas arrive).
Sensing a weakness as ForGG has lost all his hellions so far, in a move characteristic of his play, Life decides to apply immediate counter-pressure and starts morphing some banelings near his opponent's vertical third. On his guard, ForGG moves out in front of his natural with his aerial patrol (2 banshees + 4 vikings) to scout the vicinity and comes across the baneling cocoons. Life decides to proceed with the bust but his forces are too weak and he can barely dent ForGG's wall.
Returning the favor, ForGG pushes on the map with his air force and, as his whole ground army, a single thor. He has indeed glimpsed a window of opportunity as Life has lost all his lings/banes, half his mutas and is very likely investing resources in a tech switch (roaches and preparing swarm hosts) after he has droned up his third. Thus the idea of a push with 1 thor, 2 banshees and 6 vikings, bizarre as it may seem as first, makes perfect sense in the proceedings of the game: tiny as it stands, this small task force will force Life to interrupt his droning and build emergency roaches to defend his third. To further appreciate the pertinence of the decision, one can compare this move with his play in the Nimbus game of the Winner Bracket finals where he faked a thor moveout to force roaches in similar fashion, yet didn't commit because he knew he had no real business there. This time he knows he has a window and fully seizes it.
Once again, ForGG takes advantage of his attack to wipe out all the tumors in front of Life's natural: the result is that at 13 minutes, Life still has no active tumor on the map! The single thor is of course quickly destroyed by the first wave of roaches, but Life is unable to bring down the banshees as the vikings have disposed of both the remaining mutas and the overseers revealing them. Again unwilling to assume a purely defensive stance, and knowing he has no anti-air left to protect his third against the banshees (the queens are dead), Life sends his roaches to counter-attack ForGG's natural while the Millenium Terran kills off the third hatchery. During this sequence, special mention must be made to the vikings, which end up killing numerous overlords and make Life supply blocked (for the record, he spends 3 minutes supply blocked in the whole game).
An Original Transition
At a quick glance, Life's situation can seem desperate as he is (albeit temporarily) down to 2 bases with only basic tech, but ForGG doesn't have a third landed either. Yet he has certainly not lain idle during the attack: he has constructed not one, not two, but three Command Centers!
- ForGG's expanding timings
- 11'10 third
- 12'40 fourth
- 13'45 fifth
- ForGG's landing timings
- 15'10 third vs 16'15 = hatch at the third complete for Life
- 17' fourth vs 18'15 = hatch at the fourth complete for Life
- 21' fifth vs 23'30 = hatch at the fifth complete for Life
Building macro Orbitals by early midgame is far from being unheard of with mech; unlike bio, mech doesn't need to apply tempo-based pressure with mineral-heavy units and thus can skip some rounds of hellion production to invest in economic infrastructure instead. Besides, the old WoL model of a big tank push trying to hit right before critical hive tech (5) can no longer operate as the standard game plan for HotS mech: swarm hosts, and particularly the popular mutas/SHosts composition, make such timings impossible or inefficient in even games; thus Terran has even more incentive to build Command Centers. But expanding that quickly in a late third scenario remains exceedingly rare.
This oddity comes from the fact that from 9' to 14', ForGG does not have a reactor factory in his infrastructure; thus he is not subject to the usual consumption of 400 mineral per minute, and can pour his excess of minerals into Command Centers.
Unorthodox at it is, this circumstantial expanding pattern perfectly fits the flow of the game. Because of his disrupted economic development, Life has no timing at his disposal to refute ForGG's ambitious expanding, unlike the Nimbus game of their first series where his roach harass and the threat of a roaches/hydras/vipers attack had prevented ForGG from taking too quickly his fourth.
Even if early fourths in mech TvZ are nowadays common (6), the rhythm at which Terran takes bases is usually much slower. The meching player indeed has to make sure his first 4 bases are impervious to attacks, particularly against swarm hosts that act as a soft contain for a while: Terran has to assign a certain amount of resources in tanks to hold the continuous Locust waves, which makes it impractical to secure a further expansion against the rest of Zerg's army. In particular, mutas/SHosts prevent mech players from expanding aggressively, as the extra constraint of anti-air defense (turrets, thors, vikings) forces even more safety precautions. But in this game, due to ForGG's lead, his decision to triple expand and Life's choice to stay away from a high mutas/SHs count, the Terran player is actually able to expand earlier than his opponent while threatening to smother him.
Furthermore, ForGG would go up to 84 SCVs, far above the usual 70-75 benchmark. This development, normally exclusive to Zerg's play, can be compared with the 4 base economic setup that Bbyong used for his mech TvP games in Proleague (7): the Terran player aims at massively boosting his lategame economy by temporarily sacrificing his army size and forgoing immediate activity. The—theoretical—result is that the meching side is able to keep expanding, heavily fortify its positions and transition to expensive fleets (or add massive air support to its ground army). A contrario, it should be pointed out how Life remains the whole game on a weaker than usual economy, never going far beyond 70 drones while peaks between 85 and 95 are common against mech. Ironically, the roles are completely reversed in this game compared with the usual respective economic standards of each side.
Was this particular economic development fruitful for the Terran player? Well, the graph tells it best:
Income over time
Minerals and gas are combined
Time is measured in seconds with the marks being 4'20 | 8'40 | 13' | 17'20 | 21'40 | 26' | 30'20 | 34'40 | 38'
ForGG in red
Life in blue
When ForGG lands his third at 15'10 (a late benchmark explained by the previous 2 base action), his position in the game is very comfortable. He's completing his production infrastructure, going up to the classic number of 5 Factories, and is starting tank production, leaning on a 63 SCVs economy that is still growing. At the same time, Life is adding hydras and swarm hosts but his income is comparatively weak: the Startale Zerg has only 60 drones, i.e. not even an optimal 3 base economy, and no fourth on the way yet.
ForGG proceeds to aggressively land his own fourth, using his aerial squad to check the vicinity, but no Zerg unit is here to disrupt the plan. His expansion thus goes unnoticed: Life has no map presence on the whole south of the map. Neither zerglings nor overlords, the usual scouts in place, are here; the action-packed early game has taken its toll on the Zerg's map control. In Life's defense, Catallena is quite a big map—and who could have guessed that the Terran was going to land a CC there so early? As said above this kind of rabid expanding when meching is very uncommon; thus ForGG enters the realm of mind games with this move, banking on the appearance of normality as would a player breaking the routine of normal economic development with a hidden expand.
Without mishap, banshees deflect Life's mild attempt at pressuring the third with roaches. ForGG scans the main at 16'45 to check whether or not a hive is on the way and records that the lair is still not evolving, which means that neither vipers nor broods nor ultras are coming within the next few minutes. ForGG refines his information with a vikings/banshees poke; it must be emphasized that the game has been quite hectic so far, and it is harder for players to correctly gauge the exact situation when off the beaten tracks, which is why extra scouting measures are necessary to warrant accurate decisions. The Millenium Terran first takes a peak at the front of the creep, taking note of the weak creep spread and the presence of hydras. After that, he goes to the main and confirms that hive is still not on the way before scouting infestors and the first swarm hosts hatching.
This is the signal that ForGG was waiting. Unsieging his tanks, he advances on the map right as hive begins at 18'15. His position seems dominant on all plans: he has just completed Blue Flame and +2 weapons, his army size is superior (100 vs 80) and he commands 4 bases and 80 SCVs to 66 drones on 3 bases (Life's fourth has just completed but is empty); thus a trade would be favourable for him. Everything seems there for a success.
But ForGG has only a few tanks. Even if his economic infrastructure was ahead of the curve, his production could not follow: the initial thors and vikings delayed the first extra factories, and the 4th and 5th ones came late as well. As a result, he cannot progress against the waves of Locusts—Life has already 14 swarm hosts. What's more, in the last minutes, Life has heavily invested in army to survive, slowing down both his technology and economic growth: his decision of favoring army over a droning that could have quickly turned into an overdroning proved judicious, and the initial gap in army size is quickly reduced; Life evens out the army supply after the first Locust wave, and of course he benefits from the defender's advantage of having earlier reinforcements via a shorter distance.
ForGG hesitates. Initially he retreats, then it seems he briefly contemplates a maneuver towards the fourth (still only partially saturated) to dodge locusts, but before he can make up his mind he comes across some of Life's units and lets himself go chase them. The formation of his army goes astray with units left and right (a part of his troops were attacking the dying previous locust wave), some too forward, others too behind, and the tanks unsieged. Besides, he's now walking on creep. Under cover of a new locust wave, the Swarm wipes out his scattered forces and compels him to withdraw.
Hesitation, sloppy control or underestimate of Life's army size? In any case, despite this setback, an undisturbed ForGG pursues his fast expanding plan and lands his fifth at 21 minutes. The fact that he's able to secure a base just after losing a good part of his army with virtually no return is testimony to the power of his position: his initial development has paid off and, commanding a strong infrastructure, he's able to proceed smoothly without any window of vulnerability. Simultaneously, he starts 3 extra starports in his main—the sign of the now classic raven transition. Yet no more than one bird would take off from each starport.
Into The Wild
From there the game enters the kind of chaotic, scrappy scenario that sometimes arises when such a clash of two aggressive players occurs. One has to re-emphasize here what kind of player Life and ForGG are: both are visceral "anti-campers" who refuse to abide by the "normal" rules—they simply won't play the trench warfare if they can avoid it, and they will generally do anything they can to avoid it.
The way Life uses his swarm hosts shortly afterwards, around 21'30, is proof of that. While most of the time Zergs stay on creep in safe territory with their swarm hosts, only moving them forward if they have creep and a lot of anti-air along (8), Life offensively positions his swarm hosts to pressure ForGG's fifth—still under the belief that this base is his opponent's fourth! The maneuver is risky because swarm hosts have weaker escape potential off creep, but Life is not one to remain dormant on his creep; as soon as he has the opportunity, he retaliates. The rest of his army is nearby, but he moves his hydras a few inches away from the swarm hosts to attack a CC under construction. Ruthless, ForGG immediately exploits the mistake, swoops down on the swarm hosts with his banshees and darts 3 of them to death.
Mushroom picking in the wild
Vigilant, ForGG keeps scanning the main in search of hive tech—his reaction at 21'40 to resume viking production (he already has 4 banshees) and build turrets in front of his fifth shows that he's mostly worried about a viper-based attack. Meanwhile, Life begins to colonize the south of the map, starting his fifth there at 21'50—still lagging behind the velocity of ForGG's expanding pattern.
At 23'10, ForGG sends a massive hellion raid on Life's protected fourth and launches 3 ravens. One could think that ForGG is following the classic model of sacrificing units (and soon workers) to free supply for the now standard raven accumulation. But a series of events is going to disrupt the calm orbit that this game could have adopted and send flying the ordinary flow of a lategame mech TvZ far off course.
At 24'25, Life finally scouts his opponent's fourth by dispatching a single roach from the roaches/hydras raid that storms ForGG's third; better late than never, but the base is now running for almost 8 minutes. ForGG doesn't defend his third; instead, he sends his vikings/banshees army to chase the swarm hosts that were only guarded by a few hydras, and soon after capitalizes on their retreat to launch a push with half his army (some tanks are left in the back to defend the critical area in front of his natural). ForGG manages to establish a good position in front of Life's natural, at the usual rally point of Zerg's army, and even intercepts some of the first few ultras. But his own tank reinforcements are themselves cut off by the remnants of Life's roaches/hydras raid, and Life succeeds in clearing the push with his production of ultras/lings backed up by Locusts. One could wonder why ForGG didn't take time to gather his army, but this kind of push is often on the clock as Zerg simply threatens to outproduce it should he get enough time to collect himself. The beauty and precision of mech timings lies in the delicate balance between the required caution and the necessary haste.
Still, the trade is decent and one minute later, the game is briefly stabilized. Life has managed to bring down the SCV count to 60, but is only on 65-70 workers himself in a 5v5 bases situation (though he keeps expanding in the south). His ground mix is composed of ultras, infests and hydras with the remnants of his mid game swarm hosts (only 6). As for the Millenium Terran, the previous push has instantly made him cast off his project of raven production and he's anew engaged on a midgame composition, including banshees that particularly shine against Life's air-less composition: Fungals are impractical against splitting, hydras in small numbers are dominated—on top of being a mediocre unit against the rest of the mech ground army—and queens have severe mobility issues with the lack of creep. Besides, the addition of vikings renders overseer detection delicate for Life as they quickly fall at the beginning of the fight. In short, banshees enjoy a rare tranquility where neither mutas nor corruptors are there to shut down their business.
At 28'15, ForGG has a sizeable banshee squad and sends it (6 banshees) towards the Zerg main.
A fool might think that ForGG shed tears because he was moved by his first Premier title, but actually those were only tears of joy when he thought about LotV banshees.
Caught out of position as his main army is heading south to destroy ForGG's fourth, Life has to build emergency mutas to prevent banshees from sniping his tech buildings in the natural. As soon as they hatch from the eggs, ForGG switches to viking production and gets extra thors, perhaps afraid of a fully committed muta switch (9). ForGG does not leave all his banshees to die: he leaves 2 at the natural, retreats the other 4 and manages to save 3 of them.
During this time, his fourth has fallen, though the majority of SCVs managed to evacuate (ForGG still has 52 of them); the base was active for almost 12 minutes and has therefore paid off since long. Besides, due to the width of the map, a meching player would have severe issues to do the splits in order to secure that base in a more traditional expanding pattern; and de facto, ForGG won't ever secure this base again on a long-term basis. But the 12 minutes of mining (including MULEs) have preserved his closer, safer fifth from a depletion of resources; thus he has yielded the fruits of his earlier decision of "stealth expanding" in the south, and in some way has exchanged precarious resources for safe ones. As the game goes on, Life is forced to spread towards the south while ForGG can, to some extent, compact himself should something go wrong.
Life uses his few mutas (he has only ~10 of them) to harass and ForGG starts chasing them. The StarTale Zerg capitalizes on this to raid again his opponent's third. Soon afterwards, the Terran air army catches the mutas parked in the air space beyond ForGG's fifth and destroys them. But meanwhile, Life's army has devastated the third base, destroying the PF and massacring all the SCVs. One can see here that ForGG is not particularly comfortable in assuming a prolonged defensive stance, as this is the second time he is caught out of position on his third despite his army being quite close both times.
Thus ForGG goes back to the basics and does what he does best: attacking. Down to 32 SCVs against 69 drones, his economy has fallen from its previous impressive peak but he still has several Orbitals and can use one of them to reclaim his third after the withdrawal of Life's army; despite the numerous setbacks in the last minutes, ForGG is still standing, and he has retained a massive army. His mech force steps on the creep, and there Life immediately jumps at him: ForGG's troops are indeed quite stretched in a long column, and banshees are ahead of the ground army. Despite this ambush, ForGG's superior army size prevails and he's able to march on.
What makes the difference, once again, is not the traditional ground mech army that was fairly decimated by the ultras/locusts/hydras combo (only 3 thors and 1 tank survive the engagement), but the remaining air force. As said above, the anti-air is indeed Life's Achilles' heel with the composition he's using; therefore vikings/banshees, even if they're only support, end up being the main actors here and get to deal damage after the main clash: banshees chase swarm hosts in their retreat, and vikings slay numerous overlords before landing to help.
Air ForGG One at your command
But the feast does not last long; soon afterwards, the arrival of the hydra remax drives away the vikings (which suffer heavy casualties in their flight), and the banshees sacrifice themselves to gun down all the swarm hosts. When the dust settles, both players are running out of steam, particularly ForGG who hits his lowest point past early game (cf. graph). ForGG is down to 32 SCVs, while Life has only 54 drones left; the game has entered a low economy situation, and units have become scarce. Gone are the carefree times where entire armies could go through the meat or metal grinder; now each unit holds critical value.
This is why Life's loss of his last swarm hosts comes as especially painful. Venturing alone on the map to pressure the south west base that ForGG has not even re-saturated yet, they come across the vikings/banshees patrol and get destroyed. Life insists on pressuring that base and sends his hydras there shortly afterwards, but vikings dispose of the overseers (not without heavy losses) and banshees drive them away.
Unafraid of being aggressive even in mech's discomfort zone (low supply situations), ForGG proceeds to march towards Life's sixth with only a dozen of mech units. It should be noted how key banshees are in that situation; no longer having any overseer nearby to detect them, Life is forced to retreat his hydras towards the Spores at his fifth to avoid free casualties and thus allows ForGG to establish the following critical position:
Led by the Commander thor, those few well-positioned mech units proved to be a massive headache for Life and would eventually lead to his downfall.
With this placement, ForGG has access both to the sixth (immediately) and to the fifth (where workers are vulnerable to units from the high ground). At this critical moment, it is Life's turn to falter with his army: he naturally wants to dislodge ForGG, but his troops arrive in disorganized fashion, coming in insufficient batches or streaming one after the other, and they all end up being wastefully wiped out by the adverse firepower. Against the odds, ForGG's grip on the position—which, again, controls the two critical remaining expands for Life—proves too strong!
Unable to defend his sixth, Life chooses to bypass the problem and counters via hydras raids, destroying two Orbitals—the south west base that ForGG has reestablished, and a new one that he's just trying to take in the north. Perhaps finally confused by his own expanding pattern, or inconsciously willing to add spice to the narrative tension, ForGG has indeed forgotten during several minutes that he actually still has a safe and full mineral line at his initial fifth! Shortly afterwards, properly gathering his troops, Life manages to drive ForGG's forces out of their position at last, and in particular releases his fifth from the following vice-like grip:
Lost Temple memories anyone?
But for that Life is forced to use his whole army, and the damage is already done: 20 workers fell, the sixth is down and in a low economy situation like that, the tank blockade at the fifth (even if it only lasted a little more than a minute) had severe repercussions on Life's capacity production. Not wasting time, ForGG uses this window to re-establish his north expand, keeps stalling with hellions/banshees harassment and eventually intercepts Life's army who was gathering for a last attempt at storming the PF in the 2v2 base scenario (Life has taken a sixth below his main, though he has only 30 drones against a similar SCV count supported by several OCs). The few pre-positioned mech units shine again in the scrappy situation, and ForGG emerges triumphant from the 42 Blizzard minutes arm wrestling.
Even when playing the traditionally slower paced mech gameplay, ForGG bent over the style to his aggressive traits and strongest suits, faithful to his natural flair for intense harassment and strong timings. In a bizarre combination of factors, ForGG even managed to outexpand his Zerg opponent during this game, a feat worthy of mention considering the meching player is usually down 1-2 base(s) for most of the game. The macro Orbitals were, in particular, a critical component of ForGG's victory: with a weaker economic setup, ForGG would have simply ran out of fuel in such a back-and-forth game.
This Catallena game is perhaps one of the best illustrations of the lesson Mvp teached Terrans back then in Cologne about the power of banshees as an almost core aspect of mech play. Exerting map control, bullying queens, defending Zerg raids, sniping valuable targets (buildings or units), harassing workers, scouting the adverse composition and of course adding valuable firepower in engagements: the banshee operates as the jack-of-all-trades of mech.
Nonetheless, ForGG's play differs stylistically from the founding father of modern TvZ mech or from its current aficionados: Flash or Bbyong play towards lategame with a more passive approach leading to mass ravens; GuMiho favors the medivac to harass (unlike ForGG, who doesn't use hellbat drops) and, like Mvp, heads towards battlecruisers in lategame. Besides, all of them tend to play dual Armory while ForGG generally stays on a single one. His play has more affinity with SuperNova's mech: just like his old oGs teammate, ForGG shares an aggressive midgame approach based on hellbats, thors and banshees with a low or medium tank count rather than the slower, more passive accumulation of a high tank count defending an air transition. Despite being geared-up for lategame with his development, ForGG specifically used his higher economy to remax over and over on a midgame composition.
Throughout the series, with his aggressive mech, ForGG took advantage of several key features in Life's play: a certain strategic stubborness, a tendancy to overcommit in aggression and his unwillingness to play the more passive styles that would help him fight the active mech. In a way, ForGG managed to trap Life in his own play, constantly creating situations where it was too tempting for the Startale Zerg to give way to his own aggressive penchants rather than stabilize and develop, let alone settle down in trenchs, thus playing into the hands of his prepared opponent. Life indeed favors lair pressure and mobile hive armies rather than the war of attrition coming from the purely defensive swarm host approach, but what makes his grandeur can also be his downfall. The result was nonetheless a unique game where both players followed their deep-rooted instincts, with ForGG coming ahead in the ensuing chaos. This gem they bequeathed to us is like the collision of two waves whose fiery temper cannot be tamed.
ForGG would go on to claim the crown, taking a leaf out of Mvp's and FanTaSy's books by playing a 2 fact Blue Flame opening into a fake mech build, using the strategic asset of Foxtrot's gold center base to start powering 5 Reactor'ed Barracks and crank out Marines. ForGG had indeed played mech 10 times out of 13 TvZs so far, most of the time religiously following the same openings and patterns; but this time, at the parting of the ways, when the alternative was either winning the title now or facing the depressing perspective of a possible reverse sweep, ForGG opted for the mind game, managed to fool Life and walked away with the trophy.
(1) Though not without playing a beautiful TvZ against Leenock.
(2) The goal of the maneuver is to force extra lings and make sure the Zerg keeps them at home instead of sending 2 lings to Terran's natural to attack the SCV building the CC. The Bunker, even if unfinished, also provides high ground vision if the Queen pushes back the Reapers to the low ground.
(3) See for instance ForGG vs Solar, Foxtrot, from the Group stage.
(4) Compare with the positions Life reached when he defended ForGG's hellbats/banshees openings with roaches/queens defences, e. g. in the Overgrowth game of the first series or the Deadwing one of the second.
(5) See for instance Mvp vs Stephano, Akilon Wastes, WCS EU 2013 S1 finals or Flash vs LosirA, Akilon Wastes, Code S 2013 S3 RO16 to witness the swan song of that model, which was also the theme of the Mvp vs Life Code S finals (notably in the Abyssal City game).
(6) See for instance Bogus vs DRG, Deadwing, Code S RO8; Flash vs Rogue, King Sejong, MSI Beat It or GuMiho vs soO, Deadwing, IEM San Jose Asia Qualifiers. This choice is of course map-dependent to some extent: Deadwing encourages early fourths whereas Merry forbids them.
(7) Bbyong vs Classic, Outboxer, SPL Playoffs; Bbyong vs Rain, Outboxer, SPL Playoffs.
(8) Compare with GuMiho vs soO, in which soO, after he played a speedroaches timing that ensures him the map control for several minutes, has creep and mutas to protect the offensive posture of his SHosts.
(9) An example of that strategy can be found in ForGG vs Solar, Merry, from the Group stage.