The archetypal fairy tale goes something like this: the main character accomplishes an insurmountable task or fights a nebulous evil ruler/magic user in order to rescue the princess and bring rainbows, sunshine, and peace back to the land. The main character invariably faces hardships and the odds are stacked against them, yet they somehow prevail because they are good, just, and right. Only they are allowed to win and get the girl at the end because the good guys always win, right?
IEM Taipei resembles none of this. There are no heroes. Each of these players are monsters in their own right, crushing the dreams of well known favorites and lesser-known players alike in this tournament. There are no villains. None of the players left have true rivalries with each other. PartinG and Life's former rivalry from 2012 burns no longer, despite the smack talk they both exhibited. Soulkey and Maru have no beef with each other or either of the other two. All four merely wish to claim supremacy over the champion's title and impose their will upon each other.
So then there were four. All four fought hard and gained their spot by playing better. Do not let the scores fool you; the struggles were close in almost each and every game of the quarterfinals. There were no underdog stories, no redemption tales, and no flukes of an unknown player with the glimmer of hope to make it all the way despite the odds…for we know these four men all too well, and they are too old for fairy tales.
Sparing no mercy for his former teammate Classic, PartinG brutalized him in three excruciating and, at times, humiliating PvPs. This was illustrated best with their second game, with both players opening with proxy play that come down to the last Probes and Zealots. A split second absence of concentration cost Classic his last stalker and shattered his only hope to win the arguably most exciting game at IEM Taipei thus far. Following this demoralizing defeat, Classic went for an early blink stalker build that almost won the game, but left him vulnerable to PartinG's oracle harass. When the stalker attack petered out it left Classic far behind in economy. PartinG transitioned into colossus tech and so solidly took the game that PartinG danced his units twice in celebration. Then PartinG proceeded to put Classic on blast in an merciless/hilarious post-series victory interview.
"EZ win, EZ money" "He one-hundred percent noob" "Immortal choo-choo-choo, motherf#$&%!" -PartinG, 2015
Life’s dismantling of HyuN was also without quarter, although more coy. Using his trademark 1st game loss™ to feel out and test his opponent, the multi-GSL, multi-MLG, IEM, DreamHack, and WCS champion tested his opponent and found him wanting. Life's unparalleled ZvZ play and ironclad macro stymied Hyun's roaches and mutalisks. Sprinkle in a few mind games (showing a roach warren and two evo chambers at the front of his base while mass producing zerglings behind it) and you get game 4. Life's zergling/baneling rush avoided HyuN's overlords, prancing into the natural without resistance..
The final day of IEM Taipei opens with the Train Conductor versus the Royal Road(er). Expect the Soul Train to be used. Glory awaits the victor; humiliation waits for the loser. Remember, this is no hero versus villain tale. This will not be a gentlemanly battle of wills, but only a brutal contest for survival. Yet in the back of his mind, PartinG will no doubt remember that he faces one of the only men to ever vanquish the Soul Train; Life may have PartinG's number.
Let us not forget that Soulkey came up all the way from the open bracket. He may have been counted out by some due to his underwhelming performance toward the end of 2014, but his recent showings in GSL and 2nd place finish in Hey, Look, Koreans! say otherwise. Let us also not forget that underneath Maru's apathetic veneer is a creature who "destroyed Rain so convincingly that Rain was forever scarred with a pathological fear of Terrans and Maru in particular." No matter our preconceived notions of these players beforehand, let us not forget the trail of
I predict Soulkey will go on to face Life in the finals, where it will be a true test for both players. The player who will reign supreme will be the one who can maintain their presence of mind; both players are ZvZ experts and will no doubt pull out all the stops here. Looking at history, as one would when studying great powers, Life will likely lose the first game as he always does. He will proceed to exploit his opponent's weaknesses and build momentum, snowballing until his momentum is too much to stop.
PartinG 1-3 Life
Maru 2-3 Soulkey
Life 4-1 Soulkey