Awesome Game Done Quick: Maru's Best-of-7 Speed Runsby Wax
StarCraft II fans were both impressed and appalled last week when Maru needed just 42 minutes and 20 seconds of in-game time to sweep his teammate Trap in the GSL Code S semifinal series. But while one might think that's a record time for Maru, it's not even close.
You see, when people say it feels like Maru is playing a different game from everyone else, they're totally right. All this time, while Maru has been playing pro SC2, he's also been participating in an entirely different competition: speed-running professional StarCraft II best of sevens. In this area, his 42:20 against Trap is only his fifth best time.
Let's look back on some of Maru's quickest and most one-sided BO7 victories, and pray to god that the upcoming Maru vs. Classic GSL final doesn't enter the list.
(Times are not 100% exact as I just eyeballed them from the GG/victory screen of each match)
#6: 50 minutes 51 seconds – 4-1 vs Classic, Code S Season 2 Semifinals (2018-06-18)
On one hand, Maru and Classic are pretty evenly matched all-time head-to-head matches, which bodes well for the entertainment value of the upcoming Code S finals. On the other hand, their most recent major match ended with Maru drubbing Classic 4-1 in under an hour of game time.
While this victory occurred during Maru's god-like 2018 run, it came before Maru had fully established the TvP proxy meta. At that time, the few proxies pulled out in this series seemed like perfectly justified self-defense against the Protoss cheese Classic was using. Those were such innocent and pure days, when we did not yet know what TvP was to become...
#5: 42 minutes 20 seconds – 4-0 vs Trap, Code S Season 1 Semifinals (2019-04-06)
This recent match isn't any less brutal on second viewing. The proxy-meta PvT may be over, but two-base timing-attack meta means that Terran is still ending games plenty fast. After losing the first two maps, Trap hastened his own demise by committing to fruitless aggression of his own in the final two games.
#4: 41 minutes 9 seconds – 4-1 vs Zest, Code S Season 3 Semifinals (2018-09-08)
This one got randomly DMCA'd/removed from Afreecatv's channel lately, so here's a French VOD
In the history of TvP speed-running, this series marked a transitional moment as Maru combined the proxy tactics of 2018 with some of the two-base tank pushes that would become the norm in 2019 (the recent rise of the so-called 'third Command Center' looms as a threat to the integrity of TvP speed-running). Amusingly enough, Maru managed to LOSE a map to Zest and still beat him with a faster time than in his sweep against Trap.
#3: 32 minutes 59 seconds – 4-0 vs Zest, Code S Season 2 Finals (2018-06-23)
This is the match that should terrify you the most if you're hoping for a good Classic vs Maru finals. Think back to 2018, and how we were trying to hype Zest up as a worthy challenger for Maru. Sure, Zest hadn't been in the Code S title picture for nearly two years, but this was the SEASON OF DESTINY for the former champ. He had already defeated #2 Terran TY in the semifinals, and he was going to summon his old, best-in-the-world form for one last series.
All that seemed plausible until the eleventh minute of game one, when Maru just face-tanked the Disruptors balls and totally destroyed Zest. After that, AfreecaTV went into full scramble mode to play every video package and get through all their friends & family interviews before the series was over. At around 24 combined minutes, AfreecaTV's self-prepared content ended up being not so much shorter than the in-game match time.
#2: 27 minutes 13 seconds* – 4-0 vs INnoVation, OnGameNet Starleague Semifinals (2013-06-30)
Going off this list, it would be easy to think that Maru is especially hateful of Protoss players. First off, you're right. Second, Maru is still plenty capable of cheesing players of other races, including his own.
When the sixteen-year-old Maru won the fabled OnGameNet Starleague, fans didn't compare him to Flash just because of how good he was at so young an age. Before he became 'god,' a youthful Flash was originally known as a cold-blooded cheeser. Maru showed he had that same killer instinct in him during this semifinal match against INnoVation.
With ten major championships, INnoVation's excellence has spanned multiple eras. But mid 2013 might have been the time when he was most dominant, at least when measured by the gap between him and his peers. Against such a fearsome player, Maru had no problem going for one-base builds in three consecutive games, including two disgusting proxies. If one had to point to a single series that set a young Maru down the dark path of proxy-addiction, it may very well be this one.
#1: 24 minutes 7 seconds – 4-0 vs Nice, Asian Games Finals (2018-08-30)
The League of Legends exhibition at the 2018 Asian Games was one of the most hyped esports events of the year, bringing China, South Korea, and Taiwan together in a rare clash between regional titans. The StarCraft II exhibition, on the other hand...
Sure, we all expected Maru to 3-0 Thailand's StriKE and Iran's DemiGoD in the first two rounds—these were players that had never even played in a WCS Circuit Challenger tier event. But his finals opponent Nice had played in multiple offline majors in his career and had won matches against Circuit veterans such as Kelazhur and Harstem. Even if a sweep was the most likely outcome for god-mode Maru, surely Nice could impart the tiniest bit of credibility on the tournament and prevent it from becoming a total f***ing s***show? But that's indeed what it ended up being, as Maru ended the best-of-seven grand finals in less time than it took him to win the best-of-five semifinals (his 3-0 of DemiGoD lasted 25:12).
The Korean scene was recently abuzz due to the news that esports did not make the initial cut to be included at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games. The reason behind this is probably deeply complicated, involving key sponsor Alibaba, national Olympic committees, and the Asian Games Federation committee members themselves. However, as StarCraft II fans, let's just go with the theory that Maru single-handedly ruined it for everyone else.