Best Games of the Month: April-May 2019 EditionCompiled and written by Ej, Elentos, and Durn
Best Games is back with a double-month edition, for really no other reason than 'we felt like it.' Also, the art is recycled from the previous edition. Wow, we're really mailing it in, aren't we? Well, good thing StarCraft II progamers are still trying their best, or else we wouldn't have all these amazing games to share with you.
• Maru vs Stats on Year Zero - 2019 GSL Super Tournament #1 - Ro16
Better ending to LotV: Amon decides to spare the galaxy because all the best games happen right in front of him.
To start our list, we take a look at the game that had everyone talking in April. While this wasn't the first mech TvP rodeo of the series (or tournament), this particular clash between Maru and Stats was unquestionably the stand-out match.
Maru's 'reward' for winning a 4th consecutive Code S was facing perennial top Protoss Stats in the first round of the Super Tournament. After a clean game one win for Stats, Maru decided to he needed to make things weird. The switch-up was so drastic it left virtually everyone confused, whether it was fans, casters, or pro-players. Was Maru serious? Was he insane? What was he doing? No way this is legit, right? Mech vs Protoss might have been standard in Brood War, but it struggled to even be called 'usable' in StarCraft II, regardless of the expansion. It was just never deemed powerful enough to be more than a gimmicky Proleague snipe build that was sure to fail if you try it twice. In addition, Maru himself had never really stood out as a mech player in the past. Even at the at the height of the 2015 Mechalomania, Maru was one of the few Terrans who would still predominantly play bio in TvT and TvZ (his few mech games were nothing short of actual disasters).
But then Maru won his first mech game on King's Cove, and followed it up with another victory on Port Aleksander. Everyone was left to wonder if he had changed the TvP paradigm in the course of two games. However, Stats wouldn't be a top Protoss if he had simply gotten steamrolled by a new strategy, and by game four, he knew how he was going to fight back. Both players ended up giving a masterful performance on Year Zero. Over the course of a marathon match where the entire map was mined out, neither player deigned to bore the fans by pushing for a dull, stalemate scenario. Instead, battles for strategic positions raged constantly across the map, until the two players were finally left staring each other down across opposite sides of two, final mining bases.
Cheer up, PvP is good (sometimes)
• sOs vs Classic on Port Aleksander - 2019 GSL Super Tournament #1 - Ro4
These two seem to be incapable of playing a normal game.
Beside Maru and GuMiho reviving mech TvP (if it was ever alive), the big topic of the Super Tournament was its unprecedentedly imbalanced racial distribution of 7 Protoss, 1 Terran, and 0 Zerg in the quarterfinals. Many of us were reminded that that PvP often becomes a big game of expansion chicken—expanding from 1 base to 2 and from 2 to 3 can be a fatal mistake.
In this match, two of the most renowned Protoss players in Korea decided to simply avoid expanding for as long as they could. While Classic and sOs stayed on two bases for almost 20 minutes as though they were novices at the game, they at least entertained with very aggressive, very un-silver league tactics. Just when one player seemed to get an incremental lead, the other player would pull off a move to steal it back. In the final battle of the match, the only long-term play of the game would end up making the difference: +2 attack upgrades.
FanTaSy GG timing, but unironically
• FanTaSy vs RagnaroK on Thunderbird - 2019 GSL Code S Season 2 - Ro16
Championship-caliber FanTaSy from BW may not be back, but hella-fun FanTaSy from HotS definitely is.
Group A of the Code S RO16 is often derided as the #1 seeded player typically brings three of the 'weakest' players into his group to battle it out for second place. But that stereotype isn't necessarily fair to the players picked or the quality of games they can produce.
Take RagnaroK and FanTaSy, for example. #1 seed Classic may have had little reason to fear RagnaroK, but that's because he didn't have to worry about being on the receiving end of RagnaroK's fearsome ZvT. The same goes with FanTaSy—his TvP may not have threatened Classic, but his cerebral TvZ play saw him get by Rogue and Leenock in the RO32.
RagnaroK and FanTaSy faced off in their respective best match-ups on Thunderbird, a map which which had been added to ladder a few days before the group was played. When FanTaSy showed the battle-mech style he has favored since his return to SC2, RagnaroK responded with some big-picture thinking, using Nydus Networks to bridge the vast distances on the map. Unfortunately for RagnaroK, his Brood Lords couldn't access those subterranean networks, forcing him into the classic late-game dilemma: mobility or might?
MORE Mech Madness
• GuMiho vs INnoVation on Thunderbird - Olimoleague 2019 May - Finals
No month shall pass without a GuMiho match.
Mech in TvT is generally a bit of a rarity nowadays—unless GuMiho gets involved. The greatest mech expert in all the lands has no reservations about busting out the machines in any match-up, much less so on a map such as Thunderbird with its extremely mech-friendly layout. However, mech can falter very quickly under the pressure of your opponent if you take too much damage in the build-up.
Well, INnoVation managed to deal damage in this game. A lot of it. The game frankly didn't even look winnable at all for GuMiho during the early-mid phases, especially since his opponent was even ahead on upgrades by a decent margin. But then, likely born from hubris, INnoVation commited the same folly that saw Dark eliminated from the Super Tournament: he let GuMiho max-out.
The Almost-"Has" Game of the Month
• herO vs KeeN on King's Cove - 2019 GSL Code S Season 2 - Ro32
Some MULEs and a dream, that's all you need.
KeeN has not exactly built up a stellar reputation for himself over the years. Among his Terran peers, overall he simply falls off in terms of success too much, and his play lacks a certain flair and uniqueness to distinguish himself from the pack. Realistically, the most remembered thing about KeeN is that there's some nice gifs of him. On the contrary, herO is a huge name (while the Korean memes have dubbed him an invisible man, to the western world he's probably one of SC2's most memorable stars) with much greater success, in a much shorter time span.
Together, the two of them put together a bizarre and memorable game on King's Cove. A wild early game left herO on the back foot, his economy dramatically worse than the Terran's. But herO wouldn't be herO if he couldn't make the game weird. And so he killed almost 60 workers within a span of two minutes, even delaying his crucial stimpak upgrade by cancelling it 7 seconds before completion. But just as KeeN was about to submit his death certificate, he remembered "wait, this is the player who once forgot the lose condition of StarCraft II." and decided to YOLO it out with a base trade.
The "Has Award" for stupid games that are actually heartwarming and wholesome
• Neeb vs SpeCial on Cyber Forest - 2019 WCS Spring - Semifinals
No better way to end an 8-year streak of no finals than with a strategy even older
The first result of SpeCial's career noteworthy enough to be mentioned on Liquipedia dates back to 2011. In those 8 years, not once did SpeCial, MajOr, WinDy, Terran, Princess, Britney, Kitty, Memory, CuteAngel, Light or any of his other aliases ever reach the finals of a 'premier' tournament. He always seemed to reach his limit in the Ro4. Somewhere along the way, we started doubting whether he could ever make that extra step. SpeCial's skill is nothing to scoff at. On his brightest days, he's not simply the best non-Korean Terran, he's one of the finest of the Terran craft in general, on par with Korea's finest. It shouldn't come as a surprise that SpeCial graced the Ro16 of GSL this season with his presence. His BlizzCon performances the past 2 years have been nothing short of exceptional.
But still there's always this lingering doubt with SpeCial. At WCS Winter, he shocked the world with a map loss to MCanning and a series loss against Cham. But WCS Spring was a different story. SpeCial looked to be on fire. Against all previous opponents, including even ShoWTimE, the Mexican Terran looked to be merely taking care of business. But then it was time to face Neeb once again. A WCS classic, the high quality matches between the two (mostly from 2017) are particularly infamous for Neeb's tendency to always win 3-2 and eliminated SpeCial from WCS. And so when Neeb scouted the cheese SpeCial was going for in game 5, many viewers prepared for the inevitable. But instead of welcoming darkness with Simon and Garfunkel, it was time to queue up this spmg. Well, at least until the finals.
More recommended games from April and MayBut wait, there's MORE!!!
Classic vs GuMiho on Year Zero - VOD
Cure vs herO on Automaton - VOD
FanTaSy vs Trap on King's Cove - VOD
GuMiho vs Impact on Automaton - VOD
GuMiho vs Zest on New Repugnancy - VOD
herO vs Trap on Cyber Forest - VOD
herO vs Trap on Kairos Junction - VOD
Leenock vs TY on Port Aleksander - VOD
Credits and acknowledgements
List committee: Ej, Elentos, Durn
Photos: Andre Hainke (via Blizzard)
List committee: Ej, Elentos, Durn
Photos: Andre Hainke (via Blizzard)