Military 'returners' continued to have a tough go of it in GSL Code S, as both TaeJa and Super were eliminated from Group C of the round of 24. The two established favorites in Solar and Rogue ended up advancing as many predicted, with Solar pulling off a minor upset by defeating Rogue to take the first place spot in the group.
Group C began with Solar taking a comfortable 2-0 victory over an outmatched Super. Super went for an unorthodox Disruptor drop strategy to start the series, only to have it scouted out by an Ovelord. The initial Disruptor drop did no damage, and the follow-up ground attack went even worse as Super committed a horrendous error and gave away his Disruptor for free. Having gambled too much and gained virtually nothing, Super was soon forced to GG out against an overwhelming number of Roaches and Ravagers. Super looked to play more conventionally in game two by going up to three bases off Robo tech, but didn't get very far as he was overrun by Solar's Ravager-Zergling attack off 45 Drones.
Next up was a thrilling series between Rogue and TaeJa, which was rather reminiscent of the series TaeJa fought against Dark in the previous season. As is often the case on Eternal Empire, we saw an 'honorable' macro duel between the two players to begin the series. TaeJa's bio-based macro play was extremely impressive in this game—despite several instances of excruciatingly bad Marine control against Banelings, he somehow managed to keep marching forward with endless reinforcements and new expansions. As for Rogue, he made the Dark-esque move of getting too cute with a Lurker-centric army composition, and he ended up failing to show us the purpose or strengths of such an army (rather, its immobility was exploited by TaeJa). As TaeJa grew his advantage, he even started raining down Nukes in Zerg territory, and Rogue was flustered enough to take catastrophic hits rarely seen at the Code S level. Rogue never managed to transition out of his doomed Hydra-Lurker-Viper composition, and was eventually worn down and forced to GG.
Game two on Golden Wall saw both players gear up for a macro game again, only this time Rogue went for the standard Zerg army of Muta-Ling-Bane. This let Rogue play a much more proactive game, as he exploited TaeJa's poor defensive multitasking and reliance on the F2 key with constant counter-attacks throughout the game. But despite harassing aggressively, Rogue still couldn't stop TaeJa's aggressive expanding completely, which kept TaeJa in the game for quite some time. Ultimately, however, the counter-attacks took their toll, and TaeJa GG'd out after running out of steam. TaeJa decided it was time to try something trickier in game three, opting for a timing attack with Cloaked banshees and Hellbats. Unfortunately for TaeJa, Rogue sniffed out the attack and defended against it comfortably with mass Queens, putting him in a strong economic position headed into the mid-game. This time, Rogue was able to use his Muta-Ling-Bane to wipe out TaeJa's army in a decisive mid-game engagement, taking the 2-1 victory.
In the winners match, Solar prevailed with a 2-0 victory over Rogue to advance from the group in first place. Solar took the first game on Ever Dream thanks to his assiduous scouting. After both players established three bases, Rogue decided he'd try to catch Solar off guard with a Roach-Baneling all-in off Hatchery tech. Rogue tried to increase his chances of success with two layers of deception: a Lair-cancel in his main, and a late decoy Roach Warren at his wall to mask his much earlier 'real' Roach Warren. But it was all for naught as Solar's continued speedling scouting caught Rogue's Roaches hatching from their eggs. This let Solar start his own Roach production in time to repel the attack, giving him a significant advantage in both economy and tech. After that, Solar comfortably teched up to Mutalisks, and collected the GG from Rogue after defending against a last-ditch attack.
It was Solar's turn to go on the offensive in game two, and he showed Rogue how it's done. After sending in Speedlings and handful of Banelings to harass Rogue's third Hatchery early on, Solar followed up with a fast Roach Warren for a follow-up attack (much quicker than what Rogue tried in game one). Rogue appeared to think the pressure had ended at the initial Zerglings and was completely unprepared for the attack, forcing him to GG out. As it turned out, German Zerg Lambo was behind this clever strategy, with Solar thanking him later on Twitter. As an outspoken critic of Korean ZvZ and its "random" timings, perhaps Lambo thought it was time he backed his words up by presenting a build that he felt was more well thought out.
The losers match between Super and TaeJa started off with a cross-counter of Mine drop vs DT drop, with Super's DT drop doing far more damage. TaeJa tried to overcome his disadvantage by playing out a mech strategy patiently, focusing on Banshees and Tanks as the core of his composition. Despite being able to take expansions at will, Super looked like he was putting himself in a needlessly bad position by staying on a low-tech army of Zealots and Stalkers. But whatever theoretical advantage TaeJa's army had, it ended up not mattering as he was caught out of position with many of his Tanks unsieged, letting Super pounce and take the game with one great engagement.
Game two saw Super go for this low-tech army again, but only this time against TaeJa's bio. Super Zealot-Stalker-Colossus force held out surprisingly well in the mid game, stopping many advances by a dangerous bio army backed by Tanks. But in the end, TaeJa had too much of a tech and economy advantage for Super to overcome, which was exacerbated by the fact that Super had neglected to upgrade beyond 2/2. Once TaeJa combined mass Ghosts and Vikings with his 3/3 infantry, he was able to tear through Super's army and tie the series.
It was back to mech for TaeJa in game three, though this time with a more evenly mixed composition of Tanks, Hellions, and Cyclones. Super, seemingly having a 'one size fits all' mindset in PvT, again went for mass Zealot-Stalker backed by a handful of Colossi. While it seemed like TaeJa could afford to play the game out with excruciating patience, he invited his own downfall by attempting to take his fourth base too aggressively. Super correctly assessed that TaeJa's mech was not at critical mass, and charged headlong into the Terran force with his Gateway army to secure the 2-1 victory.
Unfortunately for Super, PvZ held him up once more in the deciding series against Rogue. Super tried out the PvZ bread-and-butter of Glaive Adepts to start, which went about as poorly as possible as his Adepts were surrounded and killed by Speedlings before they could shade away. That basically put Super too far behind to win against a player of Rogue's caliber, and he GG'd out a few minutes later to a mass Ravager-Ling attack into his third. Super gathered his hands and prayed to Classic in game two, going for a two base, Shadow Stride Dark Templar all-in on Golden Wall. In retrospect, this was a tremendously bad idea, given that Classic himself said it was a one-time-only strategy after defeating Rogue with it at BlizzCon. The initial Dark Templars achieved nothing against the well-prepared Rogue, once again handing him an insurmountable economic advantage. While Rogue was a bit sloppy in finishing Super off, he eventually got the final GG to send him through to the RO16. Rogue fans might be pleased to note he said he's been practicing harder as of late during the post-match interview, with his embarrassing RO24 elimination from the previous season providing motivation.
Recommended Games: The series between Rogue and TaeJa was the highlight of the group (VODs), with TaeJa's low-micro, high-macro style resulting in bloody, action-packed games.
Coming up: GSL Code S will resume on Wednesday, Jul 01 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00) with Group D of the RO24, featuring Dear, DongRaeGu, Dream, and sOs.