The round of 24's Group E arrived at a predictable conclusion in an unpredictable way, with Maru and Scarlett advancing after they fought off newcomer Prince's spirited attempts to cheese them out. Armani was also eliminated, unable to continue his momentum from an impressive ESL Open Cup win.
Prince channeled his inner Firefly to begin his initial series against Maru, going for an audacious Cannon-rush which forced Maru to lift off his main Command Center and relocate his base entirely. Prince even forced a second relocation from Maru a while later, as he snuck a Cannon behind the mineral line of Maru's new base. However, Prince did not play out this bizarre gameboard as well as his Chinese counterpart Firefly, and was unprepared for Maru's counter-attack with a Cyclone and a handful of infantry. Unfortunately for Prince, Nexuses can't fly, and he was forced to GG out.
Undaunted, the so-called "amateur" Prince did the unthinkable in game two, and actually drew blood against Maru. While Maru got full advance scouting of Prince's 6-gate Chargelot all-in with a Reaper-Hellion poke, he either misread the information or underestimated the coming all-in's power. Maru started building, and then cancelled a Bunker in his main base, to which Prince responded by warping in Zealots and collecting an easy and very unlikely victory.
Maru decided it was his turn to get tricky in game three, opening up with a fast Hellion drop on one base. Prince opened with a regular Stargate opener, but paused to think for a second once his scouting Adept saw that Maru had not taken his natural. Much to his chagrin (or so I imagine), his decision to go for an Oracle first and then a Phoenix proved to be the wrong one, as three Hellions landed in his main and killed eleven Probes before they could be cleaned up. As one would expect, it was impossible for Maru to lose with that kind of early advantage, and he finished Prince off with a Marine-Tank push not long after.
Having survived Prince's challenge, Maru went on to face Armani in the winners match. Armani had defeated Scarlett 2-1 in their initial series, which had featured a very unusual proxy-hatchery strategy from Scarlett in game three. This time, Maru was the player who started things off with some deception, using early Hellion-Liberator harassment to mask an unorthodox two-Battlecruiser rush (from two Starports). This unexpected strategy hit Armani right in the gut, killing off over 20 Drones and forcing him to cancel his fourth base. Maru went for a mech-transition back at home, but he ended up not even needing his ground units to win—constant Battlecruiser production off two Starports was enough to finish off the wounded Armani. Maru followed up with a two-base 3-1-1 Marine-Tank push on Ever Dream, hitting a timing window before Baneling speed to force a second GG out of Armani and secure first place in the group. After the match, Maru gave some props to Prince in his interview, saying he had been quite nervous about facing the rookie Protoss because there was no telling what he might do.
Scarlett didn't seem to know either, as she began her losers match against Prince by getting completely blindsided by another sharply executed Cannon-rush. Not only did Prince cancel Sacrlett's expansion hatchery, but he took advantage of the terrain on Eternal Empire to take down her poorly placed Spawning Pool as well. Prince then went for the kill with a stream of Stalkers from a single proxy-Gateway, aided by a cluster of Shield Batteries. While Scarlett did her best to defend with Roach-Ravager from one Hatchery, she eventually tapped out against the constant regeneration of the Shield Batteries.
Game two on Ice and Chrome ended up being the closest thing to a 'normal' game Prince played on the night, as he opened up with an Oracle and went up to three bases. Prince did apply a little twist by making a quick pivot to Templar tech for an Archon-Zealot "timing" of sorts, but that attack was easily thwarted by Scarlett once she shot down the reinforcing Warp Prism. However, the attack did give Prince the benefit of scouting Scarlett's spire. While Scarlett knew Prince had seen the Spire, she played a dangerous game of chicken by going ahead and making twelve Mutalisks anyway. Unfortunately for Scarlett, Prince made the correct response of going for 3-Stargate Phoenixes, which led to Scarlett suiciding all of her Mutalisks to kill twenty Probes.
This opened up a window for Prince to launch a deadly counter-attack with his Phoenixes and ground forces, while Scarlett was caught hastily trying to reform her army around Hydralisks and Roaches. For a moment, Scarlett looked like she was dead in the water, but she just barely survived Prince's attack after taking out his reinforcing Warp Prism. Prince put Scarlett on the ropes again with a quick follow-up attack, but Scarlett narrowly defended once more. The third time ended up being the charm—but for Scarlett, not Prince. Surviving the last two attacks had given her enough time to get Lurkers out on the map, and she repelled Prince's troops with ease. She could now start taking expansions and rebuilding her economy.
Prince, seeing Lurkers and already having three Stargates, decided the move was to tech up to Carriers. However, by this point, Prince was already running out of steam, as he had been quasi-all-in for the last ten minutes. By the time Carriers arrived, Scarlett was already set with her full late-game composition of Hydras, Lurkers, and Vipers. Having honed her late-game
Prince's final strategy might have been considered the most audacious on any other night, but looking back at his previous games, it ended up seeming quite normal. After rushing for Dark Templars, he followed it with a quick Shadow Stride upgrade—a strategy similar to the one used by fellow Team GP player Super in Group C. Alas, the daring gambit went as poorly for Prince as it did for Super—the Zerg easily determined that something was amiss, and made the necessarily preparations to turn the Blink-DT's into an enormous waste of money. With a significant advantage in hand, Scarlett defeated her outmatched foe 2-1 to advance to the decider match.
Scarlett was then able to win her rematch with Armani and advance to the RO16 for the second straight season. In game one, she was able to rally her defenses in time to stop a no-Lair all-in from Armani off three bases, which snowballed into a comfortable win minutes later. Game two saw Armani apply heavy pressure with Zerglings throughout the early game, keeping Scarlett on two bases after forcing multiple cancels on her third. However, in a rather Brood War-esque turn, the number of bases mattered much less than the amount of gas mined. Scarlett had been mining gas from four geysers the entire time she had been under pressure, which ended up making a world of difference when both players transitioned into Spire tech. Armani was caught completely off-guard by the size of Scarlett's initial Muta flock, which ended up being enough to decide the series in favor of Scarlett.
Recommended Games: Prince's play was reminiscent of Has and Elfi, where a mechanically outmatched player makes up for their deficiencies with sheer creativity. And, much like the games of Elfi and Has, Prince's games weren't necessarily 'good' in the conventional sense, but they certainly made for entertaining viewing.
Coming up: GSL Code S will conclude on on Wednesday, Jul 08 9:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00) with Group F of the RO24, featuring Trap, Patience, Bunny, and RagnaroK. The group will be followed by the Round of 16 group selection ceremony/draft.