StarCraft II isn't alchemy, but every upset still requires an equivalent exchange—this time around, it was Maru who was sacrificed as Dream went through in first place. Surprisingly enough, Dream didn't even have to beat Maru directly to advance in first place—Solar and Trap applied a tag-team beating to the four-time Code S champ to send him tumbling out in last place. While Solar gave the single most impressive performance of the night as he 2-1'd Maru in straight-up macro games, he was unable to defeat Trap in the decider match, thus sending the Jin Air Protoss (and recent DH Masters Summer runner-up) through to the RO16.
The Code S RO16 will conclude on Saturday, Jul 25 4:30am GMT (GMT+00:00) with Group D of the RO16, featuring Cure, Stats, Zest, and Rogue. It looks like the string of RO16 upsets will end here, as all four players look to be quite evenly matched.
Initial Match #1: Solar 2 - 1 Maru
Group C began with a massive upset in terms of both the end result and in-game play, as Solar managed to outplay Maru in two, straight-up macro games. Game one on Ice and Chrome saw Maru open up with blue-flame Hellions, which Solar held off without much trouble. However, Maru's follow-up attack with Hellbat-Tank-Marine managed to take down Solar's fourth base, which seemed to put the Jin Air Terran at a solid advantage as he geared up for a macro game. Surprisingly, Solar was more than capable of keeping pace with Maru's bio using Muta-Ling-Bane, and he absorbed Maru's pressure while building up a solid economic base on his half of the map. Still, it seemed like the victory would eventually go to Maru—even without a mid-game lead, he could still fall back on his infamously patient, defensive late-game style. However, Solar managed to crack this once impenetrable turtle's shell—and he didn't even need spellcasters to do it! Solar simply overwhelmed Maru with the sheer number of Banelings and Ultralisks he sent flooding into Maru's bases from all directions. While Maru certainly traded more efficiently than Solar, he was overwhelmed in the end.
Game two on Pillars of Gold was the typical Maru game everyone had expected to see. He opened with a greedy 3 CC build and was still able to kill off Solar's fourth base with his first Marine-Hellion push, all thanks to his great micro. Solar recovered well enough to give Maru a solid challenge with with Hydra-Bane-Ling in the mid game (as is the trend on PIllars of Gold), but Maru still overpowered him with infantry and Tanks to force the series tie.
The final game on Ever Dream ended up being a repeat of game one, but this time Maru didn't even manage survive in turtle stance for that long. Once again, Solar seized control of the map with his Muta-Ling-Bane play, built up a strong economy, and added Ultralisks to his army. The swarming attacks of mass Banelings rocked Maru from the get go, and it only took a few more follow-up blows to put him down on the mat for the ten count (well, I guess the equivalent to a ten count would be elimination. I guess he threw in the towel then?)
Initial Match #2: Dream 2 - 0 Trap
Dream vs Trap started off with the familiar PvT dance of Terran opening triple-CC while the Protoss player opened with Blink-Stalker harassment. In this particular game, Trap failed to get much damage done with his Stalkers, and was put on a tight clock to build up his economy and tech before the Terran army came knocking on his door. Unfortunately for Trap, he couldn't beat the death timer, and was taken down by Dream's infantry, Vikings, and Tanks.
Game two on Deathaura began with a proxy-Starport Marine drop from Dream, which set the tone for much of the early-mid game as the two players looked to constantly harass each other. Amid the action, both players still managed to build up their economy and armies, and looked set for a late-game confrontation. However, the game ended a bit anticlimactically, as Trap expended a bit too much of his ground army on counter-attacks and backdoor warp-ins while transitioning to Carriers and Disruptors. This left him to defend Dream's death-push with his face, ending the series 2-0 in Dream's favor.
Winners' Match: Dream 2 - 1 Solar
Solar started the series with a deceptive move on Pillars of gold, hiding his third base in the corner of the map while going fr a Roach-Ravager-Zergling all-in. This worked perfectly against Dream's decision to go for an early Hellbat-Marine push, as Solar had the early Roaches needed to stop the attack. Hellions/Hellbats don't fare particularly well against Roaches and Ravagers, which allowed Solar to counter-attack for a quick victory.
The two players decided to play more 'honorably' on Deathaura, with Dream going for a typical BC-rush into mech build while Solar obliged him by playing a macro game as well. Curiously, Solar continued to play very Baneling-heavy as he did against Maru's bio, but also decided it was necessary to get spellcasters against mech, getting both Infestors and Vipers. Instead of the multi-directional attacks into Terran expansions, Solar decided the correct approach was to face the Terran army in straight up combat. Solar seemed to be banking on getting extremely efficient trades with Neural parasite—an anti-mech tactic we've certainly seen work out in the past. However, in this particular game, things didn't work out that well in practice against Dream's Tanks and Thors, and the Mech forces chewed up the Zerg army as Mech is wont to do. The late addition of Brood Lords didn't help Solar at all, as Dream's mech once again mowed through the Zerg swarm to secure the 1-1 tie.
Solar decided to go for another early Roach-Ravager attack in game three, but this time with a normally placed third hatchery. While Solar didn't execute the maximum all-in version of the attack, it still needed to get damage done to be worth the investment. Unfortunately for Solar, a good defense from Dream (with a safety Banshee helping immensely) made the attack a colossal failure. Dream then used his lead to ruthlessly close the game out with a Marine-Tank push.
Losers' Match: Trap 2 - 0 Maru
Game one between Maru and Trap suggested Maru may not have been in his best form on the night, as Maru's poor positioning and reactions against Trap's mundane DT drop saw him take far more damage than he ever should have. Maru's Widow Mine drop failed to do much damage on the other end, while his follow-up Marine-drop was shot down by Blink Stalkers. While the game was still theoretically playable, Maru decided to GG-out quickly without bothering to see how things might play out.
Maru got to play a more normal macro game on Eternal Empire, though his poor defense against Trap's Zealot warp-ins set him back unnecessarily in the mid-game. Ultimately, however, he was simply outfought by Trap in the key engagements of the game, with his Ghosts looking on helplessly while Templars blanketed his army with Storms. After another tepid performance, Maru GG'd out of the series and out of Code S.
Decider Match: Trap 2 - 1 Solar
Seeing as how Glaive-Adepts served him well in the DH Summer Finals, Trap used them to open up his series against Solar. While Trap couldn't find any openings to do damage with his initial Adepts, his 3-Dark Templar follow-up hit the bullseye as Solar seemed to completely discount the need for detection. Trap was able to focus down the Lair for free, setting Solar irrevocably behind. Trap continued to keep Solar occupied with DT's while building up his army, and then finished Solar off with 200/200 supply of Stalker-Archon-Colossus.
Trap decided to try his luck with a similar Glaive-Adept into DT strategy in game two, but this time cancelled his Dark Shrine after Solar scouted it out with a well-timed Overlord. Trap pivoted to a Blink-Stalkers and Immortals to go for some sort of Immortal-Sentry-Adept-Blink pressure off three bases, but this aggression never got off the ground. His forces were separated and isolated by Speedlings in-transit, allowing Solar to thwart the attack completely. This bought Solar time to get mass Mutalisks out on the map, giving him total control of the game. Trap had enough left in the tank to go for a final Colossus-Stalker attack, but Solar simply decided to base-trade with his Mutas for an easy win.
Trap went old-school in the final game on Ever Dream, going for a DT/Archon drop start into a regular macro game. While no single move from Trap stood out, he was able to chip away at Solar's Drone count throughout the early game, be it with his initial two-Adept poke or DT's sneaking back into Solar's bases at off-tempo timings. These little gains set up Trap to launch a strong mid-game attack with Stalkers, Archons, and Immortals, which busted through a weak Roach-Ravager defense to clinch the 2-1 victory.
Recommended games: Solar's two macro-game wins against Maru were the highlight of the night, making everyone wonder what the GSL Terrans were thinking (or drinking) when they all took Zergs during the group selections. While it's tempting to pass off the loss as being due to Maru's poor play, Solar certainly played well on his end, proving why players are always quick to name him as one of the top Zergs in the KR scene.