The clock struck midnight on DongRaeGu's storybook Code S run, as he suffered a 4-0 beatdown at the hands of Rogue in the semifinals. DongRaeGu's comeback had been the talk of the season, as he showed top-class ZvT to beat both TY and INnoVation in previous rounds. Earning a return to the Code S semifinals for the first time since 2012, DRG had raised hopes that players returning from retirement and/or military service might be champions again.
Unfortunately for DRG, he had not been tested ZvZ during his tournament run, and the wall of Rogue proved to be too much to overcome. Undefeated in offline best-of-seven matches, Rogue improved his record to 8-0 in such settings with a clean sweep over DongRaeGu. With another best-of-seven awaiting him in the grand finals, Rogue looks to be on track to win his second GSL Code S title (having previous won in Season 3 of 2019).
Rogue was a huge disappointment in the previous season of Code S—he entered as the top player in the world after winning IEM Katowice, but his post-championship hangover saw him suffer a shocking group-stage elimination. Now, Rogue looks to be back in form and back in his rightful place, contending for the most prestigious championships in competitive StarCraft II.
Code S will resume with on Saturday, Aug 08 4:00am GMT (GMT+00:00) with the second semifinal match between TY and Stats.
Semifinal Match #1: Rogue 4 - 0 DongRaeGu
The series began on Pillars of Gold with both players taking standard fast-expansions, followed by DongRaeGu making the first aggressive tech choice by building an early Evolution Chamber for fast +1 melee upgrade. If he had some kind of early Speedling attacks in mind, it never materialized, as both players stayed put on two bases and proceeded to tech quickly to Lair. Here, the two players' tech choices diverged, with DongRaeGu going Spire tech for Muta-Ling while Rogue went for Roach tech.
While DRG hid a third base at one of the corner expansions with an eye to play a longer game, Rogue added Nydus tech to go for a killing blow. Decent Overlord coverage and fast reactions with Zerglings allowed DRG to delay Rogue's Nydus Worms for a bit, but eventually Rogue got up the Nydus needed to launch his attack into Rogue's natural expansion. Despite having a significant amount of time to prepare Sunken Colonies on defense, DongRaeGu just couldn't handle the sheer number of Roaches and was forced to GG out.
Game two headed to Ever Dream, where Rogue went for the audacious strategy of placing a quick third Hatchery inside his opponent's main. While DongRaeGu was going for a normal build-up on three bases, Rogue prepared for an early Speedling all-in with the help of his hidden Hatchery. DongRaeGu failed to notice the unusually large amount of Creep that was spreading through his main, and Rogue was able to prepare a Queen and an offensive Spine Crawler for the 'backdoor' portion of his all-in.
All that deception almost ended up being for naught, as Rogue bungled his micro on the initial batch of Speedlings from his hidden Hatchery and allowed them to be surrounded and killed off by DongRaeGu's Drones. But Rogue still had the element of surprise on his side, and the combination of Zerglings attacking from the front and from inside of DongRaeGu's base was enough to overwhelm his opponent in the end.
Game three on Golden Wall played out as a role-reversed version of game one, with Rogue going for fast Mutalisk tech off two bases while DongRaegu looked to make him pay with a Nydus-Roach-Queen attack (aided by mining from Golden Wall's golden mineral expansion). However, unlike DongRaeGu, Rogue held fast on defense, planting a forest of Spine Crawlers capable of deterring DongRaeGu. Once the threat of a frontal attack was stymied, it was a simple task for Rogue to pick DRG apart with Mutalisks and take his third straight map.
The two players finally played a non-all-in game on Deathaura, as as both Zergs stayed back and went for a passive Muta-Ling build-up. The virtual non-aggression pact lasted quite some time, as both players took their fourth bases and got up to 1/1 air-upgrades. This led to a conclusion similar to that of a classic Brood War ZvZ, with both Muta flocks flying around the map until they collided, abruptly entering into a game-deciding fight. While the two Muta flocks were equal in number and upgrades, Rogue's Mutas ended up winning for unknowable reasons (again, very Brood War-esque)—perhaps Rogue had better focus fire, or just got better luck on the bounces. In any case, with the battle for air superiority won, Rogue snowballed his Mutalisk advantage and sealed the 4-0 sweep.
After the matches, Rogue said he knew DongRaeGu had the advantage in practice partners (the Afreeca Freecs Zergs & friends), so his series planning revolved around putting DongRaeGu in unorthodox situations and playing mind-games around two-base starts. He shouted out RagnaroK for helping him practice, but also mentioned two unexpected practice partners: Taiwanese Zerg Rex and former Jin Air Zerg CoCa. Fans should keep a close eye on sign-up list for the upcoming Code S Season 3 qualifiers, lest they see more blasts from the past.