The first RO24 group of the Code S Season 3 produced a surprise result, but not one that had any affect on which players advanced to the RO16. Spear earned a match victory in his Code S debut, eliminating SpeCial in the losers' match of the group. While Spear exceeded expectations by managing to get a win on the board, he was still woefully outmatched against Trap in TvP, who defeated Spear twice to advance in second place in the group.
First place in the group went to Solar, who put in a solid performance by dispatching both SpeCial and Trap. In his post-match interview, Solar revealed that he had been taking care of issues outside of StarCraft last season, which had got in the way of his practice. Back in a situation where he can focus on the game 100%, Solar vowed to break his 3-year Code S playoff drought this season.
Recommended games: Spear and SpeCial's TvT games were sloppy at times, but they weren't lacking for action.
Coming up: GSL Code S will resume on Wednesday, Sep 02 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00) with Group B of the RO24, featuring Dark, Creator, TaeJa, and Zest.
Initial Match #1: Trap 2 - 0 Spear
Spear went for a "macro-cheese" of sorts in game one on Eternal Empire, going for a fast wall-off and rushing up to three Orbital Commands. Trap took this in stride, applying some light pressure with his Oracles and playing out a macro game as usual. In the end, Spear's early greed never materialized as any kind of advantage, and the game ended with Trap simply massing an army and trampling over the outmatched Spear.
Game two on Ever Dream saw Spear go for the kind of tricky early-game aggression we expect to see from underdogs, as he went for a fast attack with Concussive-Marauders, Hellions, and a Medivac. Unfortunately for Spear, Trap was playing a defensive Phoenix build, and even Probe-scouted the quick Marauders far ahead of the attack. Trap crushed the attack easily, and snowballed his early advantage into another easy win.
Initial Match #2: Solar 2 - 1 SpeCial
SpeCial was true to his reputation as an avid mech-user in game one, opting to go directly into mech without his favored Battlecruiser start. However, just about everything went wrong for SpeCial in the process: A scouting Zergling blocked his Factory just as he was performing the Reactor-swap, a Zergling run-by killed some SCVs at his natural, Solar scouted out the extra Factories with a speed-upgraded Overlord, and his Liberator died to Spore Colony after barely doing any damage. Considering that rough start, it wasn't surprising to see Solar get a quick kill on SpeCial with a Roach-Ravager attack before there were enough Tanks to defend.
Game two on Golden Wall actually produced the most standard game of the series, with SpeCial's bio going up against Solar's Muta-Bane-Ling (neither player tried to play around the south side of the map). After a build-up on both sides, the game was basically decided in the first major engagement between the two forces. Already low on Banelings, Solar sent his troops down a death funnel of Tanks and Marines holding high ground, and quickly GG'd out after taking heavy losses.
Unorthodox strategies were back on the table in game three as SpeCial went for a hidden Ghost Academy to try and apply some early pressure with Ghosts and Hellions. The attack, which can really screw up Ling-Queen based defenses that are caught off guard, was easily staved off by Solar who sniffed out the build and mixed in Roaches and Spine Colonies on defense (Solar later said he 100% knew SpeCial would be doing the build at some point, as it was one of his favored strategies on the ladder). Despite his failed early gambit, SpeCial actually made a decent transition to a normal game and set himself up for a mid-game Marine-Tank push. However, a merely 'decent' transition wasn't enough to trouble Solar, who had enough Muta-Ling-Bane to defend and then finish SpeCial off with a counter-attack.
Winners' Match: Solar 2 - 1 Trap
Game one on Pillars of Gold was a catastrophe for Solar, where he dropped the ball on early-game defense and let two Oracles and two Adepts kill off 17 Drones. While Trap was content to slowly build up on three bases from there, Solar decided he need to take drastic measures to extricate himself from his poor situation. He geared up for a huge Roach-Ravager attack at near-max supply, looking to hit before Trap could stabilize on three bases. However, Trap had more than enough troops to defend (aided by his focus fire of Overseers and follow-up DT warp-ins), and Solar GG'd out after his failed attack.
Trap then got the Stats treatment on Ever Dream, getting backdoored by a slew of Speedlings when he sent his first Adept out to harass. Like Stats, Trap actually had a half-wall with a Probe ready to seal it off just in case, but he just wasn't paying attention at the moment the lings slipped in.
The series headed to Golden Wall for the deciding game, where both players started by opening up their south side mineral walls. While Trap actually took his expansion at the backdoor, Solar just used it for a little Zergling poke before taking his normal expansions on the north side. Trap opted to go for his stylish Glaive-Adepts into Disruptor drop strategy, which had an additional avenue of attack with Solar having opened up backdoor access to his main. Trap tried to set up a simultaneous north-south side Glaive-Adept attack, but Solar was prepared to defend at both angles and ended up killing off a ton of Adepts while taking very few losses. With a huge army advantage, it was Solar's turn to play the north-south game. When Trap tried a south side attack with Adepts and Disruptors, Solar held it off easily while doing damage with his own counter attack from the north (Solar later said that multi-directional attacks worked quite well in practice against Protosses who opened up the southern path). Having swatted down everything Trap had tried during the game, Solar easily made a tech swap to Muta-ling and put Trap out of his misery..
Losers' Match: Spear 2 - 0 SpeCial
After a poor showing against Trap, Spear put up a much more spirited fight against SpeCial. The first game on Eternal Empire ended up being a good ol' fashioned marine-tank macro game. SpeCial was the first to try and get aggressive in the mid-game after a passive build up, but Spear showed he was no pushover and he held off SpeCial's attack and was left with a significant Tank advantage. This advantage allowed Spear to consolidate his forces and launch an attack of his own a few minutes later, where he made SpeCial sweat but was unable to break the TvT deadlock. The two players started preparing for an even longer game, with Tank lines being drawn and Sensor Towers being raised.
However, before the defensive positions could be fully entrenched, SpeCial made an aggressive move that kick-started the endgame sequence. Spear, in his rush to secure the two "neutral" expansions at the 3:00 and 9:00 spots on Eternal Empire—a sure winning move in an extra-long game—left the center of the map wide open. Seeing an opportunity, SpeCial charged his forces up the center of the map. While Special did succeed in doing some damage, the attack ultimately led to his downfall. He was unprepared for Spear's even stronger cross-counter attack, with Tanks leaving the 9:00 base to march straight into SpeCial's own undefended territory. While Special's Marine-heavy force was easy for Spear to clean up eventually, Spear's Tank-heavy force stayed firmly lodged in SpeCial's territory dealing huge damage. It cost SpeCial a lot of resources to clean that attack up, and by that point, Spear had accrued enough of an army advantage to end the game.
SpeCial looked for some payback on Deathaura, with the two players engaging in another Marine-Tank macro game. This game was even more hectic than the first, with many casualties inflicted on both sides, with the lead changing hands on several occasions. Ultimately, the game once again came down to SpeCial's decision to force a semi-base trade, seeing an opening to dive deep into Spear's main. Again, the exchange ended up going very poorly for SpeCial, who was forced to GG out soon after. I should note that this is the very condensed recap of this match, which had plenty of moments where I thought "oh, this is the decisive move!" only for the situation to be reset a few minutes later. For those who like action-packed TvT, it's definitely worth a watch.
Decider Match: Trap 2 - 0 Spear
Spear's one base opener on Eternal Empire forced Trap to be extra cautious, building Shield Batteries and laying Stasis Traps down with his defensive Oracles. However, the actual attack that came was one Trap didn't expect: a Drilling Claws Mine drop. The attack ended up being a huge success for Spear, who killed nine Probes while saving and evacuating all three of his Mines.
With the early game lead in hand, Spear set himself up comfortably on three bases and plotted his next move. That turned out to be a dangerous Marine-Tank-Marauder push, just as Trap looked to secure his fourth base. Trap managed to just barely repel the attack, with a last second warp-in of Zealots barely saving the Nexus. However, Trap followed that by committing the grave error of attack-moving his two Colossi directly into Marauders, which forced him to withdraw and give up the Nexus he had protected at great cost.
Now with four bases against three, and an upgrade advantage in TvP, all Spear had to do was close out the game. However, that proved to be much easier said than done. Initial drops from Spear were ineffectual, but they ended up turning suicidal as he continued to try and force the issue. Particularly disastrous was a four-medivac drop into Trap's main, combined with a two-prong attack by foot. Both attacks ended up being direct donations of army, with Disruptors taking out 20 supply in an instant. And, just like that, Spear wasn't winning anymore. With the lead, and several Disruptors firmly in hand, Trap marched forward to force the GG out of Spear.
Game two on Deathaura saw Spear go for a Marine-Mine drop, which failed to achieve much against Trap's defensive Oracle build. After neutralizing the threat of the drop, Trap sent his three Oracles and two Phoenixes over to the other side of the map, and ended up getting a considerable amount of work done. Not only did Trap kill off some stray troops, but he also destroyed the Tech Lab researching Stim when it was nearly done. This was disastrous for Spear, as he had been looking to line-up his Stim and Combat Shields for a three Medivac drop into Trap's main. He pulled the trigger on the drop anyway, which fared rather poorly against the defending Stalkers. With a huge army supply advantage in hand, Trap marched to Spear's base and finished him off.