The 10th anniversary edition of the GSL saw two Terran players advance from the RO24, with Maru and Dream moving on to the round of sixteen.
Maru looked to be in good form following his disappointing RO16 elimination in the previous season, winning in clean 2-0 series against both NightMare and RagnaroK. After advancing, Maru gave us an update on the state of his ailing wrists, saying he was feeling better now that he was receiving medical treatment three days a week. Maru was uncharacteristically chatty on the night, eager to poke fun at former PRIME teammate ByuN who had recently been discharged from the military. Maru said some of his build orders had come from ByuN, but qualified that by saying most of ByuN's suggestions had been poor, and that he had carefully picked only the useful ones. Maru continued the teasing by saying he felt ByuN was weak in PvT, and that he'd have to practice hard to advance from his RO24 group.
Dream and RagnaroK brawled for the second RO16 ticket that was up for grabs, with RagnaroK winning 2-1 in their initial match but Dream coming out on top 2-0 in the group decider.
While there weren't any epic games that could live up to the GSL's 10-year legacy (in fact, the most notable plays of the night were NightMare's catastrophic errors against Dream), the GSL still entertained its fans with a mini-documentary about GSL casters Artosis and Tasteless, and a special talk show with legends Nestea, Mvp, and MC (which will hopefully be provided with English subtitles in the near future).
Initial Match #1: Maru 2 - 0 NightMare
Game one on Deathaura saw NightMare open with the gas-steal + proxy-Robo strategy PartinG had used twice in the previous season. While not scouting it directly, Maru seemed to be wise enough as to what was up, and minimized his damage taken by making a Bunker and defensive Cyclone. NightMare wasn't completely all-in, however, and the two players transitioned into a macro game.
The end-game sequence began when Nightmare thought his handful of Gateway and Immortals could take a fight against some of Maru's bio that was out on the map. No, NightMare, you can't take that fight—not against Maru.
While NightMare lost that battle, the situation presented a half-opportunity for him. As Maru rallied his troops forward to try and kill NightMare off, NightMare actually got in a devastating series of Zealot warp-ins in Maru's unguarded base. It was a good move that killed off a ton of SCV's, and created the kind of chaotic situation which would give NightMare his best, if minuscule, chance of pulling off the upset. Unfortunately for our underdog, Maru navigated the semi-base trade situation rather easily, and once he cleaned up the counter-attacking forces, he finished off NightMare with relative ease.
Mucking things up with cheeses and base trades was probably going to be NightMare's best game plan, but he veered from it in game two on Eternal Empire by challenging Maru to a fairly straight-forward macro game. NightMare gave an okay account of himself (at least compared to the low initial expectations), but was ultimately overpowered.
Initial Match #2: RagnaroK 2 - 1 Dream
RagnaroK got off to a great start on Pillars of Gold, opening Pool-first, sneaking six Zerglings around Dream's scouting Reaper, and causing early game havoc in the Terran base. It ended up being one of those games that unfolds the way it should in theory, with the advantaged player making nary a mistake and snowballing their lead into an eventual victory in the ensuing macro game.
After such success in game one, RagnaroK went Pool-first yet again in game two, but Dream learned his lesson and sent out an SCV scout and kept his initial Reaper back on defense. Ragnarok followed up with some Roach-Ravager pressure, but Dream passed this recon-test as well, scouting out the attack with his Hellions and preparing Bunkers back at home. Having seized an advantage, Dream returned the favor to RagnaroK from game one, grinding out a win with endless waves of bio.
Game three on Submarine looked like it might be the first game on even-footing, with macro-oriented openers forthcoming from both players to start. However, Dream swerved by committing to an off-tempo Marine-Hellbat attack. That ended up being a total disaster for Dream, with RagnaroK having Banelings in time to easily shut down the frontal attack, and even having enough Speedlings left to go for a backdoor attack at the same time (Dream later said the Hellbat-Marine attack had worked against Solar in practice, but that he had microed poorly in this particular game). This failed early-game aggression forced Dream to play out of one those tragic TvZ mid-games where Terran has an upgrade disadvantage, which he tried to overcome by adopting a defensive posture and dragging things out into the late-game. While Dream succeeded at extending the length of the game, he never really managed to cross the halfway point on the map, and RagnaroK was able to to batter him to death with his resource advantage.
Winners' Match: Maru 2 - 0 RagnaroK
The difference between Maru and Dream was on indirect display on Golden Wall, with a rather straight-forward game ensuing where Maru simply out-macroed and out-microed RagnaroK to death. Amusingly enough, an off-tempo Hellbat-Marine attack figured into this match as well (albeit at a much later timing), except that this one actually helped wear the Zerg player down and contributed to an eventual Terran victory.
Maru basically repeated the feat in game two on Pillars of Gold, opening with some heavy Hellion-Liberator harassment before executing the plan of "make more stuff and control it better" to secure his spot in the RO16.
Losers' Match: Dream 2 - 0 NightMare
Proxy vs Proxy mayhem ensued in game one on Eternal Empire, with Dream opening with 1-Barracks proxy-Reaper in NightMare's natural while NightMare went for the flavor of the month in proxy-Stargate/Void Ray. Things looked dicey for Dream initially as NightMare's single Adept was enough to fend off the Reaper in his main, while Dream had to scramble to get any kind of anti-air once he realized his opponent was playing off of one base. However, Dream managed to get out a Turret and Cyclone in time to avert instant death, and was subsequently gifted a Void Ray by NightMare who misjudged the range of his key units. NightMare proceeded to make things very easy for Dream by donating two more Void Rays in another incredibly sloppy poke, effectively ending the game.
Game two on Deathaura didn't' go much better for NightMare, whose initial strategy was an Glaive-Adept all-in off two bases. Unfortunately, he mis-microed horrendously here as well, losing 12 Probes to a basic Widow Mine drop before his Adept attack could even begin. The game was essentially over at that point, with NightMare taking an enormous eocnomic hit and also being unable to launch any kind of credible attack.
Decider Match: Dream 2 - 0 RagnaroK
The high-stakes rematch between Dream and RagnaroK began with with a return to Submarine, where Ragnarok got off to another fantastic start by shutting down Dream's Hellion harass and dealing further damage to the Terran with his Mutalisks. Dream's first major push onto the map was mopped up easily by RagnaroK's Banelings, while his Mutalisks and Zerglings went into Dream's main to inflict further pain.
Going by their previous match, you'd have expected RagnaroK to safely close things out in a macro game. However, this time around, RagnaroK made the mistakes that allowed Dream's 'turtle and play for the late game' strategy to actually work out, such as letting clumps of Banelings die to a mine, wasting Banelings on Thors, or not evacuating Drones away from bases under attack. All these mistakes culminated in the biggest one of all, where RagnaroK overproduced Ultralisks and threw them into the meat-grinder of waiting Mines and Marauders. That direct donation of units tipped the game irrevocably in Dream's favor, and RagnaroK GG'd out immediately after.
After playing bio in all his previous games, Dream pulled out mech for game two on Deathaura. While RagnaroK had looked very comfortable fighting Dream's bio with Muta-Ling-Bane, he seemed far less competent going up against the mech composition (Dream later said he felt playing mech would have been predictable, but the earlier games made him feel RagnaroK's anti-bio play was too strong). Dream darted in and out of RagnaroK's territory with Battlecruisers, while RagnaroK's attempts to skirmish against Cyclones with Ravagers went extremely poorly. RagnaroK did have a chance to catch Dream off-guard with a big tech-switch to Mutas, but Dream was able to see Mutas emerging from their eggs when he went for some minor harassment with BC's and Cyclones. Able to put up Turrets and get Thors out in time, Dream completely negated the tech switch.
Although RagnaroK had Vipers in time for Dream's 3/3 death push with Thors, Tanks, and Cyclones, he didn't have the necessary army to follow-up. Despite being blanketed by Blinding Clouds, Dream's mech army stomped over RagnaroK's shabby assortment of Mutas, Roaches, and Ravagers to force the GG.