Code S came back from the Chuseok holiday break with a slew of high level PvT games in Group C of the RO16.
Stats came out of the group in first place, overcoming his lack of practice caused by the fever he had contracted over the break (non-COVID related). The Shield of Aiur lived up to his name, deflecting attacks from both ByuN and Maru before overpowering them in macro games.
Maru took the second place spot in the group after an unusual night of games. In his match versus PartinG, he gave up a map thanks to a bizarre suicide-nuke—fortunately for the Jin Air ace, he overcame the setback to take a 2-1 victory.
Maru's decider match against ByuN was interrupted by an equally strange outside-the-game incident, with ByuN pausing the match mid-game due to spasms in his forearm/wrist. The interruption did not seem to affect Maru much, as he took out ByuN 2-0 with strong late-game TvT play.
Recommended games: Maru vs PartinG on Ice and Chrome was a fascinating match, and not just for the self-nuke finale.
Having defeated Trap with turtle-Terran play in the King of Battles tournament, Maru brought the same approach to his GSL match against PartinG. In this limited sample of games, Maru's play was a bit reminiscent of his early 2018 style, where it seemed like he thought the best way to play every match-up was to split the map in half, turtle, and wear his opponent down through attrition.
On the other hand, PartinG's play made it seem like Maru doesn't have the late-game quite figured out to the extend he did in 2018. Due to Maru's extreme expenditure on Turrets and what seemed like an endless rain of largely wasteful nukes, PartinG actually ended up being the more efficient player, and may have won the game even without Maru's suicide nuke.
It's certainly an interesting game to theorycraft about, and one has to wonder if it will have repercussions on the overall PvT meta both inside and outside Korea.
Coming up: The Code S RO16 will conclude with the much anticipated Group D on Saturday, Oct 10 6:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00), featuring Rogue, INnoVation, Dark, and Trap.
Initial Match #1: Stats 2 - 0 ByuN
Game 1 - Eternal Empire: Stats opened with defensive Phoenixes, while ByuN opened with a typical expansion into 1-1-1. No early attack materialized from ByuN, either due to him scouting the Phoenixes or simply never having planned an attack in the first place. Instead, ByuN got a fast Raven, which he used to support a Marine poke once Stimpak research was complete. Unfortunately for ByuN, this ended in disaster has he mis-microed his Raven and lost it to Phoenixes before it could do anything.
This took all the pressure off Stats as he macroed up on three bases. ByuN kept poking around the edges of Protoss territory looking for an opening, but couldn't find an opportunity to strike. Eventually, Stats got confident enough in his Stalker-Colossus defense force to commit to a huge Prism-Zealot backdoor attack that devastated ByuN's SCV count and sent the Terran army scrambling back in defense. Stats gave chase with his main army and finished ByuN off.
Game 2 - Submarine: The second game saw the two players use very similar openers to game one, except this time ByuN delayed his initial move-out timing in order to add a handful of Tanks to his Marine-Raven force. In any case, the result was the same, as ByuN once again allowed his Raven to get picked off. Without fear of Interference Matrix, Stats easily kept the Terran force at arm's length before he warped in enough defenders crush the invaders outright. With the early threat removed, Stats proceeded to macro up in peace. Zealot warp-ins once again dealt a significant amount of damage to ByuN, and he was forced to GG out once his last-ditch attack failed.
Initial Match #2: Maru 2 - 1 PartinG
Game 1 - Deathaura: Maru had previously mentioned that ByuN was sharing strategies with him, and it certainly seemed to be the case when Maru went for an Engineering Bay block into fast Hellion strategy similar to the one ByuN had used to beat PartinG on Deathaura back in the RO24. Having taken crippling Probe damage the last time around, PartinG did a much better job of placing his units in defensive position, and held off the Hellions with acceptable losses.
However, PartinG didn't do quite as good a job at defending against a series of follow-up Widow Mine drops, and took enough damage to give Maru a meaningful advantage. Instead of rushing to kill PartinG, Maru used his lead to enter the late-game on his terms, taking five bases uncontested while teching up. Without being overaggressive or diving too deep against PartinG's Disruptor-centric defenses, Maru carefully used his strong bio army to contain PartinG to four bases for a significant length of time. PartinG later managed to take some more bases and scrape together the resources for a Carrier transition, but by that point Maru had already run away with the game. After losing a final desperation fight, PartinG conceded the game.
Game 2 - Ice and Chrome: A match that's much better watched than read about! But anyway...
The early game played out with dueling proxies, with Maru going for a Hellion drop while PartinG went DT drop. While Maru hit first and killed a lot of Probes (with some additional kills from the Liberator follow-up), the later DT drop actually ended up doing even more damage and settled the balance in PartinG's favor. Maru may have wanted to play a slow, defensive game to begin with, but this early-game disadvantage basically made it his only option (other than an SCV-pull all-in).
Maru did get a bit of a reprieve, as PartinG used his advantage to put together a powerful, Psi Storm-supported ground army. PartinG probably wanted to jump on Maru if he saw a hole in the defense, or if Maru dared to actually move out on the map. However, Maru took an extremely defensive stance, walling off meticulously on three bases and taking his fourth base very late. So, while PartinG certainly had the advantage in terms of map control and expansion count, he ended up actually trailing Maru in terms of tech.
That didn't really matter all that much, as Maru wasn't looking to be aggressive at all, and PartinG eventually started throwing away Gateway units to assemble a Carrier-based army. Maru discarded his bio as well, putting together a 'mech' army of Tanks, Liberators, and Vikings with Ghosts as support. But maybe more important than any of the units was the forest of Missile Turrets he made, improved by all the applicable Engineering Bay upgrades.
PartinG spent much of the early-late-game (wow, there must be better terminology for this) trying to figure out how to flip over this prickly Terran turtle through trial and error. After a lot of failed pokes and prods (none that were disastrous), PartinG arrived at the conclusion that he needed Carriers as the bulk of his army, Tempests to kill Turrets and deter Vikings from kiting the Carriers, and Templars to Storm the Vikings in sustained battle. As for Maru, he continued to slowly take expansions, while also starting to rain down Nukes to moderate effect.
As is the case in many split map scenarios, the game came down to control over the two 'neutral' expansions at the corners of the map. It seemed like Maru had reached his win condition when he secured one of the corners, while simultaneously denying the other corner from PartinG (though not quite able to secure it for himself). But when the observer flashed the resources lost tab, it revealed that PartinG had actually been the more efficient player over the course of the game, enough so that it could negate a one-base disadvantage! The raw numbers on the observer UI showed an advantage for Maru, but it didn't take into account the 100+ turrets Maru had built, nor the countless nukes he had blasted for only marginal gain.
Once Maru mined out the first neutral expansion, the two players were forced into a direct showdown over the final neutral expansion, which was soon going to be the last remaining source of resources on the map. PartinG seemed to successfully push Maru back and secure the base, but had to give it up once Terran forces started attacking it from their advantageous position on the high ground adjacent to the base. PartinG made a smart adjustment by rebuilding his Nexus at an inefficient spot perpendicular to the mineral line, but also out of range of the high ground ramp. Better to long-distance mine than not mine at all!
This set up a climatic battle in the wide open space where the Nexus/CC/Hatchery would normally be, where PartinG could fight on much more favorable terms. EMP's hit the Templars before they could get too many storms off, but the Vikings started dropping quickly anyway due to being peppered all game by Carriers and Tempests. The fight looked like it was going PartinG's way... but it came to an abrupt conclusion as PartinG noticed something and backed off from the fight. Maru didn't, and his entire Viking force ate a giant Nuke that he had queued up 14 seconds ago. GG! (Maru later said he just couldn't see the dot because the late-game was so frantic, causing the Korean community to grimmly joke that he now has failing eyesight on top of wrist pain in his list of health problems.)
Game 3 - Eternal Empire: Maru opened with a Factory-before-CC strat, scaring PartinG with Hellions before going for Mine drops as his actual threat. Parting opted for a defensive Blink strategy, which he used to hold off the Mines without much trouble. However, PartinG's defense wasn't perfect, as he left his warping third-base Nexus wide open for Maru to cancel with a simultaneous bio attack.
The two players moved on to play for the macro game, with Maru holding off PartinG's Zealot backdoors easily while building up a strong economy. PartinG made a fast transition to Carriers while going up to five bases rather quickly. Whether this was a calculated risk on PartinG's part, or a bad read expecting Maru to play a slow-paced defensive game again, it backfired calamitously. A two-prong attack with ground forces and a medivac drop ended up taking out two of PartinG's Nexuses at once, with Protoss defenders scrambling around failing to defend either location. Maru then gathered his forces for another two-prong attack, this time not for harassment but in order to end the game. PartinG did a good job of not-dying, but took even more damage and was forced to reveal his carriers. PartinG couldn't continue to not-die for much longer, however, and was eventually overwhelmed by Maru's bio.
Winners' Match: Stats 2 - 1 Maru
Game 1 - Ice and Chrome: For the third game in a row, Stats faced off against a Terran going fast Raven and looking to push. However, Maru didn't pull the trigger as fast as ByuN, instead waiting to go up to 5-Barracks on two bases for a later attack. In any case, Stats was aware of what was up, having somehow eluded the Raven and gotten off a good scout of Maru's base with his Observer. When the big Terran attack came, Stats decided to give up one of his three bases and stall, while committing to a big Zealot warp-in in Maru's base. This plan worked out perfectly for Stats, as he was able to completely shutdown Maru's production. With at least some income and production left compared to Maru's none, Stats was able to gather enough forces to clean up Maru's army and take the win.
Game 2 - Deathaura: Maru opened with Proxy 1-Rax Reapers, with his building SCV barely surviving to complete the Barracks thanks to some lucky pathing against a harassing Probe. Some minor Reaper harassment transitioned into 3 CC's for Maru, while Stats played a normal defensive Phoenix build. Stats seemed to think that both he and Maru would be transitioning into mid-game macro, but was caught off guard by an off-tempo Raven, 3-Tank, and Bio push from Maru. Without even a Shield Battery at his third base, Stats was forced to give it up for free. Maru's army was strong enough to stick around and keep Stats from taking a replacement expansion for quite some time. Maru's lead snowballed out of control from there, and he took an easy win in the following minutes.
Game 3 - Eternal Empire: Maru pulled out the Proxy 1-Rax Reaper strategy once more, and yet again he transitioned into 3 CC after some minor early harassment. Surprisingly, Maru decided to test Stats with a similar Raven-Tank-Marine push as in the previous game, and not surprisingly, Stats was much better prepared this time around. He had two Templar hidden on the battlefield in time for the push, which were able to feedback the Raven and free up his Colossi to scorch the Terran troops. Stats actually shut down the push so hard that he was able to immediately counter attack and do a ton of SCV damage at Maru's third. But in a weird turn of events, Stats overstayed his welcome in Maru's territory, and was chased back and forced to cancel his fourth base against Maru's counter-counter-attack.
Still, Stats was able to recover his bearings and start taking control of the game with solid macro play. With a combination of backdoor warp-ins, great judgment on when to sacrifice bases and counter-attack instead, and good all-around army movement, Stats wore down Maru and clinched the 2-1 win.
Losers' Match: ByuN 2 - 0 PartinG
Game 1 - Deathaura: PartinG went for the MaxPax proxy gate, which ended up flopping miserably against ByuN's E-Bay block into one-base Reactor Hellions strategy. 'Surely he won't do the same Deathaura strategy he used against me in the RO24, and the one that Maru used against me two hours ago,' PartinG must have thought. Anyway, while the MaxPax can really mess up Terrans who don't scout and plop their expansion CC directly at their natural, it turns out that it's kinda useless against Terrans who scout that you have no Gateway in your main, and just wall-off their own main while teching on one base.
It ended up being a real "do nothing" build for PartinG, as he recalled his first Zealot back immediately, belatedly took a Nexus at his third base, and teched up slowly to Stargate (due to his Gateway being late from the MaxPax). ByuN punished PartinG's slow everything with a combination of eight Marines in a Medivac and a handful of Hellions by ground, which killed off a ton of Probes while he safely expanded behind the attack. Any chance of PartinG getting back in the game was over once his Oracle flew over a well placed mine, and ByuN finished PartinG off with a Tank push a few minutes later.
Game 2 - Ever Dream: ByuN went for a one-base Hellion drop with a proxy-Starport, which managed to nab seven Probe kills at the cost of the Medivac and every single Hellion. PartinG continued to take three bases with with Blink Stalkers in defense, while ByuN geared up to a big Tank push off two bases.
ByuN's decisive tactical moves ended up winning him the game. When PartinG sent his main army of Stalkers and Colossi to delay the advance of the Terran army across the map, ByuN loaded up two Medivacs of bio for an abrupt drop into PartinG's main. PartinG was forced to recall his main army back in defense, which let the remainder of ByuN's army (including the all-important Tanks) continue to press forward and take up great position at the Protoss third. ByuN then evacuated his bio back out of the Protoss main, somehow eluding the Blink Stalkers, and combined them with his main force of Tanks in laying siege to the Protoss third. PartinG was forced to make a desperate stand at his third, but GG'd out after being pummeled by the entrenched tanks.
Decider Match: Maru 2 - 0 ByuN
Game 1 - Pillars of Gold: ByuN opened up with some early game shenanigans with a Tank, Medivac, and motley array of bio, but was pushed back by Maru's defensive Cyclone. The skirmishing continued as the two Terrans jockeyed for position with small numbers of Tanks and Ravens, with Maru's faster reaction time nabbing him an early lead in the tank count. Combined with a wasteful giveaway of two Ravens from ByuN, Maru secured the breathing room he needed to secure his third and play out a slow macro game.
Despite being a bit behind on tech units, ByuN was still very much in the game. But while ByuN seemed to want Maru to face him straight up in a Marine-Tank brawl, Maru seemed content to play the game out slowly and safely, sitting behind his Tank line while adding more Ravens, Vikings, and Liberators to take air control. ByuN stalked around the edges of sensor tower range to try and get something done with the raw firepower and mobility of Marines, but just couldn't find any weaknesses to exploit (Maru had Tanks strategically in place to stop backdoor attacks). Eventually, the zone-control power of Maru's high tech army was too much for ByuN to handle, forcing ByuN to GG out.
Game 2 - Deathaura: Game two followed a very similar pattern as game one, with some early game skirmishing leading into another macro mid-game where ByuN focused on pure Marine-Medivac-Tank while Maru looked to go for Marine-Tank with heavy air support. Again, it looked like a futile endeavor for ByuN as Maru refused to meet him in the field. However, this time, ByuN found the opening he was looking for when Maru lurched forward with his maxed out army, seizing the opportunity to audaciously counter-attack Maru's undefended base on the other side of the map.
This little bit initiative was all ByuN needed to start working his magic, sending continued waves of troops across the map to attack wherever Maru's army wasn't present, and try and start a fatal chain reaction of mistakes. Amidst these high-tempo attacks, ByuN abruptly paused the game due to sudden spasms in his forearm/wrist region. Apparently, the GSL rules do not allow an indefinite pause for this particular reason, and ByuN was given a warning and two minutes of time to recover before the referee resumed the game (which I assume is the general policy for player pauses not covered by the rules).
ByuN did a solid job of keeping up the pressure with multi-prong attacks after the unpause, but couldn't quite get Maru to break. It felt like ByuN just needed one solid blow—be it a picking off some unsieged Tanks in transit, or a dive into an undefended SCV line—to push Maru over the edge, but Maru just wouldn't reveal any fatal vulnerabilities. Maru gradually stabilized, and his Raven-Viking count continued to grow. As in the previous game, Maru high-tech army eventually became too powerful for ByuN to handle, and he GG'd out as even Battlecruisers entered the fray.