Armani extended his career-best Code S run by another week and another round, defeating Zest 3-2 to advance to the Code S semifinals. Zest's decision to bring back the 3-Stargate Void Ray build he unveiled in the RO16 cost him the first two maps, with Armani able to play around the unusual strategy without much trouble. While Zest was able to recover two maps to tie up the score, he was unable to complete the reverse sweep as he fell to a Drone-drill assisted Speedling all-in on the final map.
After six first round eliminations in Code S, Armani has made up for a lot of lost time this season. However, his miracle run is in danger of coming to cruel end in the semifinals, as he's set to face the four-time Code S champion Maru. The clash between Maru and Trap in the last quarterfinal ended up being surprisingly one-sided, with Maru taking a 3-1 victory. While Maru's late-game play was notable in the RO16, his ability to inflict early game damage was key to his victory against his teammate.
Coming up: Code S will continue on Wednesday, Oct 21 8:00am GMT (GMT+00:00) with the first semifinal match: TY vs Stats.
Quarterfinal #3: Armani 3 - 2 Zest
Game 1 - Deathaura: Zest brought back his fast 3-Stargate Void Ray strategy from the RO16, which had helped him get past Armani's fellow KR-Zerg clique members Solar and DRG. Not surprisingly, Armani had an answer prepared, opening with an odd 2-base defensive Hydralisk build aimed at safely getting him to late game tech. Zest didn't seem to mind having his mid-game aggressive options taken away, and accepted Armani's invitation to a late-game showdown.
Faced with a daunting defensive line of of Spore Crawlers and Lurkers, Zest looked to re-use another strategy from the RO16: Mass Recall with Carriers and Templars. He did a good job of posturing with his Carriers to goad Armani's Corruptors to one side of the map, opening up a path for his Mothership to sneak past enemy lines on the opposite side. However, Zest had sent his Mothership in blind to what he could only assume was a less defended Zerg base, which caused him to pull the trigger on a Recall a bit too early. He actually Recalled onto a position where Armani had a decent amount of static defense set up, missing the undefended Zerg main base just a screen or so away. This resulted in the humorous scene of Zest having to Nexus Recall his armada OUT just a few moments after it had Mass Recalled IN.
Having staved off the first major attack, Armani started taking the advantage in map control, able to divide up his forces to secure new bases while also delaying/cancelling Zest's attempts to take more expansions of his own. Zest's Carrier deathball ambled around the map looking for something to do, but couldn't find any openings until he had another Mothership Recall ready. This time, Zest actually did manage to get his Mothership into a mostly undefended Zerg base. However, things still went poorly, with Armani reacting quickly and inflicting heavy damage on the Protoss force with Corruptors and Neural Parasite before forcing another Nexus Recall retreat.
Winning this battle gave Armani a brief window to attack as Zest slowly replenished his Carrier count, with Ultralisks and Corruptors taking down Nexuses on opposite ends of the map. With his income severely damaged, Zest had to use up all of his bank to remake a Carrier-Tempest force for one last-ditch attack. Armani crushed this force in style with his Corruptors and Infestors, even Neural Parasiting a Templar to Storm the stacked Protoss force.
(Interestingly enough, Armani later said that practicing with Stats helped his late game ZvP, pointing out the difference in late-game ability between Stats and Zest.)
Game 2 - Ice and Chrome: Zest gave his 3-Stargate opener another shot, while Armani opened with a more normal 3-Hatch build. This time, Zest looked to go for a dangerous mid-game attack, combining his initial Void Rays with Chargelots, Archons, and Templars. Unperturbed, Armani made over ninety Drones, seemingly confident in his ability to hold off the imminent attack. We'll never know how Armani would have fared in normal circumstances, because Zest made the abnormal mistake of forgetting to get Psi Storm upgrade. Armani realized this during a Baneling drop, seeing a Templar Archives being hastily Chrono-Boosted. Armani took advantage of the situation by loading up for a giant Hydralisk-Baneling attack, smashing Zest's Storm-less army to collect the GG.
Game 3 - Submarine: Zest changed things up and went for a Glaive Adept opener, letting Armani see up to four Gateways, but getting two more Gateways behind it for a dedicated early-game attack. While Armani fended off the initial few waves of Adepts with ease, he erred by sending his Speedlings out to counter attack just as Zest was about to send in what would end up being the final wave of attackers. Zest's Adepts took up a superior position and overpowered Armani's troops, saving Zest from being swept.
Game 4 - Ever Dream: Armani was the one going for early game aggression this time, opening with a pool-first build. However, a Probe sent to scout/Hatch-block scouted out Armani's build in time, and Zest was able to prepare back at home by going for two Gateways. Zest held off the early Zergling attack with little trouble, and was put in a good position due to his superior tech. Without Zergling speed, Armani was basically contained to two bases by just a handful of Adepts, letting Zest get further ahead in economy and tech.
Zest had a chance to deal a crippling blow with a DT drop, but Armani lucked out as Zest assumed his Dark Shrine had been Overlord scouted (or that Armani would make the right read) and went for an Archon drop when there was no detection. Still, missing that opportunity didn't matter for Zest, because he was so far ahead in macro that he just ran over Armani with Immortal-Archon-Gateway units soon after.
Game 5 - Pillars of Gold: Zest wasn't the only one to recycle strategies from his RO16 group, as Armani brought out the Speedling + Drone-drill all-in that Solar had used to take a map off Zest (Armani later said it was a build he himself had learned from PartinG, and then passed on to Solar). It seemed like Zest semi-expected the strategy, as he had a secondary wall half-done at the time of the attack. However, Zest didn't react in time and allowed the Drones clip through the wall. With Drones blocking all the re-wall spots, Armani's Zerglings were able to stream into Zest's base and collect the final GG.
Quarterfinals: Maru 3 - 1 Trap
Game 1 - Deathaura: Maru started off with a 1-base tech build and an Engineering Bay block at Trap's natural (Maru's winner interview suggested this could be ByuN's influence), prompting Trap to pull some Probes to clear out intrusive construction. Trap looked to go defensive Stargate after the delay, while Maru's follow-up was to proxy a Starport while making Hellions back at his main. The proxy went undetected, allowing Maru to catch Trap off guard with his extra-fast Hellion drop. Combined with more Hellions coming in by land, Maru ended up killing fourteen Probes to take a massive early-game advantage.
The two players macroed up, with Trap needing to make some brilliant plays to make up for his poor start. There was an inkling of hope for Trap when he managed to fight off Maru's first Infantry-Tank push, but that hope quickly vanished when Maru's follow-up Mine drops killed yet more Probes. Maru gathered an even bigger force of Infantry for a second major offensive, and this time around, Trap had no choice but to GG out.
Game 2 - Ice and Chrome: Maru opened up with 1-Barracks proxy Reaper, nabbing two Probe kills after dancing his way around Trap's main. Maru then followed with a Bunker in Trap's natural, with a Mine drop coming after that. While none of those moves inflicted a huge amount of damage, it let Maru go up to three Orbital Commands safely and set him up for some powerful mid-game attacks.
Trap opted for Robotics Bay units to try and hold onto his three bases, with his first test coming at Maru's 1/1 Infantry upgrade timing. Trap did a good job of pre-emptively engaging the Terran force before Tanks could set up in a good position, and was barely able to thwart the attack. However, it only meant Trap had bought himself a tiny bit of breathing room, as another Terran attack was incoming. Yet again, Trap found a great angle to fight at, which let him barely survive yet again—even finding the space to do a Zealot warp-in at Maru's third base. However, Trap was still merely surviving and not truly stabilizing. Trap couldn't keep taking perfect fights forever, and the next attack from Maru cracked the Protoss defenses and forced Trap to GG.
Game 3 - Pillars of Gold: Maru went for the Engineering Bay-block + 1 base tech start again, but this time played out a regular Hellion drop without proxying any buildings. Trap's defensive Phoenix build did a good job of minimizing the damage from the Hellion drop, but Trap sent his Phoenixes out to counter-attack too soon as Maru was going for several waves of Mine drops as his next move. Though none of the drops got any jackpot hits, the aggregate damage put Maru in a good position as he macroed up behind the drops.
Maru moved out for another Marine-Tank push with 1/1 infantry upgrades, but this time, Trap did more than just survive, winning a decisive defensive battle with his Colossi, Phoenixes, and assorted Gateway units. With enough army left over to go for a counter attack, Trap caught Maru with a somewhat broken army composition that was too heavy on Marauders and Tanks. With Zealots and Archons at the front and Colossi at the back, Trap forced Maru to enlist his SCVs on defense, and killed almost 30 Terran workers as a result. Trap capitalized on his economic advantage, building up a superior army and finishing Maru off a few minutes later.
Game 4 - Deathaura: Maru brought out the 1-Barracks proxy Reaper once more, this time netting himself four early Probe kills due to some poor micro from Trap on defense. Again, Maru followed up by macroing up on three Orbitals, while Trap opted for a more drastic follow-up by going for a handful of Void Rays and mass Glaive-Adepts.
While Maru turtled up initially, looking to defend against any faster all-in or harassment, he wasn't able to detect Trap's plan to attack a few beats later. Trap masked his strategy well, and an unaware Maru moved out onto the map once he had 1/1 infantry upgrades. However, even though Trap managed to get the jump on Maru with his Adepts, everything went wrong as he shaded his units directly into lethal Widow Mine hits. Combined with anti-armor from Maru's Raven, this resulted in Trap's Adepts evaporating almost instantaneously, forcing Trap to concede the series loss.