It's time for AfreecaTV to bring the fabled G5L trophy out of storage, because Maru is headed to another Code S finals!
Maru advanced from the semifinals after ending the miracle run of Armani, who had shocked the SC2 community by making a deep playoff run after a career full of first round eliminations. Armani actually put up a respectable fight in his 2-4 defeat, which stood in stark contrast to how the other semifinal match went.
TY took a dominating 4-0 sweep over Stats in their semifinal bout, avenging his 2-4 loss to Stats in the previous season's semifinals. TY earned a spot in the grand finals for the second time this year, having previous won the championship in Season 1.
These results set up a rare Code S grand finals rematch, with Maru having previous faced TY in the 2018 Code S Season 3 finals. Maru barely triumphed over TY at the end of a seven game series, which clinched the third of his four consecutive Code S titles.
This season's grand finals is set to be played on Sunday, Nov 01 6:00am GMT (GMT+00:00).
Recommended Games: TY vs Stats on Golden Wall featured a fan favorite strategy in TvP mech, preceded by an an innovative Battlecruiser opener. Maru vs Armani on Pillars of Gold was a fantastic skills showcase for Armani, who added to his string of strong late-game performances by swarming over Maru.
Semifinal 1: TY 4 - 0 Stats
Game 1 - Ice and Chrome: TY opened by proxying his Barracks out in the middle of the map, a mind-game to keep Stats on his toes when his Probe found no Barracks in the main. TY's actual plan was to go for some one base tech back at his main (the Probe scout having left to look for the missing Barracks) and go for an Armory-Mine drop + Hellion elevator. Stats played a safe defensive Blink+Robo build, but still gave up 7 Probe kills to harassment.
The situation wasn't the best for Stats, but it became disastrous when he tried to counter-attack with his Blink Stalkers. He recklessly Blinked on top of a Siege Tank, and lost a huge chunk of his Stalkers to the Marines and Auto-Turrets he wasn't ready for. Facing absolutely no pressure from Stats, TY was free to keep building up on three bases and prepare for a big mid-game push.
Eventually, TY moved out and laid siege to Stats with a 30 supply army advantage, having Tanks and Vikings to support his Infantry. Stats had managed to squeeze out a handful of Colossi, Disruptors, and Templars in the meanwhile, but the sheer numbers of the Terran force were too much to handle and he was forced to GG out.
Game 2 - Eternal Empire: TY brought a more typical fast expansion 1/1/1 build, while Stats played defensive Blink-Robo yet again. TY opted for a mine drop as his initial harassment, which Stats held off with minimal losses. After fending off the drop, Stats warped in some extra Stalkers to go for some harassment, but TY was well prepared on defense, and Stats didn't suicide his Stalkers with an aggressive Blink this time around.
A three-base vs three-base build-up ensued, with TY preparing another big Infantry-Tank army while Stats looked to go for Psi Storm and mass gateway units. TY got some pretty effective Raven harassment done in the meanwhile, using Auto Turrets to mow down a number of Probes.
The game ended up being decided by an abrupt base-trade, as the two armies missed each other on opposite sides of the map. As is often the case, the player to strike first had the advantage, that player being TY in this case. Once the two armies were done killing off undefended buildings, TY was left with a far superior army, which he used to extract the second GG out of Stats.
Game 3 - Ever Dream: The game started with TY proxying a Barracks out on the map for some typical proxy-Reaper harass, but TY took the cheese up the notch by subsequently lifting his Barracks and floating it into Stats' main. This set up an even stronger version of a one-base Marauder-Hellion-Medivac attack TY had used before, with the Marauders actually being built from inside the Protoss main.
But all this devious creativity was for naught, as the power of Photon Overcharge and good defensive micro from Stats allowed him to hold the attack off with acceptable losses, giving him a big economic advantage against the one-base Terran player. Unfortunately for Stats, he looked to consolidate his lead by being harassing with his Blink Stalkers, which opened up his mineral lines to take devastating damage from an unexpected double cloaked Banshee follow-up. This reset the game back to a more even state, with both players looking to build up on three bases again.
When TY moved out with his 1/1 infantry and Tanks, Stats split his forces between defending with Disruptors and Colossi while counter-attacking with Zealots as he had done in many previous games. But TY had readied the appropriate defenses at his expansions (a Bunker surrounded by Depots doing a lot of work), and was able to shutdown the zealot run-bys and take down Stats' fourth base for free.
But Stats rolled with the punch, simply taking a new fourth and refocusing his efforts on defense. He staved off the next few attacks from TY, handling a couple of drops into his main while crushing a push on his new fourth base in a head-on battle. It seemed like with just a bit of time, Stats would stabilize on four bases and be set to roll to a late game victory.
However, TY kept Stats off kilter, throwing an attack at Stats just as it seemed like he might be getting comfortable. The Protoss main base was a frequent target, with TY constantly abusing the fact that Stats would not (or could not afford to) keep troops stationed there permanently. Eventually, Stats made the pivotal decision to go on the offensive—whether it was due to being fed up at getting battered all game, or because he saw a hole in the defense—gathering his Disruptor-centric army for a massive attack on the Terran side of the map. Simultaneously, TY dropped yet another large force of infantry into Stats' main.
This base trade, while initiated on better terms than the last, still worked out poorly for Stats. TY took care not to engage the Protoss deathball, whereas hastily warped-in Gateway defenders were mowed down by the Terran bio. When the dust settled, TY was left with a larger army but weaker economy, while Stats was left with a strong infrastructure that needed some time to replenish his army.
Ultimately, the immobility of Stats Disruptor + Gateway unit force cost Stats the game, as he was unable to defend both his expansions and his production buildings that were spread all over the map. TY abused his superior mobility and firepower to keep chipping away at Stats, and he eventually forced a third straight GG.
Game 4 - Golden Wall: Stats changed things up by going for a defensive Phoenix build to start, while TY went for another zany opener in the form of a PvT Battlecruiser rush. Somehow, Stats' scouting Phoenixes missed the corner of the base where the Fusion Core was placed, allowing TY to surprise Stats with a 1 BC, 13 Marine attacks. While TY lost all of his units in the attack, he got a decent number of Probe kills in return, and also set himself up nicely on three bases to transition to mech.
In a curious move, both players decided to play on both the norths and south sides of the map, taking their naturals and their backdoor expansions. TY kept up Battlecruiser production, going for a mech comp centered around Tanks, BC's, and Hellions/Hellabts. Meanwhile, Stats played with an army comp not unlike one he'd use versus bio, massing Gateway units and supporting them with Disruptors.
Stats made the first major mid-game move, launching a two prong attack from the north and south routes on the map, successfully destroying one of TY's southern expansions before defenders could arrive. TY retaliated with a south-side push, marching his nearly maxed mech force through the passage. Stats decided it would be foolhardy to try and meet this force in the field, and diverted his armies for a multi-directional counter attack.
TY ended up getting the better of the base trade in yet another game. His Battlecruisers recalled back and successfully defended his main with newly produced Tanks, while his ground units rolled through the south side of the map and started demolishing the Protoss main. That left the Terran army in an impenetrable position on the high ground inside of Stats' main, raining down tank fire on the natural expansion below. While Stats had taken several more expansions across the north side of the map, he needed some breathing room to rebuild his production facilities and reinforce his army. TY just wouldn't give him the time, and consolidated his mech force to push forward and complete the sweep.
Semifinal 2: Maru 4 - 2 Armani
Game 1 - Eternal Empire: The series opened up with Armani opting for a fast Mutalisks, while Maru went for standard 3-base bio play after opening with Hellions. Armani's decision to go Mutas ended up achieving very little against Maru early on, and it wasn't long before he had to start dealing with waves of Infantry. The Mutas ended up being more useful in the mid-game whre Maru was more aggressive on the map, as they could repay cancelled Hatcheries by forcing CC lifts on the other end. Still, with the game staying on four base versus four base, the balance of power shifted in Maru's favor as his bio force continued to grow stronger than Armani's Muta-Ling-Bane.
Seconds before 3/3 infantry upgrades completed, Maru took an excellent fight at Armani's attempted fifth base, spreading his Marines out and smashing a wave of incoming Banelings. It was Maru's cue to keep pushing forward with constant waves of reinforcements, battering Armani until he had to tap out.
Game 2 - Ever Dream: Maru decided to go on the offensive early on, going for Hellabats, Cloaked Banshees, and reactored Marines at the same time. A timely speed-Overlord scout from Armani alerted him to the danger, and he was able to cover all potential threats and emerge from the early game with a substantial economic lead. Maru was put in an ever deeper hole when he tried to continue his Banshee harass, only to run into a speed-Overseer and Mutalisks.
Armani just had to survive one mid-game Marine-Tank from Maru to consolidate his four base economy and take a commanding position. He stayed patient as his Hatchery was under fire, waiting until he had enough Banelings to defeat the Terran force by a convincing margin. Armani actually had enough troops left over to go for an immediate counter-attack at Maru's third, where he wiped out the remaining Terran troops and forced Maru to surrender.
Game 3 - Submarine: It was Armani's turn to be aggressive in the early game, as he opened up with a Gas-Pool build for some early Speedling harass. Some rudimentary scouting let Maru prepare, and he held the lings at bay while going up to three bases. Armani opted to follow-up with another peculiar play, delaying his tech in order to go for fast double upgrades (melee-carapace).
Whatever the long-term goal of Armani's plan was, we didn't see it come to fruition. Maru never stopped breathing down Armani's neck, using Hellion and Liberators to harass initially, and then constantly pressuring with infantry as Armani looked to stabilize on pure Ling-Bane-Queen. Though Armani did a good job of going for constant backdoors to try and disorient Maru, and while he did hold a 2/2 vs 1/1 upgrade advantage for a period, there was just no finish line he was trying to reach. The constant fighting against Terran bio left Armani with no breathing room to try and tech to Hive, and once Maru matched Armani at 2/2, the death spiral accelerated until Armani had to surrender.
Game 4 - Deathaura: Armani tried a different kind of aggressive strategy, going up to three bases and then preparing a mass Queen-Ling attack with Nydus support. Maru smelled that something was amiss and played cautiously, getting a Bunker and walling off his natural. Armani didn't even come close to threatening Maru with his attack, and GG'd out after all his tunneling attempts got stuffed.
Game 5 - Pillars of Gold: Both players signed the macro pact on Pillars of Gold, looking to play a relatively straight-forward game (minus some early Hellion-Liberator harass from Maru). While Maru went for standard bio, Armani changed things up and went for a Hydralisk based mid-game army. The first bit of serious action came once Maru hit 2/2 upgrades, and moved his Infantry across the map to lay siege to Armani's fifth base. Despite being low on Banelings, Armani had enough Hydralisks and Zerglings to pass this defensive test and crush the attack, buying the time he needed to add Lurkers and Vipers to his army.
The addition of high tech units let Armani start going on the offensive. Maru held steadfast against a somewhat sloppy two-prong attack by Armani, which saw Armani change his tactics to consolidate his forces for an attack at a single location. Things went better for Armani this time, as he was able to raze Maru's fifth base and slow down his progress toward reaching full map-split turtle mode. Going up to over ninety Drones, Armani stayed aggressive with Lurkers, Banelings, and Vipers, trying to keep Maru pinned back while slowing the spread of his expansions. While Armani took some costly fights (some of them downright suicidal), his overall strategy worked out as he was able to keep Maru at bay, take expansions relatively unhindered, and slowly win the war of attrition.
Ultimately, Armani never gave Maru the respite he needed to get a strong economy or get into a proper turtling stance (no Nukes from Maru this game!), and even broadened his attacks to include Lurker drops and Zergling run-bys. Though Maru tried to resist until the bitter end, he eventually cracked under the pressure and conceded defeat to Armani at around the 33 minute mark.
Game 6 - Ice and Chrome: Armani had a ZvP-esque cheese in store for Maru in game six, going up to three bases but halting drone production to make a swell of Speedlings in the early game. On the other hand, Maru took a different kind of risk, opening with a greedy Command Center-first expansion. In hindsight, this probably wasn't what Armani wanted (he did the strategy blind), as Maru's follow-up was a 2-1-1 that gave him a lot of early Marines. While Armani could have still done damage with his speedlings if Maru had been lax on defense, Maru kept his Marines in good defensive position and shut down the attack with ease.
Maru then counter-attacked with two Medivacs full of stimmed Marines, killing off a bunch of Queens and Armani's third base. The game was basically over for Armani at that point, and Maru chose to keep things short by ending the game with a Marine-Tank push not long after.