After a dull opening day full of one-sided matches, the second day of Code A could only be an improvement in terms of entertainment. While DongRaeGu scored a sweep over SpeCial to start the night, Cure vs ByuN and Hurricane vs RagnaroK delivered exciting matches which went all five games. We even got to see new GSL map Nautilus for the first time, as it was the deciding map for RagnaroK vs Hurricane.
Unfortunately, the proceedings were overshadowed by ByuN's wrist issues coming to the fore once more, which forced him to call for a mid-game pause in game two of the series. It was the fourth consecutive GSL studio match in which ByuN had his wrist issues flare up, and the third one in which he needed an in-game pause for rest (GSL rules appear to limit the length of these unsanctioned pauses to three minutes, and the number to once a series). ByuN ended up losing the series by a 2-3 scoreline, with the content of the matches suggesting his wrist pain played a role.
DongRaeGu, Cure, and Hurricane will move on to the RO16 of Code S, which is set to begin on Sunday, Apr 04 3:00pm GMT (GMT+00:00). The final day of GSL Code A is coming up on Monday, Mar 29 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00), where Dark vs PartinG and Stats vs Bunny will decide who takes the final two spots on the Code S roster. The Code S RO16 group draft will be held shortly after the Code A matches, so make sure to tune in for scheming, shmoozing, and s***-talking the unique event has become infamous for.
DongRaeGu vs SpeCial
Game 1 - Deathaura: SpeCial went for a fast 3 CC build with Hellions, followed up by an attack with Hellbats and stim-upgraded Marines. This timing didn't faze DongRaeGu at all, as he stopped it easily with Queen-ling-bane. The successful defense left DongRaeGu to grow his economy and Creep spread with relative ease, and SpeCial had no choice but follow him into a longer macro game.
While players like Maru make turtling up and playing for the late-game look easy, this game ended up showing how hard it can be in practice. Facing DongRaeGu's Hive-tech army of Lurker-Viper-Bane-Ling, SpeCial struggled to reposition his Tank and Ghosts in response to DRG's movements. DRG was able to strike wherever the Terran defensive line was the weakest, methodically taking out expansions before crushing the main army to seize victory.
Game 2 - Pillars of Gold: SpeCial went for a Cloaked Banshee opener this time around, nabbing a few Drones but not enough to cover his investment. Another Marine-Hellbat timing followed, and again, DongRaeGu was able to hold it off rather easily to take the lead in economy. Playing from behind, SpeCial tried to get anything done once he had Marines and Medivacs out on the map, but was again swatted away by DRG's Queen-Ling-Bane defense. Once DongRaeGu started cranking out swarms of Muta-Ling-Bane off a roaring economy, it was all over for SpeCial.
Game 3 - Romanticide: A Battlecruiser rush was SpeCial's choice of build this time around, but unfortunately, DongRaeGu once again stopped his initial gambit with minimal losses. However, SpeCial's follow-up attack looked much more potent, setting up a siege at DongRaeGu's third base with 2 BC's, 2 Tanks, and a slew of Stim-less Marines. For a moment, it looked like SpeCial would take his first map of the night. However, DongRaeGu managed to patiently stall and preserve his third Hatchery, waiting until he had a large number of Queens, Zerglings, and Banelings (DRG later said he would have lost if an "S-class" Terran was playing from that situation). DRG was able to decisively break the siege, once again putting SpeCial terribly behind after his fruitless early attacks. Much like game two, DRG used his early game advantage to crush SpeCial with Muta-Ling-Bane in the mid-game, securing the 3-0 sweep.
ByuN vs Cure
Game 1 - Lightshade: The two Terrans' builds diverged in a meaningful way early on, with ByuN opting for a slightly faster Factory while Cure went for a faster expansion. ByuN didn't get much done with his first round of Tank-Medivac harassment, but set himself up to strike with two Tanks and two Ravens while Cure was still catching up on tech units. Cure was able to hold off this attack from ByuN, but at the cost of a LOT of SCVs (meanwhile, Cure's counter-drop was shut down for almost no gain). Cure tried to turtle and play for a horrendous mistake from ByuN, but his prayers went unanswered as ByuN used his economy and army lead to clinically close the game out.
Game 2 - Deathaura: The openers diverged drastically in game two, with ByuN going for 1/1/1 and quick third base while Cure hid a Starport and Fusion core for fast Battlecruisers. Not only did Cure go BC's, but he opted to take advantage of Deathaura's mech-friendly nature to go for the rare TvT composition.
Cure's initial BC's didn't do much damage, but they did succeed in keeping ByuN back and buying time for Cure to set up his slow macro-mech play. Cure actually ended up getting a lot of harassment damage done in the mid-game, taking advantage of the advance positioning of ByuN's bio to execute deadly Hellion run-bys on SCV lines. This helped to keep ByuN's growth in check as Cure played extremely passively off four bases.
It seemed like Cure had achieved one of the best early-mid games for mech possible, and he looked to expand beyond four bases once he was nearly maxed out. However, one fantastic, enveloping Marauder attack from ByuN seemed to negate all of Cure's hard work, taking an excellent trade against the Tanks. Cure was forced to withdraw and wait to replenish his Tank count before he could try and take more bases.
ByuN called for a pause at around that time, with wrist pain striking again at a most inopportune moment. Due to ByuN's injury or not, Cure was able to turn the tide once the game resumed. His second max-supply move out went much better, smashing ByuN's bio to give him a decisive lead. Cure played his lead slowly, taking extra bases and pushing his Tank line within striking of ByuN's own bases. ByuN looked for ways to use the mobility of his infantry-based army to exploit holes in Cure's defenses, but he simply couldn't find any meaningful opportunities. Cure ended up living the mech dream, slowly lurching forward with his superior army to extract the GG from ByuN.
Game 3 - Oxide: Both players opened up with builds looking to go for fast Medivac harassment, which resulted in the cute scene of the two transports passing each other in the middle of the map. ByuN ended up getting the better of the harassment exchange, killing a meaningfully greater number of SCVs.
ByuN used his advantage to get a third CC faster while getting to work on double-upgrades (as opposed to a single Engineering Bay from Cure). While ByuN failed to capitalize on his upgrade advantage due to a much delayed Armory, his economic advantage ended up carrying over. After some mid-game skirmishes, ByuN emerged with what seemed like a decisive lead, holding four bases to Cure's three.
ByuN looked like he would safely close the game out once he added Liberators to his Marine-Tank army, but he abruptly let the lead slip through his fingers after taking a terrible Marine-Tank vs Marine-Tank fight which gave Cure a thirty supply lead. After that point, ByuN seemed to fall apart. He was sloppy in delaying Cure's advance, needlessly bleeding away Marines and crucial Tanks. Cure continued to push forward, blowing up chunks of ByuN's army until he received the GG.
Game 4 - Romanticde: Despite a funky 2-Barracks Reaper opener from ByuN, the early-mid game ended up being mostly uneventful (there was some ultimately inconsequential skirmishing) and the two players headed to a 4-base vs 4-base macro game on relatively even terms.
Decisive moves were made as the players reached max supply Marine-Tank armies. Cure sent out the majority of his forces for an attack into ByuN's fourth base, whereas ByuN kept most of his army at home while a smaller detachment of Marines looked for a backdoor attack. The situation played out beautifully for ByuN as he managed to kill a significant number of SCV's on Cure's end on the map, while at home, he survived Cure's attack with just some mining time lost. ByuN furthered his lead with another backdoor attack a few beats later, this time actually killing off Cure's fourth Command Center.
ByuN was firmly ahead with 4 bases to 3 and a huge army advantage. While ByuN managed to convert that advantage into a win, the laborious, slogging process of getting there made it seem like the most obvious example of his wrist pain affecting his play. Cure's only advantage was that he managed to get a decent Raven count against ByuN's Marine-Tank army, and somehow ByuN managed to let Cure maximize that advantage at every opportunity. ByuN's approach seemed to be trying to bludgeon Cure to death with a resource advantage, which allowed Cure to chew up ByuN's Marines and survive for much longer than anyone expected. Eventually, Cure was forced to evacuate his Command Centers to expansions further and further away from his main base, making it impossible to defend both at the same time. ByuN capitalized on this weakness to finally force the GG out of Cure.
Game 5 - Pillars of Gold: Both players opened with 1/1/1 expansions, with ByuN going for a quick Medivac drop while Cure went for a Raven into a later drop. ByuN was content to kill off just a few SCVs with his initial Marine-Reaper drop, which then joined up with the rest of his forces for a quick Tank push. Unfortunately for ByuN, his push coincided with Cure's delayed 8 Marine drop into his largely undefended main. ByuN tried to fight these Marines off with his SCVs, which went extremely poorly and resulted in disastrous SCV losses. ByuN had no choice but to go for a desperate frontal attack to try and get some damage done, but Cure repelled the attack easily to seal his 3-2 victory.
RagnaroK vs Hurricane
Game 1 - Jagannatha: Hurricane started with a 1 Stargate Void Ray-Oracle opening which would be his baseline strategy for most of the series. After taking his third base, Hurricane went up to 6Warp Gates and looked to hit a timing with 2 Immortals and an assortment of Gateway units. RagnaroK caught whiff of the attack in time to crank out Roaches and Ravagers on defense, but not quite soon enough to save his building fourth base. However, things went in RagnaroK's favor when Hurricane tried to keep pushing into Zerg territory, with the Zerg swarm enveloping the Protoss troops and winning a decisive battle.
RagnaroK re-established his fourth base and pressured Hurricane with Roach-Ravager-Baneling, taking advantage of the Protoss player's delayed splash damage units. While Hurricane did eventually get some Disruptors out to support his Stalkers and Immortals, it was too late to stop overwhelming numbers of Zerg units from running him over.
Game 2 - PIllars of Gold: Hurricane showed his second follow-up to his Void Ray-Oracle start, going for Dark Shrine and DTs. This proved to be a perfect blind counter to RagnaroK's fast Queen-Roach-Ravager attack which sacrificed detection for speed. Hurricane happily gave up his third while his DT's hacked down RagnaroK's army (he even sent a DT to RagnaroK's main to get some Drone kills).
Hurricane played his early lead out patiently, taking his third base and assembling a strong mid-game army of Immortal-Stalker-Archon. It looked like this army might be able to finish the game, but RagnaroK pulled off an impressive defensive hold with his Roaches and Ravagers. This bought RagnaroK enough time to establish a four base economy and tech up to Lurkers and Vipers, but he was still very much on the back foot. Meanwhile, Hurricane was free to build up his economy and start the transition to Carriers.
Eventually, RagnaroK had to move out with his Lurkers, Vipers, and Hydralisks to take more bases and try to keep Hurricane in check. A series of odd army movements saw Hurricane's Carrier-centric force and RagnaroK's swarm miss each other, and the two players ended up killing each other's expansions. Hurricane was perfectly fine with that, with his remaining army of Carrier-Templar-Immortal being vastly superior to the Hydra-Lurker-Viper force RagnaroK had scraped together. Hurricane crushed RagnaroK in a few final battles to tie the series.
Game 3 - Romanticide: Hurricane's mind games after his Void Ray-Oracle opener continued, this time adding two more Stargates to go for mass-Phoenixes. However, this strategy didn't really end up getting much done, as RagnaroK played safely with lots of Queens and Spores, and added Hydras once the Phoenixes were revealed. Ultimately, the Phoenixes didn't kill enough Overlords or Drones to justify their cost, and Hurricane was left belatedly transitioning to a ground army while RagnaroK's economy ballooned out of control.
After maxing out on Hydra-Ling-Bane, RagnaroK looked to end the game with a strike on Hurricane's fourth base. Hurricane's marvelous use of Force Fields and Storm allowed him to weather the frontal attack, but he suffered painful Probe losses to the Baneling drops RagnaroK had launched at the same time. It didn't take long for RagnaroK to reload with even more Hydra-Ling-Bane and go for another killing blow. Hurricane's defensive micro failed him this time around, as his mispositioned Templar were killed off before they could cast their crucial Psi Storms. RagnaroK smashed through Hurricane's defenses and collected the GG.
Game 4 - Oxide: Hurricane revealed the fourth variant of his Void-Oracle openers in the form of Glaive Adepts. It was a move Rag had a good read on, and he had Roaches in place to defend. Hurricane used his ten odd Adepts to keep RagnaroK on his toes while securing his third and adding Blink Stalkers and Immortals for a follow-up attack. RagnaroK was ready for this as well, and had more than enough Roach-Ravager-Ling to utterly crush the attack.
Firmly in the driver's seat with a strong four base economy and superior army, RagnaroK looked to batter Hurricane with mass Roach-Ravager-Bane. At first, thing seemed to go to plan, with RagnaroK smacking Hurricane down whenever he tried to move forward and take a fourth base. However, RagnaroK started to get sloppy with his lead, using Banelings wastefully and attacking into positions with Overcharged Shield Batteries. RagnaroK's wastefulness gave Hurricane the breathing room to tech up to Templars, and even to send out some Warp Prisms for backdoor attacks with Zealots.
The scales seemed to tip in an instant: Hurricane's backdoor Zealots killed off the Lair in RagnaroK's main, and at the same time his Templar-assisted army finally secured him a fourth base. Suddenly, RagnaroK was put on the clock, with a mediocre economy, no tech, and facing down a high-tech Protoss making a slow transition to Carriers.
RagnaroK decided he had no choice but to commit to Roach-Ravager-Bane and try to end the game. Unfortunately, his forces couldn't make any headway against Hurricane's Templar-backed defenses, and he conceded the game.
Game 5 - Nautilus: Despite playing on an exceedingly rare four-player map, RagnaroK decided to open up with a 12-pool build (Hurricane later said it reminded him of the time Dark did the same thing to him on a four-player map). Hurricane spawned diagonally across from RagnaroK—normally this would be bad luck for Hurricane's cheesy strategy, but according to Liquipedia the acceleration zones in the middle of Nautilus make the travel distances fairly similar regardless of starting position.
In any case, Hurricane's Probe scout caught the Zerglings just as they left RagnaroK's base, allowing Hurricane to set-up a wall at his natural and pull off a near flawless defense. In RagnaroK's desperate scramble to catch up in economy, he built his Roach Warren just a few seconds too late to stop Hurricane's Warp Prism poke into his main. While Hurricane was teching up to Dark Shrine at home, he was already so far ahead that a simple warp-in of Zealots and Adepts was able to further sabotage RagnaroK's economy. From there, Hurricane simply took his third a base and amassed a Stalker-Immortal force that finished off an impoverished RagnaroK.