Rogue is headed to his third Code S finals after fighting off a spirited challenge from underdog Dream in a cheesy, chaotic, seven-game semifinal series. All-in's and unorthodox tactics defined the bout, with proxy-Barracks Bunker rushes, offensive Hatcheries, Nydus all-ins, blue-flame Hellion drops all making an appearance (Dream even pulled out the supposedly obsolete Battlecruiser rush).
Ultimately, the series was decided by the most extreme tactic of the night—Dream's proxy 3-Barracks all-in in game seven. Rogue was forced to give up his natural Hatchery to the cheesy assault, leaving him to play Roach-Ravager off of one base. However, Dream's decision to float all his Barracks and stop Marine production came just a bit too early, giving Rogue a window to break the Bunker containment and launch a deadly counter-attack before any defensive Factory units were out. In a shocking turnaround, a modest counter-attacking force of four Ravagers and two Roaches was all Rogue needed to end the game, with even Rogue later admitting he was lucky that Dream threw the game from his advantageous position.
Rogue's record in offline best-of-seven matches now improves to a perfect 10-0—seven of those wins victories coming in grand finals—a stat which will loom over whoever emerges from semifinal #2 to face him in the grand finals. Still, Rogue made it abundantly clear that he would rather play Trap in the grand finals, saying he would "really hate" to play ZvT. That seemed to run counter to Rogue's pre-match interview where he suggested that practice sessions against Maru had gone well. However, the experience of playing Dream in such an unpredictable and mentally taxing series seemed to have affected Rogue by the end, as he cited the overwhelming options on the Terran side and the lack of initiative for Zerg as his reason for wanting to avoid the match-up going forward.
Code S will resume on Thursday, Apr 29 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00) with the semifinal match #2: Maru vs Trap.
Semifinal #1: Dream vs Rogue
Game 1 - Romanticide: Dream started off by constructing two proxy-Barracks at Rogue's rich Vespene expansion, subsequently using the two building SCVs to mine out the mineral wall. Rogue opened safely with Extractor-Pool-Hatch, which allowed him to hold off Dream's cheesy Bunker rush easily and get off to an advantageous start.
However, Rogue's killer instinct ended up backfiring on him as the game went on. He impeded his economic lead by attempting a futile Speedling attack soon after stopping the Bunker rush, which was thwarted by a simple Supply Depot wall on Dream's end. After establishing a strong 3-base foundation, Rogue allowed Dream to further narrow the gap by investing in a Roach-Ravager attack that only forced a temporary lift of Dream's expansion CC.
As Rogue looked to go back into a macro game, Dream struck back with a Hellion-drop + Liberator combo that took advantage of Rogue's low Queen count and lack of Spore colonies to deal significant economic damage. Rogue responded by going for a third and final kill move, sending an even larger Swarm of Roaches and Ravagers in Dream's direction. But by then, Dream had already established a strong defensive position on three bases with plenty of Tanks. Dream held off the frontal attack while counter-dropping in Rogue's expansions, forcing the two-time Code S champ to concede the first GG.
Game 2 - Oxide: While Dream went for a more standard start in a Reaper expand, it was Rogue's turn to get cheesy as he followed up a 16-pool with an offensive Hatchery at Dream's natural. Dream responded confidently by building a Command Center and Bunker right next to the intrusive Hatchery.
At first, it seemed like Dream's confidence would be his demise, as the uncompleted Command Center ended up being bait for himself. Dream's vain attempts to complete the Command Center saw several SCV's get picked off by Zerglings, and later by Roaches popping out of the completed Hatchery. However, despite giving up many SCV losses, Dream still achieved his primary defensive win condition: survive until Cyclones. Once two Cyclones were out, Rogue was no longer able to attack into Dream, and he GG'd out knowing his all-in had failed.
Game 3 - Blackburn: Rogue played his first Hatchery-first opener of the night, while Rogue also went for a standard start in a Reaper expand. However, the peace only lasted briefly, as Rogue teched up quickly to Lair for a Roach-Nydus Worm all-in. Meanwhile, Dream continued to play greedily for a macro game, getting a quick third Command Center.
Dream was caught completely off guard by a Nydus Worm tunneling into his main, with only a handful of Hellions and Banshees on defense. After making a hopeless attempt at a defensive stand, Dream GG'd out against the Roaches and Queens razing his bases.
Game 4 - Nautilus: The 4-player map of Nautilus saw Rogue start off at the bottom-left, while Dream started diagonally across from him at top-right. Rogue gambled on a 16-pool start once more, but this time just for some early 6-Zergling harassment instead of a committed all-in. This struck the mark against Dream's blind Command Center-first opener, with Rogue able to pick off several Marines and SCVs early on.
Dream tried to make up for this early deficit by going for fast blue flame Hellions. Despite successfully hiding this tech from Rogue, Dream was unable to inflict much economic damage due to Rogue's good reactions on defense. Rogue decided to go for a kill-move with mass Roach Ravager, and unlike in game one, there were no complications. A frontal attack combined with a Nydus strike in the main completely overwhelmed Dream, forcing his surrender and tying the series.
Game 5 - Lightshade: Dream returned to his cheesy ways by building two proxy-Barracks at Rogue's third base, while Rogue himself went for a Hatchery-first opener. Rogue was able to Drone-scout the Barracks fairly quickly, though the terrain prevented him from trying to harass the working SCVs.
Rogue pulled Drones to stop the Bunker rush, and at first, it seemed like he had pulled off a clean defense. However, as is often the case, the Zerg player paid the price for going on an extended chase against well-microed Marines, with five Drones going down in total. On balance, Rogue was left in a better early game position than Dream, but Dream still had a reasonable foothold in the game.
As Rogue tried to establish a strong 3-base economy, Dream improved his position with a follow-up Hellion drop, which hit just before Zergling speed was complete and killed off seven Drones. Dream then continued to keep pressuring Rogue once he had Tanks and Medivacs to support his Marines, somewhat delaying Rogue's fourth expansion while setting himself up on three bases of his own.
However, Rogue had been building up to Mutalisk tech the whole time, and he started to take back control of the game once the flying Skirmishers hatched. The initial Mutalisk strike didn't deal a huge amount of damage to Dream, but it forced him to stay back and scramble to get more anti-air while Rogue gobbled up his own side of the map. Dream looked to consolidate his forces for a big push as he neared max supply, but continued Muta-strikes—with Ling-Bane run-bys mixed in—kept the Terran forces from moving out on the map. All the while, Rogue was building up a large resource bank and teching up to Ultralisks.
Mutalisks could only keep Dream pinned back for so long, and eventually he marched his Bio-Thor-Mine force across the map to lay siege to Rogue's outermost expansion. For a moment, it seemed like Rogue might be in danger as much of his supply was trapped in incubating eggs, but his Ultralisks ended up hatching in time to save his expansion.
Rogue had put himself in position to close the game out, but in all-too-typical Zerg fashion, he ended up giving Dream a lifeline by getting sloppy with his Ultralisks and A-moving into a series of poor fights. Dream found the breathing room to establish his 5th and 6th bases as previous expansions dried up, while also teching up to Ghosts. However, Rogue's strong economy gave him leeway to take the occasional bad engagement, and he was still keeping Dream's income low with continued Zergling runby's. Eventually, Rogue joined his Ultralisks with Brood Lords and forced Dream to surrender.
Game 6 - 200 Atmospheres: Cheese levels receded briefly to start game six, with Rogue playing Hatch-first while Dream opened with a Reaper expansion. However, Dream soon went back to his bag of tricks, pulling out a rare fast-Battlecruiser build. This out-of-fashion strategy caught Rogue off guard, with the combination of a single Battlecruiser and eight Hellions able to kill 18 Drones (and even cancel Rogue's building Spire). Dream got even more damage done with his second BC and another wave of Hellions, setting himself up to make a mech transition from an immense position of power.
Rogue tried to play out a macro game with Corruptor-Roach-Ravager, but he had been put too far behind to put up a credible fight. Dream's advantage was so enormous that he maxed out faster on mech than Rogue could max out on Roach-Ravager, allowing him to end the game easily with one deadly Tank push.
Game 7 - Jagannatha: Dream went for his most drastic all-in of the series, pulling the trigger on a 3-Barracks proxy all-in. Rogue opened Hatch-first one last time, with his scouting Drone and Overlord just barely missing the trio of proxy-Barracks. Still, upon seeing the incoming Marines, Rogue deduced it was a 3-Barracks variant, and responded accordingly by starting a Roach Warren and refraining from pulling his Drones on defense (Rogue later explained that he hadn't scouted any Barracks in the closest spots, and surmised that a more distant proxy strategy was likely to be a 3-Barracks variation).
Rogue calmly gave up his natural to the offensive Bunker, only pulling Drones briefly to prevent Dream from trying to push up and build a Bunker on top of his ramp. With Rogue's natural destroyed, and with a Bunker and nine Marines setting up a containment line, Dream opted to float all three of his Barracks (one for scouting, two sent back home) while teching up to Factory. Unfortunately for Dream, he made this decision to transition a bit too blasely, not realizing the all-in phase of the game was far from over. Rogue broke through the containment line with three Roaches and four Ravagers, and then marched on directly to the Terran main. Dream's first Cyclone completed about fifteen seconds too late—after the Roaches and Ravagers had torn down the supply depot wall and were massacring defending SCVs. All the Cyclone micro in the world wasn't enough to hold out in that situation, and Dream had no choice but to sign away the series with one last GG.