Maru put last season's RO16 debacle behind him, advancing from Group B in first place as most fans expected. The Team NV ace showed vulnerability in his first game of the night, with his reputation as a late-game specialist coming into question after he was bested by Solar in a grueling brawl. However, Maru turned things around by switching his focus to piercing early-game attacks, taking out Solar and Dream in four consecutive games to advance to the playoffs.
TL.net Liquibet users gave Dream the worst chance to advance from Group B, but the GGG Terran stuck it to his doubters by advancing in second place with two series victories over sOs. Though sOs came into the night with championship-tier PvT on paper (at least according to the Aligulac.com ratings), he looked far from it as he went flaming out with a Colossus-heavy style with a bizarre lack of priority on upgrades.
Alas, Solar fell apart after his impressive first map against Maru, which initially seemed like a landmark moment after losing several late-game ZvT's to Maru in important moments. Unfortunately, Solar's poor early game defense cost him the series against Maru, and again versus sOs in the losers' match as he was torn apart by Glaive-Adepts.
The Code S RO16 has been rescheduled so Group C and Group D will switch days. The next match day is Monday, Sep 06 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00), with Dark, Bunny, ByuN, and PartinG playing in Group D.
Recommended game - Maru vs Solar on 2000 Atmospheres: This game is a must-watch for fans who appreciate the long-term stories in competitive StarCraft II. After getting picked on by Maru in numerous group selections, after losing hundreds of thousands of resources worth of Zerg against Maru's defenses, and after blowing a lead against Maru by eating the biggest nuke of all time, Solar finally got a modicum of revenge by defeating Maru at his own game.
For a while, this match seemed like a typical late-game snoozefest from Maru, where he takes half the map, turtles up, and wins after the Zerg exhausts its resources. Instead, Solar managed to break the mold, denying Terran that crucial 50/50 map split, and eventually winning the war of attrition.
In a certain sense, this game is still terrible because it was won by Brood Lord-Infestor, but I'll allow it this time since the composition allowed Solar to hit back at his most sadistic nemesis.
Initial Match #1: Maru (2 - 1) Solar
Game 1 - 2000 Atmospheres: The first game was a story of two wildly different halves, with Maru battering Solar relentlessly with bio before transitioning into defensive late-game play. Solar was able to match Maru at every phase of the game before ultimately triumphing with an unstoppable BL-Infestor force.
Maru had Solar up against the ropes for the first fifteen minutes of the game, sending endless waves of infantry and Solar to keep him pinned down on four bases. Though Maru couldn't stop Solar from assembling his Hive army of Lurkers and Vipers, he was able to take expansions unhindered, setting himself up for a comfortable late-game transition.
The second half featured an abrupt change of pace, with Maru ceasing his attacks and hunkering down in his familiar turtle mode. In retrospect, he might have gotten a little bit too passive, as Solar was very quick to gobble up the expansions that Maru had denied him during the mid-game. Solar also gradually transitioned out of Lurkers and into Brood Lord-Infestor, and did a great job of denying Maru from achieving a 50/50 expansion split. That forced Maru to push forward and expose himself in a less than ideal fashion, allowing Solar to jump on the Terran forces and win the game-deciding battle with great spellcaster use.
Game 2 - Lightshade: Solar's early game defense was solid in game one, but in game two, he fell apart to Maru's Reaper-Hellion harassment followed by Cloaked Banshees. Losing 10+ Drones early was just too severe a setback to overcome for Solar, and he was flattened by Maru's first major push with Stimmed Marines and Tanks.
Game 3 - Romanticide: Maru went old-school in game three, bringing out the good ol' 2/1/1 for early Marines and Medivacs. Despite Solar scouting this strategy out with a suicide Overlord, he just wasn't fast enough to match Maru's aggression. The initial two Medivacs were chased off easily, but Solar fell apart after Drilling Claw-upgraded Widow Mines entered the mix.
Maru played a Clem-esque game, constantly hounding his opponent with Bio and Mines and accruing advantages with efficient trades. Eventually, Maru's advantage snowballed to the point where Solar could no longer resist, forcing him to GG out.
Initial Match #2: sOs (1 - 2) Dream
Game 1 - Nautilus: This initial clash set the tone for the five games sOs and Dream would play on the night, establishing Reactor-expand into 3-Barracks builds as the foundation for Dream, while sOs unveiled his unorthodox mid-game style centered around Colossi and Blink-DTs.
sOs seemed to take the initial advantage in game one, with his fast Colossus-drop build completely nullifying Dream's Stim-Marine poke. However, sOs didn't press the issue much further, instead setting himself up for the mid-game by cranking out Colossi and Disruptors while also getting unusually quick DT tech. While the DT's were a bit of an annoyance to Dream, ultimately the two players settled into a macro game on relatively even terms, playing 4-base vs 4-base. sOs displayed a surprising lack of focus on upgrades, seemingly unconcerned that Terran had better upgrades throughout the game—this would be a trend throughout the night.
In the end, the game deciding factor ended up being the starting positions of the two players, as Dream had spawned in the bottom-right while sOs started in the bottom-left. Terran has an advantage when playing against a clockwise-positioned opponent on Nautilus, being able to threaten the opponent's third base by land while also having a wide-open Medivac path into the opponent's main. Dream exploited this dual-threat brilliantly, getting a couple of crucial drops into sOs' wide open main.
Though sOs kept things scrappy with DT's and Disruptors, Dream's ability to split up the Protoss army allowed him to take more efficient trades, eventually winning him the game.
Game 2 - Oxide: sOs got off to a great start in game two, with his Proxy Oracle catching Dream off guard. Things got worse for Dream when he tried to move out with his bio, only to run into a Stasis Ward which consigned his Marines to a brutal death.
Despite those struggles, Dream found a way to claw his way back into the game—quite literally as drilling-claw Mines devastated sOs' Probe lines in the mid-game. Eventually, the game once again boiled down to sOs' Colossus+Disruptor centric forces going up against Dream's infantry and Vikings. This time around, sOs took the victory by demonstrating how his unusual style could succeed in practice. He lined up his Colossi in a perfect defensive position against Dream's attacking force, while at the same backdooring with a powerful force of Zealots and Blink-DT's. Scoring huge victories on both sides of the map, sOs forced a GG out of Dream.
Game 3 - Romanticide: Dream switched his PvT openers up for the first and only time, going for a 1/1/1 expansion instead. On the other hand, sOs decided to get aggressive in the early game, delaying his expansion to poke with a fast Zealot and Stalker. While sOs managed to kill off four SCVs, it was far from worth it as he gave those kills right back to Hellions that sped directly into his Probe line.
sOs went for a greedy play to try and make up for his poor start, going for double-forge upgrades off of three bases. However, he couldn't buy enough time to make it pay off, as Dream struck with a huge bio force just before 2/2, and also before Disruptors came out to help on defense. While sOs managed to barely hold off Dream's initial attack, he had to GG out against the follow-up strikes.
Winners' Match: Maru (2 - 0) Dream
Game 1 - Oxide: The two players opened with mirroring builds, going for Factory-CC into 1-Tank 1-Medivac harass. Neither of them realized they were mirroring each other until their Medivacs were halfway across the map, at which point they both decided to commit to a basetrade.
Dream went in deep, dropping everything directly into Maru's main. Maru managed to kill off Dream's force with the help of his SCVs, but lost a huge number of his workers in the process. Meanwhile, Maru played things out much more methodically on his side of the map, going for a slow siege into his opponent's natural and forcing a liftoff. The situation ended up with Dream having more SCVs and a worse army, with Maru camped in his natural. Without any real way to convert his economic advantage into an army advantage, Dream tried to bust out of the containment and secure his natural again. However, his army was far too small to defeat Maru's force, and he GG'd out after losing his remaining troops.
Game 2 - 2000 Atmospheres: Maru finished the 2-0 in quick fashion, going for proxy-Marauders against Dream's standard play. This worked perfectly against Dream's no-scout start (Maru later said he intentionally abused this tendency), with Dream forced to surrender after getting caught completely flat-footed.
Losers' Match: sOs (2 - 0) Solar
Game 1 - Oblivion: sOs' Glaive-Adept build appeared to be doomed before it even started, with sOs' faulty wall-in allowing Zerglings to slip in and scout it out perfectly. But whether due to a mistake or just bad luck, Solar lost track of sOs' Glaive Adepts while attempting a Speedling backdoor. This allowed sOs to freely shade his Adepts into an advantageous position, starting the all-too-familiar chain of Shades that ends in Zerg ruin. Solar tried to play things out after taking heavy early-game damage, but the economic disadvantage was too severe for him to overcome.
Game 2 - 2000 Atmospheres: Solar's early game defense was less-than-stellar yet again, with Adepts combining with proxy-Oracles allowing sOs to nab 10+ Drone kills in the early game. sOs followed this up with Glaive-Adepts to keep the pressure on Solar, all the while securing his third and adding Disruptors to his army. While Solar managed to stall against sOs' Disruptor force for a surprisingly long time, eventually the damage from the Purification Novas added up and he was forced to GG.
Decider Match: sOs (0 - 2) Dream
Game 1 - Nautilus: sOs and Dream returned to Nautilus for another bout, and once again went into a 4-base vs 4-base macro game. Seeing sOs go for his Colossus-Disruptor composition once more, Dream decided to add Liberators on top of his Vikings this time around. This somewhat obvious counter ended up being quite effective, allowing Dream to push into sOs' territory freely. While sOs' heavy commitment to Blink-DT harass did keep Dream occupied, it was dubious as to whether or not it was worth the investment for sOs. Eventually, sOs was forced to fight into Liberator range to try and defend his crucial expansions, which ended in an unsurprising defeat for the Protoss player.
Game 2 - Oxide: sOs made the biggest adjustment of the series, going for defensive Blink and a fast third Nexus. He seemed to get away with this greedy opener at first, only to open himself up to an attack after losing his seven 'containing' Stalkers in a moment of incomprehensible inattentiveness. However, Dream got overaggressive in trying to exploit this window of weakness, and ended up sacrificing a bio force in a fruitless attack into Sentries and Battery Overcharge.
The game boiled down to another battle between sOs' Colossus-centric army versus Dream's bio forces. After a number of battles that went back and forth, the game was decided when sOs committed to an all-out attack into Dream's third base. Alas, for sOs, he ended up fighting into a superior concave for Terran, while one Colossus shot uselessly at a refinery. Furthermore, his lack of focus on upgrades throughout the series really came into focus in this fight, as his 2/1 Protoss went up against Dream's 3/3 bio. sOs was crushed in the fight, and he conceded the GG.