Week #143 saw herO win the Korean cup after a nail-biting finals series versus DPG teammate Dark, MaxPax claim the European cup against HeroMarine (who lost his third consecutive finals), and ByuN take out MaxPax in the finals of the Americas Cup.
There were very few participants in the Asian/Korean cup on the week, but it still had some very strong players such as Dark, ByuN, Cure, Classic, Creator, and herO. While Dark and herO were able to breeze through to the semifinal round, ByuN had to survive a clash with Cure, and Creator had to take down Classic to advance. The Code S-worthy semifinals saw the favorites prevail, with Dark beating ByuN 2-1 while herO won a PvP against Creator without losing a map.
The finals between herO and Dark was very close, ending in a tight 3-2 victory for the Protoss player (VOD). Game one saw herO lose all of his Probes but two in the mid-game, but still finish off Dark with his massive army. Dark took game two in an epic basetrade, killing the last Pylon of herO with his big squad of Mutas despite the Protoss army still being very large.
The two players traded another set of games, sending them to a deciding fifth set. Both players ended up with strong armies in the mid-game, but Dark erred by taking poor engagements where his Banelings ran through chokes instead of finding good flanks. This let herO trade very efficiently with his Colossus-based force, leading to him eventually overpowering Dark and taking the victory.
Upset(s) of the day: Unfortunately, due to the low participation and one-sided bracket draws, there weren't any notable upsets in week #143.
Possibly due to the start of DH: Atlanta regionals, participation was relatively low with Clem being the most notable absentee among the regulars. However, there were still a number of formidable players in contention, including ShoWTimE, MaxPax, HeroMarine, TIME, and a race-swapping Reynor.
Indeed, Reynor won his first map vs Jieshi with Terran, but he gave up the second map in return. He switched back to Zerg to win the series 2-1, and stuck with his main faction the rest of the way. But even main-racing Reynor wasn't strong enough to beat MaxPax in the ESL Open Cup, as the Danish Protoss eliminated TIME, Reynor, and several others on his way to the finals. The bottom side of the bracket was expectedly dominated by the German duo of ShoWTimE and HeroMarine, who ended up facing off in the semifinals. Big Gabe took the 2-1 victory to reach his third EU finals in a row.
At first, it looked like HeroMarine might finally win another EU cup, especially with Clem skipping the cup after beating HeroMarine two weeks in a row. Gabe seized the opportunity, getting off to a strong 2-0 start against MaxPax (finals VOD). The first win was relatively quick; MaxPax was aggro early on but HeroMarine defended nicely, and won with a 2-base bio-tank push in around eight minutes. The second map of Cosmic Sapphire saw MaxPax be a little bit too greedy—he took a fourth base while Big Gabe was powering up on 2 bases, which allowed the Terran to win with a very strong 2 base all-in.
However, some of GuMiho's energy from the GSL transferred over to MaxPax, and he was able to pull off the reverse-sweep. Big Gabe attempted another 2 base attack in game three, but MaxPax survived against multiple waves of attacks to take the win. He then tied things up on Moondance, taking the lead in a macro game and holding off a last-ditch attack from HeroMarine. HeroMarine tried another 2 base all-in on the deciding map of Tropical Sacrifice, which MaxPax managed to defend to win the series 3-2.
Upset(s) of the day: There weren't any enormous upsets compared to previous weeks, so perhaps the pick is Brat_OK beating Gerald 2-1. But even though Aligulac sees the Protoss as a huge favorite, it doesn't surprise me that much if you think about how BO3 matches can go in the weeklies.
The NA cup saw MaxPax go for the double, joined by Gerald as the notable Protoss players. Dark, Solar, and Rattata were top Zerg participants, while ByuN, Kelazhur, and uThermal were the most prominent Terrans.
It looked like Dark and MaxPax were headed to a semifinal clash in the upper half of the bracket, but it never came to be as Rattata took a 2-0 upset against Dark (a continuation of Dark's open cup woes). On the other hand, MaxPax marched his way through the bracket as expected, taking out Kelazhur and Rattata on his way to the finals. The other half of the bracket went in more predictable fashion, with ByuN reaching the finals after a close 2-1 victory over Solar.
While MaxPax made HeroMarine an unfortunate three-time runner-up in Europe, the Danish Protoss suffered the same fate himself in the NA cup finals (VOD).
ByuN won the first map of Waterfall with his great two-prong bio play, using two big armies to harass from opposite directions. He slowly but surely accrued an advantage through good trades, ultimately forcing a GG out of MaxPax. Moving on to Stargazers, both players built up to maxed-out armies by the 11 minute mark. ByuN then made the decisive plays with a big drop in the pocket expansion of MaxPax, followed by another big drop on the fourth expansion. The first drop allowed him to trade bio units for Disruptors, while the other drop did a lot of economic damage. After this, ByuN went on to abuse his advantage with good multitask and micro to force MaxPax to tap out.
ByuN won the third game in a similar way, using a strong main army to pressure MaxPax’s expansions while going for big drops in the main base at the same time. MaxPax couldn't pull off the defensive balancing act correctly, and ByuN was able to break through and sweep MaxPax 3-0.
Upset(s) of the day: Rattata landed a critical hit with his Hyper Fang, KO'ing Dark 2-0. Even considering Dark's recent slump and poor showings in the Open Cups, it was a great upset victory for Rattata.