Solar Wins Super Tournament 2by Wax
As the sun set on another year of the Global Starcraft II League, the sun also rose on a first-time champion. Solar, a nine-year SC2 veteran and multiple-time champion in other leagues, took down Dark 4-3 in the Super Tournament II finals to win his first ever title in the GSL.
The seven-game finals epitomized why Zerg vs Zerg has been compared to 'a knife fight in a phone booth,' with early-game risks and gambits factoring heavily into the series. Fitting their reputations, Dark mostly took the position of the aggressor while Solar looked to defend in the closely-fought series. But in the deciding game on Stargazers, it was Solar's decision to turn the tables and go for a one-base Zergling-Baneling attack that earned him a crucial early game advantage, an advantage which he successfully converted into a career-landmark victory.
Not only was the Super Tournament Solar's first title ever in the GSL, but it was also his first championship since he won the Season 2 of the 2016 StarCraft II Starleague over six years ago. Rather poetically, the grand finals score ended up being the same in both events: Solar 4, Dark 3.
After the finals, Solar spoke about the long wait to become a champion again, "I told [my wife] when she came to Korea, I'd give her a lot of championship trophies, that I'd get better results. But I wasn't able to [win championships] for a few years, so I felt really sorry. I'm really glad I can give her one even belatedly. There's a lot of tournaments left, aren't there? I want to win more and make her even happier." Indeed, with the hurdle of the Super Tournament surmounted, perhaps Solar can now find success in the GSL's marquee event of Code S.
The grand finals capped off a strong run from Solar overall, where he defeated Creator (3-1), GuMiho (3-1), and ByuN (3-1) prior to the finals. As with most championship runs, some good fortune factored in as well. Maru, the bane of Solar's existence these last few years, suffered early elimination at the hands of ByuN. Of course, one can't blame Solar for playing the cards dealt to him—which he did brilliantly at that.
Solar received $10,000 in prize money and 255 EPT Korea points for his victory (the points will not figure significantly into his IEM Katowice status as he was already safely above the group stage cutoff). With the GSL concluded for the year, 2022 will close out with HomeStory Cup XXII (Dec 15-18) as the last major event.
Game One - Waterfall (Dark win): Game one began with Solar seeming to win the build order mind games, opening with a Hatch-first against Dark's 16-pool. However, Dark followed up with a sly Ling-Bane attack off of just 15 Drones which Solar didn't detect. Solar took heavy damage from this unexpected attack and was forced to GG out at around 4:40 on the clock.
Game Two - Inside and Out (Solar win): Dark went for a different pool-first opener in game two, opting for the 12-pool version. Solar took the upper hand in build orders again, going with a 17-pool and holding off Dark's early Zerglings without much trouble.
This time around, Dark didn't have any follow-up all-in to surprise Solar with, leaving his opponent to comfortably snowball his superior initial economy. Solar took a faster third base and got into mass Roach production more quickly, and was soon knocking on Dark's front door with a larger Roach army. Solar exploited his numerical advantage ruthlessly and extracted the tying GG out of Dark after a couple of attacks.
Game Three - Moondance (Dark win): Both players went for more standard-looking openers by going up to three Hatcheries early (Dark took his third at the pocket expansion while Solar took his third at the forward 'triangle' position). However, Dark quickly pivoted to an aggressive strategy, halting Drones at 21 and going for a big flood of Speedlings. Solar hastily tried to set up a Queen-Evolution Chamber wall to block the attack, but Dark was able to brute force his way through to seize victory in under four minutes.
Game Four - Data-C (Solar win): The two Zergs opened with mirroring 3-Hatch openers once more, but Dark again chose to pull the trigger on early aggression. He aimed at the latest window so far in the series, stopping at 31 Drones to attack with mass Ling-Bane at around the 5-minute mark. However, this time Solar managed to toe the line between greed and defense successfully, earning himself an advantage after weathering the attack.
Dark reloaded on Roaches and Banelings for another offensive, but Solar held the line once more to further his lead. Solar then used his economy and tech advantage to assemble an unstoppable Roach-Ravager army and ran over Dark at just over the 10-minute mark.
Game Five - Tropical Sacrifice (Dark win): We finally got our first relatively passive build-up to Lair tech in game five, though the two players still engaged in a decent bit of Ling-Bane skirmishing (Dark may have been considering another committed Ling-Bane attack but seemed to change his mind after getting supply blocked). Dark got the better end of these Ling-Bane exchanges, managing to sneak in Drone kills and get himself ahead in early/mid-game economy.
This meant that while both players were moving up to Spire tech off of three bases, Dark was able to crank out significantly more Roaches as well. Dark launched a huge Roach attack that was almost perfectly timed with Solar's hatching Mutalisks, tying the flyers up on defense. Solar took a severe deal of damage from the Roaches before he could clean them up, after which he launched a desperate counter-attack to try and get some payback. However, Dark had bought himself more than enough time to crank out mass Corruptors on defense, and he collected the GG from Solar after wiping out the enemy Mutalisks.
Game Six - Cosmic Sapphire (Solar win): Dark and Solar opened with 3-Hatch openers yet again, but even playing on the largest map in the pool wasn't enough to steer them toward another macro(ish) game. Dark looked to strike with mass Ling-Bane at around a 30-Drone count, while Solar skipped his Baneling Nest to go fast Defensive Roaches with +1 carapace.
Solar seemed like he was in deep trouble when Dark struck before his Roaches hatched, but good crisis-management from Solar let him minimize Drone losses before his Roaches cleaned up the attack. Solar was left with an enormous advantage once +1 carapace completed and he looked to exploit that posthaste. It was finally his turn to cut Drones and go for a big pre-Lair attack, and his swarm of +1 carapace Roach-Ravager-Ling overran Dark to force one final game.
Game Seven - Stargazers (Solar win): Solar saved his most aggressive opener for game seven, pulling out a 12-gas/11-pool for a fast Ling-Bane strike off one base. Despite Dark's Hatch-first start, this didn't result in a hasty end to the game. Dark simply gave up his natural hatchery and took his backdoor expansion, while Solar had already taken his natural back at home. This ultimately resulted in Solar taking a moderate economic advantage as he was able to establish an operational second base faster than Dark.
Both players took it easy for a few minutes, advancing to Lair tech and mass Roaches off of three bases. Solar's economic advantage materialized in a slightly larger Roach count, and he eventually broke the brief truce with a frontal attack and Nydus backdoor. While Dark fought well enough on defense to survive, Solar still inched further ahead with his attacks as he prevented Dark from securing a crucial fourth base. Solar himself was able to establish a four-base economy and tech up to Mutas, tightening his control over the game.
A desperate Tunneling Claws play was all Dark had left to try to get himself back in the game, but Solar detected the attack without much trouble. Solar continued to pummel Dark with Roach-Ravager from there on out, and Dark eventually had no choice but to surrender the championship to Solar.