The second round of GSL Ro8 matches today were a really exciting prospect for me because I genuinely wanted to get an answer to the burning question on my mind: is there something actually unreasonable or noncompetitive about the TvP matchup? In my head at least, who better than Maru and TY to give us the answer to that inquiry especially when put up against the likes of Dear and Trap, two of the most dangerous players to go up against in that sort of clash.
I'm not convinced I necessarily got the answer to my question, but it was definitely an insane ride regardless for a variety of reasons.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead, Obviously.
Maru has done it again and frankly I still can't believe it, an absolutely ridiculous display of mechanical skill to win 3-1 over Dear, while basically losing strategically throughout the majority of those games, the first match basically broke my brain completely by the end & I'm still recovering.
On the other hand, the second clash of the day left me dumbfounded as I watched Trap secure his place in the team-kill Semis for the first time ever in his career with the narrow 3-2 score by pretty handily dealing with a TY that looked to be in the middle of an identity crisis slash tilted after a controversial game one slash doing a Face/Off "reenactment", where he was trying to do his best "Proxy Maru 2018" impersonation.
Dear vs Maru | Brains vs Brawn
At times like these, I really miss having a few of the other old mechanical gods around so we can have a real match with them going up against Maru when he's playing at this level.
Aside from the first map where things went picture perfect for the Terran, he pretty much had no business winning any of the other games, the fact he did just shows the amount of mechanical skill he's been able to accumulate over time and fine tune to the point where this type of shit is even possible. Not going to sugar coat it at all, I fully expected Maru to go out unceremoniously here – and why wouldn't he, against the best PvT player in the world, who's looked unstoppable in the matchup – but instead we had to watch the Terran King not only lean on his mechanics one more time but embrace them fully to pull off this scary upset (yes, upset, I for one am not going to pretend after the fact that Maru was in any way favored to win this match, like a lot of people will hypocritically).
- You can call it nerves, being cold or whatever else you want, but on Kairos Junction it essentially looked like Dear was still on his way to the studio and a doppelganger was put in his place to make sure the games started on time. The Protoss wanted to hide his Phoenixes for some reason at the start of the game, while Maru decided to roll in with a bunch of surprise Hellions and get 14 worker kills for his efforts. What's better is that after that he flew across the map with 1.5 cloaked Banshees, which Dear wasn't ready for in spite of having Phoenixes and a Robo – losing 34 workers total by the end of the "harassment" – at which point the game was basically over with the free win going over to Maru, very generously gift wrapped by the favorite.
- Fortunately for everyone who came to watch competitive games today, Dear actually "arrived" to the studio in time for King's Cove and reminded us why he's considered such a monster in PvT. Maru this time around went for a fast two Medivac + Stim Marines timing – which wasn't only scouted but also utterly shut down by the Protoss before doing anything at all – and that put him significantly behind from the start, so he decided to turtle in order to try grind out a win regardless. Thanks to that solid opening, Dear played consistently up at least one base, giving himself some comfortable leeway in terms of losing resources (quite Zerg-esque in his approach) while harassing the Terran this time around, curtsy of some Storm Drops early in the game followed by questionable engagements where he tried his best to open up some supply for Tempests while not giving up units completely for free (which admittedly didn't go too well, but his bank was unbelievable thanks to the lack of pressure). At around 12 minutes Maru finally set up a bit of a desperation push, basically tried to catch Dear out of position and kind of did, but the Protoss still had too much in the end and held the attack. The two players traded pretty evenly and considering the economical difference that definitely favored Dear, even helped him "free up" that supply he wanted to a lot more efficiently than when he was walking his army into sieged Tanks over at Maru's own bases. The game still went on for about 30 minutes regardless of the huge lead throughout it for the Protoss, we got to see some slightly sloppy "main army" control from Dear with his Tempests / High Templar, but that was partially because he was also continuously using Dark Templar with Blink alongside Zealots and sometimes Storms to repeatedly screw with the Terran production and economy, he basically fought Maru on at least two fronts at the same time at all times and beat him down convincingly, really giving us what would end up being a false impression that these two players are "mechanically even" (though I do admit if Maru had just made one Raven this game could have gone so much differently, especially considering his tremendous Ghost and Viking control in the "main" army battles).
- With the score evened up, but a Dear that now seemed wide awake, the battle for the boats on Port Alexander looked basically over from the start as the Protoss once again went Phoenixes like he did on the first map, but this time his opponent chose to rely on Widow Mine drops, which got completely shut down as a result. Then we got to see Maru try doing an aggressive push at around 6 minutes out of desperation again, which Dear was also completely ready for and crushed. A few minutes later, possibly a bit overeager, the Protoss loaded up a Warp Prism with three High Templar and Storm to go kill a bunch more SCVs at Maru's third base and essentially seal the deal as he was taking his fourth Nexus, but that move flipped the "go" switch in the Terran's head – essentially gave him no choice but to all in – and that's the only way he could've won at that point, which is why the Protoss "harassment" was actually an overextension in disguise. Low on units, having "spent" a lot of his splash damage, Dear found himself on the receiving end of a perpetual push that lasted for about three minutes straight and in spite of his best efforts to salvage the situation Maru's micro and positional outplay were too much, helping him miraculously pull off the win.
- Year Zero is where we got to see Maru fully "unleashed", the madman made so many Mines and sacrificed them along with more Medivacs than made sense while fighting Phoenixes again to the point where around 8 minutes he'd lost 19 Mines and 3 Medivacs to kill only 13 Probes, compare that to the first game between the two and it's insane how far ahead Dear should have been at that point. What's crazy, though, is that the supply was essentially even, the bases were equal in count and Maru wasn't remotely dead because his macro behind those seemingly fruitless drops was astounding. About two minutes later, when the Terran "doom dropped" the Protoss main base, he was up 20 supply. Maru killed the first Nexus, denied the +2 Armor upgrade for Dear and even got to evacuate with what looked like at least half of his forces. From there the Terran built primarily Marauders & Liberators and styled on Dear to secure the game in devastating fashion. What can you even say at that point, what a mechanical god.
TY vs Trap |
The supposed advantage of having veteran savvy was nowhere to be seen as TY played flustered and lost throughout the day to give this series up, you'd never think this was a guy who'd just schooled his opponents in the previous rounds to go 8-0 from the way he was playing. Trap on the other hand didn't look at all concerned up to the last game where his nerves admittedly showed, yet his opponent still found a way to give him the easiest out imaginable, essentially washing up against the Protoss player's wall – set up based on being rightfully paranoid and overly defensive from the way the match had unraveled up to that point.
Lets put it this way, the Jin Air player's initial reaction after losing his first map of the day was to laugh it up, as if he'd been in this position a million times and won tons of Championships already & this was basically just another day for him, against just another Terran player, not a match to see who would go on to the GSL Semifinal i.e. something Trap had never done before against what should've been a terrifying monster in TY.
The most controversial map of the day ended up being Port Alexander, where TY decided to Proxy Barracks – which actually worked, believe it or not, since the Protoss had to cancel his second Nexus and essentially play to the Terran's tune. Unfortunately for him, Trap decided he wouldn't settle for playing someone else's game and managed to pull off a surprise Dark Templar attack which caught TY with his pants down and essentially flipped the script almost immediately. There was a technical issue during this fight which forced a pause, but I don't think that actually affected the outcome of this map at all to be frank, if anything in theory it should have given the Terran some time to think about how he could come back after getting strategically countered to that degree. After the referee decided the game would continue as it was, TY selected his entire army and attack commanded across the map "in protest" to wrap up losing the map & let us mercifully move on.
There were no "shenanigans" by either player on King's Cove at the start of the game, which once again devolved into a harassment fight between the two races. TY struck first with his Widow Mines, getting the crazy amount of 14 worker kills considering Trap had Phoenixes to defend with, but the retaliation from the Protoss came not too long after via a Warp Prism, some Zealots & Adepts and the inexplicable decision from the Terran to fight them with his SCVs. Since scouting for TY had already spotted Colossus tech previously, he made a few too many Vikings, grouped his army and workers into a classic "fuck this game" formation & tried his best to roll over the Protoss before in his mind it would be "too late" to win (in spite of the game being essentially even at that point). Trap, however, was once again a few steps ahead, having already switched into Disruptors which he then revealed and used to crush the all in & basically hard counter the blind over-reliance on Vikings and desperation pushes in order to go up 2-0 and have three more chances to do what he'd never done before.
After taking a very much needed break, TY came back on Cyber Forest to either win or lose the game as quickly as possible without proxying. Not even 5 minutes into the map, the Terran sprinted across the battlefield with some Marines, Tanks, a Viking and a Liberator – Trap was caught off guard slightly for a change – and as TY secured a position that let his Tanks hit the Nexus, the Protoss almost immediately tapped out and grinned like someone who already knew what this attack really meant. Even after winning TY looked basically "angry", which I definitely feel is uncharacteristic for him, in many ways despite the push working it still seemed more of a desperation move than an actual strategy he'd planned prior the series.
The craziness continued on Kairos Junction, when down 1-2 in the match TY decided to bet his tournament life on a Proxy Marauder build. While the early pressure did okay, it definitely didn't kill Trap, if anything it was pretty much a wash and let the Protoss more comfortably build up knowing full well any follow up would be delayed from his opponent, whose Barracks had to fly back home. After the game settled down a bit and Trap took his third base, the Terran used some stellar multitasking and positioning – for what felt like the first time in the series – to remind us why he's considered such a beast. Not only did he kill the Protoss player's third Nexus, he also took out the Templar Archives, severely hindering the amount of splash damage available for Trap. While continuously fighting in at least two places at the same time, TY finally took his third base and once again managed to deny the alternate third Nexus for the Protoss. In spite of a slightly nerve-wracking ending to the game, due to TY's insistent overaggressive attitude, the fourth map still showed us the best play from the Terran we'd seen all day, leading us to believe the comeback was on the menu after having gone down 0-2 to start off, which is what made the next map such a pain to watch.
The "mind games" seemed like they had finally paid off on Automaton, where we got to see Trap so paranoid it felt unreal. There was no Proxy this time around, or early 5 minute push for that matter, so TY should've had a considerable lead if he'd gone into a later game, considering the extremely defensive posture from the Protoss – who was barely making workers, considering he had a third Nexus yet stayed on a relatively low worker count and made a ton of Gateways instead of going up in tech. In spite of everything I just wrote down, inexplicably around 8 minutes TY decided his best course of action was to group all his units along with a ton of SCVs and sprint across the map with only two Tanks against a player styling on him (and his reinforcements) with Phoenixes. Trap sandwiched the desperate Terran push, used the splash damage from the couple of Widow Mines in his favor as he's known to do, and as a result deservedly knocked TY out of the GSL Code S.
Links to both matches from today are in M1/M2 above, I had a good time watching the games, many of them could have gone either way.
- Map of the Night – Really tough decision between Kairos Junction from TY, where in spite of the bizarre decision to proxy Marauders he still pulled it back into a game where you could recognize the player behind the controls & I couldn't help but marvel at Maru's stupid amount of skill, which was most obvious on Year Zero where he kept losing units until he was up 20 supply out of nowhere. If I had to pick between the two, I'd still go with TY's tactical brilliance in spite of the sloppy ending, really showed what you usually expect from him, it's a shame he did that on only 1/5 of the maps.
Finally, here are my thoughts on the second Semifinal between the two Jin Air boys:
- It's really hard to imagine anyone standing up to Maru if he's going to play like this. I don't know what you're supposed to do if you're Trap. I realize he's already beaten Maru in other scenarios, but like I said when I was talking about Classic vs Rogue, the GSL is something else. The Jin Air Protoss has never been to a Semifinal and he'll have to perform against a player who doesn't give a fuck what's right or wrong, he just abuses mechanics to the point where you can't stop him. The only thing I can think of which might help Trap is that Maru hasn't shown this level of dominance in a while. Calling today's showing a "fluke" seems far fetched for the 3x consecutive reigning defending GSL Champion, but he certainly hasn't been as menacing as this for the majority of 2019 so far. Even better, they are teammates so we know in this scenario the games tend to look fairly odd. If the underdog can use that familiarity to keep calm, I have no doubt strategically he can utterly outmaneuver Maru and make him look silly, the problem then will be whether he can keep up with the unreasonable amount of power, provided we see the Terran King show up at this level again. In any case, this is the definition of a win/win scenario for both players – Trap surely didn't want to fight Dear in PvP and Maru wants nothing to do with TY – so lets see who can keep it together & whether Maru will be going for his 4th consecutive Code S win or Trap will make it to his first ever Final.
Keep in mind these are just my observations. If you caught something I missed / think differently, feel free to express yourself as well in the comments below.
See you next week for the Semis, here's hoping for some great games!
P.S. Here are the links to every other Quick Recap I've done so far for 2019's S1 of GSL Code S
Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H
Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D
Day 1 | Day 2
Source: Original link
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