The last Code S Ro16 Group today was a nice reminder why we're almost compelled to keep tuning in night after night, you never really know what's actually going to happen & who's going to step up to claim their spot in history.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead, Obviously.
After an unsurprisingly easy start to the day, in the winner's match Dark had to go up against the unexpectedly there monstrous INnoVation however even after going down a map the Zerg looked completely uninterested in giving up during the series, earning a hard fought 2-1 victory to secure his spot on the easy side of the bracket for the Ro8 by coming out in 1st place.
INnoVation didn't take the loss too hard though, considering he got to play a rematch against the exact same Stats he'd already beaten, which went pretty much just as well the second time around in order for the last surviving Terran in Code S to secure 2nd by showing significant improvement in his TvP play – undoubtedly to whiners utter bewilderment & dismay.
| Dark < 2 : 0 >
Patience | ★★★☆☆ | Ding dong, you're dead
King's Cove | Dark has made a name for himself with his early aggression and the 12 pool he used to kick the day off was a great reminder you should never feel safe against this guy. Having killed quite a few Probes & significantly screwed up Patience's plan, the Zerg kept things slow and steady with a two base Lair before both players decided it was safe to take a third base. It seemed, however, the Protoss was wrong to think so and as we've already seen multiple times on this map Dark knows how to ruin your life with a later Nydus Worm here. Only using what felt like a handful of Roaches and some Queens, seemingly out of nowhere the Zerg completely tore Patience limb from limb, consecutively attacking in multiple spots to catch his opponent sleeping and end the game prematurely.
New Repugnancy | The hatch first masked and covered by the fake proxy hatch after his previous opening is how you could tell Dark had come to show some flair today. To his credit, Patience dealt with the annoying Drone as well as he could have and then had a brilliantly deceptive fake Immortal push strategy that allowed some sneaky Dark Templar to get a kill on the Zerg's third base. However it almost looked like Dark didn't even care as he rushed to get his detection up which he successfully did after that, because Patience decided to go for the uncharacteristically defensive move of immediately warping his DTs into Archons despite seeing nothing from the Zerg that would suggest he couldn't keep doing damage to his economy. In what felt like a random follow-up push, the Protoss lost his Archons almost immediately for no reason and Dark just had too much left over to clean up the late attack that didn't accomplish anything compared to the early damage he'd suffered. What's better, the Zerg had preemptively started a Nydus even before holding the push, so when it was cleaned up the counter attack from Dark felt simply unstoppable, giving him the swift and appropriate 2-0.
Stats < 0 : 2 > INnoVation | ★★★☆☆ | Rolling back the years
King's Cove | The first TvP of the day kicked off pretty standard, no shenanigans looked to be on the menu for either player, if anything Stats played overly defensive staying on two bases longer than you'd expect right now. The weird sequence of events that would end up starting the beginning of the end here was actually a weird two Mine Medivac drop that went to the center of the map and basically stayed there. Stats saw the weird move and took his entire army to clean it up, which definitely feels like it contributed to him being out of position when INnoVation's forces advanced – clearing the path using his Raven – and eventually set up between the Protoss player's three bases in such an unbelievably favorable spot that Stats literally had to walk his Colossi into Tank fire and Raven disables to almost immediately lose the game then and there (really reminded me of Classic's loss on Kairos in the final against Maru last season, it's amazing how getting out of position against these elite players for even a few seconds can almost instantly lose you the game).
Turbo Cruise '84 | Stats made quite a few adjustments here, notably deciding to go with a third Nexus and double Forge behind Blink Stalker pressure. INnoVation, however, was dealing with it pretty well and not only that this time around his two Mine Medivac drop actually went into the enemy base and seeing as the Protoss wasn't looking it got a ridiculous amount of kills at 9 Probes, considering how little of an investment it was. Already in shambles, Stats did his best to use Blink to delay the Terran but INnoVation's air-tight defense perfectly paired with a Raven to deny Observer shenanigans gave him more than enough room to macro up and set up a push on the third Nexus. While the actual fight there looked to be won by Stats despite his upgrades not being done for part of it, his expansion got sniped all the same and by that point the Terran macro was completely out of control & both players stayed pretty much even on bases until the very end. Stats tried putting down bases anywhere he could, but INnoVation was having none of it, maneuvering perfectly throughout the weird map to stop the Protoss dead at every turn while never missing a beat back at home, up more and more supply until the inevitable tap out from his opponent.
INnoVation < 1 : 2 > Dark | ★★★★★ | TvZ is the heart of Starcraft
Turbo Cruise '84 | Dark stayed true to his aggressive nature in the first game, however it came back to bite him as he'd seemingly forgotten what map he was playing. INnoVation's decision to go for a Hellion / Banshee opening helped him deal with the slow early Roaches from the Zerg without breaking a sweat, the enemy forces couldn't even make it halfway across the map i.e. ended up doing less than nothing to throw the Terran off his game. Dark tried to play things out regardless, going for a scrappy Ravager/Ling/Bane composition that certainly helped him hold on for a while, but INnoVation's relentless macro let him get more and more ahead as the game progressed with both players on a virtually even economy and the Zerg's creep spread severely hindered on a map where expansions are far from easy to hold, things only seemed to be going one way by the end. There were a few very cool counter attacks from Dark before the final blow struck him down and he almost made it to his Ultra tech, but the Terran's army was just too much and the Zerg ran out of time to come back into the game.
New Repugnancy | Seemingly unfazed by his defeat, Dark immediately mixed things up by going for Hydra/Bane instead of Roaches and also focused that much more on his creep spread (which would end up covering over half the map near the end). It felt like the Zerg was in complete control here so when INnoVation eventually decided it was time to push he simply looked frozen so far out on the map it felt unreal, essentially having no choice but to wait for the creep to recede. In what felt like an incredibly uncharacteristic and bold move, the Terran left his Tanks virtually undefended in the middle of the map and used a mini-Doom-drop to pull the Zerg's attention back into his main base. Dark, however, looked almost completely oblivious to this attempted misdirection and instead pounced on the opportunity to clear INnoVation's Tank line before dealing with the attack in his main. From that point forward, it certainly felt like the shoe was on the other foot compared to the previous map, with the Zerg's macro being out of control this time around and Dark's unshakable focus on taking out the Medivacs and Tanks for the Terran. In what felt like an incredibly difficult uphill situation, INnoVation kept finding decent engagements and sniping bases regardless, but the fact it was 92 Drones for Dark around the 14 minute mark along with his decision to go for a later Nydus that helped support his counter attacks brilliantly made it so just a few minutes later there was a 60+ worker difference. With his army supply still solid, INnoVation did his best FanTaSy impression by trying to win until the very last second when he was ultimately and inevitably steamrolled by Dark's seemingly infinite amount of Ling/Bane/Ultra/Viper, up over 100+ supply by the end.
King's Cove | The instant Gas/Pool by Dark here came as no surprise yet regardless INnoVation still kind of got caught with his pants down by it. The early Speedlings got 7 SCV kills, delayed the CC, killed the first army units and even almost got into the main, but thanks to a clutch Engineering Bay block the game was allowed to continue. Considering the incredibly tough position he was in at that point, INnoVation went for two CCs in his main to make up for lost time and then played passively with his follow-up Hellions to make sure he wouldn't simply die to a possible all in. Dark, however, had other plans – going for three bases of his own while denying any and all vision to his opponent on the map – and once again started work on his creep but this time opted to go into Mutalisks which felt like a really good choice from the position he'd put himself in. It's a testament to INnoVation's macro how high his army supply got to before he got hit by the Zerg harass, but the decision to go back and defend really backfired as Dark used that extra time to grow his forces to the point where the ending sequences of the game featured him simultaneously seemingly going into a base trade while also doing a pretty decent job at defending some of his bases, giving up ground only when he needed to. Up to 80 workers against about 7 for his opponent, Dark regrouped his forces and fought back against the Terran's last army, sealing the deal with a truly vintage performance in a game that basically felt dictated by his decisions from start to finish.
| Stats < 2 : 0 >
Patience | ★★☆☆☆ | Shitshow central station
Thunderbird | The decision to proxy a Nexus and then Twilight really made me feel like Patience didn't understand his role in this matchup, truly the Joker of the Group. It was clear Stats was more than a little worried about a possible attack i.e. what would have made sense, but instead he randomly scouted the Nexus with his Oracle and started killing Probes to which Patience responded by putting down another Nexus. I'm not sure if the underdog thought he was favored in a macro game against this caliber of opponent, but he was sure playing as if he was. Keeping to the idea of "just doing things" without a real plan, Patience built quite a few Blink Stalkers and did his best to win the map using basically only Gateway units and micro, but it wasn't before long that Stats had enough of him and essentially walked across the map with a handful of Immortals and quite a few Adepts & killed everything in his way pretty much without any real contest.Загрузка...
New Repugnancy | With no proxies this time around, things honestly felt even more bleak as Stats comfortably went into a normal-ish gameplan again although his first attack did feel a bit premature in no small part due to Patience's surprisingly high Stalker count and clutch play with his Phoenixes to stop the early Immortal Gateway push, the underdog was even the first person to put down a Nexus immediately after that. In what felt like a very confusing and swift follow-up attack, though, Stats just built a new set of Immortals and used his Prism & Gateway units to support them as he walked across the map again, killed the enemy Nexus and simply bullied his way into a decisive and extremely weird 2-0, the dangerous PvP underdog we got to see in the recent Super Tournament was nowhere to be found today.
| INnoVation < 2 : 1 >
Stats | ★★★☆☆ | Last man standing
Kairos Junction | I'll be skipping the early part of this game because a) both players did and b) it was almost exactly the same as the previous two games, INnoVation in particular looked set on his build and in hindsight I don't blame him. The persistent two Mine Medivac drop he utilized brilliantly throughout the night only got two Probe kills this time but the amount of attention he wasted for his opponent was honestly the true damage being done consistently. As a result the delayed Blink Stalker harass didn't do anything again, the Terran was still completely on point with his army and more importantly Raven to deny any and all real damage from the Protoss. What I'm going to start calling the "modest" push from INnoVation came just on time despite Stats attempting to slightly slow it down with his Stalkers and when the Terran's three Siege Tanks got into a stellar position near the third Nexus it almost felt like the game was over. Stats tried his best not to fight under their fire but his positional play and even micro tonight just wasn't good enough to let him hold on. After one consecutive Tank shot too many, the Protoss player was forced out of the server and down on match point for the rest of the night with his tournament life on the line.
GSL Cobalt | The winds finally started blowing in Stats' general direction here, considering he got a very lucky scout on his opponent's location and the fact their shared spawns allowed him to abuse the terrain in his favor to set up an even more unbreakable defense with his Observers. It was INnoVation not really taking that into consideration that snowballed the game out of control when he attempted to do a mini-Doom-drop assisted by his Raven which got caught and handled pretty easily by the Protoss (clearing the Observers first with a Raven + Viking squad could have really helped). In this game Stats hadn't lost all his Colossi for no reason either, which meant for basically the first time in their matches tonight he wasn't on the back foot i.e. got to have a taste of what being in the supply lead felt like. Uninterested in finding out whether INnoVation's macro would be able to dig him out of the hole he'd dug himself into, Stats pushed out as soon as he could with his incredibly strong army and using some pretty cheeky Warp Prism micro to save his Colossi it was a straight up blowout for the Protoss to take us into the final map of the Ro16.
Turbo Cruise '84 | By this point it was clear neither player believed they had to change up their openers or even overall direction their builds were heading in, all that was needed were some small adjustments here and there & the winner would be decided by the tiniest of margins. In order to get the upper hand, Stats realized defending his third Nexus would be that much easier if he didn't wait for the Terran's Tanks to already siege almost on top of it so he positioned his army much further ahead accordingly. Although this initial move worked and a game of "footsies" was initiated as a result between the two players, a momentary lapse in attention made it so INnoVation's forces moved up one step too far resulting in multiple Colossi getting disabled and killed. As if to return the favor or unaware of how much army the Protoss still had, the Tanks were then sieged in a pretty weird position, seemingly giving Stats a lifeline back into the game as both players essentially stabilized on three bases after the attack collapsed due to the Tanks dying. INnoVation, however, had correctly identified that more than enough splash damage from the enemy arsenal was now gone so he felt completely comfortable pulling the boys for the first time of the night and completely rolled over his opponent with his monstrous follow-up push which simply put Stats could do nothing to stop at that point, the Kingslayer would not be denied.
I know it's "cool" to hate on Protoss players at the moment, but I genuinely wanted to see a bit more from Patience and Stats today, the fact they went down pretty convincingly kind of ruined the premise of this being considered a Group of Death for me. In hindsight, the entirety of the Ro16 has felt pretty one-sided, which definitely wasn't always going to be the case when looking at what the lineups were mainly in Groups B and D, here's hoping this is made up for in the later rounds.
- Match of the Night – Feel free to vote in the poll (I thought this could be a cool addition for the silent majority of people to still participate) though I doubt there will be much disagreement about which series stole the show tonight, INnoVation vs Dark may as well be dubbed the match of the tournament so far (I'm aware recency bias is a thing, however all three games really delivered, definitely a must watch series). This was really no surprise on INnoVation's part, however I can't help but wonder if we're ever going to see this version of Dark more consistently, tonight he looked like the best Zerg in the world with his incredible tenacity and absolutely brilliant play.
Finally, here are some of my Takeaways from Group D for each player:
Dark is just setting us all up for the biggest disappointment imaginable i.e losing in the Code S final, isn't he? Out of all the remaining players in the Ro8 he's unquestionably made it on the side of the bracket with the three most beatable ones. If he ever wants his name in the conversation for best Zerg players of all time, surely this Code S final is a must. I'm incredibly excited to watch him go up against herO, last season they had an absolutely phenomenal clash on Year Zero that honestly should be in the running for PvZ of the year, but at the end of the day I can't help but think Dark should have this on lock. I still expect exciting games – herO, PartinG and Hurricane are certainly dangerous enough obstacles, even more so when taking the Zerg's choking tendencies into account – however it really feels like today Dark earned himself his first ever Code S final, here's hoping he can keep it together in the next rounds and give us a run worth remembering & maybe even carve out a little piece of history for himself by the end of it.
INnoVation's TvP build today is the definition of what makes him so good, it almost doesn't matter that you know what he's going to do, his mechanical prowess is likely second only to Maru and given that the Code S King got taken down by everyone's favorite robot it could be considered fair to say it isn't second to anyone. That said, it still has to be taken into account both these guys – Stats and Maru – although amazing players in their own regard have had some issues dealing with INnoVation stylistically, so you could argue he still might get smashed in the next round by Trap – who pretty recently did so already to eliminate the Kingslayer from Code S last season – but to be honest INoVation played a much more refined style today in TvP and while it really was just one build more or less, it's still going to be exciting to see if the last Jin Air survivor can handle the last Terran hope or if INnoVation has "cracked the code" and is about to make it 7x back to back GSL Championships for the most dominant race in Starcraft history.
Patience woke up on the wrong side of the bed today, even when things looked like they were working out for him everything went to shit almost immediately after that. It feels fair to say this is just par for the course when you play such an unorthodox style, but it also felt a bit surprising he got stomped this hard today, although to be fair he didn't get to play against the most beatable opponent specifically for him, instead he had to deal with Dark – who's a bit weird himself, so the weirdness cancels out and he can't get an edge – and then against arguably the most solid PvP player in the world in Stats for his elimination match. Sometimes that's just how the cookie crumbles, here's hoping Patience can get some more favorable matchups in the future so we can see his insanity truly come to life.
Stats has had a very lackluster 2019 so far for his standard and while it definitely hasn't been straight up garbage – Zest and Rogue have that on lock – it still felt a bit disappointing to see him go down like this, considering how highly we think of him overall (for example I thought this season's final was going to be Classic vs Stats considering the bracket, so there goes that). To be fair, INnoVation has historically been a tough opponent for him (Maru sends his regards) and he did have to play him twice in this Group, so in theory we could cut him a bit of a break for today's performance, however there were just one too many astounding mistakes by the Protoss that I can't really scratch from my memory. Frankly, I think Stats is capable of so much more than what he showed tonight & I'm really hoping he reminds everyone why he's considered one of the truly elite players in the upcoming Super Tournament and the last Code S season of the year.
Keep in mind these are just my observations. As always, if you feel differently let everyone know why in the comments below.
Catch you next week for an amazing start to the Ro8 with Classic vs soO and Trap vs INnoVation!
Thanks as always for reading & see you when I see you! (:
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